The Footbag Historical Society works in conjunction with the Footbag Hall of Fame (Founded in 1997) to provide the many stories and experiences that make up the history of footbag since 1972 – recognized as the beginning of Footbag by Mike Marshall and John Stalberger.
The two men met while John was visiting the Oregon City, Oregon area during the summer of 1972 and an instant friendship was formed.
One of the first things Mike introduced John to was kick juggling a rudiment hand sewn beanbag made of cloth by using his feet, arms and head.
John quickly realized the game was both fun and challenging. The two would play for hours honing their skills almost every day. After doing some research they discovered that most cultures around the world have played similar kick juggling games using various types of simple handmade items such as feathered shuttle cocks, woven bamboo balls and more. Our Native Americans used cloth or animal hides filled with rocks and beads.
This intrigued their passion and they began making plans to create a unique new American version of this funny little beanbag game.
They would say “Let’s go hack the sack!”. That slogan was the origin of “Hacky Sack” which became the register trademark and brand of The Hacky Sack Company.
The two entrepreneurs also coined the word “footbag” as the object used in play and also as the name of the game in 1972. The Hacky Sack brand footbag and game was born.
Tragically, in early 1975 Mike died of a heart attack at the age of 28. Mike’s death was a real tradgedy and a major setback to the goals and plans the two men had discussed and dreamed about.
Mike’s passing led John to rededicate his focus to promoting the footbag game and to making Hacky Sack a household name.
In the fall of 1975, John began teaching footbag during night classes in the Lincoln City, Oregon area. The class was promoted through the local newspaper and the Portland, Oregon ABC TV affiliation saw the article and traveled to Lincoln City to interview John about footbag and the class. This was the first live interview on TV about footbag and the media exposure proved to be affective in filling the class to capacity.
THE Mike Marshall Award
Honoring Mike as co-inventor with the creation of The Mike Marshall Award has inspired many footbag enthusiasts since 1980.
The Mike Marshall Award is bestowed on players and contributors that have dedicated their time, energy and love to the sport of footbag and it’s future.
Prior to Mike’s passing the two entrepreneurs began experimenting with numerous designs and materials in search of the perfect footbag with the goal of manufacturing improved models that made controling the footbag easier. Their efforts yeilded the original 2 panel dog bone model with complete internal stitching and a US patent was issued.
This first spherical footbag was designed to flatten out on impact with the kicking surface – making the footbag less bouncy and easier to control during play.
John’s background in sports and his continued research and study of the kicking movements required to create prolonged “rallies” led to the idea of teaching a system that encourages the EQUAL USE OF BOTH FEET.
The early years of footbag evolved from casual play to competition including Consecutive Kicks, Freestyle and Net play.
During trading camps and school PE classes emphasis was placed on the proper kicking techniques – the use of both feet – and on the correct use of the upper body for counter-balancing during play which led players to develop higher skill sets for competition.
The specific kicking techniques of using both feet equally attracted the attention of many PE teachers and coaches across North America. In the late 1970’s footbag touring teams were formed to demonstrate and teach the footbag skills to students at many schools across the Western United States.
In 1977, John and a group of dedicated men and women including Ted Huff and Garwin Bruce saw the vision of footbag as a sport and founded the National Hacky Sack Association (NHSA) – the sport of footbag was launched.
During these early years, The NHSA coordinated tournaments, school tours, training camps and the footbag game and sport soared towards popularity throughout the USA and Canada.
In 1983, the World Footbag Association
(WFA) was founded by Bruce Guettich and Greg Cortopassi. This dynamic duo’s love and passion for footbag led the sport to a whole new level of national exsposure. Today, the WFA is the industry leader in footbag sales.
Visit their website at Worldfootbag.com.
In the early 1980s and for several years throughout the decade John traveled to many international countries promoting and selling the HackySack footbag and the footbag game and sport. Countries like Japan, Austrailia, China and Western Europe were introduced to the Hacky Sack footbag and sport by John and local area distributors like Ian Mitchel Innes of the UK, and Japan’s Nisho Iwaii. Today each of these and other countries enjoy footbag and all that it offers.
In the late 1990’s and into the new millenium the International Footbag Players Association (IFPA) was founded and led by HoF members Steve Goldberg, Julie Symons and Chris Ott. Their efforts brought footbag to the masses around the world through the footbag.org website , home of the IFPA.
In 1997, the Footbag Hall of Fame was created to honor the heros and superstars of the sport.
Since 1980, the single largest running “Major” tournament is now titled – The IFPA World Footbag Championships and held in different countries around the world. Originally known as The Mike Marshall Memorial and held in Mike’s hometown of Oregon City, Oregon – a suburb of Portland, Oregon.
Other than the World Championships the longest running footbag event was launched in 1981 by Robert Conover and Mike Noonin and is held in the Oregon area each year. Titled “The Moonin and Noonin” in the early years and now known as “The Beaver Open” it is one of the most popular footbag events in the world today.
The spread of footbag has experienced a tremendous growth around the world. In 2020 there are more than 200 clubs in over 35 countries.
Since the original Hacky Sack Company began manufacturing (1974), marketing and sponsoring footbag events during the 1970s and 1980s many footbag manufacturing companies have been established including Flying Clipper, the WFA, Freedom Footbags and more with each located in the USA – a new industry was established. Many International companies manufacturer footbags today and the footbag industry flourishes.
*** Official Consecutive Kick Records ***
The NHSA began recording World Records for Consecutive Kicks in the late 1970’s.
**Official Footbag Hall of Fame Consecutive Kicks World Records:
Women’s Singles: 24,713 – Constance Constable
Men’s Singles: 63,326 – Ted Martin
Women’s Singles Five-Minute Timed: 804 – Ida Fogle
Singles Five-Minute Timed: 1019 – Andy Linder
Women’s Doubles: 34,543 – Constance Constable/Tricia George
Doubles: 132,011 – Gary Lautt/Tricia George
Women’s Doubles One-Pass: 6136 – Constance Constable/Tricia George
Doubles One-Pass: 27,956 – Ted Martin/Andy Linder
Women’s Doubles Distance One-Pass: 249 – Tricia George/Jody Welch
Doubles Distance One-Pass: 622 – Ted Martin/Andy Linder
Doubles Ten-Minute Timed One-Pass: 1415 – Tricia George/Paul Vorvick
Doubles One-Up-Five-Down: 23,251 – Ted Martin/Andy Linder
Some footbag records recognized by Guinness Book of World Records.