To date, one of our favorite parts about Kwajalein has been the opportunity to return to the ball field. Michelle spent many years at Blue Valley Recreation overseeing overseeing the activities, employees and teams that came together to enjoy America’s Game (for old people), softball. Jason grew up playing baseball as his most natural sport, not that this is saying much. As an adult he rediscovered his enjoyment of the game through softball leagues in Lincoln and then in Kansas City.
Both Huwes had taken some time away from the ball park in recent years as their new careers in ministry required more evening programs and less regular schedules. Kwajalein has provided a renewed enjoyment of the sport with Michelle overseeing the different island leagues and Jason participating as a player for two teams and as an umpire.
Michelle encountered some unique challenges early on as Kwajalein’s very unique attributes require special rules and design changes to the field of play. The biggest issue is the dirt. Yes, the dirt. And this issue is that it’s really not dirt, it is ground up coral. Essentially, our whole island is one big mound of coral in the middle of the Pacific which, unlike dirt, is very prone to infection once inside your body. Over time, new rules and adjustments have been made to make Kwaj softball as safe as state side softball. Here are a few of the tweaks:
No sliding. Period. Scrapes = Infection so there is no sliding on Kwaj. How do you make that work? You let everyone run through each base (like you can on 1st Base). Only if a runner makes an intentional turn toward the next base are they free to be tagged out. This presents an interesting problem when it comes to plays at home plate. What do you do? Create a second home plate. Each field has a secondary home plate equally distanced from 3rd base, which allows for close scoring plays. Essentially, plays at home become like that at 1st base, a force out with no tag required. The runner must touch secondary home before the throw reaches the catcher standing on regular home plate. What keeps a runner from simply stopping and running back to 3rd?
Jason has gotten accustomed to the new rules as an official for the many island leagues which blend school kids and adults because of the small number of people. He enjoys playing on two teams; the coed “Lollygaggers” and the men’s A-League “Old, Fat & Lazy”. Both teams have advanced to the championship games to be held next week. Each league’s winning team receives the prized painted coconut trophy, a wonderful Kwaj tradition.