Thaxton Marshall ’09 creates a smash hit with Hantis
April 19, 2012 By Mariah Pohl ’15
called Hantis, which Marshall describes as the “full-body
fulfillment of table tennis.” Watch an instructional video above
to learn more about the rules of the game.
A dynamic new sport that emphasizes speed, craftiness and inclusivity has begun to escalate in popularity and spread nationwide with the initiative of its co-creator, Thaxton Marshall ’09.
Marshall has developed Hantis—what he describes as the “full-body fulfillment of table tennis.” The name represents this embodiment, combining the words “hand” and “tennis.” On the most basic level, Hantis is free and “anyone can play it anywhere at any time” with just four tables and one ball, Marshall says.
According to the “bare-bones rules” of this new sport, each player has two hits with any part of the body and can move anywhere. The ball can’t be grabbed or held, only struck, and players work on teams to get the opposing players out by striking their tables. For a team to win, players must score 21 points and be ahead by at least two points. Overall, it is fairly easy to get the hang of, but “it can get intricate,” says Marshall.
The excitement and entertaining aspect is really rooted in the tricks, what Marshall considers the best part of the game.
“With two hits, it's a whole creative universe of trick-nastiness,” he says. “I love dribbling the ball on an opponent's table and then hitting the ball up in the air and hitting it between my legs.”
However, what Marshall finds truly amazing is that the sport is really starting to catch on among friends, in school P.E. classes and even in churches all across the country.
“We've recently been to the Simply Youth Ministry Conference and now we're getting tweets from all over of churches picking up the game,” he says. The sport appeals to a large variety of people because “everyone in class can play and literally everyone loves it; you don’t have to be ridiculously athletic to be good.”
Another reason for the popularity of Hantis among teenagers may be attributed to the initial creation of the game itself.
“We made Hantis in high school. We were bored after finishing our class worksheets and we had nothing to do, so we started playing like a hand-Ping-Pong game with metal chairs and tables,” explains Marshall. “Then everyone wanted to play, so my friends and I kept changing the rules around to accommodate everyone. The result was Hantis and we've been playing it as friends ever since.”
For a sport with such humble beginnings it has become a passion for Marshall, who one day hopes to see it featured in the Olympics.
“All we need is the right person to help us advertise it nationwide,” he says. “Kids love it more than the sports they are already playing, so I don’t see our goal as being unlikely—it’s just a question of when.”
Marshall and the other creators, or Hantis Craters as they call themselves, have been busy traveling throughout the United States working toward this goal by advertising, doing demonstrations, touring schools, posting YouTube videos, selling shirts and equipment and trying to popularize their cutting-edge sport.
“We’ve only just found success promoting it,” Marshall says, but it’s beginning to “[catch] on everywhere people play it.”
Marshall credits the College for his accomplishments with the spread of the sport.
“I loved my time at Centre and I am still using skills I learned with Hantis. I hope that someone will get it going there,” he says. “The Greek system would love it!”
Though he admits his endeavors with the sport are “a lot of work sometimes,” a deeper reward has remained with Marshall through the total evolution of his game.
“To me,” he says, “entertaining kids is the best job in the entire universe.”
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