Bridgewater woman’s pandemic project turns into a life-changing experience for dozens of women

One 50-year-old woman from Bridgewater decided that the pandemic was the perfect time to round up her friends to play a game that she hasn’t played since elementary school. The result was something far more than she ever imagined.

News 12 Staff

Aug 6, 2021, 12:59 AM

Updated 1,073 days ago

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When most of the world went into lockdown at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people started new hobbies as a way to pass the time.
One 50-year-old woman from Bridgewater decided that the pandemic was the perfect time to round up her friends to play a game that she hasn’t played since elementary school. The result was something far more than she ever imagined.
At Chimney Rock Park in Bridgewater, 20 middle-aged women got ready for a game of kickball. It was the first-ever “Not in the Face Kickball League” championship game.
The game took place between the undefeated team Less Than Zero and the underdog, Sixteen Candles. It was the grand finale of an idea kicked off last year by Nicole Rutigliano.
“I was feeling sad and I was feeling out of shape and I was stuck at home through COVID and everything,” Rutigliano says.
Rutigliano put up a few flyers and a social media post to see if any other women over 40 wanted to play.
“I was hoping to get like maybe 15 to 20 women,” she says.
One friend’s husband scoffed at the idea, saying that it was too dorky and that no one would sign up. But it turns out that he was dead wrong.
“Everybody, turns out, is a dork,” Rutigliano says.
Rutigliano didn’t just recruit enough people for a game. She had enough to form a whole league – 110 women overall from all walks of life. There are six teams, with a six-week schedule and a playoff tournament that ended with the championship.
“I was feeling so emotional just to see all my friends that I didn’t even see before COVID, actually,” Rutigliano says.
The teams are all named after 1980s movies, such as “The Breakfast Club” and “Pretty in Pink.”
“This past year has been rough and I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time,” says player Gwen Stanton.
Team Less Than Zero scored the last out of the season and defeated their opponents. But all the players say that the experience was the true winner.
“What started as a simple game of kickball, wound up being an epic season, where so many friends who had never even met each other. Everyone came together and played,” says player Elizabeth Ianuzzi.
The league is looking for more players for next year. Any woman over the age of 40 in the Bridgewater area can play.


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