RACINE — A Walden III senior’s Eagle Scout project could have kids all over Racine going gaga.
Brandon Nielsen, 17, from Troop 129, approached the city’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services with a request to build a gaga ball pit in one of the city parks.
“I thought the public park system that would be a great place to start,” Nielsen told the Park Board on Wednesday. “I thought it would get the most use at a public park because that’s what they’re for.”
Gaga ball is similar to dodgeball except that it is played in an octagonal pit with walls approximately 3-feet tall. Players have to hit the ball with an open hand and cannot grab the ball. If they hit another contestant on their knees or lower, that person is out.
Nielsen told the board that one of his favorite childhood memories is playing gaga ball at summer camp. He thought Lincoln Park, 2200 Domanik Drive, might be a good location since it is one of the larger parks but was open to whatever suggestions the Parks Department staff had.
Since it is an Eagle Scout project, Nielsen would need to build it and fund it himself.
Jason Mars, recreation supervisor with the Parks Department, asked Nielsen if he could build a pit that could be taken apart and put back together. Mars said if that was possible, the department could use it for its summer playground programs which take place in different parks across the city.
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Park Board member Keith Hemmig suggested building eight identical pieces that lock in place.
“You wouldn’t have to move it,” said Hemmig. “It wouldn’t matter if it’s heavy. They have trucks.”
Also with a mobile pit, the parks department wouldn’t have to be as concerned with maintenance, particularly within the pit.
Mars also asked Nielsen if he would be interested in teaching the summer playground program supervisors how the game is played so they can teach the students.
“A lot of playground programs bring in new events, new sports,” said Mars. “This sounds like it’s got huge potential to pick up too.”
Park Board Chairwoman Kristen Kaprelian called it a “phenomenal idea.”
“I think the other kids in the city will enjoy gaga ball,” said Kaprelian. “I know my kids have when they’ve gone to camp.”
The park board unanimously voted to recommend approval of Nielsen’s project. The proposal will next go before the City Council, which is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. on Oct. 15 at City Hall, 730 Washington Ave., Room 205.