Oklahoma City public school teacher Rachel Galloway lays down the rules for her fourth-grade students before they play kickball.
What they don’t know is that when Galloway, 25, plays the game in her own league she abides by no rules.
That’s because in the World Adult Kickball Association, of which Galloway is a member, there are no rules.
On a sunny day at Wheeler Park in south Oklahoma City, Galloway and her WAKA teammates prepared for the upcoming kickball season with a routine practice.
Real estate agent Ryan Noe, 33, skipped across the field in orange and blue soccer cleats and shin guards, while event fundraiser Tatianna Proctor, 27, kicked the iconic red ball while wearing wedge high heels.
Suddenly, Galloway is back in the fourth grade.
“This is a group for people who don’t take themselves too seriously,” said James Speegle, spokesman for WAKA’s Oklahoma City league. “As adults, we get so used to the daily grind of the 9-to-5 that we forget what it feels like to have fun.”
Galloway joined WAKA after moving from Pennsylvania to Oklahoma City one year ago to pursue a career in teaching.
“There’s not a lot of teaching jobs in the north,” she said. “But we have a great job market here in Oklahoma City.”
The job market is one reason young people are flocking to Oklahoma City, Speegle said. In addition to looking for careers, they look for social networks.
For Galloway, WAKA fit the bill.
Fresh out of college and faced with the harsh and often lonely reality of “the real world,” friends Johnny LeHane, David Lowry and Jimmy Walicek created WAKA in 1998 in the nation’s capitol.
What began as a way for a small group of friends to reconnect has blossomed over 16 years into a national movement.
Tens of thousands of kickballers, usually between the ages of 21 and 45, play in hundreds of leagues across the nation, Speegle said. Kickball is the primary sport, but the organization also hosts dodge ball, karaoke, bar games and the latest sports trend — footgolf, a crossbreed of soccer and golf.
WAKA has nine sports leagues in Oklahoma City and three in Tulsa. Leagues are always looking for new members, Speegle said.
Membership fees range from $40 to $70 per season and include team T-shirts, game materials, discounts at bars that teams visit after games, and food and drinks for at least one team party each season.
Leagues are encouraged to contribute a portion of their membership fees to charity, Speegle said. This year in Oklahoma City, the charity of choice is the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
In the past 10 years, WAKA has raised more than $375,000 for charity, Speegle said. The organization offers the chance to make lasting friendships, networks and healthy lifestyle choices, Speegle said.
“We’ve had WAKA marriages and WAKA babies,” he said. “With Oklahoma City growing like it is, we’ve had young professionals who are new to Oklahoma join a league and make lifelong friends.”
One of those members is Galloway.
“I moved to Oklahoma City on my own, and after a few months I began feeling alone and depressed. I took it upon myself and I just Googled ‘social sports.’”
One year later, Galloway said her best friends are WAKA players. Her roommate is a lawyer from her league.
Young at heart
While Galloway and her teammates felt the heat at Wheeler Park, a group of high school students cooled off at Pelican Bay in Edmond.
McKenna Dwyer, 16 and Ty Wade, 17, were fulfilling their summer job responsibilities by guarding the front gates of the aquatic center.
They play kickball at their schools, but cringe at the thought of their parents joining in.
“I can’t imagine a bunch of old men playing,” said Wade, who plays football at Deer Creek High School. “I would think their knees and backs would hurt the next day.
“But if you could play as an adult after college, that would be pretty sweet,” he added.
Dwyer, a lacrosse player at Edmond North High School, said she likes the idea of having fun and playing after childhood.
“I suppose anything is possible if you put your mind to it,” she said.
WAKA is a reminder that you’re never too old to act like a kid.
To learn more about WAKA go to www.kickball.com or call 808-2573.
We’ve had WAKA marriages and WAKA babies. With Oklahoma City growing like it is, we’ve had young professionals who are new to Oklahoma join a league and make lifelong friends.”
spokesman for WAKA’s Oklahoma City league