The Golden Summer

I set a goal to play 150 hours of footbag last year. Three hours a week, average. I ended up kicking 160 hours. And, setting a new Guinness World Record. 

I’ve been fighting chronic ankle pain for years. Broken and severely sprained ankles, a decade or two ago, came back to haunt me. But early this spring, my ankles somehow started healing, getting better. By the time summer was in full swing, my ankles were almost completely pain-free. I was resigned to a lifetime of chronic ankle pain; having it spontaneously go away was nothing short of a miracle. 

I fell behind pace early in the year, I almost always do. But as my ankles got better and the weather got warmer, I was able to establish a fairly consistent twice weekly footbag schedule; once during the week, once on the weekend. Speakers Circle until the end of Mizzou semester, then to City Hall for the classic downtown dinner rush! I also caught some Summer Welcome sessions at Speakers Circle. I was pushing two hours per session. Then 2:15, 2:30, even a 2:45 solo session. I caught up and passed pace just past mid-summer. Feeling good. Kicking hard. Playing the best I’ve played in years. 

There were also special occasions like Ped Jam. What a magnificent self-affirmative experience! An entire weekend packed with riding a bicycle and playing Hacky Sack to live music. For me, this feels like drinking the Love of God, from a firehose. I *do* sweat that much :-O But getting to go out there and shred the nasty, in front of a huge crowd to live music, and have people give me “HACK MAN!” shoutouts, is… indescribable. People wanting to come kick with me. Epic circle hacks. And, camping and bicycling too! Sign me up for next year already, I’m hooked. 

By the time the fall Mizzou semester started, I was grinding hard. School day sessions were epic. My 500 watt boom box battled the hate preachers; one of them came completely unglued, angrily screaming at me, “YOU’VE GOT HATE IN YOUR HEART!” over and over again. LOL you couldn’t be wronger. I love to play Hacky Sack! Brother Jed came to visit. I had “SACK RELIGIOUS” scrolled in bold sharpie on my bare back. The students loved it! I was even the feature piece of Brother Jed’s blog post about the day. He called me a Heathen! I spent the next couple of days riding by the circle every chance I had, yelling out my thanks for the blog feature, and mocking something he wrote about me. 

If school days were epic, Game Days were infinitely more. Great weather every time. Mizzou game day peeps are the BEST! They give me beer. They’re hilarious. They’re beautiful. A few of them were even families; parents coming to a game with their freshman children, amazed that the Old Shirtless Hack Man was still alive and kicking. Mizzou marketing even gave me a nod for Homecoming. They put out tour guide markers, and included, “…even a Hacky Sack Pro!” as one of the freak shows you might see on Speakers Circle. And that, they did! I even got a kiss from a beautiful young lady that day. 

It has truly been a Golden Summer for the Hack Man. I played the best I’ve played in years. I played the most pain-free I’ve played in years. I had some of the best, most wonderful experiences I’ve ever had playing Footbag. The summer ended with a classic “Costume” footbag session for Halloween on Speakers Circle. I wore my “NOH8” shirt in honor of my cousin Kenneth that day. 

The gorgeous summer weather disappeared the next day, but I wasn’t done. All year I had been dabbling with walking, jogging, and even running full out, juggling the footbag on my knees as I did. I discovered Mizzou was hosting a mile run/walk early in the spring. I had to try! The result? 25 minutes, four drops. My ‘dabble’ fantasy of hackysacking a 5K was totally bricked by the brutality of doing a single mile. 

Then, I heard about this year’s US Open. 

But, that’s for another blog post!