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  • Writer's pictureTopher Enneking

Meeting a hero: Lynette Woodard returns to Lawrence for kickball

Legendary basketball Lynette Woodard returned to Lawrence KS to throw out the first pitch for a KVKL kickball game.
Lynette Woodard as a Harlem Globetrotter, and Lynette Woodward getting ready to throw out the first ball for the KVKL game May 26, 2024.

The story is STATSdraft is the story of my re-connection with sports. It's been a journey that has reconnected me with myself, too. That’s one of the amazing things that sports can do. They can reconnect us to people and moments in a way that transcends time. Last night, I had one of those experiences. Standing with my son holding the sign we had made for the Kaw Valley Kickball League -- Lawrence KS, Honey Badgers versus Taco Zone. I asked one of my first sports heroes for an autograph.

The Kaw Valley Kickball League's game of the week was the Honey Badgers versus Taco Zone. We had fun with a poster.

When Lynnette Woodard returned to Allen Fieldhouse as a Harlem Globetrotter, I was there. I was about the same age as my son — the same age I was when I first played kickball at New York Elementary School and the Boys and Girls Club when it was across from Haskell University. That also was when I would hang out at the ball field while my mother played softball at Hobbs Park. In that same dugout where I was taught how to balance a bat on my finger under that same tree that keeps catching balls and giving hope to hustling third basemen, I had a transcendent moment. A combination of experiences — from stealing wristbands so that I could look like a hoops legend to playing at the old Boys and Girls Club where the only goal was to tattoo somebody against the chain-link fence that ran next to first base — culminated in getting to shake hands with a Legend.

Lately I’ve been thinking about why sport is one of the few spectator gatherings we have left. Anymore, we can get what we want when we want it on our own, but we still gather for sport, to both watch and play. I think that’s because sport is one of the few places left in life where there is proof of magic. No matter how expert or how much we might try to dissect it and turn it into science, sport is art. We can look at the statistics after the fact and argue over correlation or causation, but you can’t have control in sport. You have to play with faith. That’s what we are witnessing in those moments that make us hold our breath. Moments like Mahomes with 13 seconds left, moments like a three-pointer at the buzzer. Moments like a catcher, tossing a kickball between their legs to save a run at home or a man in a taco costume hustling out a ground ball kick. In those moments we’re all having the same experience. And that’s magic.

Hope you have a magical Memorial Day.

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