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Friday, January 19, 2018

Kyle Vuille photo

Wallyball a fun way to stay active in winter

By Kyle Vuille

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

The Black Bridge Fitness Center is heading into another wallyball league season, something that has been played for decades at the facility.

What is Wallyball you might ask?

Wallyball is a combination of racquetball and volleyball played inside a racquetball court with the net set in the middle of the court like volleyball, but players can play off the walls to the side. 

According to Don Houck, owner of the gym, the first games of wallyball were played in 1984 when the Dufner family owned the gym. 

Houck said he had heard the sport was gaining popularity in places like Seattle and that even Bill Gates was a wallyball enthusiast.

“If it was good enough for Bill Gates, it’s good enough for us,” Houck joked. 

Another local Glendivian who has been a wallyball players since the early days is Koch Furniture owner  Chuck Bondley.

Bondley was a member of a co-ed volleyball team back in the 80s when he was asked to play on a wallyball team. He said he played his final wallyball game last year.

Bondley said although his competitive days of wallyball are behind him as he is now more concerned about being able to walk the day after a tough wallyball match, he has lots of fun over the years playing the fast-paced sport and kept him in shape.

Another retired wallyball warrior is Glendive’s Clay Brower. Brower said he played league wallyball from 2000 up until last year, but had to throw in the towel because of physical health concerns.

Brower said he has tons of fun over the years playing, noting it kept him active during the winter months.

“It was something to do on Wednesday nights and something to keep the fat guys from getting fatter,” Brower said.

As the new year’s wallyball league approaches, there are some players already practicing. According to Houck, open play starting Jan. 17 and the league play will start around the Jan. 24. 

Houck highly recommends anyone interested in starting to a team to give wallyball a try.

“It’s fast paced, and uses the angles of the walls,” Houck said. “It’s volleyball on steroids.”

There must be at least four players per team with at least one female on the team, as it is a co-ed league.

Houck said it cost $150 per team for the whole season and according to him, if there are eight teams, each team will play three or four games minimum in a night.

Houck noted that wallyball players get a lot of playing time for the money.

Jacquie Marquart, assistant director of the Glendive Recreation Department, has been an avid wallyball player for about 11 years. Marquart said she was introduced to the sport as a child as her mother was a wallyball player. Upon her arrival in Glendive, Marquart was invited by a friend to play herself and has been hooked ever since.

“I enjoy the sport to be able to keep active in the winter months and see friends regularly,” Marquart said. “You can always plan to have good work out playing wallyball.”

Marquart also offered some tips for those unfamiliar, but interested in playing the sport.

“Make sure to have good gym shoes and knee pads,” Marquart said. “If you’re just a beginner, try to have a basic understanding of volleyball.”

She added one crucial detail that is often a beginner’s mistake is not paying close attention when playing off the wall or defending from the wall.

“A lot of beginners will try to rush to the wall to return the play, the ball will bounce over or pass them,” Marquart said.

She gave the advice of waiting for the ball to bounce off the wall and then readjusting one’s position according. She added it can be difficult keeping in mind when playing because it is so fast paced and it is often to hard to read placements coming off the wall without the proper practice.

“Overall, it is an enjoyable sport that everyone can enjoy once they get the feel for it,” Marquart said. “It’s always great to see new faces and teams in the league and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to have a facility to go to play wallyball.

For information about joining or forming a team for league play, please contact Don Houck at (406) 939-5301.

 

Reach Kyle Vuille at
news@rangerreview.com.

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