Local elementary school students join competition
As children, many of us made games out of stacking various objects as high as we could while making sure our “masterpiece” didn’t fall.
Whether we chose to stack cups, dominoes, Lego building blocks, cards, or anything else we could find it was always exciting to see how long we could make our structure stand without it tumbling down.
In the mid-1980s the art of stacking actually became a sport that spawned the World Sport Stacking Association.
One feature of the activity on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1985 roused the interest of a Physical Education teacher who took the hobby to the next level.
Sport stacking - also referred to as speed stacking - is now an official competition joined by children and adults worldwide.
The game was added to the annual Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Junior Olympic Games in 2012 where worldwide youth contended for top awards in Houston.
Top stackers from John Ehrhardt Elementary School participated in the contest’s debut, and five of them will revisit the competition on July 26-27 in Detroit.
“It’s very exciting to be returning to the event,” said team coach, Kerry Anderson. “This will be the first time some of the students have traveled by airplane.”
Anderson is a retired Ehrhardt School teacher who started the school’s team after she discovered speed stacking competitions on television.
“I’d never seen anything like it before, it fascinated me,” she said. “This is a sport where you’re stacking against the clock and can constantly see you’re improving…that really motivates the kids.”
Carroll Elementary School staff also started a stacking team and assisted Anderson in beginning hers.
She noticed how much some students gravitated towards the activity after she added it to physical education classes in 2007.
Anderson started an afterschool club for those who wanted to become competitive in the sport; she vowed to keep the team running after retirement.
The speed stacking devotee is now preparing her team to battle it out with over 300 worldwide stackers next month; a challenge they are well prepared for.
“They’re training and practicing twice a week as a team and every day at home individually…over 10 hours a week of practice,” she said. “We’re very thankful that all of the families have been supportive enabling the students to do this.”
It may sound simple: Stack a bunch of cups quickly and win a contest.
But the amount of hand-eye coordination and speed needed to be proficient in the sport of speed stacking is quite astounding.
For example, the Wills and Not Wills team set the world record of stacking at 13.43 seconds at last year’s AAU Junior Olympic Games.
“The best stackers are the people who are motivated and willing to put in a lot of practice time,” Anderson said. “You need to be coordinated, fast, and have tremendous concentration.”
The coach noted that just about anyone could learn the sport; age, height, weight, nor perfect academic performance determines a stacker’s success.
Competitions are conducted in age groups and consist of stacking a number of plastic cups in various patterns at a super-speedy rate.
In some cases, double teams may require one stacker to only use his left hand, and the other to use her right.
Teams qualify at sanctioned regional meets where those who finish in the top 10 are chosen to move on to the Junior Olympics competition.
“You can see when a good stack is emerging. It’s like watching a track meet or a hurdle when you can just feel that someone will win,” Anderson said. “I always tell my team to never give up even during those times when they don’t stack as fast as they’d like.”
Anderson and her team are accepting donations to help support their trip to the Junior Olympics.
For more information, email the coach at email@example.com
Originally posted at: Elk Gove Citizen Online