The Story of Geogia College Speedball

Georgia College and State University, also known as Georgia College, is a little liberal arts school located in Milledgeville, Georgia. The school is home to roughly around 7,000 students. In more recent years this school has become more and more popular and is becoming one of the top schools in Georgia. Another way this school is getting on the map is by becoming the third member of the Intercollegiate Speedball League behind Kennesaw State and Georgia Tech.

The key to creating this team was obviously by gaining interest. My first plan was to see if anyone wanted to even try and play this sport. At first, I had absolutely no success. I had just transferred to Georgia College from Kennesaw State for the Spring 2013 semester and wanted to start up my own Speedball team. It was always a dream of mine to build a team for a sport and I saw this as a really good opportunity. However, since I had just transferred I did not know anyone and I realized I needed to have a plan to get this sport started here in Milledgeville.

My next semester here I had a lot of lucky events fall into place. I had a friend from high school that also transferred in here, and he really enjoyed Speedball back when we would play it in P.E. at our high school. He was very vital in the early stages of the recruiting process, and brought some friends to a scrimmage we had to show people the game of Speedball. I distinctly remember we had a whopping total of six people show to that first scrimmage, and I could not have been more excited. And those people that showed up really enjoyed the game and stuck with it throughout the whole process. All of those guys were very helpful in helping me recruit more guys. The more people we found, the more people heard about it around campus and we got about 20 guys to play with us by the end of the fall.

However, recruiting was only half of the process of making Speedball a reality here at Georgia College. While finding guys to play I also needed to find some faculty members to support my club. My first step was going to the Rec Sports department here at school to see if they would be interested in supporting us as a club. I went in to that meeting with the rulebook, and the constitution of the club to show I really meant business with this unknown sport. The Rec Sports director was really impressed and gave me the approval and also gave me some tips about how I could make Speedball a big thing. He told me that I should only focus on finding people to play rather than focusing on playing games which was really the best advice I got throughout the process. It does not necessarily have to take a whole semester to recruit like it did for me, but I did learn that patience is very important and there will be people out there interested. It just might take a little more time than I wanted it to.

Next, I had to find a Campus Advisor for our club. This would be the hard part. Being a small liberal arts school I thought it may be difficult to find a faculty member that was interested in sports. I decided to look through some of the teachers in my major, Sociology, first and I saw the perfect match. A professor named Dr. Costas Spirou taught a class at our school called Sociology of Sport, and I was thinking, if I could show him Speedball there would be no way that he would say no to me. He agreed to meet with me and he said he had a lot of interest in seeing how this sport would grow. That got me really excited and convinced me not to give up and get this thing rolling.

So by the next semester we were ready to play our very first game against Georgia Tech on our home turf. I remember our team was so excited to play that we all showed up about two hours before our first game. We were all nervous with this being our first game and all, but we were ready to finally show what we were capable of. Both sides started out slow as we getting over our first game jitters, and Georgia Tech’s squad was getting used to playing on grass instead of their turf fields. After we all got used to things it was a shootout for the rest of the game. It was a close one, but we lost 32-30. Even though we lost, we as a team we very impressed with how close we kept the score for our first game. And even though we went throughout the season without a win and a 0-3-1 record, we still had fun and enjoyed helping grow the sport of Speedball.

Throughout the year we became very accustomed to playing with each other, and developed some chemistry as a team. It was a challenge at first, but what team doesn’t struggle with being one cohesive unit. We as a team know that we do have so much to improve on. We need to find a lot more players, get in shape, and work a ton with our feet as well as our hands. I also cannot thank TJ Flesch of Kennesaw State and Doug Walker of Georgia Tech enough for starting this sport at their schools, and I hope I can be the same type of ambassador for all of the other students attempting to start Speedball on their campuses. I promise starting this sport at your respective schools will be a very enjoyable experience and you will not regret it for one second.

ISL Rulebook Revisions Are Underway

One of the many necessary tasks when creating a new sport is developing a uniform rulebook for everyone to abide by. Over the last year and a half, the ISL has been followed a rough draft version of the speedball rulebook, drafted by KSU Club Speedball and ISL founder TJ Flesch. While most of the basic rules of speedball were written down and followed, some rules were written without ever witnessing a collegiate speedball game. With that in mind, the last two semesters have been full of rules revisions and adjustments when necessary.

