For the third year, dozens of young people, nearly all Fulton County natives, came together on Friday and Saturday at Reighard Park’s Miami Lodge in Wauseon with one purpose in mind: to celebrate and be crowned the local champion in the game of foosball.
The two day competition was played first as a round of playoffs in round-robin style, where every competitor played each other to determine seeding for the next day’s tournament bracket. One champion is ultimately crowned and awarded a travelling trophy and bragging rights for a year.
The competitors, ranging from ages 15 to 24, come from a variety of backgrounds. Many are students or graduates of local high schools, although some learn of the event from their roommates and friends at colleges who compete annually.
Some players come into the tournament each year with high expectations and a competitive nature, practicing on their own foosball table throughout the year. Yet, just as many come for the community atmosphere and as a way to catch up with old and current classmates and friends.
Brenden Kost, a 2015 graduate of Wauseon High School, began the tournament three years ago in his home as a way for people to reconnect and come together for a worthwhile tradition. Since then, the competition has grown significantly, requiring accommodation at Reighard Park to host it.
“We continue to host because of the fun that comes along with the tournament and how it brings the community together. As long as people keep having fun, we’re hoping to keep the tradition going,” Kost said.
The tournament is planned months in advance to avoid as many conflicts as possible between prom, spring sports, and other interests. Although foosball is a favorable pastime by the players, all are actively involved elsewhere in the community through various extracurricular activities and employment at local businesses.
Foosball itself has seen its popularity decline in recent years as other pastimes, such as video games, have risen to fill its place. However, Kost strives to look past the competitive aspect, and use the tournament as a way to teach promising newcomers the ways of the game. He and his co-host, Andrew Clausen, even offered practice and tutorials prior to the tournament in order to ensure a future for the unique sport.
“The fun of playing foosball (an unfortunately dying sport) surrounded by friends is probably the biggest appeal,” Kost said.
Adding to the tournament aspect, a new champion has been crowned each year, fueling a sense of unpredictability and drawing competitively-minded persons alike, as everyone not only feels they belong, but they have a chance to make their mark on the game. Winning it all this year was Wauseon High School junior Evan Kost.
Growing in popularity each year, Kost hopes the tournament will continue to be a local tradition and evolve as he, his co-hosts, and the players, continue to grow older and pursue interests that take them out of the area.
“Hopefully the tournament continues to expand and more people are introduced to the sport…The goal for me as a co-host is to ensure an organized and all-around successful tournament. We always need to make sure the guests are having a good time. I believe it’s important to carry-on the tradition,” he said.
Even as some move on from the little northwest Ohio town they once called home, the unique draw of foosball is one that local organizers hope will serve as a homecoming to of sorts for Wauseon as a community tradition to last for years to come.