Christine Connelly: Pumping Her Fists in the Air

Christine Connelly: Pumping Her Fists in the Air

Indu Vaddiparti

Fistball. A word most people have probably never heard of. A sport that most people have probably never played. However, Christine Connelly, junior at Morris Hills High School MAGNET, has taken the sport to the next level. As a result of demonstrating exceptional mastery in a sport of skill, strength, and strategy, Connelly has been selected to play as defense and offense striker on the United States National U18 Fistball Team.  

Connelly was first inspired to join the team when a close friend, Kayley Moran, presented her with information stating that the U18 team was holding open tryouts. Connelly immediately snatched the great opportunity to represent her nation. “I didn’t really think that I would get in.” she stated. “I just thought I’d try and go for it.” As a matter of fact, both Moran and Connelly both made the cut off together.

Fistball isn’t the only sport in which Connelly has continued to impress spectators. She has had experience in competitive volleyball for 5 years, and has played on the Morris Hills Volleyball team for 3 years. According to Connelly, fistball is very similar to volleyball. The placement of a net or line at the center of the court and the rule stating that each team is allowed a maximum of 3 touches are some similarities. In fact, Connelly’s knowledge and practice in both sports have helped her. Since she already had background knowledge relating to volleyball, she was able to succeed in fistball. Now that she has the complete understanding of fistball, she is able to make strategic last resort plays in volleyball.

However, there are certain differences between fistball and regular volleyball that Connelly has had a hard time adjusting to. For one, while volleyball is played indoors, fistball is played outdoors. There are several dissimilarities between the sports regarding rules and scoring as well. In fistball, the ball is permitted to bounce off the court before it is hit, whereas in volleyball, the ball must not touch the court at any time. A fistball must be hit using only the forearm or fist, while volleyball only allows the use of hands. The only difference in scoring between the two sports is that a set in volleyball is played to 25 points, and a set in fistball is played to 11 points. However, through hard work and determination, Connelly has overcome these obstacles.

Connelly is also currently part of the United States Fistball Association (USFA), and attends meetings in various towns to spread around more knowledge on the rare sport.

Fistball has not only given Connelly the chance to proudly represent her nation and spread knowledge about a new sport, but it has also enabled her to form new relationships and friendships. The sport has allowed her to embark on exciting and adventurous journeys. Connelly has developed beautiful bonds with her teammates.

Connelly and her new friends first combined their efforts in small tournaments within the United States. They were put to the ultimate test when they traveled to Eibach, Germany to represent America in the U18 World Championships. “When we were in the airports, a lot of people were staring and thought we were for the olympics and started taking pictures,” Connelly remembers. “It still feels very surreal that I travelled to Germany to represent the United States in a competition.” Connelly and her team indeed passed the test, placing fifth in the tournament.

Connelly has been prepping for major upcoming events as well. She and her team hope to travel to Switzerland in 2017 to take part in the U18 European Championships.

It is clear to see that Morris Hills has an honor in housing such a gifted student. Christine Connelly’s efforts to lead the United States to victory in fistball and her wishes to spread knowledge on the fun sport have definitely inspired Morris Hills. Getting the opportunity to represent the nation is only a dream for most high school athletes. Connelly has grasped that distant dream, and she has certainly impressed us all in doing so.