On your mark, get set, stack!

As part of the 2008 World Sport Stacking Association (WSSA) Stack Up, a worldwide effort to set a new Guinness World Record for the most people sport stacking at multiple locations in one day, local residents gathered in Wisdom Gym at Tarleton State University.

Dr. Kayla Peak, a professor at TSU, organized the local effort, which brought together university and elementary students, Rock House employees and residents, children from TSU’s child development center, and individuals from all walks of life.

Peak said that sport stacking, while simple enough for anyone, enhances stackers’ bilateral and hand/eye coordination, fine motor skills, dexterity, and endurance. Modified stacking events also help develop core strength and work the body’s cardiovascular system.

Professor Amy McKay, who took her wellness class to participate in the event, said the sport challenges the stackers’ brain, body and spirit, and also stimulates the brain’s dendrites.  According to www.brainexplorer.org, dendrites receive information and form synaptic contacts with the terminals of other nerve cells to allow nerve impulses to be transmitted.

Simply put, cup stacking can improve the way your brain fires and functions.     

The Web site for the WSSA, www.worldsportstackingassocation.org, stated that more than 1,400 schools, organizations, families, and individuals representing more than 192,000 stackers registered to take part in this year’s world record attempt. Stackers from 25 different countries, including Germany, Japan, Australia, Singapore and the UK, and participants from Erath County, worked together to try and break last year’s record of 143,530 cups stacked. The 2006 record was 81,252.

Sport stacking has gained popularity over the years and is being taught at more than 25,000 schools and youth organizations.

First and second grade students at Chamberlin Elementary are introduced to the sport and engage in friendly competitions to hone their abilities. At Thursday’s event, 504 Chamberlin students were present, showing off their stacking skills.

Physical education instructor Wade Whitehead, who brought the sport to the district 10 years ago, said there are a number of reasons sport stacking is part of his curriculum. He said for elementary students one of the biggest benefits is enhanced memorization abilities, since the sport works off of predetermined sequences.

In addition, Whitehead said unlike other sports, stacking is something everyone can do. He said athletic ability is not a determining factor. While sets of specific kids tend to excel at football and basketball, others who are not strong athletes might discover that they are strong stackers.

The outcome of the world record attempt will be available in a later edition of the E-T.