Look Out Des Moines Metro, Here Comes Ga Ga Ball

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- A decades-old game is seeing a major revival.

"You can play, jump, and roll and try to dodge the ball," said nine-year-old Landon Stull of West Des Moines.

It's called Ga Ga Ball.

"I automatically fell in love with it. It was a super fun game and I'm really glad I learned to play it," said Landon.

The game has caught on in West Des Moines, thanks to Landon's proposal in front of the West Des Moines Parks and Rec Advisory Board in October to create the city's first Ga Ga Ball pit.

Landon said, "I just really enjoyed it and I thought everybody should be able to enjoy the game."

Now, many have, after the board's approval in April. Landon's dad Tom gathered donated supplies from Gilcrest Lumber and constructed the pit play area with the oversight of park officials. Dave Sadler, Superintendent of Parks in West Des Moines said, "We selected Scenic Valley park as a pilot project to try it."

Kids are flocking to play the game, which has similar rules to dodge ball--with some exceptions.

Landon said, "Somebody throws the ball up in the air and you say, 'Ga' on every bounce, and you can't leave the wall until the 3rd Ga!"

Landon's mom Danielle says the ease with which players compete keeps kids interested.

"You hit the ball with an open hand. You are out if you are hit in the knees or below. Some play waist or below." They say kids love that you are never truly out of the game. "The person who got you out, when they get out you get back in," said Danielle.

Park officials say they haven't seen a recreational game creating buzz quite like it. "This one is unique because it came from the grassroots up," said Sadler.

Now, kids are lining up.

"People play Ga Ga play dates and come at four o'clock and let's play. It's a lot of fun," said Danielle.

Ga Ga is Hebrew for "touch, touch." While it arrived in America in the 1970s, those that love the game say it's catching on for good reason.

"There can be seven-year-olds and 20-year-olds, and the seven-year-olds can still win," said Landon.

His mother agreed, saying, "That is very empowering for them and it's a lot fun. It's a game that brings everybody together."

It's a game that seems to have leveled the playing field for everyone.

Landon said, "I was really happy to make my community a better place by putting this amazingly fun Ga Ga ball pit in."

If the parks and rec board continues to see success at Scenic Valley Park with Ga Ga ball, it will add more pits at other city parks.