One of the most popular times to eat dinner for students this semester is 6 p.m. Students who eat at this time always know that there will be long lines outside the doors.
One thing they don’t expect to see is someone outside playing hacky sack, shirtless, for hours on end, barely stopping, even in New England’s cold temperatures.
Ryan Joy, freshman at Keene State College, is an avid hacky sack player. This sport first piqued his interest in sixth grade when he saw a bunch of kids at his school doing it and thought it was interesting.
He has been enthusiastic about it ever since.
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Now, he plays in front of the Zorn Dining Commons every night at 6 p.m., during which time students pour in and out for dinner.
As this semester is his first at KSC, he hopes to get a hacky sack club started and gain momentum with the help of other students.
Joy has at least 15 students signed up who are interested.
“It would be nice to see more people play,” Joy said.
With the creation of this club, Joy also aspires to see a tournament on campus and encourage even more student interest, and for those who are just as passionate about this sport as he is to hopefully be able to get t-shirts.
In order to create this group, Joy’s first step was to run it by the Student Administrative Office and draft a form to start his group.
According to the L.P. Young Student Center website, in order to gain recognition as a club or organization you must get at least 10 members and a recognized faculty advisor.
Specifically, his main interactions were with Jen Ferrell, Director of Student Involvement.
After numerous meetings with Ferrell, he was able to send out posters to advertise his club and host a table every Wednesday to get students to sign up and watch him play.
Joy and his fellow hacky sacking friends spend their Wednesday evenings kicking around a hacky sack near their table and club advertisements while trying to recruit more members.
Joy’s love for the sport is evident to all who walk by.
“He’s a really interesting guy and has a lot to offer to other students and I wish him all the best,” Ferrell said.
During popular dinner times, students have always noticed Joy and wondered why he was outside playing all the time.
Lillian Maloon, a dining commons staff member, noticed him playing at the beginning of the semester and has continued to note his diligence and commitment to playing as much as possible since.
“He seems like a really goal-oriented guy,” Maloon said.
Joy’s enthusiasm is contagious because others who are just as passionate as he is will join him and participate.
Those who know him say he is a very friendly person and can get others to play with him.
Like Joy, Maloon and Farrell hope that he will be able to get the members he needs and it will give people more of a reason to be outside and be more active.
The game of hacky sack has been around for decades.
The term “hacky sack” originated from the invention of the footbag by John Stalberger and Mike Marshall in 1972.
It can be played with just one person or a large group of people. The point of the game is to keep the ball up by any means possible, mainly using feet or any body part other than hands.
The sport of hacky sack has a lot more popularity in the U.S. than people realize.
Since the creation of the International Footbag Players Association, a charitable non-profit organization in 1983, the popularity of this sport has grown significantly.
On the Footbag Players Association (FPA) website, it offers video tutorials on the basics of playing footbag, shoes specifically designed for this sport, and various other apparel.
Not only is hacky sack played in the U.S., but it’s even bigger in other countries.
Hacky sack championship games occur in countries all over the world, such as the Czech Republic and Germany.
With Joy’s enthusiasm about the sport and his friendliness to others, there is no doubt in people’s minds that he will make the sport of hacky sack more popular at KSC.
Even with students who don’t understand what he does or why he does it, Joy will continue to play despite what people may say or think.
“It’s just my thing,” Joy said.
Jason Abisch can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org