ROXBURY, NJ – The national anthems were played, local officials gave their welcoming speeches. It was about 9:15 a.m. Thursday and the only words left to be said were “Let the games begin.”
With that came the start of something unique for the United States: Teams representing several South American nations were on USA soil competing in fistball, a sport that - while barely known here - is the stuff of stadiums elsewhere on the planet.
It was the kickoff of the first Pan-American Fistball Tournament. Good spirits and enthusiasm were easy to find all over the Swim and Sport Club off Emmans Road.
But as the time for play drew near, so were signs that the people wearing the colorful uniforms were not there just for fun; They were there to win, and national teams gathered to discuss strategy and hear advice from their coaches.
It was a nice experience for about 50 members of the Roxbury High School Marching Band, said band director Rich Hartsuiker. The contingent – about half of the full marching band – performed a flawless rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” as members of the Roxbury Police Department Color Guard, joined by a local Boy Scout Honor Guard, stood at attention.
The public is invited to watch the games. It will cost $6 per day for adults and $2 for children 12 and under. More information is available online. Play will continue throughout the weekend.