"Man, this game is AWESOME!" was the common response from students at Carey High School in Franklin Square, NY when the game of Speeedball was first introduced in the Winter of 1971. The sport was created almost out of necessity when the gymnastic units in physical education classes were being downsized or eliminated throughout the country due to Title IX restrictions and liability concerns. In an attempt to come up with something to fill that void, Bob Walpole, a physical education teacher and coach at the school, decided to take the appealing elements of a number of sports and combine them into one. The game had to be fast, safe, involve large numbers of kids, be adaptable to various floor dimensions and age groups and require a minimum of equipment. A volleyball was used for safety reasons and the name “Speeedball” was picked because it connoted excitement.

Since that time the sport has been “the” sport at the school, culminating in a tournament involving hundreds of students and watched by more spectators than normally attend home basketball games. Students of both sexes from athletes to non-athletes form teams with unique names and outfits, making it a colorful ending to the school year. It seems to appeal to everyone and a number of Varsity athletes have often said that they’d “give up their present sport” to compete in Speeedball if it were offered on an interscholastic level. That’s probably because Speeedball combines everything that kids of all sizes love and do well: the leaping, dribbling, passing, off-the-ball movement and shot-blocking of hoops and team handball, the hard throwing of baseball, plus the body contact and aggressive hustle required to excel in lacrosse, soccer and hockey. While defenders try to stop the shooter from shooting over, under or through a defensive fortress, the game moves on - non-stop, fast-breaking, high-scoring and simple to understand.

The game has been highlighted in Newsday, a Long Island newspaper, played in various camps (International Scholar-Athlete Games at the University of Rhode Island, Camp Renaissance) , at schools throughout New York City and Long Island and by the NY City Parks Department. It has also been included in an upcoming book entitled, “The Encyclopedia of Sports Parenting’’ (Warner) by Dan Doyle.

To close – the game is unique, exciting, fast and addictive. It retains the physical element of hockey and lacrosse, eliminates the constant stoppages and subjective “ticky-tack” fouls of basketball, provides numerous scoring opportunities and makes spectacular goal-keeping, hustle and defense the major elements of success. Dribbling and shooting skills are featured, while control is maintained by team fouls, penalty time, power plays, etc. It’s adaptable to almost any floor dimension and is perfectly suited for the growing number of outdoor roller-blade hockey rinks being constructed across this nation. This country in general could use a NEW sport. Baseball, basketball, football and hockey have been around forever and unchallenged since the turn of the century. Speeedball is practical and playable by athletes of any size or weight. The response from kids who play it for the first time has always been overwhelming and, hopefully, the sport can become an interscholastic mainstay. Till then, it remains a staple of many physical education programs and an exciting alternative for teams to use as a conditioner and change of pace in their respective sports. The uniqueness of the game itself foreshadows a time when kids looking for “something new” in the static world of American sports will have found “their answer” – Speeedball !!



As seen in the August 2008 issue of Scholastic Coach


2009 New Game of the Year

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