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The Oregonian, December 21, 2006

Dodge first, then chat as adults replay the past
Games – Grown-ups add dodge ball to their after-work activities from kickball to pingpong

Thursday, December 21, 2006

After a stressful day behind her desk dealing with medical insurance forms, Cindy Ottley of Beaverton is ready to pound some playground balls into an opponent’s backside.

“I’m very competitive, but I also love socializing after the matches,” she said. “When you are out in the court, you can forget about everything that’s happened at the office, really work up a sweat and get rid of a little aggression.”

Starting Jan. 3, Ottley and 16 teams of about a dozen players will each bring the latest retro playground sport to Beaverton: competitive dodge ball.

Every Wednesday evening, coed teams will face off in high-spirited, fast-paced games at The Hoop.

The rules haven’t changed much since grade school: You get hit, you’re out. Catch a ball and your opponent takes to the sideline. Drill someone in the head and you are persona non gratis. Everything else is fair game.

Colleen Finn of Portland, founder and organizer of Recesstime, has been astonished by the recent surge in popularity among adults for such childhood games as kickball, pingpong, bowling and now dodge ball.

Incorporated in 2006, Recesstime recently combined the nearly 4,000 participants of Northwest Kickball, Portland Co-ed Adult Dodgeball and Red Ball Bowling—also started by Finn—into one of the largest sports and social leagues in Portland.

“For a lot of people, these games bring back great childhood memories—or memories they wished they had,” she said. “They are great stress-relievers and really are great fun.”

Three years ago, the avid sportswoman took over several little-used Portland elementary school ball diamonds for pickup games of kickball. Within weeks, adults of all ages waited on the sidelines, wanting to get into the games.

The following spring, she turned to dodge ball. Same results. “After people saw the Ben Stiller movie, ‘Dodgeball,’ interest really picked up,” she laughed.

Last year, friends turned to Finn when they wanted to start a laid-back bowling league. This past summer, it was a series of pingpong matches.

“Many of these people are already wired for competition. So we made our main goal to tell everyone to be a kid again—that it’s OK to be silly, to act like they did in middle school and not feel embarrassed about it,” Finn said. “It seems to have caught on.”

In fact, her message has resonated with about 825 men and women who will make up the 58 dodge ball teams scheduled to play in Portland and Beaverton this winter.

Some teams, she said, will wear in-your-face jerseys, play hard and compete for a championship trophy. Others will be happy to hang out and wham a few opponents with the big red balls.

“Right now, our biggest challenge is to find a bar that’s big enough and willing to accommodate a couple hundred of our players each week,” said Cristina Acosta, Beaverton league manager. “We’re attracting a lot of young adults on the west side who are really wanting to socialize and develop new friendships.”

For Dan Weinsoft of Beaverton, member of the Duck Balls, joining the new league means a chance to reconnect with college buddies from Eugene.

“Last year, I was driving over to Northeast Portland once a week but that got old very quick,” he said. “For me, the game means letting off a lot a steam. Sure, I play to win, but the best part is hanging out with my friends again.”