But this year the Decatur Women’s Sports League will pause to remember a fallen friend before taking the field to launch its spring season of Friday night games.
Laura Zekoll — sailor, pilot, business owner and a founding member of the Women’s League — was lost at sea in November and is presumed dead. She was participating in a yacht race when the boat she was in capsized and she was washed out of the lifeboat. Her body was never recovered.
Zekoll, 46, was a fixture of several nonprofits, including Breakthrough House for women dealing with addiction, and played on a number of Atlanta’s gay and lesbian sports teams.
“What’s so remarkable about her is when she was 16 years old, she was in an accident and her arm was ripped off. They were able to reattach it but she had to learn to do everything with her left hand and so she helped people with their recoveries,” League founder Anne “Sarge” Barr says. “She just lived life as if it was an adventure, with no fear.”
Members of Zekoll’s family will throw out the first pitch as the league celebrates the start of its fourth season on March 11 with a ceremony and a group photograph.
“This has been something that I’ve wanted to do every year since the start of the league, and this year we’re able to do it,” Barr says. “We will take one big picture with everyone and then have team photographs.”
Known for its laid-back vibe, the Decatur Women’s Sports League was founded with softball and has now grown to offer multiple sports, including bowling, basketball, tennis, volleyball and badminton.
But the league is more about the people playing the games than the games themselves.
“We’re excited about that because it’s not just about sports, it’s about family,” Barr says.
The league will celebrate its first marriage later this year and Barr says it’s helped a number of its members land jobs. “It’s a good place to look for jobs because people network and it keeps growing and there’s a lot of professional women out there,” she said.
Decatur Women’s League welcomes new players throughout the season. “It is not too late because we always have teams that seem to merge or change or we have signups and so we’ll find them a spot,” Barr says. “We charge by the game not the whole season.”
Beyond operating expenses, all of the funds raised by the Decatur Women’s Sports League go to the Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative. The league has raised more than $50,000 for ALHI since its inception.