Goose Wackers spike, dig for 25 years

The 2018 Goose Wacker winners, Tim Collins, Brad Austin, and Jared Suddon, hoist the trophy after the 13-hour tournament. Photo provided

BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
Back in 1991, Erik Gotaas had an idea to start a volleyball tournament in his backyard for friends and neighbors. He wanted it to be just for the guys, though, which may have seemed a bit sexist to his wife, Karyn Gotaas.
“I had an idea to sell it – I told her it would bring family and friends together for years to come,” Erik remembered.
“I was like, ‘Yeah, right,'” Karyn said.
But a bit more than a quarter century later, that’s exactly what it has done, as hundreds of friends, family, and neighbors gathered, Saturday, for the 25th annual Goose Whacker volleyball tournament in the Autumn Shores neighborhood of Springfield Township.
Named after the “Gus Macker” tournaments with a suburban twist, Goose Whacker was originally Erik and his friends, all young men at the time.
“We were a group of friends who would go wake boarding, hiking, we did a lot together,” he said.
He started the tournament in 1991 at their home in Waterford, then continued it when they moved to Springfield Township in 2000. The tournament took a couple years off over the years, so this event is its 25th.
“It developed over all these years from a bunch of guys without kids – now the kids are in their 20s,” Erik said.
It’s now a multigenerational tournament, with their kids Garret and Grant Gotaas, original players flying in from other states, and several soccer, basketball, and football players from Clarkston High School.
They play late into the night, with the winners earning a candlelight dinner, special tshirt, and the trophy for the year. The losing team gets placed in charge of grilling burgers at the end of the day.
“There are a lot of friends here, a lot of kids from the high school, and a few of us old guys trying to keep up,” said player Bob Schaffer.
“It’s actually really competitive, all the young kids there and us older guys,” Erik said.
Many gathered on the beach to practice every Tuesday and Thursday from 7-10 p.m., all summer.
“Then after this, it’s all done,” Erik said. “It’s a cool time.”