Steve Langley, front, and more than 400 students cheer as they successfully complete 30 seconds of paddle balling. (photo by Samantha Hurst)

O.P. Earle aims for paddleball record

Published 6:07pm Friday, November 30, 2012

O.P. Earle Elementary students Nov. 30 starred intensely at rubber balls bouncing left and right off sun-catching neon paddles as the students and their peers attempted to make their way into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Artist-in-residence Steve Langley and 449 Landrum students, including 46 from Landrum Middle School, attempted to become the “Most people paddle balling at the same time” on Friday.

“Just having the chance to do the attempt at the record was really exciting,” said first-grader Marc Baker. “Even if we get the record, or not, it was fun.”

Langley, a professional juggler, set the original record for the most people paddle balling at one time in Davidson, N.C. in September 2011 with 356 people. Unfortunately for Langley, the Johnson & Johnson Corporation beat his record during a corporate retreat in January of this year.

“We weren’t going to stand for that and I thought this was a great event to do with kids, so here we are,” Langley said.

Langley and O.P. Earle Elementary P.E. teacher Laura Dickson began crafting a plan for the event last year. Langley teaches students at the school about manipulative skills through juggling and Chinese yo-yos throughout the year.

He began teaching students how to paddle ball earlier this week.

“These days everything is so digital and kids are so sedentary,” Langley said. “This was a way to change that. Through play comes learning. When you engage them, that’s when children really learn.”

Dickson was happy to see the kids learning a variety of lessons out in the sunshine. 

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