426th IOS outkicks, outwits opponents

Staff Sgt. Randy N. Blevins
426th Information Operations Squadron

***image1***The 426th Information Operations Squadron cemented its standing as one of the great military kickball teams May 24 winning an eight-team tournament to grab the championship title.

Why kickball? These were the wishes of Col. Pete Ellis, 431st Air Base Group commander, on the day of his farewell celebration. Colonel Ellis wanted to go out playing a sport that demands a blend of athletic prowess, quick thinking and sometimes even a little trickery, he said.

Sure the game is played with a small rubber ball, but hey, that ball bounces and well, you try kicking a small bouncing rubber ball. The 426th IOS did just that and came away champions of an eight-team tournament.

The coach of the victors, Master Sgt. Brian Schramm, said, “usually in these games, the team that kicks the best wins the game and it was no different today.”

 “We put a lot of leather on rubber and got a few fortunate bounces. I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” Sergeant Schramm said. “We sweated and bled together out there today, but in the end, we were just happy to bring yet another championship back to the squadron.” 

The day started with the 426th IOS advancing from a bye. The next game verified the right to the bye as they kicked their way to a 12-0 victory.
The 431st Civil Engineering Squadron came calling next, and they were a formidable opponent, but still couldn’t break through against the baffling pitching of Staff Sgt. Randy Blevins, falling 2-0 in the end. The side-slinging kickball hurler was still feeling it even after the game, “man, they weren’t touching my stuff today,” he said. “I had the sidewinder really working and my knee-bopper was untouchable.”

What’s a knee-bopper, you ask? “The knee-bopper stays real low along the ground until it reaches the kicker and then it jumps up and bounces off their knee. It really messes with their timing and looks pretty funny − it’s like those old Goofy cartoons when Goofy swings and misses the ball and ties himself in a knot.”

Back to kickball. The 431st CES would get a chance for revenge as they won their way back to the championship game of this double-elimination tournament. Things looked good early in the game for the 431st CES as they jumped out to a one-run lead.

The resolve of a champion could not be denied though and the 426th IOS warriors proved they were champion material. The boots heated up and the kicks started falling. After a few well-placed funts (this is like a bunt only with the foot) and some timely kicking, the 426th IOS was back on top. 

They never trailed again and held on for a stunning come-from-behind 2-1 victory.

In all seriousness, it was a lot of fun for all of the competitors and a great way to send off Colonel Ellis to his next assignment, while thanking him for all of his leadership and support to the organizations on Vogelweh, Sembach, Einsiedlerhof and Kapaun over the past two years. As defending Commander’s Cup Champions in the small-unit competition, the 426th IOS was proud to once again excel on the athletic field. Congratulations to all the competitors and good luck to Colonel Ellis in Korea.

There has been talk of making this an annual event, if this kickball dream becomes a reality, the 426th welcomes all challengers. Happy kicking!