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Gabby Douglas does the crabwalk

Star athletes share their favorite gym class pastimes

  • Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas was a big fan of crabwalk volleyball when she was younger.
Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas was a big fan of crabwalk volleyball… (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles…)
February 28, 2013|By Adam Lukach | RedEye

Powerhouse athletes joined Michelle Obama in Chicago on Thursday to help unveil her new fitness initiative for schools, called Let's Move! Active Schools. We wanted to know what their favorite gym-class games were as kids.

Gabby Douglas: Crabwalk volleyball

The ability to crabwalk, or walking on your hands and feet while on your back, diminishes as you get older (trust us), so it's good that the all-around gymnastics champ at the London Olympics got her fill. This variety sounds difficult, but Douglas assured us it was fun.

"This game, it was like, you had to put your feet and hands on the ground and walk like a backwards crab," she said. "You had to kick the ball, it was like crab volleyball."

Allyson Felix: Handball

The Olympic gold medalist in track described some variety of handball she said might be a "California thing." Apparently it involves whacking a ball with one or both of your hands back and forth, and it always had a line to play at Felix's school. She thinks we need to bring it to the Midwest. Cosigned.

"It's so funny. It's two people and you kinda go like that [folds hands together like a volleyball bump]," Felix said. "They had things like slices, and some people would get fancy and stuff. It was so much fun. This is so crazy that people don't play handball [in the Midwest]."

Bo Jackson: Kickball

The two-sport legend and former White Sox player said he enjoyed playing with "the infamous red rubber ball" and seeing who could "kick it off the school grounds into the yard of neighbors." We think we know who won that game; we're guessing Bo does too.

"That was our big thing," he said. "We would do that and we would play dodgeball also. But the games that we played 20, 30, 40 years ago, kids are still playing those games."

Serena Williams: Dodgeball

The tennis megastar said she appreciated how her favorite gym-class game improved both her reflexes and her sprints for her chosen sport. Even as a child, Williams was a competitive tactician—then again, that's how you become the greatest tennis player of your generation.

"I loved throwing balls at people and running away," she said.

alukach@tribune.com | @lucheezy

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