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History Department Subculture

HGA: The Hall Golf Association

by Amy Hunt

 

Let the games begin. 

Imagine: It's a cold day outside, and the afternoon seems to drag on. The wind howls, the gray skies threaten snow. (Okay, maybe this isn't so indicative of this past winter, which was seriously lacking in snow. But bear with me.) Students gather in the lounge to complain about readings, spread out their books, write their theses. Professors crouch over their desks to grade paper after paper.

Or maybe they’d prefer to grade each other’s golf game.

You may be thinking, "That's the history department all right." Except that's not an entirely accurate thought. Because on a regular afternoon on the third floor of Founders Hall, you'll find a fair amount of students and faculty gathered in the hallway, discussing physics and geometry in the context of hallway golf, or "hall ball." Where are the dips in the floor? How hard do we want to hit the ball? And if you're really lucky, you'll see Jim Tuten crawling beneath some desks to try and get the perfect shot.

I wasn’t kidding.

The History professors take hall ball very seriously. Well, three of them do. Jim Tuten, David Sowell, and Dave Hsiung have made a habit playing golf as much as possible throughout the year, even if that means playing most of it in the hallway. In the summer of 2011, they held a tournament prior to the start of the academic year, and even went so far as to engrave a trophy for Dr. Sowell, who won. Throughout the year, they keep a running tally of how many matches each of them have won.

As of March 23rd, 2012. 

And when the professors start having fun in the hallway, you can't expect the students to stay out of it. Dani Gaisior, '12, and Heather Kleber, '15, are regular competitors, and a number of other students often gather 'round to heckle. Sometimes a student or professor simply passing through will manage to get roped into a game as well.

 

Left: Heather Kleber and Jim Tuten critique each other’s technique. Right: Marilyn Cobiseno, master golf heckler.

Dangers arise when Alison Fletcher or Belle Tuten come out of their offices. Belle has been known to kick a golf ball or two out of her way (even her own husband’s!), and Alison just shakes her head and shoots a disapproving look at the crowd.

Everyone likes to mix it up by trying to create ridiculously difficult holes. David Sowell prefers to place it among a maze of desks in room 309, and Marilyn once placed the hole underneath Jim’s desk. It gets even more complicated depending on which hole they use.

 

Left: David Sowell doesn’t make it out of his office.  Right: Somehow, Dave Hsiung manages a stick.

Hall ball is just one more thing that makes the History department at Juniata so unique. Professors bond with each other and with their students, and students learn that sometimes it’s perfectly acceptable to make fun of their professors.