Ramblin’ with Doug Walker

Photo courtesy of GT Speedball

Technique: Tell me about yourself and how you got into speedball.

Walker: I’m a fourth year Mechanical Engineering major. The big thing I do is speedball, but I’m also a major part of my fraternity. I’m the athletic director and recruitment director for that, so that makes up most of my time.

From a speedball standpoint, I started playing in high school. I’m from Collins Hill, so I’m from Suwanee, Georgia, which is right up the road. With that, my track coach got people in my school playing it, which is weird because there are a lot of different versions across the country.

Technique: What is speedball?

Walker: So, there’s going to be a Wikipedia page for it that will say one way to explain it. It’s got a very wide range of rules. People just made it up as they went and adapted it to how they could play it.

We had to make it very little contact. We just use the field out there with the end zones. It’s kind of how we adapted it, which I guess is different from the way most people play it in high school.

Technique: What sport is it most like?

Walker: It’s kind of like a combination of football, soccer, and handball. I think it’s probably most like handball because you’re running around and passing a lot of the time. It’s really a combination of that and soccer. I mean, you can run around as much as you want, but obviously you’re trying to avoid turning the ball over.

Basically, if you have the ball in your hands, and the other team tags you with both hands, it’s a turnover. In order to avoid that you can bobble it in the air, which is like self passes to yourself to run by them. To play soccer with it, just throw it on the ground and kick it around.

Technique: How did you get involved with speedball at Tech?

Walker: It was just the guy who I went to high school with who finally just reached out to me. I had a lot of people from my high school who went here, but no one really cared that much [about speedball]. Once he reached out to me, I realized I needed to get involved some, because I wasn’t really involved in anything.

Technique: Can you talk about the Intercollegiate Speedball League (ISL)?

Walker: It’s something we just started two springs ago, with us and Kennesaw State. Then, I think it was this past spring, we added Georgia College and State University.

Now, I think we’re adding [Georgia] State this year, so we’re getting them in some scrimmages hopefully. Then next spring, hopefully we can get Georgia Gwinnett College and Georgia Southern and gradually expand as we go. We thought it would grow faster since we knew a lot of people at those schools, but everybody likes playing it but they just don’t want to be the people who start it because it takes a lot of time.

Technique: What is the end of season ISL Tournament and the Ramsey Cup?

Walker: We had one at Kennesaw last year. We just ended up doing a double elimination thing. It was kind of funny: we had been undefeated all of last year and Kennesaw beat us in the championship, but they ended up breaking the trophy as soon as they started celebrating.

Ramsey was the track coach we had in high school, so we just named [the championship trophy] after him. That was the first time we had done that, so we figured it was an appropriate name.

Technique: How is this season going?

Walker: This one we’ve had a lot of injuries, but we’re 2-0 right now. We beat Kennesaw and Georgia College, so it’s pretty exciting so far.

Technique: What are your practices like?

Walker: Everything in practice is just made up drills and things that we think will help improve the team. We have guys who know the game, but are still getting used to the skill side of things. In a lot of sports it’s hand-eye coordination or foot-eye coordination, but for us it requires both.

Technique: Can people who are interested get involved now in the middle of the season?

Walker: We always encourage people to come to practice. If they have any interest at all., we’ll be out there. We’re always happy to have more people out there with us, you know, spreading the word. If anyone is interested, they should just come out to practice.

Technique: Do you have anything you’d tell people who haven’t heard of speedball?

Walker: You know, [speedball] just sounds like another one of those random sports. But once you get out there and you start playing it, you realize how fun it is. It’s not super structured. It’s very open for your own creativity for whatever you want to do out there on the field.