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    Kick Balls Like Bruce Lee

    By John Chen–

    Picture it: 1978. The home team was down three runs in the bottom of the final inning with two outs. But, the bases were juiced, and before there was a “Karate Kid,” Kung Fu Kid—Bruce Lee’s secret young disciple—strode into the kicker’s box. The 4th grade Montrose Elementary School kickball recess championship was on the line.

    The crowd chanted, “Kung Fu Kid, kung fu kick! Kung Fu Kid, kung fu kick!”

    With nerves of steel and veins of ice, Bruce Lee’s secret young disciple unleashed a kick so ferocious, so devastating, so Earth-shattering, and so beyond any stretch of imagination that it distorted the very fabric of reality. I was that Kung Fu Kid and my into-the-orbit kick was a walk-off grand slam. I dare you to find proof to the contrary. Who are you to judge me?!

    For many of us, kickball was a staple elementary school activity that brought us fond memories. The game was fun and easy to play. You really just needed a big bouncy ball, the bigger the better! Over the years, I’ve always wondered why we never continued to play as adults.

    Recently, a friend of mine who lives in San Diego told me about their LGBT adult kickball league and how hundreds upon hundreds of people enthusiastically play, making it one of the most successful gay sports leagues in San Diego. He enlightened me to a similar league that’s growing rapidly in San Francisco, so I had to check it out!

    Enter San Francisco Varsity Gay League (VGL) Kickball. League Managers Kevin Jones and Cameron De Lay welcomed me with open arms and introduced me to their really fun, really creative and really groovy (going back to the ‘70s) teams and players. With team names such as Daddy Issues, Shockingly Average (my personal favorite), and Sit on My Base, San Francisco Kickball has enough inspirational gay puns, unpredictable slapstick, and comedic rhetoric rivaling many live improv performances.  Suffice to say, there are plenty of kicks, tumbles and laughs to go around.

    Coming from an athletic background, Cameron pointed out that kickball is the perfect sport for both athletes and non-athletes because it’s the type of fun competition that anyone can play and enjoy. The barrier to entry for kickball is so low that it’s below low.

    Nathaniel Cleveland joined the league because kickball is an easier sport to play compared to, say, baseball. Nathaniel admitted that, as a child, he was afraid of a baseball, but a kickball is soft and not scary at all! Matt Clark echoed a similar sentiment, but his primary reason for playing kickball is, “I have a big butt and big legs, perfectly suited for kickball!” Former competitive softball and soccer player, Abbey Wampler, loves kickball because the sport combines the rules of softball with the kicking technique of soccer.

    Under the umbrella of Varsity Gay League, Kevin said kickball—among other VGL sports, such as dodgeball—is great for people who don’t consider themselves as athletes. Players can come out to get some sun, some exercise and to be a part of a fun, safe and cohesive community, where friendships and common bonds are easily forged. Currently there are three kickball seasons: spring, summer and fall. Kevin is expecting nearly 300 players and 16 teams for the upcoming fall season.

    Watching kickball games on a sunny, and somewhat warm, summer Sunday afternoon, listening to all the giggles and laughter, and seeing the enthusiasm and excitement, brings back all of those great Bruce Lee kick memories and a tremendous sense of nostalgia. I can still hear the crowd chanting, “Kung Fu Kid, kung fu kick!”

    For more information on VGL kickball, visit and look for San Francisco under “leagues.”

    John Chen, a UCLA alumnus and an avid sports fan, has competed as well as coached tennis, volleyball, softball and football teams.