Kickin’ It

All Meredith and Jason Goucher really want to know is this: Do you want to come out and play?
     Anticipating an affirmative answer, this past winter the couple launched East Nashville Sports, an alternative sports league featuring kickball, Whiffle ball, and rock & roll cornhole.
     Kickball sign-ups began the first week in May, and the seven- week season debuts under the lights at Shelby Park in June. Games will take place every Thursday night at 6:30 p.m., a fulfillment of Meredith and Jason’s master plan to “kick the weekend off early.”
     “He’s found his happy hole here,” Meredith says of her husband’s love for the sports league. “Look at him — he’s glowing.”
     It’s true: Jason’s all-consuming passion in life seems to be kickball. When he talks about it, it’s like watching an 8-yearold boy talk about outer space, complete with animated hand gestures and a giddy incapacity to sit still in his seat.
     “It’s just something we love to do, and we feel like the community needs it,” he says. “It’s a break-the-routine thing. I mean, people can go out and sit at a table and drink if they want to, but it’s like, ‘Hey, let’s do something different. Let’s be active. Let’s play a game we played when we were kids.’ It’s very noncompetitive, all about having fun.”
     The spring season of rock & roll cornhole began in April at The Crying Wolf on Woodland Street and will run through May 21. Each evening of competition features a theme, such as Wet Hot American Summer, My Bloody Valentine, Tarantino, and Dazed and Confused, with music and participants’ costumes fitting the motif.
     When Meredith and Jason get an idea, they follow through. What many folks would consider passing whims of fancy become massive undertakings for them, and the inspiration can come from anywhere.
     The origins of their relationship are murky, but according to Jason, “like a jerk,” he rejected her invitation to dance at a house party in Murfreesboro in 2004, telling her that he was “allergic to dancing.” A few weeks later at another party, he found her “wrestling with some dude in the living room and stopped to ask if everything was cool,” before heading back out to the patio to hang with his friends, who were members of a “guttural, fantasy, metal band, named Destroy, Destroy, Destroy.”
     “The guy I was wrestling with wouldn’t stop licking my face,” Meredith coolly explains. “He was in a ska band and worked at a local, vintage clothing store. I was trying to wrestle him to the floor to get him to stop. It was my totally nonaggressive way to get him off of me — and when I was done, I went out to the patio to see if those guys could get my back.”
     Jason was enamored. Two weeks later, Meredith left town for the summer. “I was totally kidding with him when I left,” she says. “I told him, ‘If you’re really into this, you have to write me a love letter every day that I’m gone.’ And he did! He wrote me a letter every day for three months and called every night at 10 p.m., because that’s when we had free minutes.”
     They were married in 2013, and the result of their union is a palpable celebration of living that doesn’t stop at kickball and wrestling.
     They spent two years (2009-2011) making a B horror flick called Girls’ Night Out about lady hipsters at a clothing swap who get tweaked out on pills and start killing each other for body parts. Meredith came up with the idea while volunteering at the Southern Girls Rock & Roll Camp. She attended a “swap and shop” one of the women was throwing.
     “Everyone kept complimenting each other, you know how women do. ‘Oh, I’d die for your legs,’” she recalls. “So I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if we just started killing each other? Wouldn’t that be a funny movie? Maybe I should make a movie!’ I had no business doing it. I didn’t even own a video camera, but they all got behind me. Women like me. They totally got it.” Jason was the props guy and did all of the music with a little help from Matt Hearn of Turbo Fruits and Brian Kotzur of Silver Jews.

With the establishment of East Nashville Sports, these paragons of playfulness are extending an open invitation to the neighborhood “to come out and have a good time.” They’re hopeful to have Whiffle ball up and running by the fall, but in the meantime, Jason says, “It’s getting warm, it’s time for kickball.”
     For any of the ENS leagues, players can sign up online (www.eastnashvillesports. com) as a team captain, a team player, or a free agent. The cost is $50 per person per season, less than $5 per game, and there are, of course, prizes.
     The spoils that go to the top three teams are grab bag gift cards from local sponsors: Bongo Java, 5 Points Pizza, I Dream of Weenie, Fond Object Records, Pied Piper Creamery, Sky Blue, Bagel Face Bakery, and Turtle Anarchy Brewery. They’re also hoping to have food trucks on-site this summer to fuel the crowd. Drink specials at the cornhole tournaments are provided by Turtle Anarchy.
     Spectators are welcome, and it is rumored that “Randy Summers, Tennessee’s worst Hulk Hogan Impersonator,” might make an appearance on the kickball field.
     Meredith hopes “the people who participate just want to play or meet new people. Maybe they’re new to town, or have been here a while and just want a change.”
     “It’s about having fun,” Jason says, “taking us back to a place when things really didn’t matter that much — because when it comes down to it, it’s adult recreational kickball. It’s not the Super Bowl.”
     Kickball, leg warmers, banjo players in cleats and short shorts — that’s what they’re peddling. If you’re looking for a good time in a throwback sort of a way, East Nashville Sports is for you.
     “It’s way more fun than sitting on the couch.” Jason concludes.

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