Walter Ford: Filling the void |

Walter Ford: Filling the void

I was tossing the softball around with my pre-teen daughter over the weekend.

It’s one of our favorite things to do with our down time. Playing catch is such a simple, effective and timeless way to bond. We talk about the game. We talk about life. We talk about growing up. We laugh. And, most importantly, we connect.

But as we tossed the ball back and forth, a brutal wave of reality washed over me — there would be no Saturdays at the ballpark this spring, there would be no car trips to Sacramento for doubleheaders, no game-winning hits and no opportunities for my daughter to test herself mentally and physically while playing the sport she loves. The season has been called off by the Nevada County Girls Softball Association due to the COVID-19 pandemic, much like most organized sports throughout the land.

So how do we fill this void? How do we sate the lack of friendly competition in our lives?

Here’s a few ideas of games/competitions/activities that can be done around the house to offer some respite from the real world and remind you how much fun it is to compete.

Obstacle course: At my house we built a rudimentary obstacle course that traverses about a half acre in our back yard. It’s riddled with mini-tests of physical strength and endurance, including monkey bars, a tire pull, running on stones, catching multiple balls tossed at you from other competitors and more. It’s been a lot fun for the whole fam.

Putt-putt golf: This can be done outside or inside. Develop a series of holes throughout the house and put your short game to the test. This can be a lot fun, especially when holes take on a more “Mouse Trap” feel to them. Make it as complicated as you want and be sure to take video. Who knows, an improbable putt that traverses several rooms in your house may very well go viral.

HORSE: Even if you don’t have an outdoor hoop at your house, this can still be done with a waste basket and a Nerf ball, or wadded up pieces of paper for that matter. HORSE is a classic game that most of us know and love. Your at-home competitions will likely be just as exciting and satisfying as the awful ones between pro players that are being televised on ESPN.

Other suggestions include darts, horseshoes and cornhole. Heck, you could develop a backyard Olympics of sorts and combine them all into a quarantine decathlon.

The point is to make sure to make time for physical activity that results in a smile.


As we all do what we can to stay active and in shape during the pandemic, I will feature a local gym or workout facility in this column each week. Today, we take a look at Fit Culture Studio in Nevada City.

Fit Culture owner Joey Bratton is staying connected with his clients electronically, offering several classes which are streamed online, as well as staying active on social media with daily posts on wellness, mental wellness, nutrition, recipes and weekly challenges.

Classes being live streamed online include: large group exercise circuit training for full body fitness done mostly with body weight, a senior group exercise class, mat pilates, yoga, Fit Culture Recovery (stretching and yoga) and a fit kids class.

“Our goal at fit culture studio has always been consistency and helping people to develop that kind of fitness and wellness lifestyle they enjoy, so they can build it into their lifestyle over the long run and it can be something sustainable,” said Bratton. “Now that things have done a 180, it’s a whole other ball game to try to engage and keep people sticking with those habits. We’re doing everything in our power to keep people consistent, so when the time comes and we transition back, people haven’t fallen off.”

Bratton said 85-90% of Fit Culture members have taken advantage of the online options. If interested in learning more about what Fit Culture has to offer, visit

“Healthy habits right now are so critical because it’s hard,” said Bratton. “People are saying they don’t know if its Saturday or Wednesday. It all feels the same. Just the structure and how we go about our daily lives are so drastically different, but to be able to get in good workouts and do things to take care of the mind, body and soul is super, super important right now.”

To other local gym owners out there, let me know what you’re doing to keep clients active during these unprecedented times.


With play on courts and fields halted, professional athletes have had the opportunity to flex their philanthropic muscles. Stephen Curry and his wife Ayesha teamed up with a food bank to provide more than 1 million meals to students in Oakland who cannot attend schools due to coronavirus shutdowns. Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Marcus Mariota is giving back to his native Hawaii, as his Motiv8 Foundation is helping to pick up the tab for 1,000 free meals every day through at least April 30 at two elementary schools in the state.

Other major sports stars such as Drew Brees, J.J. Watt, LeBron James, Zion Williamson, Justin Verlander and many more have stepped up and provided financial relief in their communities. These are the off-the-field stories about super stars I like to read about.


I leave you with this quote from NFL coaching legend Vince Lombardi.

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

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