Blog & Calendar

Gaga Ball at CCES: A Story of Community, Play, and Generosity

Kim Gendron, Social Media Coordinator

While summer is often a much needed break from school, it is also a time for students to continue to explore and try new things. For Henry and Bentley, both CCES Class of 2032, they set off to camp and were introduced to a host of new experiences, including the legendary Gaga Ball.
For those unacquainted with the game, Gaga Ball is played in an enclosed space, typically an octagonal and hexagonal shaped pit. There are a total of 12 players to start, with the goal of eliminating others by hitting them anywhere below the knees with a small ball. It’s similar to dodgeball, but in an enclosed space with walls to bounce the ball against – players are trying to hit their opponents with the ball while avoiding getting hit themselves. The last person standing is the winner.
As the school year kicked off, Kate Carlson and Jessica McCormac, Henry and Bentley’s moms, started brainstorming – they wanted to find some way to promote greater inclusivity at recess, to balance competition with fun, and to hopefully improve LS students’ confidence. As they talked, the solution seemed easy – Gaga Ball. Both recalled how their sons “raved” about the game they learned at camp and “it seemed like the perfect choice!”
Kate and Jessica approached David Johnstone, Head of Lower School, and generously offered to provide the funds for a Gaga Ball pit. David agreed that it would be a fantastic addition to the LS playground, and, with the help of the CCES Maintenance Team, the pit was installed last week. David says it’s already a “huge hit” for the students – those who have played before are excited to have a pit on campus, and those who are new are having a blast learning to play the game with their friends.
This gift will be far-reaching. Beyond getting use during recess time, the LS Physical Education department plans to use it in its curriculum. PE instructor, Evan Mahoney, notes how the game promotes “agility, hand-eye coordination, and social interaction,” all important aspects of development for this stage of life. He says they have plans to introduce the rules to students, expanding to lessons on strategy and sportsmanship, and the potential for a Gaga Ball tournament!
Jamie Inman, Assistant Head for Advancement, says, “We are so appreciative for the Carlson and McCormac families who approached the school with an idea that would enhance the LS playground experience for all students. Their passion for adding this new and exciting opportunity for play and wellness, along with their willingness to fully fund the project led to a win-win for all students. We appreciate their vision and their generosity.”
For anyone who hasn’t played Gaga Ball before, Henry Carlson has a couple of tips for you to file away, just in case the opportunity arises in the future: “If you’re facing the wall, act like you’re hitting the ball against the wall, but instead secretly hit the ball backwards between your legs. Also, don’t wear gloves if you’re playing in the cold, instead use hand warmers in your pockets while waiting for your turn.”
Henry and Bentley had a blast teaching their fellow 4th grade classmates how to play last week, lending other tips to their friends at recess. Kate and Jessica were on campus to see the pit being used for the first time. They are grateful to be part of this project and say, “We hope that all of the Lower School will enjoy this game for years to come!”
Special thanks to all who helped bring the Gaga Ball pit to CCES: Kate and Hans Carlson, Jessica and Rupert McCormac, David Johnstone (Head of Lower School), Stephanie Morgan (Assistant Head of Lower School), and the CCES Maintenance Team. We are grateful for your collaboration and generosity in making this project happen!
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Christ Church Episcopal School (“CCES”) admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at CCES. CCES does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, national or ethnic origin, creed, religion, or sexual orientation in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, financial aid, scholarship or other programs, or athletic or other school-administered programs and activities.