Sunday, October 2, 2022

Keeping the fun times (and ball) rolling: How CLUBWAKA is still playing during the pandemic

CLUBWAKA Williamsburg at AMF Williamsburg Lanes (WYDaily/Courtesy of Krystina Collins)

As kids start heading back to in-person learning, COVID-19 cases begin to decline and vaccines are rolling out, many people are itching for a way to interact socially after a long, isolating winter.

Enter CLUBWAKA, a social club providing adult sports leagues, social activities and events.

What began as the World Adult Kickball Association (WAKA) in 1998 quickly turned into a way for adults 21 years and older to get together and have fun without serious competition. Now there are leagues for various sports all over the country, including Hampton Roads.

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But how do sports like kickball fare during a pandemic?

Actually, surprisingly well.

Krystina Collins, a pre-K teacher for York County School Division, is the league manager for both CLUBWAKA kickball and bowling leagues in Williamsburg. She began playing with CLUBWAKA nine years ago with her brother and father after experiencing a divorce. Through the recreational league, she was able to make lasting friendships and even met her current husband.

Both the kickball and bowling leagues have been able to meet weekly through the pandemic. The kickball league has been meeting at the fields at Quarterpath Park while the bowling league has been going to AMF Williamsburg Lanes.

Since the pandemic started, Collins said she was surprised to see participation numbers go up as more people looked for safe ways to get out and socialize.

‘We used to only run one bowling league a year, but this year we’ve had to add on another league,” she said.

CLUBWAKA Williamsburg added a Fall bowling league to run at the same time as its Fall kickball league.

“While people want to be safe, I think they’re also looking for that opportunity to get out a little bit more,” she said. “We’ve never run two leagues at the same time before.”

Since the pandemic started, Collins said the leagues only had one incident — a potential COVID-19 case on the bowling team at the beginning of the pandemic. The league canceled its weekly meet up then resumed the following week without any incidents since.

Collins, who has autoimmune issues herself, said she runs her leagues with extreme regard to COVID-19 safety.

When new players register for a league, they must fill out a waiver listing the team’s COVID-19 policies. Players are encouraged to wear masks when not actively playing and not to share personal items.

CLUBWAKA Williamsburg Kickball league (WYDaily/Courtesy of Krystina Collins)

The kickball league staggers its game times with other teams and players are not allowed to enter the field until all members of the previous team have left. Players must also maintain social distances on the sidelines and spectators are not allowed on the field.

Collins added the league also performs temperature checks before every game and if players feel ill, they are asked not to attend that week.

For bowling, the leagues must follow the safety guidelines provided by AMF Williamsburg Lanes. Teams are spaced out with an empty bowling lane in between and sanitization is a priority.

Teams in both leagues only play other league members and not against other localities. Collins added she also provides disinfectant in case anyone wishes to sanitize the balls in between turns.

She said the biggest challenge of managing the two leagues during a pandemic is getting the word out.

“A lot of people have the misconception that we’re not operating, but then, when they do find out that we are, they think it must be unsafe,” she said. “But you can do it safely. Kids are playing T-ball, softball, soccer. It shouldn’t be any different for adults.

“We should be able to do the same thing if we want to,” Collins said.

CLUBWAKA Williamsburg is gearing up for its spring season. Those interested in participating in a CLUBWAKA sports league can check out the website here.

Aside from kickball and bowling, there are also leagues for cornhole, volleyball, beach volleyball, soccer, and dodgeball.

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