A sport that was developed decades ago to help a hefty chief executive loose weight is being played in eastern Iowa today. In fact, it’s the national championships of Hooverball. Patricia Forsythe, executive director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Association, says the unusual sport is played with a four- to eight-pound ball and there’s tennis-style scoring but players using a volleyball net and with no spiking. Forsythe says the game was invented when an Iowan sat in the Oval Office. She says while Hoover Ball was created to help Herbert Hoover lose weight, it has become the sport of “healthy, large football players, I think, with big necks.” The Hooverball championships are part of Hooverfest, underway today and tomorrow in West Branch, Hoover’s birthplace. Hoover’s actual birthdate is August 10th, 1874, but it’s celebrated this weekend to avoid a conflict with the Iowa State Fair. Forsythe says many other things are on the weekend agenda, including an art exhibition. Admission is free. Other features include historical re-enactors, eclectic musical offerings, children’s activities, craft demonstrators, and a Cedar Rapids Band accompanied by fireworks. There’s also a Sunday gravesite memorial service where former Iowa Governor Robert Ray is the guest speaker. For more information, surf to “www.hooverassociation.org” or call 800-828-0475.
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