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Advice for Success: Kick!

Success in socializing can bring happiness and self-improvement. For two young professionals, starting a kickball league was the key.

The founders of the World Adult Kickball Association

Ten years ago, Jimmy Walicek and David Lowry were out with their friends one night and got to wondering if there was a fun way they could meet new people. Most of the guys had made close friends in college through their coed fraternity, but in the working world the only social outlet seemed to be softball, which often turned super-competitive and excluded non-jocks.

Then somebody mentioned kickball, “and the idea went around like a blazing fire,” recalls Jimmy. “We tested it out with friends and found it was just as fun as we remembered.” In just a month, 150 people were playing. “Apparently we hit a nerve,” says David. “Turns out a lot of people wanted an inclusive post-collegiate social group.”

At first they managed the club during off-hours from their jobs—information technology for Jimmy and public administration for David. After three years, though, “a lot of people” had ballooned to 400. So the pair, along with pal Johnny LeHane, decided to organize and run the World Adult Kickball Association full-time.

While there’s “Adult” in the organization’s name, there are decidedly kid-like aspects to the game that they’ve maintained. For instance, do-overs are allowed if both teams agree. The founders try to keep the competition low-key and foster fun by making post-game parties part of the package. 

Leaving good jobs to play kickball might seem crazy to most people, but for David and Jimmy, it has made a lot of sense. Now WAKA has a staff of 70 to organize the 32,000 registered players in 23 states and is even gaining popularity in the Middle East, thanks to a couple of kickballs the guys sent over to our troops in Iraq to help boost morale. WAKA supports kids too—each division picks a children’s charity to donate time and money to throughout the season. To date, WAKA teams have contributed more than $135,000 to nonprofits. 

Besides making friends, getting exercise and giving, there’s something else happening on the kickball fields of America. Dating! David says he’s been to at least a dozen kickball weddings and is now hearing about their kickball babies.

“For me it’s been the ability to do something I’m passionate about,” says David, WAKA’s executive director. “Making a difference in people’s lives, knowing this organization helps people socialize, network and sometimes even get married. It’s the modern-day version of golf. It’s relaxed. The whole thing is funny to begin with.”

David and Jimmy’s Tips

1. Realize there are many ways to achieve your goals.
We wanted to help make people’s lives better, easier and more enjoyable. We never envisioned kickball would be the way to do it.

2. Determine what you want as an end result.
Doing so will open your eyes to the many roads that can take you there.

3. Impossible is an opinion.
You’re the one who decides what’s possible.

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