by Jason Hillman, Editor in Chief, The Pitt News
There was an unusual sight on the beaches of Panama City for this year's spring breakers - a new game called Trangleball - and it may be the new hot sport within the next year.
Buried in the sand was a multi-colored, yard-high pyramid, surrounded by six players and two circles, one inside the other and divided into three sections.
The tools of the game are the pyramid, a plastic sphere the size of a softball and many feet of rope or pool tubing to create the circles and sections. That part is pretty simple. But then there are the rules. The object of the game is to throw the ball off the face of the pyramid in a way so that your opponent cannot catch it. The ball cannot fall inside the inner circle, or the short line, or outside the outer circle. Each team has a player in each section and they cannot leave that area. Running with the ball after catching it is allowed, but only in one section. Passing is allowed of course, but is limited.
"For a spectator, it is tough for them to see what's going on, but once you step on the court it is pretty easy to catch on," said the inventor, New Yorker Mark Miller.
Trangleball was born in Brooklyn at Miller's music studio, when Miller bounced a ball off a corner of a ceiling.
Just before Spring Break last year, Miller spoke to Intercollegiate Communications CEO and President Richard Tarzian, who control much of the Spring Break beachfront, about getting room on the beach to showcase his game. Miller said he was offered 25 square feet of space, which is only enough to encompass the short line.
So Miller stayed in New York, going to Fire Island's Ocean Beach last summer to display Trangleball. With his one game set, Miller said he had a following of around 200 by August, when New York Newsday did a feature on the game.
Then the school district in Bayside, Queens decided recently to use the game in a pilot program for seven schools in the area.
Armed with these successes, Miller went back to Tarzian before this year's break and got the okay for beach space for the entire game.
Several toy companies have been contacted about Trangleball, none of which "closed the door" but said to educate the public about the game, Miller said.
The game was in constant use during the warm, sunny days of the break, and a tournament we played on Thursday.
"I like it a lot," said Roberto Madonado, a student at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. "It's cool. You use a lot of volleyball skills to play it. Racquetball, too, because you have to play a lot of angle shots. I play both, so I like it."
"It's different," said Paul Domack, also from Wisconsin. "I don't know how to describe it. It is something you have got to see to understand."