By Shoshanna McCollum
Born in Brooklyn, raised on Fire Island has long been Mark Miller’s catchphrase when talking about his baby. Trangleball is the game he invented and trademarked in 1992. His following was modest but it grew steadily, so much so that annual tournaments were soon organized to satisfy the demands of its most ardent players who recognized the potential of this team sport.
“I was throwing a handball around in my music studio,” explained Miller when discussing how the idea came about 20 years ago. “Then the ball bounced off the inside corner of the room in an unusual way and I saw the possibility for a good reflex game.”
Mark Miller is from Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, a breed of beach town that while very different still shares some affinity with Fire Island. Anyone who has spent time in the southern Brooklyn enclaves of Brighton Beach, Coney Island or Sheepshead Bay knows that handball is king, and the courts are always busy.
But Miller was also a surfing enthusiast coming out to Fire Island to catch the waves. With a three-sided pyramid prototype he found a way to bring a variation of handball to the beach. Its “court” would not require walls but take advantage of the sandy terrain itself.
Over the years the rules of Trangleball as a game would evolve and become refined. As it gained momentum the game was not just being played on Fire Island anymore, but the far-flung shores of Japan and far off lands like the Czech Republic. It was also not strictly a beach game, for it was being played on the well-manicured lawns of athletic fields, and the floored interiors of gymnasium courts. Trangleball made the adaptation every time and is testament to its success.
When all is said and done however it is still necessary for Trangleball to return to its Fire Island roots in the summer, thus underscoring the importance of these tournaments. On a sunny and sweltering August 4th folks congregated on the beach of Corneille Estates to reaffirm their connection to the game. The Trangleball Champions of 2012: Alex Sandler, Zuri and Caden Pavlin are young men all born after the creation of the game itself, yet another benchmark of its longevity. May the game be enjoyed on Fire Island for generations yet to come.
Mark Miller offers Trangleball start-up kits to day camps in any Fire Island community free of charge. Visit www.Trangleball.com to learn more.