Camille Surovy has made a name for herself in the footbag world. Apart from possessing some of the finest footbag skills, Surovy is also a key member of The Footbag Association of Toronto, and even organized the international footbag tournament called G.L.A.S.S. (Great Lakes Area Shred Symposium) that took place last weekend. Footbag (aka hacky-sacking) is one of the most inclusive sports in existence and anyone can play together irregardless of their skill. Surovy embodies the essence of the sport, she’s welcoming, thoughtful, and friendly. Torontoist caught up with Surovy after GLASS to talk about the tournament, the footbag community, and shreddin’.
Where you from? Where do you live? Where are you going?
I’m from Toronto. I live in Toronto. I’m currently taking a year off from university to work, but I am returning to school in September.
How did you first get involved in the footbag community in Toronto?
Two guys got me into it. Paul Toews starting playing first, then he got Andrew Weglarz playing. I chilled with them a lot and they practically begged me play, seeing my potential, I suppose. I resisted for some time, but finally decided that I wanted to participate. I would practise by myself often, just trying to kick the bag more than once! They taught me a lot, and continue to do so. I don’t know where I’d be without them.
For the unenlightened, what is footbag/shredding?
Footbag is an underground sport played with a small bead or bean-filled bag. It resembles a soccer ball, except that it is made of a soft material.
Footbag Net is played over a badminton-sized net. The rules are similar to Sepak Takraw; the players kick the bag back and forth over the net.
Freestyle Footbag, or “shredding”, is when you execute tricks with the footbag, stalling it and moving your feet, legs, and body around it. The term “shred” came from the term “hack”, as in “Hacky Sack”. Hacky Sack is actually a brand name of footbag, and more often refers to a lower level of play, where players simply kick the bag back and forth in a circle. Freestyle Footbag, or shredding, is more structured, where each player in the circle is passed the bag when it is their turn, and they try to do as many tricks as they can without dropping. When they drop the bag, they pass to the next person in the circle.
There are also competitions and events. Players compete individually by choreographing routines of tricks to music, similar to gymnastics or figure skating. Or they compete in doubles routines, where two people do tricks together. You can see videos of competitions at www.footbag.org. Other competitions include “Shred 30”, where the players try to do as many unique tricks as they can (with as little drops as possible) in thirty seconds, and “Sick 1” and “Sick 3” where competitors try their biggest 1 or 3 tricks. “Most Rippin’ Run” is a competition where many players start playing at the same time and leave the competition when they drop the bag. The winner is the last one still playing.
What are some of the best names for tricks and stalls?
There are thousands of trick names. The most basic trick is a stall, also called a delay. A ‘Clipper’, where you stall the bag on the inside of your foot behind your other leg. Then there’s a ‘dexterity’ is when the leg does a circle motion around the bag. A ‘set’ is a trick done on the bag’s way ‘up’. Some of those tricks are called Pixie, Fairy, and Stepping.
If someone wanted to get involved, where would they go, whom would they talk to? Are there any websites with good resources?
The best way to get involved is to contact a footbag club in your area. There are many clubs spread out all over the world. You can find them on www.footbag.org under “CLUBS”. If you would like to become a member of a club, simply join www.footbag.org and sign up with a club. You can contact the members and arrange to play with them. In Toronto specifically, the largest and most active freestyle footbag club is The Footbag Association of Toronto (F.A.T.). We officially created it about two years ago, but we’ve been playing as a club for about four.
The best way to learn about footbag, besides learning from another person one-on-one, is over the Internet. There are tons of websites dedicated to footbag! www.footbag.org is the most significant. It has been going strong for a decade and covers every aspect of the sport. www.flipsider.com is also a great site for finding information, products, and videos.
Tell us a little bit about the 1st annual G.L.A.S.S. (Great Lake Area Shred Symposium)tournament. How did it get started? What was your involvement in it?
The Great Lake Area Shred Symposium was AMAZING! It was the first footbag event in Ontario! It got started by the Ontarian footbaggers. We chatted on the message boards and came up with the idea to throw an event here. We wanted to make it a Great Lake Area thing because we have close relations with the footbaggers in the area. We decided to have it in Toronto because it is the most central place for everyone, and the most fun! I took the responsibility of organizing it because I live in Toronto and I am an active member of F.A.T. Plus, I love footbag! I arranged the venue, schedule, host hostel, and after-party locations. I also helped to judge the competition.
What kind of media attention did GLASS get?
I sent out press releases to the newspapers in Toronto. It was written about in the Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail. The Toronto Star actually did a very poor job of reporting on footbag; they called it ‘the world’s most casual sport’, which is ridiculous. They obviously failed to properly research the sport, and it seems that they disregarded the information I included in the press release as well. The Globe and Mail, on the other hand, wrote an excellent article on the sport and how it is often misunderstood. They interviewed me extensively. Also, CBC Radio 3 came to the event and interviewed me.
Was it a success? Will there be a second annual GLASS tournament?
It was definitely a success! Everyone had a lot of fun! About 50 people attended. They travelled from all over Ontario, and others travelled from as far as: Winnipeg, Montreal, Rochester, New York City, and Seattle. I think that there will be a 2nd annual G.L.A.S.S. tournament! Maybe it will be somewhere else in the Great Lake Area, such as Rochester or Kingston, but it turned out so well that everyone wants it to come again next year.
What’s the best place to shred in Toronto?
During the winter we usually shred in buildings at The University of Toronto (the president of The Footbag Association of Toronto, Andrew Weglarz, also started the University of Toronto Footbag Club), and at York University. In the summer we play at Dundas Square, Queen’s Park, Grange Park, Kensington Market, and other places in downtown Toronto. Basically any place that has the right temperature, ample lighting and a good surface such as concrete, carpeting, or athletic flooring is perfect.
I’ve been told that “The Laver” is the be all to end all shoe for shredding. Can you get them in Toronto?
The Adidas Rod Laver Tennis Shoe is the most preferred by footbaggers. But other shoes have been found to be just as good, if not better, when modified properly. These include specific models of New Balance and Adidas Climacool shoes. To find out more I recommend searching www.footbag.org and www.modified.ca. Rod Lavers can be found in some athletic stores in Toronto, but they are always the leather models, which require a lot of modifications to play with. The mesh model are ideal for footbag. The best place to find Rod Laver shoes is at Ebay. Not only do they have many different colours and sizes, but the prices are also very affordable.
Are there any more Footbag events coming up in the near future?
Montreal is probably hosting an event in the spring of this year. There are footbag events every month all over the world. You can find out about any event by visiting www.footbag.org and checking under “EVENTS”.
The Footbag Association of Toronto goes to any rallies or street festivals (Buskerfest, Toronto Street Festival, Jazz Festival, etc.) in the summer to play and show the public our wonderful sport! We welcome any players, new or experienced, to join our club and/or to play with us. The footbag community is the nicest and most supportive and friendly people you will ever find! Shred On!