Take me out to the kickball game

Published 12:10 am Sunday, April 28, 2024

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Young Professionals is always exploring ways to network within the community. The organization’s latest contribution came on the kickball diamond in the Salisbury Parks & Recreation co-ed league. 

“The league is like a hidden gem in our community,” Young Professionals Chair Mollie Ruf said in an email. “The Rowan Young Professionals had so much interest that we have two teams competing, the Average Pros and the YoPros.”

The idea to form a kickball team sprang last fall from Dillon Brewer and Kyler Eagle, who are not only active members of Young Professionals but also serve on its executive committee as the development chair and events chair, respectively. 

Due to a surge in participation this spring, the league hosts two RCYP teams among many other teams from businesses, school faculty and administration, churches and various community groups. The decision to expand was made easy by the strong interest from last season, leading to the formation of two teams: the Average Pros and the YoPros.

“Throughout the season, the Young Professionals have used their regular kickball games to get to know a little more about each other and their lives.

“It stands out because you work together twice a week to build skills, relationships and bond,” Adriana Londonof the YoPros team said. “You are not only getting to know each other as teammatesyou get to know each other personally.”

London indicated that she loved the teamwork and the camaraderie component. 

“We all get along so well,” London said. “No one is bigger than the next person. We literally work together to achieve our common goal.”

Average Pros teammate Ethan Gullett said that he enjoyed the competitive side of things.

“Getting out and playing with an awesome group of people and meeting people that have similar interests that live near or in the same city as you just creates a bond that I have really grown to love,” he said. “I wish our city would do more sports and open them to anyone and everyone willing to join.”

While kickball might not be the most conventional networking method, Gullett acknowledged several similarities. 

“I think that it’s all how you take it and if you want to get out there and meet people it’s an excellent way to,” Gullett said. “I am not one for meetings and dinners so kickball is a way that I really get to express myself and learn to meet people who have similar interests and hobbies that I have and people are more likely to do something they enjoy so you can get your networking and your exercise in all one.”

Having worked closely with Ruf through her role at the Rowan County Economic Development Council, Rowan-Salisbury Schools CTE Curriculum Instruction Management Coordinator Kresen Whitmarsh wanted to get involved with Young Professionals. 

“Kickball was the first chance I took on the networking opportunities young pros had to offer and I have been blown away,” Whitmarsh said. From day one, it had felt like family. I honestly could call on anyone on this team to help me in times of crisis and they would be there — and I have only known them for two weeks.”

Whitmarsh, who played on the YoPros team, noted that being on a team with young professionals who are trying to grow their network and uplift one another is inspiring. 

“I commend Mollie for starting such an amazing platform for people to come together because I can not put into words how much I appreciate this team and the community it had built with people who were strangers but are now family,” Whitmarsh said. 

DeAndre Thomas, who played on the Average Pros team, had a similar takeaway. 

“The experience was greata very fun time after work to interact with a lot of the locals here in Salisbury,” Anderson said. “Everyone is very friendly and like minded.”

The best part is that members don’t have to be hardened athletes to participate. 

“I personally work out five times a week and to be able to play a sport where everyone on an equal level has made it easier to engage in conversation,” Anderson said. “Due to the fact that there is no judgment while we are playing it makes everything easier to socialize.”