What adult would turn down the invite to get out of the office and run around on a playground in the sun all day?
Jennifer Freedman doesn’t hide her enthusiasm about the day of play. In fact, she struggles to be succinct when asked to describe her team’s experience of the Playworks Portland Corporate Kickball Tournament in one word.
“It brought out the kid in everybody. There were a couple of crazy plays like when one player caught the ball and their sunglasses flew off. It was a blast and we totally look forward to participating again,” she says.
Jennifer was the bandleader, organizing the Columbia Sportswear team comprised of employees from the Footwear division.
“We just went to have fun and not take it too seriously,” Jennifer explains, pointing out that some competitors were more focused on the competition. She said the Columbia team used the event as a chance to “come together and not talk about work or argue about shoes."
"We are friendly with each other and have good working relationships" she remarks. "But it was exactly what we needed. We had a great time, and we and ended up taking home the trophy!”
Last year, they were invited to just enter a team for the Corporate Kickball Fundraiser. They ended up enjoying the team-building aspect so much that this year people from all areas of Footwear (sales, development, design, and merchandising) rallied to play or just to be at the field to help or cheer.
According to Jennifer, “We had too many volunteers and ran out of tee shirts. It was very much a real team effort.” She points out how insightful it is to see colleagues display their strengths and natural leadership abilities in a setting outside of work.
In the same way that kids are transformed by the Playworks’ organized recess teaching model, corporate kickball teams are tangibly reminded of how fair and collaborative playtime can enhance conflict resolution and mutual respect –even with what Jennifer describes as some innocent and friendly smack-talking that goes on between teams from various companies and industries.
Though the kickball event is all about recreation and bonding in the name of critical fundraising that supports Playworks programs, the Columbia team admits that maybe they’ll actually work on their kickball skills before the next tournament. After all, they have a first-place title to defend.
Columbia SportswearBugaboot All Stars Team. Jennifer Freedman is to the left of the child in the front row.