Fierce competition, fun, in new Bellingham kickball league

On a sunny evening, the Brains and the Bikes were battling for dominance during the weekly kickball league at Maritime Heritage Park in the downtown.

The Brains launched a furious last-minute rally Thursday, June 4, but still fell to the Bikes in a game that’s kind of like baseball. Except there are no gloves, and the pitcher rolls a big red ball on the ground.

It was among the few remaining games in the spring session of the Throwback Thursdays Urban Kickball League organized by the Downtown Bellingham Partnership, which also is the primary sponsor. Other businesses and the Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department also are supporting the effort.

The inaugural session started in May.

The two teams played hard — and cheered and laughed — as disco tunes like “Good Times,” “Shake Your Booty” and “Funkytown” spilled from speakers. Some players wore costumes, and the refs were decked out in wigs, tutus and Elvis sunglasses from the Las Vegas years.

The goal of Throwback Thursdays was to bring more family-friendly activities to the 500 W. Holly St. park, which has become known as a hangout for homeless and transient adults and a place for drug and alcohol consumption.

The league is being seen as a fun solution to a serious issue.

Whatcom County Councilman Ken Mann was at the park Thursday and stated his support for the partnership’s effort to bring healthy activities to a place that hadn’t been hospitable to families.

“This has been an awesome transformation,” Mann said. “This is bringing a new vitality to downtown.”

Nick Hartrich, executive director of the Downtown Bellingham Partnership, said the idea for the kickball league was a no-brainer because it was easy and a game accessible to people of all ages.

“I’m all about having fun everywhere I go. If you’re not having fun doing what you’re doing, then you’re not doing something right,” Hartrich said.

The league now has four teams made up of professionals from different industries — Brains (design and technology), Bikes, Brewers and Builders.

The last regular games of the session are Thursday, June 11. The action starts at 5:30 p.m., when the Builders take on the Bikes. An hour later, the Brewers will go head-to-head with the Brains.

The spring session will end Saturday, June 13, with a tournament that will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the park. It will include a beer garden with beer from local breweries, and is open to spectators. There also will be food trucks, sports commentators, music from PhDJ, and a trophy ceremony with awards that include longest kick and league MVP.

All proceeds will go toward funding future sessions.

A summer session will start in August. Industry teams interested in joining should contact info@downtownbellingham.com by July 1.

Reach Kie Relyea at 360-715-2234 or kie.relyea@bellinghamherald.com.

Watch kickball in Bellingham

To watch a video shot at a kickball game at Maritime Heritage Park, see this story online at bellinghamherald.com.