Derrick Fogle uses creativity for hacky sack and AV systems on campus
By Marcie K. Veit
When playing hacky sack in Speaker’s Circle, Derrick Fogle sports only a pair of bright red shorts and tennis shoes. But as an MU systems administrator, Fogle dons glasses, a plaid button-up shirt, dress slacks, and a bandana that he describes as his “one wacky thing” at work.
Fogle embraces such drastically different looks that some people do not even recognize him as the same person.
“It’s such a dichotomy between what people see out on Speaker’s Circle and what people see from me professionally…” Fogle said. “It’s amazing how many people see me in both places and don’t realize that I’m the same person.”
Fogle, 49, is known by some as Columbia’s “Hack Man” for playing hacky sack in Speaker’s Circle on the corner of Ninth Street and Conley Avenue on the MU campus. Fogle, born in Topeka, Kan., moved to Columbia 19 years ago and has been playing hacky sack for more than 30 years.
Fogle owns about 100 hacky sacks and kicks with eight hacky sacks most Thursdays for two hours. Fogle described a hacky sack as a soft, round bean bag filled with small, loose pellets.
Fogle’s daughter, Grace, 17, has tried playing hacky sack a few times, but was “really terrible at it,” she said.
Having grown up with hacky sack as a norm in her life, Grace Fogle does not see her father as the hacky sack guy.
“He’s just my dad,” Grace Fogle said. “He’s always been my dad, and he’ll always be my dad.”
Fogle used to play hacky sack, also known as footbag, competitively. Footbag has existed as a competitive sport since 1972. However, now Fogle focuses on choreography.
“What I’m trying to do is a hacky sack dance to the music,” Fogle said. “It’s incredibly hard. I’ve worked on this for 30 years, a lot more intently for the last 15 years, and I still suck at it.”
Because Fogle spontaneously choreographs the hacky sack routine just as the song begins, he uses a lot of creative thinking to time his moves to the music.
“I do have a very strong creative drive, and it does come out in the footbag, in the choreography,” Fogle said. “That same creative drive is something that I use extensively in my work and my job. That’s one of the things that really ties my job and hacky sack together.”
As an MU systems administrator, Fogle works on the audio visual (AV) systems on campus to ensure the technology in different venues functions properly.
“It requires a lot of on-the-fly, on-site, troubleshooting, and problem solving,” Fogle said. “We have to get really, really creative with the cables and to mount equipment.”
Co-worker and technology specialist Zach Gerding, 28, describes how working with AV systems on campus requires finding solutions to consistently arising problems.
“Every day is always different,” Gerding said. “It’s always a different problem every day. It can be fun, but it can also be frustrating.”
Fogle connects both aspects of his life—hacky sack and his computer background—with his online username, h4x354x0r, which is the computer hacker spelling of “hackysacker.” Fogle applies his username to all of his social media outlets, such as his blog, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to maintain a unified presence on the Internet.
Fogle created a hacky sack blog four years ago because he wanted to document the impact of the aging process on an athlete’s ability. While Fogle’s physical ability has waned over the years, he remains enthusiastic about continuing to play hacky sack.
“I’ve lost the ability to do some moves I used to be able to do at this point, but I still love to kick,” Fogle said.
Fogle has suffered four ankle injuries throughout his life, two of which occurred while playing hacky sack.
At the beginning of October, Fogle injured his ankle trying to break logs in his backyard and could not walk on it for two weeks. He waited every Thursday for his ankle to heal, hoping to return to playing hacky sack because it had “been so gorgeous out,” he said.
With an aggressive recovery regiment in place, Fogle has returned to playing hacky sack for a limited amount of time each week to avoid further injury.
Fogle’s social media presence has also created an environment in which he can communicate with students more directly.
“It’s really given me a chance to not just be out there and have the students see me,” Fogle said, “but be able to interact with them some more and get to know them a little bit.”
Fogle documents his hacky sack progress online through text, tweets, posts, photos, and videos. Fogle’s most viewed video, receiving almost 52,000 views since January, is titled Hack Man vs. Preacher.
In the video, Fogle challenged Sister Cindy, a preacher who frequents Speaker’s Circle, by playing hacky sack right in front of her. The students cheered, “Hacky sack! Hacky sack!”
Preachers in Speaker’s Circle voice their religious doctrine, but Fogle considers hacky sack his religion and salvation because it changed his life.
Before he discovered hacky sack, Fogle described himself as a typical teenager who indulged in underage drinking and drugs. After his first experience with hacky sack at a party at age 17, he was hooked and wanted to improve his skills. Hacky sack gave him “that spark of dedication” to continue practicing to get better.
Because of the dedication he learned by practicing hacky sack, Fogle refocused his life and obtained an associate’s degree in computers and technology.
“Hacky sack is my salvation,” Fogle said. “It’s what saved me from a life of poor choices.”