by Diana Pasquini, San Juan Ridge Family Resource CenterKevin “Mistah Slapong” Foley, Slapong is a “blend of volleyball, soccer, and dodgeball” regularly attracting players to Oak Tree Park on Monday and Thursday afternoons.
A San Juan Ridge resident for almost two years, Kevin explained the evolution of this unique sport. It all started in the winter of 2006, back in Bingingham, New York. Kevin, an ultimate frisbee player, had a friend who was in the hospital with a fatal lacrosse injury. “I wanted to do something for the kids who were friends with the dying guy.” So he decided to set up the ping pong table he had won in a tournament at State University of New York Fredonia. Although it was a frigid New York December, and he had lost the ping pong table’s net, Kevin set the table up in his mom’s back yard. Using a slightly deflated kickball, Slapong was born. Soon thereafter, “My mom kicked me out for ruining her lawn so we went to the park. There was a random guy from Tennessee out front. He had a truck and took us up to Rec Park in Bingingham. The guy brought us up there and we played every day for a month. It was icy. The ice made the ball skip too fast. It wasn’t as playable; so I moved to Hawaii.”
“I was giving Segway tours in Hawaii when, in June, 2007, the kids called me and told me that the park was building tables. So I went home and showed up at the park. They were in the middle of a game so I hopped in and started playing. Over the past six years the game developed. The tables got longer and developed a bow-tie shape. Franklin made playballs, then discontinued them. So I kept patching them, sewing them, putting in new bladders and bicycle patches. Franklin started making playballs again in 2012, but they were only sold in the mid-west and in Australia. I went on a road trip and got 6 balls in Kentucky. They were discontinued again in May. So now I’m having balls made to order in Pakistan by a guy named Hamaad.”A regular bow-tie shaped Slapong table is 16 feet long; and the smaller kids’ table is 12 feet long. “About 20 to 30 people show up to play on Mondays and Thursdays. We always have new people and regulars, too.”
Kevin’s next step is to take Slapong on the road and introduce it to the world. “I’m going to build a couple portable tables. Then we’re going to travel to Davis, Chico, and Santa Cruz to get more people involved and to participate in a tour. In November we’re going to travel across the country, playing Slapong and teaching people along the way. We’re going to make it to Bingingham for the first East Coast/West Coast Tournament. Then from Bingingham we’re going to take the East/West teams to New York City to play in Rucker Park. Then we’re going to introduce Slapong in China.”
Anyone interested in seeing or playing Slapong is welcome at Oak Tree Community Park on Mondays and Thursdays at 6:30pm. All ages and sexes are welcome.
There will be a FREE training and demonstration on Thursday, August 6th at 7 pm for those who are curious about the game. All are welcome to attend. There are also plans to host a camp for children ages 8-14, dates TBA.