By Lauren Sanguinet
In the summer of 1980, Derrick Fogle,17, went to a party while visiting his older brother in the mountain community of Dillon, Colo. A group of people were standing in a circle, all working together, as they kicked a small bean-filled bag and tried to keep it from hitting the ground. This was the first time that Fogle was introduced to the game of hacky sack, or footbag.
Curious about the game, Fogle joined the circle and tried to get in on the action. “I totally sucked the first time I tried, but nobody cared,” he said. The hacky circle welcomed Fogle and even though it was only his first time, he was encouraged to join.
Before this party, Fogle’s life was a little different. “I wasn’t exactly a saint when I was a teenager. I had gotten into a couple brushes with the law already and was likely headed for more,” he said.
After Fogle experienced hacky sack for the first time, he was hooked and he soon got his own hacky sack to start practicing.
“Within two years I had come totally clean, quit the partying and quit the stupid stuff. I was spending my time getting better at footbag,” Fogle said. His partying habits led him to a hobby that changed his life.
Hacky sack showed Fogle the importance of dedication, as he had to work hard to excel at something. “Footbag gave me a spark of passion and a positive direction in my life,” he said.
Fogle grew up in Lawerence, Kan., and brought his passion of footbagging with him from his trip to Colorado. At 19 years old, he won his first freestyle competition, which would be the first of a long list of accomplishments in the sport of footbag.
Competing domestically and on foreign soil in worldwide competitions, he pursued his passion for the sport and avidly wanted everyone to experience the creativity and beauty of footbagging. “I’ve competed in World Footbag Championships [from] roughly 1985-1995; held in various places over the years,” Fogle said. These competitions include places like Boulder, Colo., San Francisco, Montreal and Chicago.
In 2005, after more than twenty years of competing, Fogle was officially inducted into the Footbag Hall of Fame. “It was both gratifying and humbling to be recognized by my peers in this way. I love being able to tell people that I am a member of the Footbag Hall of Fame when people stop and ask,” Fogle said.
Today, Fogle lives a simple, quiet life as a Systems Administrator for the University of Missouri. At the age of 47, he no longer competes in freestyle footbag competitions, however, in no way does that mean one cannot find Fogle “dancing” with his bag on the university’s campus. Known as the “Hacky Sack Guy” around MU, he is a living icon of the sport and displays his skills for students to watch about once a week.
“He is amazing at hackysacking and he is very concentrated out there. I am always impressed when I see him displaying his skills,” said Blair Felter, an undergraduate student at MU who is familiar with Fogle and his hobby.
In his basement office, surrounded with computer wires, Fogle sits at his desk, wearing a long sleeve plaid shirt as he goes about his ordinary day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. His work life is far different than his hacky sack life, where he is often shirtless in the middle of a college campus, sweating to his upbeat music as he “hacks the sack.”
Although Fogle leads an average life, he uses his passion of footbag to display another personality. “In ‘normal’ life, I’m fairly quiet and unassuming. Playing footbag in public is kind of like an alter-ego,” Fogle said.
He added, “Kicking at Speakers Circle is a very flamboyant activity. A couple hours a week balances out the quiet nerd of work life.” His random appearances on campus provide not only entertainment, but more importantly a subtle inspiration for students that encourages hard work and passion of hobbies.
Fogle set a world record in one discipline of footbag and although it has been broken, it still proves his dedication to the sport. He even inspired his wife to become an active footbagger when they first started seeing each other. She currently holds a world record in the women’s 5-minute timed consecutives event.
Spending years of his life promoting hacky sack, Fogle never stopped pursuing his enjoyment for the sport. “I wanted to share what footbag had done for me. But at some point in time, I realized that not everybody was going to find their salvation in footbag,” Fogle said.
Fogle and his wife have two children, a daughter, 14, and a son who is 11 years old. Although hacky sack is such a significant aspect of Fogle’s life, he encourages his children to find their own passions.
“Different people are inspired by different things,” Fogle added when talking about his children’s different interests. “I care far less about specifically what might inspire my children. I care far more that they do become inspired by something, and accomplish something,” he said.
At his age, a healthy lifestyle is important and Fogle’s physically demanding hobby keeps him motivated to continue kicking for as long as possible. Along with the physical benefits, Fogle mentally benefits from his hobby. He is merging a blogging and documentation project about footbag. “[This project] includes the issue of aging, and that helps keep me inspired too,” he said.
Hacky sack is not only a hobby for Fogle, but something that shaped his lifestyle.
Footbag started for Fogle in Colorado, and it persistently stimulates his life in Columbia. He has been dedicated to footbag for nearly 30 years and he continues to practice his love for the game.
“Just getting out and kicking to some music is pure and simple joy,” Fogle said.
2:25 / 28:30 Thanks for tuning in!