The Riverview Softball League (RSL) started in January 2021 with a total of 40 players participating. Since then, the nonprofit league has expanded to 13 coed teams and includes 150 men and women that play every Sunday from 4-8 p.m. at Progress Village Park during the fall and spring seasons. Players range in age from 18-60 and come from cities such as Riverview, Apollo Beach, Sun City Center and Gibsonton.
The minority-owned nonprofit organization has teamed up with ECHO of Brandon to help needy families in the Tampa area. During this season, the RSL is sponsoring the Soles 4 Souls ECHO program, in which it will be collecting new and gently used shoes for men, women and children every Sunday until June 26.
Most of the teams in the RSL are sponsored by local businesses, such as Play It Again Sports, Pistolese’s Pizzeria, Edward Jones, Four Stacks Brewing Company, D-Bat in Ruskin, Fitlife and Cigar City Brewing, to name a few. It also has different locally owned food trucks come each Sunday to provide food.
“We are a close-knit, tight family,” said RSL Vice President Kym Graves-Kalu. “We like to keep all of our operations, our dollars and services inside the South Hillsborough County area.”
Graves-Kalu and RSL President Corey Manley have played coed softball for a long time and felt that there was a need for the league in the community because there weren’t any in nearby areas. She said that all the revenue that the organization gets, such as sponsorships, donations and league fees, go back into the league for field maintenance, rentals and umpires. The league is recreational and family-friendly.
“Our league has brought neighbors and teammates together to where they are not just a softball team, but they are friends and they commune outside of softball and they do other activities together,” said Manley. “It’s really created a camaraderie between not just the teammates but the league as a whole. I feel that our league has done a really good job of bringing communities together.”
Graves-Kalu, Manley and the rest of the league have goals of expanding even further. They have recently formed a men’s league with six teams.