Revealing the Story Behind the Story
Where To Begin? Let’s Start With Softball and Then Run
This dissertation is a relational and heuristic journey that starts with the introduction of my
doctoral program through the serendipitous route of playing softball. Here I played on a
unique softball team started by David and Alice Kolb, both involved with the Weatherhead
School of Management at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in Cleveland, Ohio
and pioneering innovators in the arena of experiential learning. This softball field became a
learning laboratory for play and this continuous pickup game is still going strong under the
name “Free Play Softball League.”
As David A. Kolb, the team founder notes in the article Learning to play, playing to learn,
“softball was too much fun to be left only to those who could play well” (Kolb & Kolb, 2010)
and I agree. The early history of the team started out as a typically competitive intramural
slugfest in the mid-1970s at Case Western Reserve University between different
departments and fraternity groups. The games became increasingly aggressive and
competitive over time. As Kolb reveals, “the OB team, which was much more inclusive
when it came to its composition (composed of men, women, and physically disabled
individuals with varying skill levels) found itself at a disadvantage playing against highly
skilled competitive, intramural teams” (Kolb & Kolb, 2010).
The formation of a new league was an attempt to have a game that was inclusive and
welcoming to all skill levels. In 1991, a new team was initiated by a pressure-free invitation
via a friends asking friends search. The team that morphed over time was an enthusiastic,
motley crew of folks from all walks of life, skill levels, gender, shapes, ages, ethnicities, and
socio-economic backgrounds who showed up every Sunday to play from April to
November (or until the first big snow). Our weekly softball game was a special place, and
we all recognized it, but rarely discussed what it meant to us on a personal level maybe
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