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March 13, 2014 Volume 35, No. 23

Playing Hacky Sack on Speakers Circle helps keep staffer fit

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Derrick Fogle on Speakers Circle March 7. Photo by Rob Hill.

Derrick Fogle often footbags with students, who learn techniques from the veteran player

On Feb. 4, the University of Missouri was closed due to a blizzard. Freezing temperatures, snow squalls and gusting winds kept people indoors.

But not the Hack Man. He was playing Hacky Sack on a snow-swept Speakers Circle.

In one of hundreds of videos he’s uploaded to YouTube, the Hack Man, dressed in winter attire, is shown bouncing a footbag off his ankles and thighs as the wind moans and the snow swirls. 

The Hack Man is Derrick Fogle, a 50-year-old manager of technical services at the Academic Support Center. He’s been playing Hacky Sack since he was 17 years old. In recent years he’s been a fixture at Speakers Circle. Last year he played 81.5 hours freestyle (his calculation) and many more hours in Hacky Sack circles with students.

As perhaps a prelude to spring, a shirtless Fogle in shorts was footbagging last Friday on Speakers Circle for a small but attentive crowd. A couple of students showed up to kick the bag with him during his nearly two-hour session.

One of the students was Lance Doughman, a nontraditional student three semesters from graduation who has been kicking with Fogle since August 2012. 

“Derrick’s kicking is amazing,” Doughman said. “I’ve never seen anyone outside of YouTube kick as well as he does. Playing with Derrick every week is like if Michael Jordan wanted to shoot hoops with me in my driveway.”

Fogle kicks to music blasting from his portable player. He typically wears only shorts, socks and gym shoes in the nonwinter seasons. 

For the past five years, he’s videotaped his performances. He wants to document his longest kicks, which he edits into a YouTube video (several have gone viral with hundreds of thousands of hits). And he wants to document the aging process: How much has his kicking slowed over the years?

He loves to kick with students. “They are usually very positive about what I’m doing,” Fogle said. “I love the noncompetitive, cooperative nature of a Hacky Sack circle.”

But he reaches a more meditative state while freestyling, sometimes keeping the footbag bouncing for up to three minutes at a stretch — a monster rally in the Hacky Sack world.

Hacky Sack is one way that Fogle stays fit. The other is biking. Some people own automobiles with more than 150,000 miles on them. Fogle hasn’t driven more than 150,000 miles in his entire life, he said. He bikes most everywhere, claiming to ride about 70 miles a week. On Feb. 21, 2013, a blizzard closed the university and employees struggled to get home on highways. Fogle was trapped on the Katy Trail.

Through a combination of carrying and pushing, he got his bike home.

Winter is tough on Hacky Sack players. Fogle admits to going stir-crazy to kick. He can’t kick at home because his family doesn’t like the noise and disruption. Fogle has gained some relief by kicking in Doughman’s kitchen.

By late February, however, regular returns to his kicking arena seemed imminent as a warming trend thawed the campus. He wrote on Facebook: “Look for the first sign of spring at Mizzou: When the Hack Man blooms on Speakers Circle!”

Then, last Friday, while a man wearing khakis and a windbreaker preached the Word, the Hack Man kicked. His longest rally was more than a minute, performed to an artist’s rendition of The Beatles’ “When I’m 64.” “It was a really wonderful day,” Fogle said.

But responsibilities beckoned. Even though he had taken the afternoon off, Fogle was called back to work. A server had crashed.