Red Sea - Sailors and Marines aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) resurrected a game inspired more than 90 years ago by then-President Herbert Hoover's trip aboard a naval battleship.
The game, aptly named Hoover Ball, was a result of a trip he took to South America aboard the battleship Utah. During his trip, he watched Sailors play a game called bull-in-the-ring, where a soft nine-pound medicine ball was thrown from one player to another player standing in a circle as the "bull" in the center tried to intercept it. The President played and enjoyed the game, which became the inspiration for Hoover Ball.
The game itself is played by teams of 2-4 players with a six-pound medicine ball over a net eight feet high on a court similar to one used for tennis. The server throws the ball, the opponent must catch it on the fly and immediately return it, attempting to put it where it cannot be reached and returned. The side that misses the ball or throws it out of bounds loses the point.
Daniel Vanegas, Fit Boss aboard Boxer, organized the event. "When I first saw it played in college it looked really silly. I thought it would be like volleyball, but after playing it for 10 minutes, I was completely gassed." Vanegas' goal in introducing the game was to give crew members creative ways to stay in shape. "It's great because a lot of people have a hard time working out. This way I can have them play a game and get a work out at the same time."
In fact, that was exactly why the game was invented. White House physician Adm. Joel T. Boone developed and perfected the game to keep Hoover physically fit. Early each morning, VIPs would show up for the games on the south lawn of the White House. The participants soon became known as the Medicine Ball Cabinet, although not all were official Cabinet members. The game fell out of popularity after Hoover's presidency ended in 1933, but has since seen a resurgence in colleges and cross-fit gyms, and now, aboard Boxer.
"Hands down some of the most fun I've had on the boat. It's working out and sports at the same time, you're constantly moving," said Cpl. David Spannagel, assigned to 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). "The chatter during the game was great, it was good competition. I'd definitely do it again, it was a lot of fun."
A large part of what makes Boxer successful is cooperation between Sailors and Marines aboard. Bringing them together to compete in sports like Hoover Ball builds camaraderie and forges friendships.
Boxer is part of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and 11th MEU and is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the Western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points.