Now that summer is finally in full swing, there is time to sit down and make all of the revisions that need to be adopted for the fall season. Multiple games this spring were affected by outdated rules, and must be fixed in order to give everyone the best product on the field. Everything will be considered and revised if necessary, but everyone can be sure that the main topics that will be updated include refs, out of bounds, scoring plays, and substitutions. Once everything is finalized, we will finally have a permanent speedball rulebook to be adopted by each institution and can be used for pick up games around the state.

This is a big step for the game since there has never been a uniform rulebook that correctly touched on every aspect of the game. When this is completed, it will be posted on the site and everyone will be able to look through it. Again, thanks for the support last semester and we look forward to having an even stronger fall semester in the ISL.

Winning The Ramsey Cup

Although the post may be late to the party on reliving the championship tournament, there is never a bad time to look back on the memorable things that happen in a season and to use them as a spark for growth in the years to come.

Winning the first Ramsey Cup was something each and every person on Kennesaw State’s Club Speedball team wanted more than anything in the week leading up to the tournament. At practice it was all they talked about, and in classes it’s all they cared about. The focus was there, but the team that could make it would be missing one of their starting receivers and deflectors; along with 4 or 5 other players who had other obligations. This would pose a problem that Kennesaw State’s Nick Oliver would handle with ease, using his social connections to conjure up five athletic substitutes from which the team could count upon during the games. And boy did they ever come in handy.

KSU’s team started out fast and strong against GCSU and was able to dispatch them by taking advantage of the Bobcats’ mistimed passing along with their inability to capitalize on turnovers. These things, along with the aforementioned subs on Kennesaw’s team playing out of their minds, made it difficult for the talented newcomers to match KSU’s game experience. Winning this first game against GCSU also allowed KSU to rest for an hour and a half while the Bobcat’s had to turn around 25 minutes later to fend off the Yellow Jackets.

As the stage was set for the first Club Speedball Championship, it ended up being the Jackets who were able to take advantage of an exhausted GCSU team and take their place in the Finals. Although Tech was able to disrupt many of Kennesaw’s passing plays at the beginning of the game and score enough points to keep the first half close, the overall athletic superiority shown by the Owls in the second half (with some stellar performances by the newcomers on the Owls’ team) was enough to edge past a well organized Georgia Tech team who they had played numerous times before.

So Kennesaw State walks away with the first major trophy of Club Speedball’s existence.

Even though this tournament will have added importance in the future as being the “first” one, It is the opinion of Kennesaw’s team that the real importance will be next year when 3 new teams join the conference and Kennesaw has the challenge of defending the trophy; that is when the competition really begins. This year’s tournament was about the 3 teams who founded the ISL to play against each other and solidify mutual respect so that acclimatizing new teams will be easier in the future.

 

KSU and GT Lose Four Combined Players to Graduation

Now that we’ve finally completed our first official ISL season, it’s time to congratulate all of the graduating seniors who will be moving on to the real world. The ISL champion Owls had three seniors on this year’s team: receiver Andrew Gorges, runner Josh Bramblett, and defender Ryan List. All three played a major role for the Owls during their championship season and have been major contributors for the development of the game. Bramblett routinely made a difference in the games I was able to watch, as he was one of Kennesaw’s most talented players. Gorges was also an x-factor for the Owls, since he always found a way to get open in the end zone and come down with the catch. Look at the ISL Tournament highlights if you need proof.

Georgia Tech had one senior on this year’s squad, receiver Dylan Baker. Speaking on behalf of everyone at Georgia Tech, Dylan was one of the most dedicated players on the team, showing up to nearly every practice and being a major contributor on game days. Even more surprisingly, this was Dylan’s only semester on the team. It’s a great sign when people, entirely new to the game, can join and immediately become involved with the team.

The same thing has happened down in Milledgeville, as their team has quickly turned into the most passionate team in the league. On every play, they show their emotions, good or bad, and this can only be seen as a positive for the sport. Luckily for them, however, they will be returning their entire team and should improve heading into the fall.

There may have been a senior or two who left last fall, but this is certainly the first class of graduating players to have a recognizable impact on the ISL and the development of KSU and GT’s teams. Now that many of the ISL founders are coming into their last year or two of school, this trend should continue. The emotions will continue to rise as the competitive spirit increases from each team and players start to play their last few games in the ISL.

The History Behind the Ramsey Cup

Before there is ever a crystal football, Stanley Cup or even a trophy that looks more like a work of art than an award, there is always the tradition that giving that award is founded upon. The Ramsey Cup for Club Speedball is no different, being named after a coach that the founders all studied under in high school.

