Twenty years ago, a Sheepshead Bay native took one of the neighborhood’s most popular summer pastimes – handball – and turned it into a beach sport.
Mark Miller, born in Sheepshead and raised in Fire Island, was bouncing a ball inside his music studio. After the ball took an unusual bounce off the inside corner of his wall, he decided to create a game built on reflexes.
What Miller invented soon evolved into is known as “Trangleball,” and if you head down to the beaches of Fire Island in the summer, or perhaps even the Czech Republic, you’re likely to see people playing it surrounded by onlookers.
The official version of the sport involves six people split into two teams, standing in a circle surrounding a yard-high, wooden pyramid. One of them bounces the ball off the face of the pyramid either towards a teammate or towards the opponents. Scoring occurs when a player fails to catch the ball within the boundaries, or steps outside the boundaries with the ball. The game is scored like volleyball and played to 11 points.
Trangleball has steadily become more popular through the years because its easy to learn and fun for anyone who likes to catch and throw, said its creator. Miller has promoted the game as much as possible throughout the years, but he doesn’t directly sell the ball and pyramid.
“I’m trying to sell the concept of the sport and educate them, I’m not trying to sell the game on my own,” he told Newsday years ago.
According to Trangleball’s official website, in the early 90’s the New York Department of Corrections purchased 10 games and Miller went to prisons to teach the game to inmates. Then in 2000, a student at a university in the Czech Republic wrote a thesis on Trangleball, and Miller traveled to “The European Sports Conference” to do a 10-day workshop on the sport. Since then, Trangleball has spread to other places like New Zealand, Japan, and France.
Miller has said in the past that he plans to continue promoting the game and creating different variations. Check out the detailed rules on the Trangleball website, and watch the instructional video for more info.