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  • Gaga at the Youth Community Outreach Program in Mount Vernon

    Posted on
    Categories Vol. 15 Summer 2021

    It’s a match made in heaven(and if not heaven, at least a Methodist Church in Mount Vernon). The players include Backyard Sports Cares, the Youth Community Outreach Program and Gaga.

    Yes, Gaga, and for those that have never heard of it, it’s most easily described as a variation on dodgeball, with some important differences. First of all, it’s played in an octagonal shaped “Gaga Pit” that has wooden flat walls about 3 feet high.

    The game begins when one player or a coach throws the gaga ball into the air and the players shout “Ga” on each of the first three bounces. After three bounces, the ball is in play. The game combines dodging, striking, running, and jumping, with the objective of being the last person standing. The origins of Gaga have remained largely a mystery since it first appeared some fifty years ago. The predominant theory is that it was invented in Israel and exported to other countries, primarily as a game played by children at summer camps.

    But enough about Gaga, what about Y-COP. It’s a long-time community partner of BYSC that provides after school help for children and parents who need a place for their children to spend time. The program provides homework assistance, a hot meal, recreation and sports, cultural awareness and social skill development for students six through 12 every day from 3:30 – 6pm (and runs from 9-6pm on days school is out and parents have to work).

    Coaches Owen Zerbib, Jake Friedland, Sam Broff, Ollie Kaiden and Zach Kirschner have all been helping out at Y-COP on Monday afternoons. In fact, they should really be called “player/coaches” since they’ve all been spending plenty of time enjoying Gaga themselves.

    Reflecting on the experience, Owen said “I feel like I’m helping them. I feel like they are learning from me which is nice. It’s just a new thing that I’ve never experienced before.” It’s all part of the magic of Backyard Sports Cares. Creating connections, one Gaga game at a time.