Greencastle boy wins national marbles title

June 24, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

WILDWOOD, N.J. - A Greencastle, Pa., boy who practiced shooting marbles in his garage won the national marbles championship Thursday.

"I was nervous, but I dealt with it. I kept my cool," said Doug Watson, 14.

During the final game against Andrew Martinez of Grand Junction, Colo., Watson held off the pressure by pretending it was a practice game, he said.

"Doug did phenomenal. He really held his composure," said coach Jeff Kimmell of Middletown, Md.

During the tournament, held all this week on the beach at Wildwood, Watson won 25 games and lost four.

In addition, he had eight "sticks." Similar to a strike in bowling, a player makes a stick by shooting seven marbles in a row out of the ring.

For winning the tournament, Watson receives a $2,000 college scholarship.

As a freshman at Greencastle-Antrim High School this fall, Watson hasn't chosen a college yet. He aspires to learn computer programming.


In a telephone interview Thursday afternoon, shortly after leaving the winner's circle, Watson said he was a little damp.

His teammates had thrown him fully clothed into the hotel pool, their traditional way of congratulating the champ.

Watson has made his hometown proud.

"In a small town like Greencastle, when anybody wins a national title like that, you feel like the whole community has earned it," said Audrey Tozer.

Tozer has organized marbles tournaments in Greencastle for three years.

Her former business, Tozer's Toys and Treats, sponsored Watson's first two trips to Wildwood. This year, Antrim Mortgage Corp. of Greencastle sponsored his trip.

"It's a real neat thing to watch a kid go from being just a fun thing to do to a national champ," she said.

When she closed the toy store last year, the local marbles group lost some of its momentum.

But Tozer is hopeful that Watson's national title will increase interest in the game, which is more challenging than its image depicts.

Tozer, a native of Wildwood, grew up watching the tournaments held on the beach.

From the boardwalk, passers-by stop to watch the intense play that takes place within clay rings with diameters of 10 feet.

Watson, who lives with his grandparents Don and Betty Appleby at 37 S. Ridge Ave., said he taught himself how to shoot a marble.

He said it was the guidance of coach Kimmell, the 1981 national marbles tournament champion, that made him a standout player.

Kimmell has coached five national champions this decade, he said.

Six other players on Kimmell's team placed in the top eight at the tournament, he said.

They are Tim Ratliff of Smithsburg, and four Middletown, Md., residents, Morgan Kellman, Vaughn Sheroda, Sara Sheroda and Jon Leatherman.

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