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The Oregonian, Thursday, April 21, 2005

By Wade Nkrumah
“Teams are set, so you won’t get picked last.”
First there was Colleen Finn. Then there was kickball. Now there’s dodgeball.

That’s the evolution of a recreational-social fancy capturing the imaginations of kids and adults alike.

Finn, 26, is a former University of Louisville women’s field hockey player and Saint Louis University field hockey coach.

She moved here in September 2001 from her native St. Louis – “just because I wanted to try the West Coast” – and lo and behold, Finn became the latest DIY phenom.

Kickball started in summer 2002 with 12 teams. Dodgeball premiered last spring 12 teams. This season, there are 24 dodgeball teams, each with 10 to 15 players.

Kickball, the outdoor game is an elementary school playground cousin to baseball and softball.

“When it’s raining out, we play dodgeball,” Finn says. “When it’s sunny out, we play kickball.”

Finn, who founded the venture, says social interaction is at the core of both leagues.

“As a former division I athlete – somebody who’s played sports at a really high level,” she says, “I was too intense. I needed to find something that could give me that balance of sport-recreations: getting out there, getting sweaty, getting exercise.”

Dodgeball and kickball are competitive, she says, but not to the exclusion of casual athletes.

Dodgeball is co-sponsored by Yorgo’s Tavern in North Portland. It’s the meeting place after Thursday night matches.

“Everybody goes, and you get to know to her teams,” Finn says.

East Bank Saloon co-sponsors the kickball league.

Pretty good for something that started as a lark with help from friends relying on schoolyard memories.

“We were like, the first game has to last five minutes…and we’ll just call it at that. We blew the whistle on the first game last year and it lasted 45 seconds. WE were like, “Uh, we need to update the rules.”