From bunheads to s­pongeheads

by Mary Helen Darah

Artistic Director of Ballet Theatre of Toledo, Nigel Burgoine, has created a new game with hopes of inspiring others to have a bit of outdoor family fun. Burgoine came up with the idea for “Spongeheads” while he was also writing three books. “I was writing three books about kids, being a professional in ballet and then being an administrator. While writing the books I recalled a vivid childhood memory. I remembered how I once threw an awful-smelling egg smack into my friend’s head. His mom, who owned the local store, charged me for the two bottles of shampoo it took to get the offending odor out. It got me thinking. I had created games such as the Nutcracker Game Race and The Race to the Whitehouse. I wondered what would be fun for kids in the summer now that we can finally congregate outside. I recently was at an event with cornhole and came up with something between that game, horseshoes, and my childhood egg toss to the head, but with a few twists,” he said.

What Burgoine has created is a game that simply requires two buckets, sponges and willing participants. “Teams take turns trying to knock sponges off an opposing team member’s head. You take turns, moving about so you don’t get too hot and bothered standing around,” he explained. “Tony Geftos of 13abc loved the idea and we tried it out at a local Metropark. He actually gets credit for coming up with the name. We then were asked to an event in downtown Maumee packed with people. Everyone loved it, especially brothers and sisters who enjoyed throwing wet sponges at their siblings.”

Don Getz supports his son-in-law Nigel Burgoine’s latest endeavor.

The ballet artistic director whose dancers are often referred to as “bunheads” loves that Spongehead is catching on but has no plans on marketing the game. “It’s two buckets and sponges. We put a tarp down at the park, originally to protect players from possible dog poo, but it served as the perfect distance marker,” he said. “How do you market that? I am just spreading the idea of the game for the enjoyment of others. If anyone wants to use the idea, have at it! What I like about it is that it can be played in the park or on a beach.”

Burgoine described a typical round of Spongehead. “The person having the sponge (the peanut-shaped sponges work best) on their head is facing their team so it’s quite amusing to see their reaction. The wet sponge goes flying within the playing area and if it hits the opponent’s head, it is a point. The first team to reach five points is the winner. The only thing required is a bit of skill, courage and hysterics.”

He added, “If it catches on, I would be delighted. I did some research on cornhole. Did you know there are professional cornhole players? They get $5k- $25k. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we had international Spongeheadteams? Paris vs. Rio de Janeiro … I can see it now!”

Anyone wanting instructions or information on the Spongehead game, call the Ballet Theatre of Toledo at 419-861-0895.

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