+ What's on: Was it a Dream? by 30 Seconds to Mars
It's questionable how believable this is, but hey. Umm. Liberties of writing fiction? I don't know. Also, it got longer than I intended it to be. Oops. I'm still working on a post about how the game is actually played - the last time I wrote out the rules was years and years ago, and I think it was on paper.
Tetsuji Moriyama and Kayleigh Day met while studying sports management abroad at Fukui University (from University of Connecticut and University College in Dublin, respectively). Exy began as a lark: first an idea, then a class project wherein they recruited classmates and friends to be guinea pigs, and then spreading to after-school teams when they interested enough people.
Exy spread slowly but surely in the Chūbu region as friends and family carried it from one university to another. The first big boom came when it went online. Yoko Sanada, the sport’s first goalkeeper, designed a website and uploaded videos of games. Tetsuji and Kayleigh released an official rules and guidelines book in Japan around the same time. The second burst came when it caught the attention of a local mangaka, who received permission from Tetsuji and Kayleigh to publish a short serialized manga highlighting it.
Exy made its way overseas through online scanlation groups. The first attempts to start teams in the United States were rough: small groups of friends trying to cobble the rules together from translated websites who were making do with whatever gear and stand-in courts they could find. For a while the only Exy racquets could be imported from a company in Japan, so most early players substituted lacrosse sticks when they could. Tetsuji and Kayleigh noticed the growing attention and translated their guidebook to English.
Kayleigh and Tetsuji trained some of their original players to be coaches and designated them local experts, then returned home. Kayleigh scaled back to a part-time student so she could try to introduce Exy to Europe. Tetsuji kept his course load but devoted his evenings and weekends to fundraising and generating interest. He spent his summers recruiting and training and secured funding to bring Exy gear to the United States. He built the first pop-up court at a local recreation center and paid for the Plexiglass walls with his family’s money.
Exy started as street teams, moved into local recreation centers, and slowly made its way into high schools. Bigger universities offered it as a club sport, but no college was yet willing or able to spend time and money on building a full-sized stadium. As Exy spread Tetsuji applied to start the ERC, the Exy Rules and Regulations Committee, so the sport could have official representatives and regulators. He hired two retired referees to help him.
During his last semester Tetsuji reached out to the NCAA, offering himself as a coach and promising the funding for a stadium if they would sign the contracts and take on another collegiate team. In the end he signed with Edgar Allen University in West Virginia. As soon as it was official he reached out again with a challenge to build the first Exy court in America.
No one had missed the enthusiasm for Exy, but the price for a university-sized stadium was astronomical and returns on the investment weren’t a guarantee. In the end only two schools backed Tetsuji: University of Southern California and Pennsylvania State. They recruited coaches from the best of the high school teams and started to build.
Fundraising was a wide scale effort. Street teams, recreation teams, and school teams did local projects and donated their money up the chain. The universities and their new coaches reached out to alumni and contacts in every field. Tetsuji found the biggest supporters when he turned to professional women athletes. He promised them he was bringing a co-ed sport to the national level. When the women got behind it, so did the real money, and Tetsuji had his stadiums.
Castle Evermore was the first stadium completed, with USC’s Trojan Court not far behind it. Pride Court at Penn State experienced delays but the coach continued training and building his team in the meantime. Other universities with established Exy clubs but no stadiums applied to have their teams recognized as NCAA teams. The ERC made a full inspection of club teams, gave feedback on what needed to change to be recognized as a collegiate team, and signed off on twenty-eight other teams.
NCAA Exy officially started the following fall semester. The first game of the season was between the Trojans and Ravens at Castle Evermore, and the Ravens won 13-12. The Trojans, Ravens, and Lions played primarily home games that year so the teams with pop-up courts could visit and play on a real court. By the time the year ended, seven other universities had started progress on stadiums. As the number of teams and stadiums increased, the ERC took steps to break the country into manageable pieces: first by creating four districts, then breaking the teams up by Class I and Class II based on skill. There was some small controversy when Edgar Allen was accepted into the northern district instead of the southeast, but Tetsuji won the argument rather quickly.
The first professional teams were formed around the graduates of the first university teams. Two years later the national team, the US Court, was born. The following year Exy made its first appearance at the Olympics, where Japan took home the gold.