News: MALS-24 latches onto Hooverball
Story by Christine Cabalo
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII - More than 80 years since the invention of Hooverball, teams from Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 24 battled in a Hooverball tournament at Riseley Field, Jan. 25, 2013.
Hooverball, named after President Herbert Hoover, shares the same rules as volleyball and tennis, except four-player teams must loft a hefty medicine ball over a volleyball net. During the recent MALS-24 tournament, Marines and sailors played the historic game with an eight-pound medicine ball.
“Hooverball wears you out after the second game,” said Sean Connolly, captain of the Average Joes team. “Part of the strategy is not getting tired and making mistakes.”
Navy Vice Adm. Joel T. Boone, a White House physician in the 1920s, invented Hooverball to help Hoover stay fit with an efficient, short workout. The game was inspired by another medicine ball game Hoover played with sailors while traveling on USS Utah in 1928, according to the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Association’s website.
The MALS-24 tournament was the first of several sports tournaments in the unit’s new Warriors’ Cup Series. Dozens of players were eliminated in the first leg of the Hooverball tournament held the week before. Four teams of eight players remained: the Red Socks, Average Joes, Headquarters and Panthers.
“The weight of the ball isn’t as taxing at first,” said Dan Collins, a Red Socks player. “Throwing it so many times gets tiring. When you see the other team’s momentum go down, then it’s time to use your body to get the advantage.”
The game is on the roster of physical training activities for the unit, said Falasha Nepaulsingh, who played on the Average Joes team. Nepaulsingh said she’d never heard of Hooverball before joining MALS-24, but has since found a love for the sport.
“The games are a great way to get together with a lot of the unit,” she said. “Hooverball is a lot of fun, because there are just times when you see people get hit in the face and stomach.”
After winning several games, the Panthers and Red Socks battled for first place. Up until the final two games, the Red Socks were undefeated. Collins said his team’s strategy relied on clear-cut communication on who needed to catch the heavy medicine ball and identifying the tired players on the opposing team.
Yet the Panthers crept up on their competition, winning the tournament over the Red Socks in the final two matches. Several Panthers team players agreed Hooverball is a game requiring endurance and patience.
“You need patience because once the game gets going, you might be serving the ball back and forth 20 to 30 times,” said Tim Parker, the Panthers team captain. “You need to make volleys and wait for someone to tire out.”
The Panthers also kept a careful eye on the strategies other teams were using, said Panthers player Tim Horne. Horne attributes his team’s win to good balance and top physical condition during the tournament.
“The game is definitely a workout,” he said. “Hooverball is much harder than I expected and more physically demanding. I can feel it work out my arms and shoulders.”
During his presidency, Hoover played the game six mornings out of the week with other high-ranking members of the government until he left office in 1933. He credited the 25 pounds he lost during his term to playing Hooverball.
The members of MALS-24 can now boast about being the latest in a long line of players who aim to hit it like Hoover.