Last weekend up in Wisconsin, I trekked up to a state park to check out a sport that I had never heard of before a few months ago.
Fistball is an action sport that has been around for a couple hundred years. Known in Europe as "faustball", it is German in origin and has been carried on as a tradition by German-American folks outside Milwaukee and Philadelphia, PA for some time now. Moreover, volleyball, a sport that everyone knows and that everyone has played at some point or another, is a direct descendant of the Germanic fist game.
Fistball consists of five team members on each side, who play two halves of 12 minutes of striking the ball to catch the other team off guard. On each possession, a team can have three bounces of the ball before sending it back to the opponent. Like in volleyball, teams attempt to set up a strike play, sometimes whacking the ball, closed-fist, up to 140 miles per hour.
Members of the US National Fistball team prep for the World Cup.
What I witnessed was a local league tournament of athletes who have been dedicated to fistball for years. Even better than that was getting to witness most of the members of the US National Fistball team get scrimmage and prepare for the Fistball World Cup, which kicks off in Austria in about a month. And I thought that sitting "courtside" at at the Chicago roller derby championship was cool.
"When my friends ask me 'What is Fistball?', said US National team member Patrick White, "I tell them it's sort of a blend between volleyball and tennis on grass." But in truth it's much more.
To learn more about Fistball, check out the US Fistball Association's website at www.usfistball.com
Andy Frye writes about sports & life here and on Twitter at @MySportsComplex. Expect a full profile about Fistball and the US National team closer to the World Cup.