Each July for the past three years has seen the real athletes of Austin County come out of the woodworks to take over the field of play that school-level athletics just finished on.
The Adult Sports Leagues of Sealy provides an outlet where athletes from fresh out of high school all the way to grandparents take the softball diamond for their sports fix through the dog days of summer.
The league is run by Angela Wolfe and Camille Herring and they also run seasons during the fall and winter months as well, but the summer usually yields the highest turnout as well as a higher percentage of games played with normally better, and drier, weather in that time period.
“Seasons run for five weeks and then we’ll have a tournament at the end, and we decide whether it’s one-game or double-elimination with however many teams we have,” Wolfe said.
The coed league boasts plenty of participants from Sealy and Bellville of course, but it also draws athletes and friends from towns like Eagle Lake, Columbus and Brenham with some more reaching all the way into the Katy and Houston areas.
“We normally start our games around 6:30 or 7 p.m. but we’ve had to start even later sometimes to let people travel in,” Wolfe stated.
The co-commissioner also mentioned that out of the 10 to 12 teams that have been competing over the past few summers, there are three or four that are ultra-competitive and enjoy bashing heads every so often, but not everyone enjoys going up against the top teams which is kind of how the whole league operates.
“Everyone’s coming out to have a good time,” Wolfe reiterated. “They’re not here only to win, obviously you’d love to win, but as long as everyone’s having fun.”
There are DJ’s and BBQ chefs and regular old Joes coming off the couch to knock the dust off their gloves and play a little, although Wolfe advises you stretch first.
She recounted a story about failing to properly warm up before being called upon to substitute for another player coming back to bite her at the very beginning of the game.
Wolfe was running out her first hit in the opening inning and pulled her quadricep muscles in both of her legs and went on to say she could barely field her position when a ball was hit to her later in the second game she had to play.
But as long as you get a quick stretch in first, there will be plenty of fun had and maybe some barbecue after the game.
“Some will even bring their pits and cook and play music,” Wolfe said. “It really turns it into a whole family atmosphere.”
Not only on the other side of the fence, but on the field, there is a sort of family atmosphere that’s built with a group of adults who all share the same goal in ending the game with a fully healthy team and smiles on their faces.
“There are a lot of rivalries but there’s also a lot of team players,” Wolfe added.
Speaking of team players, Wolfe cited an example where an entire team could not make it since one of their roster members was getting married. Well their opponents don’t get to play anymore either, right?
“A whole other team stepped up, so they didn’t have to lose out on playing,” Wolfe said.
Wolfe included that the draw to running the league derived from her playing days and the thought that there was no reason for them to necessarily end.
“Growing up I always played sports, being on a team has always been cool,” she noted. “But after a while you lose track of the good and bad players and it’s just about whoever wants to play, plays.”
The minimum requirements to field a team are of course nine athletes, but ten is more ideal if somebody needs a rest.
Since it is coed, there should be at least four females on the squad but there are also plenty of free agents who can post on the Facebook page and possibly get called in to substitute.
If somebody has to work late or travel or attend another previous engagement, then the filler athletes are called upon and sometimes it’s Wolfe and Herring who are the first ones rang, which is no problem.
In the case where they are the ones placing the calls, that first call might not be to the top free agent on the market but instead to someone who might be more certain in their commitment to showing up simply to fill a roster and keep games moving.
“We don’t ask the best-qualified player to sub, we’re just trying to fill a roster and play the game,” Wolfe said. “In the fall season one team could only manage eight players so at times we would have to pull the parents of these adults from the stands to play, just so nobody had an automatic out in their lineup.”
The teams meander through a five-week season before the playoff tournament decides the top teams but what each of those teams get for their efforts is a little dependent on some outside help.
Wolfe mentioned the key role their sponsors play in the league’s survival with area companies serving as both team and full league sponsors.
She added that the revenue helps cover the costs of umpires and the regulation balls they use as well as the prizes they hand out at the end of the tournament to the top teams.
Bal-Con Builders, Xtreme Roofing, Texas Farm Bureau, Fernandez and Sons Wrecker Service, Cliff Jones and Wal-Mart all helped the league last year and many have been involved since the beginning.
On top of that, one year the league was able to hand out t-shirts to all participants because sponsors had done so much that season.
That additional help also keeps the overall cost down for teams looking to join the league.
That cost is served per team ($380), not necessarily by the individual athlete in hopes of alleviating some of that burden in order to ideally open the competition up to more teams.
To get more information on the leagues or the games that happen at B&PW Park, find the Adult Sports Leagues of Sealy on Facebook or give a call to Commissioner Angela Wolfe at her number (979) 627-5817.