Richard Ramsey III, or just “Ramsey” as everyone called him, was the most intense coach that I for one have ever had in sports. Meeting him for the first time the summer before I started high school, all I could draw upon were the stories I had heard about this bald headed, brick house of a man who yelled at athletes until purple in the face to get the best he could out of them. It was this man during that summer before high school, however, that would personally introduce me, as well as the other founders of the ISL, to the game of Speedball.

To the veteran Track & Field Coach, Speedball was the most fun anyone could have had in developing their athleticism. Using it as an activity for “fun days” at track practice (which only ever ended up being during spring break), Ramsey would make all of the runners take off their shoes and socks and instruct them to play Speedball in order to build up stamina and ankle strength. While teaching in his PE classes as well, he would always save at least one day a week to let his classes play Speedball.

It was this consistent exposure and positive influence from Ramsey that drove myself to author the standard, official rule book in college so everyone could play the game. Once they played, they never wanted to stop and it was this perpetual model that came in to being that produced a generation of high school students who loved this hybrid sport.

Years have past since the rule book was written and even more since Ramsey introduced us to Speedball. As a fitting display of respect and acknowledgment to the coach that gave all of us this wonderful game to play, we dedicate the tournament’s trophy in his name in the hopes that we too can generate the same interest and commitment to the sport, much in the same way he did for us in PE so long ago.

If you’re reading this, thanks for everything Rams.

Kennesaw State Takes Home the Ramsey Cup

This season has been a major success for all three teams as the games have been competitive and exciting for the athletes and fans. It only seemed right to end this semester with a tournament that provided the same theatrics and competition that had made the regular season so enjoyable. While there were some issues with Georgia State’s team that forced them to opt out on Friday, the other three teams showed up ready to compete and had a visible intensity from the beginning.

One of the biggest issues heading into Saturday’s tournament was the weather forecast and the conditions of the field. There was a 50% chance of rain for the day and much of that was supposed to fall during the tournament. While Kennesaw’s fields are entirely turf and have excellent drainage, playing in the pouring rain was a major concern and everyone was hoping for the best.

The first game of the tournament pitted Kennesaw State against Georgia College, and the weather was cloudy at the start of the game. Mother Nature would ended up giving us a break for the first game, which allowed for a great match. Both teams started off fast, with Georgia College scoring first. Kennesaw immediately responded, however, and proceeded to drop a couple more scores on the Bobcats defense. This was the storyline of the entire game. Every time Georgia College put together a nice drive and finally looked like they would be able to start a run, the Owls would turn around and close the door on them. The Bobcats held strong in the first half, but the floodgates opened in the second half.

Kennesaw State completed opened up the game by taking a 30 point lead and both teams saw the writing on the wall. The enormous lead definitely hurt the Bobcats’ spirits, as they had come in two weeks earlier and tied the Owls on the same field. This was a big blow to them, but the experience they gained against Kennesaw was still important for their growth as a team. The game ended with a final score of 51-12, and Kennesaw looked very composed and focused after the win.

Under the new format, the losing team of the first game had to turn around and play the Yellow Jackets, the one seed in the tournament. After a 30 minute break in between games, both teams were out on the field and ready to start the game. There was a light mist over the field, but nothing too inhibiting for the teams. The game started off similar to the previous one, with Georgia College working together to create a couple early scores. They clearly had some energy left and were able to take advantage of the Yellow Jackets’ rustiness, which took a little while to wear off.

About halfway through the first half, the momentum started to shift in the game. Georgia Tech started to hit their stride and the Bobcats had finally hit a wall, losing almost all of their energy. The Yellow Jackets were able to put together a small run and end the half with a score of 25-6 in favor of Tech. The second half was very similar to the first game, as Georgia Tech looked to extend their lead to a margin they felt comfortable with. As the lead increased and the game dragged on, it slowly turned into a sloppy mess as both teams were waiting for the game to end. The passing from both sides was pretty poor for the majority of the game, but Georgia Tech’s fresh legs made a huge difference. By the time the game ended, the final score was 53-16.

The final game of the tournament, which now matched the Owls against the Yellow Jackets, looked to be a fantastic matchup between the two rivals. During the regular season, both games between the two teams ended with 2 point Yellow Jacket victories, which shows how comparable both teams are. The only difference between the two teams on this day was some personnel switches and the amount of rest each team had. While Tech had been coming off of playing a game, Kennesaw had been sitting around for over an hour and a half, and neither team knew what to expect from the other.

