Students throughout EPISD are taking part in a long-standing athletic tradition that doesn’t have any UIL affiliation or fancy late-night television shows, but is keeping students interested in school and active on the field.
Tournaments in the lesser-known, old-school sport of rebote, or wall ball, are in full swing at campuses throughout the District.
Rebote has been a staple at some EPISD campuses for decades. You’ll find the courts on campuses busy before school, at lunchtime and after school.
The fast-pace game has rules similar to racquetball but these players hit the outdoor handball courts with a rubber ball taking shots with both hands, which requires strong ambidextrous skills to be competitive.
“The students are very passionate about rebote,” Chapin assistant principal Jose Carlos said. “They take it very seriously and don’t mess around. I want to make sure we can give it to them because if we can keep them here with that passion, then we’re doing a good job.”
Bowie, Jefferson/Silva and Andress high schools are among the campuses with competitive rebote.
At Chapin, the tournament season is just getting off the ground. Carlos started coordinating tournaments to encourage attendance and getting to class on time. Friday marked their first of many to come.
“We’re trying to build a relationship with the kids, trying to improve attendance and just wanted to show a positive atmosphere here during lunch time,” Carlos said.
The Chapin administrator came from Jefferson where he was both an educator and alum. He knew the tradition at his former campus, where he coordinated competitions also tying participation to attendance.
“When I came to Chapin, I was naturally drawn to these kids,” he said. “You know, just watching them. It’s impressive.”
Chapin junior Jeremy Flores got hooked on the sport after a friend took him to play at Lincoln Park. He and his doubles partner lost a close one in the finals recently.
“I like coming out here and playing with my friends,” he said. “I think it’s a good idea to do tournaments. I’m happy that it happened, and I was ready for today.”
Chapin senior Cesar Alvarado started playing as a freshman, steadily improving his game through the years by honing his hand eye coordination, stamina and dexterity.
“I like it because it has running, stability, conditioning … everything,” Alvarado said. “We have a good team here. And we’re getting better at it.”
Carlos hopes the rebote tradition continues and would like to see competitions between EPISD schools.
“Any schools out there doing rebote tournaments, Chapin High School challenges you,” Carlos said. “We’ll make sure it’s a positive thing for all of our kids.”
Bowie is ready for the challenge. The campus has collaborated with Carlos and is also using rebote as a tool to boost attendance. Assistant principal Marty Roland Lara and student out reach specialist Julian Salinas started doing a round robin to try to hit a 95% attendance goal. Competitive games will continue on Fridays.
“Our kids are our investment and if I can find something to leverage them to come to school, we have to do it,” Roland Lara said. “If they find success in rebote, I know they’ll be coming to class. ”
Bowie senior Sammy Medina is psyched about the competition.
“I personally feel like wall ball is the future,” he said. “I’ve been seeing 80-year-olds and 50-year-olds play handball and they’ve inspired me to play. The fact that we’re doing a tournament in high school, I can’t find the words. It’s just exciting.”
He plays before school, lunchtime and afterschool and sees the courts packed with Bowie students.
“I like the energy you feel when you’re playing against your opponent,” he said. “The sport makes me feel alive.”