To some, the word “gaga” may evoke images of a famed female singer — but ask a lot of 10-year-olds and they’ll describe a decades-old Israeli ball game.
“It’s a friendlier version of dodge ball,” said Jennifer Denn, treasurer of Nord Middle School’s PTO.
After witnessing the popularity and inclusiveness of the game, she reached out to senior carpentry students at the Lorain County JVS to build a pit at Nord and to make it American Disabilities Act-accessible so everyone there can enjoy the game.
Gaga — which means means “touch, touch” in Hebrew — is played inside a fenced hexagon or octagon pit atop a smooth dirt, sand, or blacktop, or turf surface.
Players start with their hands on the outside wall. A lightweight ball is thrown by the round’s leader and as it hits the ground, the players shout “ga” on each bounce. After two bounces, the ball is in play and the players leave the wall and slap the ball underhand, attempting to hit the other players on or below the knees to eliminate them from the pit.
A player who is hit by the ball or breaks a rule is eliminated and must leave the game.
Students were able to spend two of their “Comet Cash” behavior rewards to enter a raffle to win the chance to help built the pit.
Third-graders Falynn Evans and Mason DiFlippo won and were handed aprons, goggles, helmets, and hammers Oct. 10 and went to work installing the gaga pit on the Nord playground.
Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.