Arrreee yoouuu reeaaddyy for some foosball?
Whoosh. Clang. Clink.
Oh, I'm sorry, you didn't know about the Snake Shot did you?
I guess you weren't ready.
Let's start from the beginning then. In the world of foosball - you know that table game where there are those guys on metal rods that you can turn, twist and pull, yeah that one - there are those who play and there are those who compete. Sergie Aragon's competes.
"Foosball? Competitive foosball? What's that?" says Aragon's as he mimics his friends' reactions to his dirty little secret. Aragon's has been an avid foosball player since he was 12. He's currently ranked No. 12 in the world and No. 1 in California by the United States Table Soccer Association (USTSA).
In the USTSA 2008 World Championship Series of Foosball, Aragon's matched up against 32 top players from countries such as Belgium, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Costa Rica, Canada and Austria. His winnings netted him somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,000 in the $100,000 tournament.
"Some of my great highlights were in doubles," Aragon's says. "We defeated former world champion Scotty Wydman and Bob Diaz - winning that match in four games."
Locally, Aragon's participates in tournaments held by SF Foos, a group spawned by two Asian American dudes - Nick Furci and Alex Tsang - in San Francisco who saw the city's lack of foos and responded with their first foosball tournament in 2005. Now, at 31, the Filipino American Pro-Master is open about his high profile status as a premier knob turner and ball passer. But he wasn't always so forthcoming.
Aragones got into the habit of telling his friends that he was competing in pool tournaments, "or something," so that he wouldn't have to go through the barrage of questions and blank faces he felt he would have come up against if he even brought up foosball.
"If I would say 'foosball tournament,' then I would have to explain a lot," Aragon's says. "I was just like I want to cut this conversation short and say I'm just going to play pool. But now, I'm pretty proud of it."
Aragones learned the ins and outs, or shots and passes, that have brought him to his position as a top-ranked foosball player at a community center in San Jose, CA. Ray Cota, a recreation leader at the Hank Lopez Community Center, brought Aragon's to a local tournament at an arcade, but it wasn't until he was 16 that he started playing professionally.
And what's a professional foosball player without a totally awesome nickname? Aragon's got his nom de foos while playing his first local tournament - at an arcade in Fremont, CA - by chance.
"I was playing my first round of foosball, and I just shot the ball and it was a loud sound," Aragon's says. "Everyone looked. I was this little kid you know. One of the guys goes, 'Oh, that's Serg.' Then one of the guys cracked a joke and goes, 'Oh, that's Powerserg.' That's how I got the name."
Besides going by "Powerserg," Aragon's is also known as "DJ Gameboy."
"Oh god, ha ha," Aragon's says. "DJ Gameboy. They gave it to me when I was young, too. I started DJing when I was 1 1 . The first Gameboy that came out, the gray one, I think there was one time when I had a Gameboy [on] my necklace - when I started DJing - at an actual party. Yeah, embarrassing."
So we have foosball, DJing and Gameboy - all things that require thumb and finger dexterity. Could there be a connection here?
"Yes, in many ways, especially with dancing," Aragon's says. "To me, it's like if I'm shooting the ball or like I have the ball on my 3-bar getting ready to shoot, it's all timing. So, it's like a rhythm you see the hole or it's a certain pattern. It's just like music you know. You can hear it, you can time it, react to a hole. Once they come off the hole, you react to it. I don't know. It's a rhythm."
Aragones combines all his interests in his full-time job teaching foosball and hip-hop dance to youth as a part of After-School All-Stars. The program provides a safe alternative from such hairy activities as gangbanging, drinking and underage sex - according to their Website.
Cota - that same guy from Aragons' days at Hank Lopez - gave Aragon's a call when he needed some help with All-Stars. Cota has coached and mentored Aragon's for most of his life, beginning when they first met at the recreation center. "He's still grounded to be where he can help out youth that are part of his community," Cota says. "It's great to see somebody at that level not only care about 'how well am I doing in foosball' but also to give back."
The youth of today have Aragon's excited for the direction foosball is taking in its current mainstream upswing.
"Rookies nowadays are like semi-pros back then," Aragon's says. "So, the levels have changed, definitely changed. And the play is faster now. Yeah, the speed of foosball is fast, it's like speed chess."
The future of foosball seems to be shining bright, and Aragones hopes to see it take the same road as other hobbies-turned-sport, for example arm wrestling or spelling.
"I see a lot of stuff happening," Aragones says. "If that's going to happen, like soon to be on ESPN, that's what they're working on, then I should be here for a while playing foosball. I just like playing foosball. It's fun."
Kimberly Lien is an unemployed journalist who thinks she could beat you in a round of foosball. Yeah, bring it.
The previous issue of Hyphen is available in its entirety for your perusing pleasure. Almost as good as having it right in your hands!