After five years of kickball dominance, Robby Morgan is revealing his strategy.
Maybe he feels sorry for opposing coach Johnny Boyd or for his sister, Cindy Cochran, who has yet to reach base. Or maybe he feels sorry for his other sister, Lisa Spence, who always seems to be picked last.
Or maybe Robby Morgan feels guilty for always snatching up his nephew, former Greenbrier baseball standout and Georgia Tech sophomore Jeff Rowland, and son, Greenbrier baseball player Ben Morgan.
Whatever the reason, Robby is letting everyone in on his strategy, which he goes over with his team before the family holds its Thanksgiving kickball game at Patriots Park each year.
"You kick the ball and, basically, you don't go to first base," he said. "Those two guys (Ben Morgan and Rowland) are so quick that you should be on second or third whenever you get on base and just keep running. That's kind of how we do it."
It might not be rocket science. But in a game that's grown as competitive as this one over its five-year history, ceding any advantage could be costly.
Robby Morgan's team has won all five years, but he said the final margin has been one or two runs each year. The length of the game is not set in stone, and is often determined by the temperature, the remaining daylight or which team is ahead.
Thursday's game will be the sixth installment.
Robby Morgan and Boyd are always the opposing coaches. Their teams include a few of the same names -- Jeff and Ben always play for Robby. And Spence, somehow, is always picked last, despite being known as the most athletic of her siblings.
Boyd has been rumored to have tried to pay Greenbrier softball player Casey Rowland to play for him this year. But Casey appears to be leaning toward playing for the perennial winner.
"We're going to change that," Carole Rowland said. "We're going to win this year."
Cochran is credited with founding the annual event, an idea to give the active family some exercise on a day when so much food is consumed.
The game was held one year at Stevens Creek Elementary. For the most part, the venue has been Patriots Park, where the game will take place Thursday afternoon.
The core players include siblings Robby Morgan, Donna Morgan, Carole Rowland, Cochran and Spence. Their children include Ben, Jeff, Casey, KK Rowland, Lakeside tennis player Haley Spence, Stallings Island Middle School tennis player Ashley Spence and Martinez-Evans Little Leaguer Avery Boyd.
Friends and significant others also have been welcome. Jeff's friend and former Lakeside football player Jermel Bennett has been a staple at the games, as has Carole's boyfriend, area golf pro and former professional baseball player Scott Allen.
The athletic pedigree often will lead to fierce, but friendly, competition.
"Sometimes, it gets a little out of hand," said Jeff, who batted .335 last season for the Yellow Jackets. "Some of us don't talk to each other at the dinner table afterwards, but that's all right."
Robby, Donna, Carole, Cindy and Lisa lost their parents at a young age, and their aunts and uncles have also passed away, the last a veteran of the kickball games who died this year. The siblings say the game has helped them stick together.
Carole was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis this year and expects to keeps score for Thursday's game.
"It's a great way for all of us to get along with each other, with all the age groups," Carole said. "We're trying to pass down tradition to our children."
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