As a kid we all loved playing with blocks. We’d make a big stack of them, just to knock them all down. We did the same thing with drinking cups, usually making a tall pyramid with the cup facing downward. The slightest wind and then all came crashing down.
This kids’ pastime, believe or not, has now progressed into a sport, one that recently gained sanction by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). In fact, sport stacking, as it is now called, will be a part of the AAU’s Junior Olympics in Houston, Texas, this July.
Locally, a team of 21 sport stacking competitors between the ages of six and 16 are practicing about four times a week to compete in the event this summer.
Kerry Anderson, a retired school teacher at John Ehrhardt Elementary in Elk Grove, is an adult coaching this team, which goes by the moniker, “Stack It – Sacramento.”
“It’s a lot of fun and requires certain skills, like quickness, agility and focus,” Anderson described sport stacking.
She said several years ago while teaching at Ehrhardt she saw a clip on television of students rapidly taking a single stack of cups inserted one into another, pulling them apart, rapidly building a pyramid of the cups and then returning all the cups into the single stack. Anderson thought it would be a fun activity for her students.
She bought several plastic drinking cups and the fun activity became an after-school club very soon. That then progressed into some local competition amongst area grade schoolers.
“The whole thing was started by a P.E. teacher who saw it gave students needed skills with both hands, both sides of the brain and lots of concentration,” Anderson said.
The sport grew, she said, especially in the Midwest, to where there is now state, regional and national competitions in sport stacking and even a sanctioning organization, the World Sport Stacking Association (WSSA). That group has a thorough set of rules of competition where, in essence, competitors compete against the clock with cups about five inches high unstacking a single group of usually 12 cups into a pyramid and return the cups back to the single stack.
“(Competitors) are basically timed, but can be judged as doing something wrong, such as knock over a cup,” Anderson said. “They must correct that right away if a cup does fall.”
The “stackers” compete individually, in pairs and in relays during a typical event. One event is named “3-3-3” where nine cups are stacked into three pyramids. Another event, the “3-6-3” uses 12 cups in two pyramids of three and one of six.
Anderson said perhaps the most challenging event of them all is the pairs where one partner can use only their left hand while the other teammate can use only their right hand.
The WSSA just held its world championships this past weekend in Germany. Team Germany set a world record in the 3-6-3 relay event completing the task in 13.81 seconds.
An 11-year-old American, William Polly won the Individual All-Around award for the second year in a row. He performed the 3-3-3 stack in only 1.66 seconds.
“It’s not an ordinary drinking cup, “Anderson said of the cups used in competition. “When you look at them, you’ll notice they have holes in them, so that they won’t stick.”
Anderson and her local “stackers” join Paula Cook and a group of “stackers” from Sacramento for practice sessions at a VFW hall in West Sacramento, the only facility they could find that wouldn’t charge for use of the facility.
Anderson said the “Stack-It Sacramento” team needs some help financially so they can make the trip to the Junior Olympics. She said donations can be mailed to “Stack-It Sacramento”, 7380 Borba Way, Sacramento, 95828.