Having a ball: Western students, faculty get national recognition for club

Lebanon, Pa. Junior Paul Houser schleuders the ball at the WKU Schleuderball Club practice Saturday afternoon at Preston-Miller Park. Houser has been playing with the WKU team for a year and a half. The team won the United States Schleuderball Championship in 2008 against Kansas University, which is the only other University club team in the United States. JULIA WALKER THOMAS/HERALD

Lucas Aulbach

The soccer fields at Preston Miller Park were occupied

by players on Saturday afternoon,but a soccer ball was

nowhere in sight.

Instead, two teams lined up and threw a three-pound leather ball with a strap back and forth across the field for about two hours.

The ball they used, a schleuderball,was filled with cork.

“You should have had more guys to catch,” coordinator Tim

Straubel yelled at one of the teams. “Make them pay for their play.”

Nearly every week, a group of current and former WKU students and faculty members meet to play the game.

Straubel, a WKU German professor, said the sport originated from the North Sea coast in Germany and is played with two teams composed of about four to eight people.

The players fling a leather ball, about the size of a soccer ball, across the field. A team gets a point if the ball lands in the opponents’end zone without being caught by someone on the other team, Straubel said.

The first team to reach eight points wins the game, he said.

In 2007, Scott Seeger, a visiting professor from the University of Kansas, introduced Straubel and students to the game.

One year later, Straubel formed the WKU Schleuderball Club.

Straubel said the group began to grow through word of mouth.

Since then, club membership has grown to form the largest in the nation, he said.

But the club is always looking for new members, Straubel said.

“We want people to come out and have fun,” he said. “We’re not looking

for perfection.”

Straubel said many faculty members partake in the game.

“Sometimes it surprises students that the professor is out there talking

smack,” he said.

WKU French professor Eddy Cuisinier said he likes playing schleuderball because it’s an untraditional way to interact with students.

He started playing with the club about four years ago.

“The sport is very interesting because it lets students see a different

side of teachers, and it lets us see a different side of them,” Cuisinier said.

Somerset senior Paul Travers joined the club after his resident assistant

introduced him to it three years ago.

Glasgow resident Justin Smith came to play after hearing Travers talk about it.

“It takes a while to catch on, but the

sport is pretty cool,” he said.