Hoover-ball, the favorite sport of the White House from 1929 to 1933, returned to Washington yesterday in the form of the Capital Classic Hoover-ball tournament.
The Heaving Hatfields defeated the Hatfield Hill Heavers to capture first place in the men's division of this single-elimination tournament held on the volleyball courts of the National Air and Space Museum. Harkin's Hoover Heavers came in first in the women's division and Grassley's Grinches finished first in the co-ed division.
Hoover-ball consists of two teams of three players hurling a six-pound medicine ball over an eight-foot net.
Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-Ore.) was introduced to Hoover-ball by President Herbert Hoover himself during Hatfield's college days at Stanford. Hatfield, who fielded the men's first- and second-place teams yesterday, wants to see the game return the the White House grounds. "This game is three times more grueling than tennis and six times more than golf," said Hatfield. "It's a great source of exercise."
According to Brad Stanford of the Heaving Hatfield's, Hoover-ball is also a good game for beginners. It takes only a few minutes to learn the rules and another few minutes to master the strategy. Though the rules are simple, getting the medicine ball over the net isn't quite so easy. Many players adopt a one-armed discus type of throw, while others prefer the two-handed push technique. But after a few games, the best throw is the one that makes it over the net, which might explain why complimentary tubes of Ben-Gay were handed out to yesterday's participants. "The fatigue factor definitely kicks in towards the end," said Stanford.
The game blends elements of tennis and volleyball: It is scored like tennis but played on a volleyball court. Unlike volleyball, however, spiking is not allowed. Each team's court is divided in half and if the ball is caught in the front half of the court it must be returned to the back half of the opponent's court.
While the average age of President Hoover's "medicine ball cabinet" was 53, Tom Walsh, executive director of the Hoover Presidential Library Association, says Hoover-ball can be enjoyed by all ages.