Ga-Ga-Ball is the chant ringing around the playground at Scotland Elementary School this year.
If you follow the noise, you will find students crowded around the newest school attraction, the “Ga-Ga Pit”. The “Pit”, a simple octagonal shaped wooden structure, was donated to the school by last year’s graduating 5th graders.
Ga-Ga Ball has been around for a long time but this is the first time that most Ridgefield residents have had the opportunity to play this exciting game. It is believed to have originated in Israel, (the Hebrew, “Ga” “Ga” translates to “touch” “touch”) and while it is taking the country by storm, Scotland is the first school in the district to have its own pit.
The objective of the game is simple. Be the last person standing!
And the rules? Well they couldn’t be simpler either.
At the start of each game, competitors of all ages climb inside the pit while touching the wall with one hand. One person drops the dodge-ball into the middle of the pit and while the ball is allowed to bounce three times the competitors shout “ga” “ga” “ball”. Then the game begins.
Competitors are “out” if they are hit by the ball below the knee or if they throw the ball outside of the pit. They must not throw or kick the ball, but must swat it with their hands. Once out, competitors must leave the pit, leaving fewer and fewer people inside, until only the victor remains.
4th grader Ollie Dunn said "I like the Ga Ga Pit because it's a new sport to me. It's as much fun as my favorite sport, baseball."
Games last for only 5 or 10 minutes and as there is no limit on the number of competitors, there is little waiting around time. This appeals to Quin Mahoney a 4th grader "Nobody wants to play anything else now that we have the Ga Ga Pit. It's great because everybody gets a turn and even if you have to wait it isn't for very long. So much FUN!".
Competitors of different ages and sizes are able to play together, and as all employ different tactics and use different skills to avoid being hit, the same child rarely wins twice. 1st grader Jaden Mahoney said “I like that all my friends can play it together”.
Two 5th grade families led by Laurel Smith and Tonya Hinojosa first proposed the idea to Scotland Principal, Mark Solomon, and with his support they gained the necessary approvals from Parks and Recreation and the Board of Education. To fund the pit, they approached 5th grade teacher Amanda Pasqueralla who agreed to donate $500 from the 5th Grade Student Council Fund. The remaining $900 was generously donated by the graduating 5th grade families.
Then one weekend just before the start of school, the Smith family, the Cohen family and Tonya Hinojosa, led by “master builder” Gene Smith arrived at the school with detailed instructions from local builder David Gengo, and wood from King’s Lumber.
The pit was up and ready for the Scotland welcome back picnic, where students, former students, teachers, parents and siblings all joined in the fun.
Tim Vanni a 5th grader said "It has changed recess and is really intense and fun, and everybody gets to play." 4th grader Lukas Dapkus agrees, "The Ga-Ga Pit is awesome! My friends and I play every day at recess. Thanks to the 5th grade class for donating it."
Why not bring your family down to the school one weekend and take a look for yourself, you’ll be hooked too!