The game started off quickly, with some early scores from the Owls. They flew out of the gates and were able to take a 6-0 lead, but the Yellow Jackets showed they still had a fight left in them, responding with two quick scores of their own. At this point in the game, the rain finally came, and the game came to a screeching halt. Both teams had been moving the ball down the field, but the rain made the ball incredibly difficult to pass and catch. While both teams made attempts to dry the extra balls on the sideline, this did almost nothing to help the performance of the teams on the field.

Late in the first half, Kennesaw had a 12-9 lead and Georgia Tech had built up a little momentum on their side, but one play quickly changed that. Coming off a poor pass by the Yellow Jackets on their own side of the field, Kennesaw created a great scoring opportunity by kicking the ball into the end zone. One of the Georgia Tech defenders ran to the ball in the end zone and attempted to catch it and run to create a fast break, but the ball slipped through his hands, bouncing off his chest and into the hands of an Owls receiver. Three points for Kennesaw. At the end of the half, the Owls had taken a 15-9 lead and the Yellow Jackets knew they had just missed an opportunity.

The rain continued to persist into the second half, creating more issues with both teams’ ability to move the ball down the field. Midway through the second half, the weather finally gave the teams a break and the rain came to an end. This afforded Tech a chance to come back from an 8 point deficit. They were able to generate a quick scoring drive, but then the Owls quickly responded with one of their own. As the game wore on, Tech started to over think every play they made, resulting in poor passes and decision making. Kennesaw, however, had hit their stride and were playing effortlessly on the field. Any time the Jackets tried to create a scoring opportunity, they were able to crush those hopes with a great defensive effort. The game ended with a final score of 25-18, and Kennesaw State was your first inaugural ISL Tournament winner.

After the teams followed their routine post game schedules, the Owls were rewarded the Ramsey Cup, given to the winner of the ISL Tournament at the end of each season. While Kennesaw hadn’t started off their season how they had hoped, they were able to finish in impressive fashion, proving they were the best team on the field that day.

KSU Team Picture

Now all three teams turn their attention to the summer, where hours of work are needed to progress the sport to a new level. There will be expansions to other schools who will join the ISL in the Fall and there will need to be modifications to some rules after experimenting with them in the regular season. While there is a lot of work still to come, everyone involved with the tournament could not be happier with the outcome and how smoothly it went. We’re excited for what’s to come and hope everyone sees the developments we’ve made. The Fall looks to be the best season yet, and we’d like all of our fans to be there to support us!

ISL Tournament Specifics

The ISL Tournament is in four days and the final seedings and schedule have been determined. With a 4-0 record this season, Georgia Tech has the number one seed in the tournament. Kennesaw State received the second seed with a 1-2-1 record, which is not indicative of their team’s ability. Both losses came by two points to Tech, and they are capable of putting on a show at the tournament. The third seed goes to GCSU, who finished the season with an 0-3-1 record, but has shown a lot of promise in the last couple of weeks. They’re certainly no slouch. Georgia State rounds out the tournament with the 4 seed since they have yet to play a game this semester and this will be their first collegiate speedball match.

The schedule for Saturday looks like this:

12:30 PM: Georgia Tech vs. Georgia State
12:30 PM: Kennesaw State vs. Georgia College
2:00 PM: Third Place Game
3:30 PM: Championship Game

The tournament will be held at Kennesaw State’s Owl’s Nest facility, and it’s address is 3220 Busbee Drive, Kennesaw, GA 30144. The tournament should be a great time and there should be more fans than we’ve ever had before. Come out to support your team as they all compete for the first official ISL Championship and the Ramsey Cup. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone there!

Yellow Jackets Survive In Kennesaw After Controversial Ending

If the last two seasons have shown us anything, it’s that Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State don’t like each other. The first two ISL members have seen each other too often over the last two semesters and a rivalry has grown from the competition. Like usual, the game started off more physical than necessary, with some early pushing and shoving on the field. Kennesaw State started the show with a quick score to the right side of the end zone.

The Yellow Jackets looked lethargic in the first few minutes, but were able to finally right the ship. After trading scores in the early minutes of the game, Tech took advantage of some lucky opportunities and grew a marginal lead. Coming into this game, Tech knew they had to practice on beating Kennesaw’s press, and it paid off for them in the first half. The quick passing and spacing they had practiced worked well and allowed the Yellow Jackets to consistently move the ball.

