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Nothing stacks up against a cup stacking championship at Crown Center

  • The Kansas City Star
  • Published Saturday, March 29, 2014, at 9:49 p.m.
  • Updated Sunday, March 30, 2014, at 8:57 a.m.


Clickety click-click whoosh!

With hands like hummingbird wings, William Polly of Arlington, Va., stacks and unstacks plastic cups faster than almost anyone on the planet.

He may only be 13, but already the soft-spoken seventh-grader’s stacking speed has taken him to South Africa, China, Italy and Germany and won him a starring role in the documentary “Stackers.”

On Saturday, William came to the Crown Center Exhibit Hall for the 2014 U.S. National Sport Stacking Championships/Kansas City Open. More than 209 competitors from 29 states competed individually, in pairs and in four-person relays.

Stacking is an individual and team sport in which participants old and young “up stack,” then “down stack,” 12 specially designed plastic cups with lightning quickness. Adherents say it sharpens focus, concentration and hand-eye coordination and engages both sides of the brain.

The cups, which have holes in the bottom, are designed not to stick to one another.

Between competitions, star-struck fans pointed, whispered and asked the two-time national champion to autograph their T-shirts and pose for pictures.

William said he owes much to sport stacking.

“If I hadn’t started this I wouldn’t have done well in school and probably just be playing video games,” he said. “Instead I’m traveling the world and making new friends.”

While William is a fast stacker, he’s not the fastest. World records for the three different types of sport stacking are held by William’s teammate on the Fantastic Four squad, William Orrell, who made the trip to Kansas City from Advance, N.C. Orrell can complete one stack — called a 3-3-3 — in 1.436 seconds.

Sport stacking, which started in a Southern California Boys & Girls Club in the early 1980s, had spread worldwide by the late ’90s.

Jill Fox, of Highlands Ranch, Colo., and her husband, Bob, helped it grow after quitting their jobs as educators to found Speed Stacks in 1988, a business that supplies sport stacking equipment. Today the sport is in 40,000 schools and youth organizations around the world.

The Foxes founded the World Sport Stacking Association in 2001.

For more information, go to www.speedstacks.com.

To reach James A. Fussell, call 816-234-4460 or send email to jfussell@kcstar.com.

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