ELYRIA — It was hard to figure out what to focus on first.
The hands busily grabbing, gripping and balancing, the cups those hands were reaching for, the colors that go flashing by or the organized chaos of more than three dozen students doing fitness challenges in between stacking attempts.
There was a lot going on Thursday at Elyria’s Westwood Middle School as students played a modified version of sport stacking — tweaked to incorporate physical-education curriculum — in an attempt to set a world record.
It’s a game that is simple enough for a 5-year-old to master and so much fun an 80-year-old grandmother could try. The idea is to construct miniature pyramids with nine colorful plastic cups, but in the hands of health and physical education teacher Tricia Small, it took on whole new look.
“I just taught them how to stack on Wednesday,” Small said. “But this is going to be like fitness-cup stacking. They’re not ready for this.”
But it was worth the work — which included reps of sit-ups, push-ups, jumping jacks and line jumps — for the students in the Elyria school as they joined others across the world trying to break the record — the most people sport stacking at multiple locations in one day.
It’s no coincidence Thursday was chosen as the attempt day. It also was Guinness World Records Day, a day when millions of people with record-breaking dreams attempt myriad feats — such as most consecutive handsprings, longest basketball shot, most people dressed as ninjas, most hula hoops spun simultaneously and the most darts caught by hand in one minute.
“Guinness World Records Day brings together like-minded people, whether they’re hula-hoopers, ninjas, sword-swallowers or penguin fancy-dressers, and it’s free and open to absolutely anyone,” said Guinness World Records Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday in a released statement.
Before Thursday was done, 150 Westwood middle-schoolers took part in the attempt at setting the record. If successful, the overall attempt will include more than 500,000 people. Results will be known in a few weeks.
“It’s not all that easy,” said Matthew Zuckerman, 12. “Yesterday, I thought this was stupid. I didn’t think it would be fun, but this was kind of cool.”
The hardest part?
“Just to keep up with the up-stacking and down-stacking and not get caught by anyone,” Matthew said.
— Lisa (@LisaRobersonCT) November 14, 2013
Getting caught, in Small’s version of sport stacking, meant doing exercises that no one wanted to do.
“The exercises, yeah, those are kind of bad, but the stacking was the hardest part,” said 13-year-old Lonna Adams. “You had to have balance and memorize the cup patterns.”
Small, who also is a registered cup-stacking teacher, said the exercises combined with the stacking brought all five of the class standards into play.
“Cardiovascular, muscle strength, muscle endurance, flexibility and body fat percentage are the five standards we always try to incorporate into any activity,” Small said. “Cooperation, teamwork and sportsmanship come next. This required them to do it all.”
Last year, 483,658 stackers participated to break the 2011 record. This year, sport stacking took place in more than 37,000 schools and youth organizations worldwide.
“Sport stacking is an activity enjoyed by all ages and cultures,” said Bob Fox, founder and CEO of the World Sports Stacking Association. “It promotes hand-eye coordination, fitness, teamwork, speed and lots of fun. This is the eighth year we’ve teamed up with Guinness World Records, and we’re excited to have another shot at breaking a world record.”