Readers, reviewers, and even those coming to this site have spoken, and I’m listening: They want more shotball content, so I’m definitely more than happy to give it to them. I’ll be honest; I didn’t intend a simple subplot to provide a break from the work’s tension to be a hit, but then again, when doesn’t a good sport, fiction or non-fiction, entertain the masses.
So for that, I’m making a little project out of this called the Encyclopedia of Shotball, and I want to begin with the game’s origins both here in the real world, and of course, in Gaia.
So, let’s get cracking on how the sport that found its way into Lord of Columbia came to be.
I want to say the seeds to shotball were planted in my head while I was in middle school, which held grades five through eight. When I was in the fifth grade, our “playground” was basically the practice football field for the seventh and eighth-graders.
There was no playground equipment, but a lot of kickballs. So, each of us lined up on either side of the goal post and attempted to either kick or punt the ball through the post while opponents tried to steal the ball from us.
We tackled if the teachers weren’t watching and far too often, we got away with it.
Sort of like the rules I outlined in a previous post; if we kicked or punted the ball over the uprights, it was worth three points. A throw over was worth one.
Of course, there were no actual rules to the game other than scoring and at times, we used several balls. I remember once, a friend once stated how much it was like a war zone out there, which probably inspired my original name for the game: Warball.
Another inspiration was when I read a book regarding the history of baseball and it spoke of the legend that Union General Abner Doubleday invented the game in Cooperstown, New York, simply by writing the rules. While Doubleday never claimed to have invented the game, back then I started thinking about someday inventing my own game and showing it to the world.
So, it’s easy to say the birthplace of shotball occurred in Hammondsville, Ohio, an unincorporated community that sits on the top of Jefferson County, Ohio. The town’s population is somewhere between one-hundred and five-hundred, and is likely decreasing yearly, as its neighbor, Irondale, Ohio, currently boasts a population of 360 as of 2018.
Doldrums of Middle School Memories
Middle school isn’t exactly a place I like to revisit, having been the wannabe type of kid always looking to impress the jocks and almost always falling short. I wore glasses that were broken on several occasions and my face was riddled with acne during my later middle school years.
Not to mention I was a tad overweight during my fifth and sixth-grade years, when body image became important to all of us boys, especially the jocks. Come my seventh and eighth-grade years, I was severely underweight, having developed eating habits than consisted of fewer than 1,000 calories per day on most days of the week, and at thirteen and fourteen it’s not necessarily a good thing.
For this reason, I hid these memories for ages as in high school, I became an athlete for two seasons for our horrendous football team (the Edison Wildcats haven’t made the playoffs since 2002) before turning my attention to exclusively hitting the gym.
So, I tried to forget everything about middle school and I hated when anyone brought back memories of the place. It wasn’t until 2009 when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell cracked down harder on what NFL defenses could and couldn’t do did the creative juices flow within me once more and I sought to develop a sport that would grant an equal platform to both offense and defense.
Therefore, it didn’t take me long before the memories of the old middle school days welled up and I remembered that game we played a few years back. It served as a basis for what became warball, later known as thrashball and finally, shotball.
The origins of Lord of Columbia can be traced back to 2010 when I was a student at Kent State University. A socialist-minded thinker at the time (yes, I used to be a socialist and even flirted with communism), I wanted to write a book that spoke of a Socialist uprising in a Capitalist state—note I made the mistake thinking Capitalism was Cronyism until a year and a half later—where a civil war would be fought between the Capitalists and their allies and the Socialist coalition.
The book consisted of a protagonist named Rocky, who would lead the Socialists to battle against and hopefully overthrow the Capitalists, and his best friend, Lyra (later changed to Lira).
I wrote and rewrote myself into a corner several times, not even thinking at the time of shotball, which was still warball.
I wrote so many drafts in so many time periods, but ultimately, the urban fantasy taking place in modern times where Rocky could control the elements (Earth was his mastered element), prevailed after testing what the book would look like if placed in the medieval times. I also went through a phase where I took the fantasy element out completely before I found I was abysmal at writing science fiction.
Shotball never entered the picture.
It wasn’t until 2015 did I really lay out a good premise for Lord of Columbia. Rocky briefly became Brock before finally becoming Cain Riscattare (named Cain Robinson in earlier drafts).
While watching the History Channel’s miniseries, Sons of Liberty, I decided I wanted Cain to become a Sam Adams type of character but with an arrogant personality. Clearly, my views from a political spectrum changed to Libertarian, so by this time the Series became more of a Libertarian-minded state versus a Socialist state. Also during this time, I felt the best way to really pull off writing a first novel without quitting was to model its plot after another, which is where Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince came in, as the plot from Northern Knights is loosely based on it.
Knowing J.K. Rowling used the sport Quidditch, I decided to make Cain a college athlete but since Lord of Columbia takes place in a fictional world, I wanted to put in a fictional sport, but one real enough that it could easily be played without any crazy restrictions, so I revived shotball and implemented it into Northern Knights as a subplot.
And ever since then, hundreds of readers have had the opportunity to learn the game, with many asking for more. I’m honestly not sure what the big fuss is over fictional sports and fanfare, but hey, I’m cool with it, more than cool, and it gives me an excuse to elaborate on what I thought many would scoff at.
But no, shotball has a heartbeat, and that heartbeat grows every single day.