The first half was quite a surprise compared to recent history between these two teams in Kennesaw. Last semester, the Owls routinely started each game off with a big run and Tech was forced to fight their way back in the second half. The script was flipped on Saturday, however, as the half ended with Tech on top 22-15.

At the start of the second half, the Yellow Jackets continued to move the ball down the field, finishing off some easy two point scores. Midway through the second half, Tech had built up a double digit second half lead, forcing a Kennesaw State timeout.

While Kennesaw hadn’t looked like their usual selves, everyone in attendance knew they had a scoring run in them, and the increased Tech lead woke them up. Coming out of the timeout, the Owls immediately looked like an improved team and were able to effortlessly move the ball down the field. They were able to convert a couple 3 point opportunities and then proceeded to force Georgia Tech turnovers by pressing.

Kennesaw’s aggressiveness threw the Yellow Jackets off their game, and they were noticeably flustered by the press. Over a 5 minute span, Kennesaw had cut the lead down to 2 points and had victory within their reach.

After forcing another Georgia Tech turnover, the Owls were able to work the ball down the field and took the lead with a 3 point kick to the right side of the end zone. With under a minute left, Tech quickly worked their way down the field, but were unable to find a score. After a quick restraining line play, the Yellow Jackets found the end zone to take a 31-30 lead, and this is where the controversy comes into play.

Georgia Tech had managed to score their final two points when the ref’s stopwatch said 7 seconds had passed since the end of the game, but this issue had not been addressed in the rule book. In previous discussions between the team captains, there were arguments about whether the ending of a game should be equivalent to soccer rules or basketball rules, essentially stating whether or not there should be added time to the end of each half.

Both team captains came together to discuss the outcome of the game, and the final decision was that the Tech score would count, but there would be 3 minutes of stoppage time added to the end of the half. While neither team was particularly happy with the outcome, they both walked back onto the field to finish the game.

Kennesaw State started the stoppage time with the possession, but was unable to score first. After an Owls turnover, the Yellow Jackets were able to convert on a 2 point score, taking a 3 point lead. Tech was again able to find the end zone with a minute left in the half, and had padded their lead to 5. Kennesaw State quickly responded with a 3 point score, but was then unable to respond with enough time left on the clock. The final score was a 36-34 Georgia Tech victory.

While neither team wanted the game to end the way it did, the outcome of the game had no effect on the season standings and tournament seeding. There will be some editing done to the rule book this week prior to the start of the tournament, and each team will be notified of the changes made.

This game was just the most recent of multiple classic games between the two schools. As they continue to grow and ISL expansion takes place, these two teams will continue to form a rivalry that creates some memorable moments and gives the ISL a backbone to focus on. The outcome wasn’t ideal for either team, but both should have something to prove heading into the tournament, which benefits everyone involved with the sport.

Here are some highlights of the game.

Georgia State: The Newest ISL Member

With the spring ISL season coming to a close, that means the Intercollegiate Speedball League Tournament is just around the corner. Next Saturday(April 19th), we’ll be hosting the first inaugural ISL Tournament. KSU, Georgia Tech, and Georgia College have each been training all season for the tournament, but Saturday will mark the first ever appearance by the newest ISL member, Georgia State.

Last fall, a contingent of Georgia State students attended a few Georgia Tech practices and learned the rules of the game. It took a while for State’s leader, Patrick Faerber, to find enough interested athletes to practice, but there is now a group willing to become the fourth ISL member.

There is currently a scrimmage between Georgia Tech and Georgia State scheduled for Tuesday, April 15th on Georgia Tech’s campus, and barring weather complications, this will be a great way for Georgia State to gain some experience heading into the tournament. Expectations many not be high for Georgia state in next Saturday’s tournament, but the valuable experience they’ll gain will be huge going into the fall season.

As the ISL continues to grow in size, there will be an increase in the number of proactive people involved. The team at Georgia State began to form prior to any plans or discussions made about the team’s direction. This was huge for their team since they didn’t need to rely on the other schools to get them started.

Looking ahead to the fall, the goal is to have six teams in the ISL, adding UGA and GGC into the mix. This will allow us to hold 5-6 game seasons with a major speedball tournament at the end of the season. There are big ideas for the sport moving forward, and we believe everyone will continue to enjoy the sport as much as the players have.