Promoting Wellness through softball at the URMC

Promoting Wellness through softball at the URMC

NOTE THIS ARTICLE Promoting Wellness through softball at the URMC (D & C) first appeared in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Due to server change some of the pictures are missing.

• August 6, 2015

During the summer, I am a recreational softball umpire. Contrary to popular mythology umpires do not really get abused. Unless we make a really bad call. That I, myself, have not yet done in 15 years.

Almost all the time, along with the players, we relish summer evenings and weekend afternoons outside: Big Sky azure sunsets at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Henrietta, the electricity of urban ball under the lights at Cobb’s Hill, the diamond at Hamlin State Park Beach where Lake Ontario glints beyond center field. The barbecue after the Sunday Firemans game in Mendon.

Perhaps my favorite venue is the University of Rochester Medical Center League (most players are affiliated with the Center) in Genesee Valley Park.  The mood relaxed and good humored. The play can be spirited but always in good fun. A nice blend of socialization and softball. And on some Wednesdays were are entertained by a popular Drum Circle and a throng of dancing Hula Hoopers. With a certain light but distinctive aroma wafting over the field.

As an umpire, one benefit of the League is the immediate medical attention I receive if suddenly injured. On Wednesday a stray foul ball careened into my unprotected (other parts were) chest. Thankfully, a team of trained medical personal rushed to my assistance. I survived my near death experience and was quickly back to calling balls and strikes.

Barely surviving a dire injury (Photo: DAVID KRAMER)

I also learned the League, which is run by the URMC Fitness and Wellness Center,  is about more than softball.

The URMC is a high stress environment. And the Fitness and Wellness Center plays an integral part in maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle, both during and outside the work day. As explained to me by Patrick Robbins who organizes softball and other sports leagues, the Center, located right in the center of Strong Hospital, provides activities, fitness equipment and a full size gym 24 hours a day for staff, students and even some patients, as well as a Fun Fitness Camp in the summer for many of the staff’s children.

During his ten years running the softball league, Patrick has seen how participation can promote wellness. As he says, “Its a great chance for co-workers and students to get outside of the university, play some ball and just enjoy the summer.  Wellness can be enhanced by “something as basic as team comradery.”

And people keep coming back.  Patrick sees many of the same names on rosters each year, and even some of the same team names, like the X-Raiders. I think the same curmudgeonly Physics prof has been there for a decade still doubting the validity of my strike zone. And the games provide plenty of material for water cooler conversation. Even the occasional choice word directed at an umpire. Myself not included of course.

On umpiring from the Brighton Pittsford Post

On umpiring from the Brighton Pittsford Post


The umpires are back. No complaining!

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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