It’s a Tuesday night and you are wondering what might be happy-ning in Fall Creek. If you listen carefully you’ll hear happy, energetic voices hollering “drop her right in there,” “good one,” or “yeah, all right!” These gleeful voices, punctuated with random laughter and clapping, are not coming from the ball field or even the bar. Nope, they are wafting up from the basement of St. James Trinity Lutheran Church.
Running between September and March, members from the Fall Creek Valley Church Dartball League meet on Tuesday evenings in various church basements to play the game and enjoy socializing with one another. They set up chairs in two lines with opposing teams facing one another. Individual team members (batters) take turns as they throw darts underhanded toward a square dart board placed twenty five feet from the pitcher’s line. The dart board resembles a baseball field, with bases, strikes, out, fouls, home run, and other markings. The batter throws darts until s/he is safe or out. When a team has three outs, the other team takes over, just like in baseball.
The Fall Creek Valley Church Dartball League was organized in 1953 and has continued uninterrupted (with one name change) since that time. The league currently consists of teams from: Zion Lutheran Church (Cleghorn), two teams from Bethlehem Lutheran (rural Fall Creek), Grace Lutheran (Augusta), St. John’s Lutheran (rural Fall Creek) and St. James Trinity Lutheran (Fall Creek).
In order to play a game, each team must have at least six players, though no more than nine can participate at a time. According to the 2015-2016 team roster: Zion has 14 members; Bethlehem 18 (divided into two teams); Grace 8; St. John’s 9; and St. James Trinity 8. There are three women from Bethlehem and one from St. James Trinity. There are several high school students on the roster and two students currently in junior high.
Team members cheer each other on as they carefully toss the brightly colored darts toward the board. Batters receive plenty of verbal support, fist bumps and pats on the back for their efforts. There is light conversation, but everyone is focused on the game while batters take their position, aim carefully, and send the dart careening in hopes of scoring points.
The games usually finish about 10:00 p.m. when snacks make an appearance and socialization heightens. The players enjoy sandwiches, cookies, and sometimes even pizza. Though the game of dartball isn’t particularly physical, the excitement and competitive energy encourages player appetite, no matter what time it is!
This Tuesday night is the last game prior to the spring banquet, which offers players a time for remembering the season, enjoying good food, and receiving well-earned awards. This particular evening is special because a long-term-member, Bill Tumm, has come to play. He hasn’t felt well enough to come most of the season, but came tonight with a big smile on his face, a great throwing arm, and tons of support from everyone. Despite his 93 years, he threw the darts like a champion! Bravo to Bill for sharing his time with others while enjoying this sport. If there is room in your Tuesday evening schedule, take an example from Bill and start practicing your dart throwing skills!