From June 17 through 20, four kids from Pasadena will represent Anne Arundel County in the National Marbles Tournament in Wildwood, New Jersey.
John Albanese, 9; Kaitlyn Albanese, 10; Bradley Harper, 11; and Grace Meyers, 10, have advanced to the national tournament.
Anne Arundel Marble Players was founded in 2017. Since then, the organization has taken two kids to the national tournament in both 2017 and 2018. This year, the organization will bring four kids.
Grace has been to the last two national tournaments.
“It's very exciting. Since it's my third year, I know what to expect in Wildwood,” Grace said. “It's fun because our whole family gets to spend a week at the beach. My favorite day is when we get to ride rides.”
Leading up to the tournament, Grace said it’s important for her to “practice hard.”
“My coach always says, ‘It's not practice makes perfect — it's about perfect practice,’” Grace said. “Now that I have a ring in my backyard, I can practice more.”
At the tournament, there will be roughly 30 kids in both the boys division and girls division. One winner from each division will be named, and the winners receive a $1,000 scholarship. In addition to that, the referees dictate one person from each division for the sportsmanship award, which is a $500 scholarship prize.
Bradley enjoys playing marbles and learning different strategies. Leading up to the tournament, he plans to practice every day.
“I'm excited at the chance to win a scholarship and meet new marble friends,” Bradley said.
Through marbles, students are learning skills that can be applied to their everyday lives.
“Marbles is a game, but when you look at it with a little bit of strategy, you start making better decisions and you start thinking about your actions and your consequences as far as the game goes, and that transpires into the everyday,” said Doug Watson, who founded Anne Arundel Marble Players and now coaches the kids in the organization.
Watson is currently in school to earn his master’s degree in elementary education. His ultimate goal is to bring marbles from the playground to the classroom and use the game as a tool to teach STEM concepts.
“The future of the club is to teach more science, technology, engineering and mathematics concepts to kids at a younger age through a fun medium like playing marbles,” Watson said.