A small crowd begins to gather on the walking path that winds along a playing field in Huntersville Athletic Park.
It only takes a few minutes of watching before they are sucked in by the tension in the air. They sit on the ground to wait out the result.
"No stress! No stress!" shouts a sidelined player in a blue shirt to a teammate on the field. Behind him, the voice of a boy hidden by leaves in a nearby tree piles on more pressure as he chants "Let's go Red," over and over.
"Whoever wins this is the season champion," explains Charles Hounshell, 33, a spectator parked in a lawn chair just outside the game's lines. The intensity mounts.
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In the final moments, a blue-clad Ballaholic slides toward home base, narrowly missing the oversized rubber ball hurled toward him by a member of the red team's Natural Born Kickers.
Within seconds, it's over. A bottle of champagne is uncorked, spraying the gold medals that have just been placed around the necks of the new Go Kickball league champions.
Kickball has become the newest rage in Charlotte among adults, thanks in part to organizations like Go Kickball, which helps to form adult leagues across the nation.
Since its launch by a group of friends five years ago in Atlanta, Go Kickball has spread to 26 cities in 10 states. Charlotte joined two and a half years ago, and now has two leagues, one in Huntersville and another in Fort Mill.
Moriah Koch, Athletic Director for Go Kickball in Charlotte, said the reason for the childhood game's revival is simple.
"It's not very intimidating," she said. "No matter your athletic ability, you can get out and have fun. It's a great way to meet people."
That's why Suzanne Clavette, 24, who works in production at Speed TV, joined two seasons ago.
"I'm not from here so it was a great way to make new friends, "said Clavette, who moved to the Davis Lake community in Charlotte from Florida less than a year ago.
Greg Cornelius, 25, who works for AMVETS and lives in the Nevins community, tried other adult leagues after he graduated from high school, but nothing clicked like kickball.
"I was trying to find something for a long time. I tried softball, then I found this," said Cornelius.
Hounshell, 33, who works in aviation operations at Charlotte- Douglas International Airport, said he was hesitant when friends invited him to a game last year.
"The initial concept was a little ridiculous, the childhood grade-school game being played by adults," he said. "Then it just looked like too much fun. I had to get signed up and start playing."
From attorneys to computer specialists, waitresses to truck drivers, Koch said the league's main goal has always been to offer opportunities to socialize. Each league adopts a local bar where teams gather after each game.
The time commitment is small. A season lasts just eight weeks, with one game per week. Practices are up to the individual teams, said Koch, but most don't hold them.
"A lot of people don't have time to spend three, four a nights a week."
Hounshell, who lives in Addison Park and has played for two seasons, is glad to have the chance to once again play the game he remembers fondly as a kid.
"Whether you're in grade school or an adult playing, it's just a whole lot of fun, and that's the key thing,' he said. "Getting out, being social and having a whole lot of fun."