Unconventional Sports Guide 

Are you out of shape? Do you find yourself with some spare time throughout the week, thinking, "I should be doing something other than sitting in front of the TV watching the third hour of this 'Jersey Shore' marathon?" Do you simultaneously want to get in shape, but hate all of the things you would have to do to realize that desire? Well, Little Rock has a lot to offer runners, walkers and cyclists – not to mention plenty of gyms – but there are some more, shall we say, unconventional sports out there too. And they're just waiting for you to come along and sign up.

Kickball. His name is Larry Betz, but you can just call him Poo. As in "the grand poo-bah of all things kick ball." Betz started the league in 2004, nearly on a whim. Now, there are more than 100 kickball teams in Central Arkansas."The biggest component is the social aspect," Betz said. "It's a great way to get out and meet people and be active and introduce yourself to a whole new social circle."

There are fall, spring and winter leagues. The fall league usually runs from mid-August until the end of October. The spring season goes from the first of March until around Memorial Day. The winter league is the quirkiest because practices and games take place on the dance floor of The Electric Cowboy -- and playing kickball inside a giant country club seems like one one of those "you never knew how bad you wanted it" things,right?

If you're interested in starting a team, it only takes nine players but you can have as many as 20. If you just want to sign up solo, your name will go on a list and one of the team captains will pick you up.

"We do community service and fund-raising every season," Betz says. "Through our nonprofit, the Big Red Ball Charitable Foundation, we raised over $300,000 for charity. Animals and kids are what we focus on."

For more information, check out the Facebook page.

And stay tuned for the new Beach Volleyball league, which Betz is also organizing in the sand pit behind Flying DD in early 2013.

Women's semi-pro football. Little Rock supports two teams, the Banshees and the Wildcats, it's full tackle, and there's nothing ladylike about it. Some of these players are built like tanks, and the tiny ones are lightening-quick. In their 2012 season, the Banshees experienced separated shoulders, torn Achilles and multiple ripped ACL’s. “These girls aren’t sissies. They don’t hold back. They hit like guys,” said Rae Meyer team owner.

Teams are formed each summer, practice three times a week year round, travel as far as Houston for away games and host traveling teams at local high school fields. The season lasts about three months, beginning in late April.

Both the Wildcats and the Banshees hold tryouts at specific times but welcome new players anytime. Among the teams’ ranks there are nurses, restaurant workers, college students, stay at home mom’s and female impersonators.

Amy Wilson, a hulking linewoman, joined the Banshees to chronicle the experience for a sociology project. But the 32-year-old UALR student, certified EMT and Sunday school teacher stayed on after her project ended. "Some women get manicures to de-stress," she said. "I just hit somebody."

For more information, contact the Banshees or call David Smith of the Wildcats at (501) 743-6326.

Roller derby. "We will teach people how to skate if they can't skate," says Amanda Homan, a blocker for the Rockin' Renegades, Little Rock's own roller derby team. "Experience is great, but it's not necessary. One of our best blockers could not skate when she first started."

Homan is also the secretary for the Central Arkansas Roller Derby league, which has been around since 2006. The league consists of one team with "varsity" and "junior varsity" versions, but Homan would like to see that grow. The Renegades practice together and travel around the South playing other squads from Dallas, Huntsville, Jackson and Joplin, to name a few.



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