Soon-to-be Eagle Scout brings 'gaga ball' to Goddard

Collin Laughlin, 13, builds spot for sport with a little help from friends

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Goddard Middle School has a new place to play an unusual sport, thanks to a soon-to-be Eagle Scout.

Faced with a summer of canceled plans, Boy Scout Collin Laughlin, 13, set out to design, plan and build a “gaga pit,” used for playing the dodgeball-like sport of gaga.

With his schedule cleared, Laughlin decided to tackle the public service project necessary to advance to Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America.

“I've already got enough merit badges — you need 21, and I'm at 31,” Laughlin said. “I'll be honest, my motivation there is to beat my dad. He earned 38, so I'm almost there.”

Laughlin saw how much his classmates enjoyed gaga ball games in outdoor education class, and decided Goddard could use a gaga pit of its own.

With help from his dad John, the Scoutmaster of Troop 361, Laughlin set out to recruit friends and fellow Scouts to help. With the blessing of Goddard Principal Bryan Breuer and a donation from the Goddard Parent-Teacher Organization, Laughlin was off to the races.

“I knew I would need help and people pushing me forward,” Laughlin said. “Once we laid out the plans, it started dawning on me how many hours it was going to be.”

Thankfully, he found plenty of help. A gaga ball supplier gave him a discount on materials once they heard about the project. A local lumberyard operator, charmed by the youngster who showed up in a Scout uniform, gave personalized assistance.

The help continued: numerous classmates and fellow Scouts signed on. When the group set out to rip up the sod on Goddard's lawn, a nearby Bobcat operator working on a school construction project drove over to help out.

After three weeks and 300 cumulative work hours, the octagonal wooden pit was complete.

“I'm joyful, because every time I'm at school I'm able to see kids playing in it,” Laughlin said. “It brings a smile to my face. And my dad is proud of me.”

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