Sycamore teen leads classmates in cup-stacking record bid

Published: Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 11:07 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 11:25 p.m. CDT
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(Monica Maschak – mmaschak@shawmedia.com)
Eight-grader Jeff Ward, 13, stacks cups in a cycle Thursday at Sycamore Middle School. Ward is second in the state in speed stacking with a time of 5.7 seconds. Students from the school hope to set a Guinness World Record during the Stack Up! cup-stacking event as part of Guinness World Records Day.

SYCAMORE – Stacking cups is so easy for 13-year-old Jeff Ward that he can do it blindfolded.

Ward was among hundreds of Sycamore Middle School students who participated in the Stack Up! event Thursday as part of Guinness World Records Day.

The school might have helped break a world record for “most people sport-stacking in multiple locations.” Organizers expected more than 500,000 people worldwide to participate in the cup-stacking event, which would beat last year’s record of 483,658 people.

Jeff, a Team USA Sport Stacking member who is second in the state, said he started cup-stacking after seeing a YouTube video.

“The girl [in the video] was going really fast, and I wanted to go as fast as her,” he said. “Now, I’m faster.”

Jeff can complete a cycle, which consists of stacking and unstacking various formations, in fewer than six seconds.

“When I first started, I would have a lot of focus, but when you’re going really fast, you don’t even know what you’re doing,” Jeff said.

Students crowded the cafeteria to watch the world-class cup-stacker.

“It looked like his hands were in fast-forward,” said Sophie McComb, 12. “He obviously has great hand-eye coordination. It’s almost scary how fast he was.”

It was Sophie’s first time seeing Ward stack cups.

Griffin Gower, 12, is more accustomed to witnessing Jeff’s athletic abilities. Griffin has played soccer with Jeff.

“He can handle the ball in soccer really well,” Griffin said.

Pam Nelson, Sycamore Middle School physical education and health teacher, offers her students a coordination unit in which students learn to stack cups for a few weeks. Ward helped put the sport on the map in Sycamore.

“Jeff is a very humble person,” she said. “He’s not going to brag to others when he’s showing what he can do. It’s absolutely amazing. You have to be able to celebrate what he’s able to do.”

Cup-stacking uses bilateral proficiency, Nelson said, which is when both sides of the brain are used.

Jeff has been cup-stacking for 3½ years. He practices daily for about 45 minutes and participates in tournaments. He said he could be a professional sport-stacker when he gets older, but for now, he’s focusing on school.

“I’m planning to take geometry and pre-AP English, so there are a lot of options open for me,” he said.

Online verification numbers will be sent to the World Sport Stacking Association, which will pass the total count to Guinness World Records, to determine whether the event broke last year’s record.

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