|SFTS students gets their kicks during play day on Bouick Field|
By Dori Kay Hjalmarson
San Francisco Theological Seminary students attending “J-term” Hebrew and Greek intensive classes blew off steam and celebrated an unusually warm, dry winter by resurrecting a tradition of intersession athletic competition – kickball under the redwoods.
Having at least a 10-year age advantage, the youthful second-year PollyTheists, named for Biblical Greek Professor Dr. Polly Coote, beat the first-year Hebrew Golden Calves (get it?) 7-3 on Bouick Field in January.
“Maybe you should have gone with Geriatric Calves,” said Hebrew Professor Mary Frances Wogec, who watched from the sidelines as pulled hamstrings and twisted ankles downed several students. Or perhaps Torah Ligament.
The slipping and sliding in the mud between second and third bases and the ridiculousness of adults trying, and failing, to catch a bouncy red rubber ball provided laughs and stress-relief during a marathon of six-hour days of studying the biblical languages.
The game began after the Hebrew class spent the morning translating parts of Exodus 3 in a midterm exam. It ended with a party in the garage of Trinity House hosted by Greek co-captain Cameron Highsmith.
"I am delighted to see an ancient tradition revived,” Coote said. “First there was Hebrew-Greek softball when languages were summer sports, then football (way too messy, ended up in the ER), then bocce ball…then nothing. Until now!”
Kickball may seem like a stretch to be considered an athletic endeavor, but the fact remains that SFTS students have historically found ways to stay active. The seminary has fielded competitive club soccer teams recently, students, faculty and staff participate in the annual Seminary to Sea hike from San Anselmo to Stinson Beach at the beginning of the academic year, and SFTS even has a gym on campus.
A look back at history reveals that SFTS’s move from San Francisco to Marin County was done in part, because of the healthy environment, said to promote the development of mind and body. Activities in the 1920s included football, baseball, boxing, fencing and soccer as the “muscular Christianity” movement abounded.
The SFTS Bulletin magazine reported in 1922: “Physical development is not neglected. Athletics are encouraged. Gymnasium is required. The Seminary believes that to reach (ones) efficiency as a minister one must be a virile (person).”
Nearly 100 years later, the SFTS community enjoys close proximity to hiking trails, nearby roads have evolved into some of the most popular biking corridors in Northern California, and Bouick Field is perfect for Frisbee, tossing a football, or even a game of kickball between Hebrew and Greek students.
Dori Kay Hjalmarson is an SFTS M.Div. junior.