On the Job: Bursting the Bubble

Warrior Bubble Soccer is an all-in-one workout and team-building exercise
Caitlin McGrath
Everybody wins at bubble soccer

I am too focused on the task in front of me to notice the man in the bubble charging at me. I can’t see his face, but I assume it is filled with determination. My own bubble won’t burst, but man, am I going to get crushed. He is a literal wrecking ball at my side, and the fury of our collision sends me sprawling. My legs shoot toward

the sky, and I roll around helplessly on the ground.

Trapped inside my own bubble, I don’t pause to think how this moment made a pretty solid metaphor for life. Instead, I smile. Because in bubble ball, that’s what you do.

“The first time he hit me (with his

bubble), I was laughing so hard I couldn’t get up,” says Leah Selvaggio, referring to her husband, Anthony. The pair launched Warrior Bubble Soccer in January 2015 and says the trend of playing soccer while encased in a giant bubble is growing in the greater Rochester area.

The rules of bubble soccer are simple: four-on-four or two-on-two soccer—with no goaltenders or smaller nets, and each player is entrapped in a large bubble. Anthony adds that at Warrior, they offer the bubbles for more than just soccer.“We also play King of the Hill,” he says.‚Äč

Getting into the bubble itself isn’t exactly a gargantuan task, but it can be awkward at first.You lay the bubble on its side, crawl in and then put Velcro straps over your shoulders, backpack-style. (585) magazine photographer Caitlin McGrath watched me contort myself while attempting to do this and said it looked like I was struggling in an odd, plastic womb.

Once you’re strapped in, you stand up and officially become a bubble person (and yeah, once inside, I did get an overwhelming urge to quote Seinfeld’s “Bubble Boy” episode). As you can imagine, it’s a strange sensation under the dome. The bubble is heavier than expected—about twenty pounds—and it’s also incredibly warm in there. On a sunny day, the sweat pours out quickly. Talking is strange, as your voice echoes throughout the bubble space. And forget about taking a bubble selfie—your hands are stuck inside the sphere, gripping a pair of handlebars.

My first game was at Cobbs Hill Park off Culver Road as part ofWarrior Bubble Soccer’s collaboration with the Rochester Young Professionals organization. We played two-on-two ball on a short- ened field. (We didn’t have team names, but I later asked a friend if “Ball and Oates” was a good one—his silence gave me my answer. If I start a team with my News 8 coworkers, though, we’re defi- nitely going to be the “Crazy 8s.”) While the goal of bubble soccer is technically to kick the ball into the net, it’s not what everyone is striving for.When you’re in that globe, you just want to collide with others. It’s bumper car rules out there, so if you knock your opponent down, just know they’ll be coming for you later in the game.The game is surprisingly tiring. After five minutes, the four of us were winded, and the action was a lot less furi- ous than in the beginning. My team ended up claiming a 3-0 victory—I even scored a goal and executed a pretty solid celebra- tory bubble chest bump.

As I exited the bubble, I felt like a Pokémon being released from a Pokéball, except my only power was to sweat profusely. I shook hands with my fellow bubbleballers, and while we were all gassed, we also had something else in common:We were all grinning. Because in bubble ball, that’s what you do.


Scott Pukos is an award-winning writer and producer at News 8 in Rochester. Follow him on Twitter at @ByScottPukos

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