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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Child’s Play

Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tim Glass
Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Chances are this guy has caught UA students’ attention at least once before — but if the reflection of his aviator glasses and his gleaming smile don’t catch the eye, maybe his boomerangs will.

Introducing Don Monroe — the boomerang man.

“”Once you try it and you catch it, you’re hooked,”” he said.

Monroe is a Sahara Apartments shuttle operator who frequents campus for up to eight hours a day during his rounds.

His bus stop, located just west of Old Main, is a “”boomers”” paradise where Monroe can practice his true passion.

“”It’s got grass so that the boomerangs don’t land too hard,”” he said of the field outside Old Main. “”Part of the choice is the openness of it. All of the trees and poles are out of the perimeter and I’ve got a big space to play.””

But Monroe said he doesn’t head to the field just to play — he goes there for the audience.

“”I’ll be straight up, I’m an entertainer,”” he said.

Monroe’s passion for boomerangs all started with a little help from his friend Dwayne Morris.

“”We used to work together, and one night after work we went out together to throw some boomerangs — I’d been throwing them for maybe a year — he actually took to it really quickly,”” Morris said.

The pair joined the tight knit community of boomers and made a natural transition to the world of boomerang competition.

“”We didn’t have the best equipment at that time, we were using plastic store boomerangs and didn’t know much about the sport, but we hooked up with (a more experienced friend) and he got us in tune with the current, state of the art (boomerangs) and boy, Don just took off at that point,”” Morris said. “”He was able to throw just about anything they handed him.””

Monroe spends hours a day honing his craft and said he is in no way ready to slow down. He recently tied for 18th in a national boomerang competition in Ohio a year after placing 59th in the world.

“”It’s crazy to be ranked in any sport at that height in the world,”” he said.

As participants in such a bizarre sport, boomers go out of their way to share their passion any way they can in order to keep boomeranging alive. Monroe is always quick to lend some advice or a spare boomerang, Morris said.

“”He’s a great ambassador for the United States Boomerang Association, that’s for sure,”” he said.

Monroe actively volunteers at several local schools and has taught over 6,000 students the art of throwing. He has also set up lessons with the Veteran’s Association to give back to the veterans.

“”There isn’t a kid that doesn’t want a boomerang by the time I’m done,”” Monroe said. “”I’m trying to branch out and find ways to expose more people.””

Monroe said he is fully aware of the reactions he gets in response to his sport on campus. Excitement, confusion, awe and surprise are all part of the package, he said.

“”A lot of guys and gals come up to me and want to know how it works,”” Monroe said. “”I want everyone to see the fun of the game and not be weirded out by it somehow.””

Lovers of the sport say boomerangs — although simple in nature — offer a great release.

“”You make a nice throw and a nice catch and all the worries disappear,”” Morris said.

But the technique of throwing pales in comparison to what Monroe said is the most valuable lesson of all: a re-evaluation of space.

“”Most of us boomerang people have a saying: we all have our personal space just standing on the sidewalk — but when you throw a boomerang, you’ve expanded your personal space until it returns,”” he said. “”And when you can put your mind into that and realize what your space feels like when you expand it — the world changes.””

Fun Facts according to Boomerang.com

-In the “”Maximum Time Aloft”” boomerang competition, a special kind of boomerang is thrown designed to rise and then hover down. The time it takes to get back to your hand is the score. The world record for this event, held by an American, is 3 minutes, 49.82 seconds. However, outside of formal competition the record is 17 minutes, 6 seconds.

-The current “”Long Distance”” boomerang competition world record is 238 meters — that’s 780 feet.

-There are over 1000 boomerang shapes in existence today, and each one of them has their own method of throwing and unique flight pattern.

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