previous post: Intern Return: Exposing Interns to Wichita
next post: Restaurant Gems in Wichita

August 21, 2014

Young Professionals League of Softball Creates Memories and Lifelong Friendships

By Sundee Dunn, Ambassadors Action Team Member

Suzy Finn - YPW Executive Director

Members of YPLS wait in line for burgers at the 2nd annual pre-July 4th BBQ

 

August 2014 wrapped up the eighth season for the Young Professionals League of Softball (YPLS). YPLS was established in 2007 when a group of young professionals (YPs) realized there was demand for a co-ed softball league, and it has been a success ever since.

Cory Theobald, a returning player since the formation of YPLS, was on team purple this year. He said:

“I recommend this to anyone who is even vaguely interested. It doesn’t matter if you have never picked up a bat, I was new to Wichita and didn’t know anyone. You get put on a team with 16 other players. This being my eighth season, now I know about half the people.”

The unique thing about this semi-competitive league is that it allows YPs to network in a fun environment. You sign up individually or with only one other teammate; the teams are then formed by random assignment. Participants simply tell the administrator their skill level – from “college pro” to “what is a cleat?”.

Theobald’s advice to new players includes, “Don’t wait, because it sells out in about two weeks! Everyone knows this is going to be a good time.”

Players must be older than 21, with the majority of participants falling in the 21-40 age range, although there are no exclusions for players over 40. With 12 teams of 15-18 players, almost 200 YPs play each year.

Everything starts with a pre-season party bus to visit previous and potential sponsor bars – 100 YPs hop on every spring, and invitations are sent to past players and superfans, as well as shared via social media.

At the kickoff party in May, players find out what team they are on and who their coach is, and they meet their teammates for the next 12 weeks. Games are then played on Wednesday nights starting in May and ending in August. Every week there is a sponsor bar where most of the 200+ players and fans go to enjoy drink specials and mingle.

Jaimie Zellner was on team brown in her third year participating in YPLS. Zellner enjoys the diversity of the YPLS members and being put on a random team:

“I didn’t know anyone when I moved to Wichita. I thought this would be a great way to meet other YPs and get outside more often since I sit in an office all day. Now some of my best friends are people I met through YPLS, and one of them is my boyfriend.”

Her advice for YPs thinking about YPLS, “Definitely do it! Even if you are not great at softball this is a great way to network and it’s not a serious league; it’s about having fun and getting to know others!”

For those who don’t want to play, the “Super Fan” option is a great way to get all the benefits without getting dirty! Super Fans pick the Superstar they want to cheer for, and the committee assigns them to that person’s team. The fans still receive a t-shirt of the same color, get a list of games, and are encouraged to the sponsor bar after the weekly games.

YPLS is planned by a committee of volunteers each year who run the website, assign teams, get sponsor bars committed, and more. The 2014 committee consisted of Rene Campirano, Mike Converse, Michael Turenne, David Wilder and Jeanette Wilder.

Mike Converse was on team red and has been playing since 2012. He was asked to be on the committee after being involved for a couple of years:

“I heard some friends from Young Professionals of Wichita talking about YPLS and thought it was a great way to meet new people. Now I have life-long friends from playing in YPLS.”

 

Mike Converse bats during a game against team brown in July 2014

Mike Converse bats during a game against team brown in July 2014

 

Even though this is a semi-competitive league, many participants still play to win. Awards were given to teams halfway through the season and at the conclusion of the tournament, including to the team that had won the most games and the team that had the most presence at the sponsor bars each week. The end-of-season party also includes a raffle. Past prizes have included TVs, iPads, iPods, gift cards, and more.

As YPLS grows it is getting involved in the community as well with League 42 – a league formed to expose kids to baseball who otherwise would not get to play due to financial hardship. YPLS plans to donate gloves, balls, and time to help League 42.

 

Jeanette Wilder presents a check to Yellow Team member and League42 coach Gary Rapp on behalf of YPLS.

Jeanette Wilder presents a check to Yellow Team member and League42 coach Gary Rapp on behalf of YPLS.

 

Converse said since YPLS has been such a success they are looking to form new YP leagues. At the end of the 2014 season, the league announced the formation of the first co-ed kickball league in Wichita, the Young Professionals League of Kickball. Teams are forming now, and there are less than 60 spots left to be part of the inaugural season. You can sign up on the YPLS site now!

Additional opportunities for the future may include other sports such as dodge ball. If you have an interest in helping get these leagues started, or if you are interested in playing next year please email the committee at wichitasoftball@gmail.com. Visit the website for more information at yplswichita.com.

Note: YPLS is not affiliated with Young Professionals of Wichita, though many of our members participate in the league.

All photos courtesy of Cory Theobald.

Leave a Reply

Welcome to W

Same mission. New name. Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) is now W. Join us as we move forward into our next chapter of building tomorrow’s leaders today.
wyoungpros.com