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Field of Dreams: Kickball in the Village of Mattoon

Story By Andrew Goldstein
Local Sports Published 10/13/2020 9:12PM
Mattoon -
Drive into Mattoon on County Road Z and it'll be on your left: a diamond that looks like something from "Field of Dreams."

"It's a really close community and really nice facility here," said Clayton Schroeder. "It is kind of a local area for all of us to congregate.

Schroeder leads a team called the Small-Town Defenders, a group of friends from around Antigo that takes on all challengers, especially in the annual Mattoon village kickball tournament.

"We've been playing kickball here every Sunday night for close to five years almost," Schroeder said. "We had won, the tournament the previous year, so we wanted to I guess go with the small town. And then defenders, we were defending our title. So that's where the name came from."

This tournament originally started as a way to save the now-closed Mattoon Elementary School.

Now those kids are bused to Antigo and kickball is a chance to get some people commuting the other way.

"Everybody here wants to see the advancement of the Mattoon area and just to give the area things to do," said tournament volunteer Corey Zarda. "We want to give people a reason to come to Mattoon."

The Defenders can't think of anything better than kickball to make the case for this village.

"Any age group can play," Schroeder said. "It's low impact so you didn't have the baseball flying around at four and five year olds' heads and stuff like that. And it's still a ton of fun."
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