Community kickball night held as an all-ages, free activity

Jessica Stölen-Jacobson
Montevideo American-News

Last week, the Montevideo Community Center hosted their fourth Community Kickball night at the old Armory building. The event came about after community members contacted Montevideo Community Center administrator Tracy Wellendorf to express a desire to see more activities offered in town. “One community member mentioned they wanted to see more initiatives like fun things to do that addresses obesity in the community, and I had another approach me about wanting to do something to ease loneliness for people who live alone of all ages, so I thought we’d start with kickball and try to grow something organically from there,” Wellendorf says. 

She formed a committee made up of community members from various organizations in the community including the Police Department, various businesses, a parent, and a pastor. “We just brainstormed various ideas,” she says. The committee does not yet have a name and has been operating fairly informally. “We’re just trying to figure out what direction we want to go. We’re hoping with kickball to add another night of community board games or something along those lines. It would just be nice to have more community gatherings that are free and without barriers,” Wellendorf says. 

The Community Kickball night has been held in August, September, October, and November and will be held again in December. “The first night we had twelve kids show up. We held that on National Nigh out after the Police Department’s event. The next month, we had twenty people come out. In October the participation was kind of low but it got dark earlier, so we decided to move the time up to 5:30. Even if we don’t have a lot of people right away, I think we’re going to just keep trying to see where it goes,” Wellendorf says. The games are held informally, without scores being taken. Teams are formed, and each team goes for three outs, then switches sides. “I think it would be fun to eventually form leagues and have a really ugly traveling trophy that the winner gets to display,” Wellendorf added. 

Wellendorf hopes to grow more community activities that could be held free for all ages in the future. “It’s such a new thing, and we want to grow. I think it would be fun to have community members of all ages feel welcome, and because I think we have more loneliness in our community than maybe we see. The kids and families that have been showing up have been really liking it and we’re hoping to get more people out,” she says. Some ideas the committee has already discussed include a community game night. “When I was growing up, I had a friend who had a pool table in her basement and she had video game consoles. Not everybody has that and not everybody has the opportunity to go to a friend's house and just be themselves because maybe their house is too small or maybe they have a parent working from home and can’t laugh loudly while playing video games. I think it would be fun to have the opportunity to bring their own video game consoles down here to the Youth Center and just play with their friends. I really never realized until now how fortunate I was to have that,” Wellendorf adds.

Wellendorf also hopes to expand the committee, and come up with an official name. “We want to expand programming, and we hope to raise some funds once we have our name. We’re open to more committee members whether it be through a service organization or as a community member. I think that we have a lot of useful amenities in town that could offer a lot of recreational opportunities for low to no cost. It’s nice to have a group of people who are really creative and resourceful. A lot of urban communities do a lot of stuff that would require an urban budget, but I see a lot of opportunities here just by pulling together our resources to find things for people to do who wouldn’t have the resources to do these kinds of things on their own,” she says. 

All future events hosted through the Community Center are advertised on their Facebook page, facebook.com/Montevideo-Community-Center.