Thursday, February 20, 2003

Some Good News

New sport combines five in one


When John Hollis saw a football player dunk the football over the goal post after making a touchdown, he didn't think of it as hot-dogging. He thought about basketball.

When he saw a shuffle pass, he thought of Frisbee. A side kick reminded him of soccer. A loose tackle made him think of rugby.

After several years of playing the different variations through his mind, the former Cincinnatian who now lives in Oakland, Calif., has invented a game he calls Universal Football. He said the game combines the skills of five sports into one free-flowing game.

Hollis said the game is played on a field slightly smaller than a soccer field with a small basketball and 11 players on each side. There are combinations of goal posts and soccer goals at each end, with a basketball hoop and a backboard for extra points.

"It starts out like Frisbee," Hollis said. "The ball is tossed, caught, but you can't run. It is passed to someone else. They have four downs to make 18 yards for a `true down.'."

After the true down, certain players are designated as "free radicals" who are allowed to switch sports; rugby, Frisbee, soccer, basketball and, oh yes, football. The game was first tried at Fremont High School in Oakland in 1999, played by ninth-graders.

Football coach Elton Reeder said it was a big hit among the students.

"It is very fast and it makes kids think on the run," Reeder said. "I use it in my physical education class, also. The kids really like it. They want more games played by that style."

Coach Reeder thinks the game will catch on because it combines several skills.

"If you have a kid too small to play football or too short to play basketball, that kid can still be used in this game. I like it because it is fast. It requires a lot of strategy because you have to change the defense, based on what game the offense is using. It makes kids think more and you can use the different skills of every player on the field, no matter what size or sex. The girls really have taken to it.''

Reeder is also the head football coach at Laney College in Oakland.

Hollis grew up in Cincinnati and graduated from Hughes High School in 1971. He attended the University of Cincinnati from 1971-1972. After moving to Oakland, he received an associate's degree in science from Merritt College.

He works as a pool manager for the city of Berkeley and as a library clerk and computer technician for Oakland Public Schools, and teaches a water exercise class to the physically challenged at Vista College, Berkeley.

He can be contacted at or P.O. Box 32066, Oakland, Calif., 94604-3366.


The first level of the International Speech contest, held by the Fairfield Northern Hills Toastmasters Club, will be at 7 p.m. today at the Fairfield Fire Station No. 2, Ohio 4 and Boymel Drive.

Allen Howard's "Some Good News'' column runs Sunday-Friday. If you have suggestions about outstanding achievements, or people who are uplifting to the Tristate, let him know at 768-8362, at or by fax at 768-8340.

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