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We sat down with Steve Johnson, one of the organizers of the Zero's Subs 50th Annual Foosball Spectacular to ask him about how his love of Foosball began and what we can expect at the 50th Annual celebration this year. The article bellow is a summarization of our conversation with Steve. Check out more information on the tournament at their facebook or instagram.
Steve Johnson, Bryan Zenarolla, and James Neal, all Virginia Beach Foosballers, are running the Zero's Subs 50th Annual Foosball Spectacular at Peabody's in Virginia Beach, VA this November 4th-7th, 2021. This tournament is the 50th anniversary of the first large French style foosball tournament to ever take place in the East Coast, way back in 1971. This tournament will also honor Alan and Gloria Cribbs, the founders of Bonzini USA, by introducing the Cribbs Cup!
Steve’s love of foosball began in high school after a tragic car accident led to the school banning off-campus lunch activities. To keep students entertained inside the school bought several different games including a foosball table. Steve and his fellow classmates began playing the game and he’s been hooked ever since.
Steve later began going to tournaments with his friend at a local game room that had opened up. Though, starting out the game room didn’t have many players. Steve and his friend would regularly go to this game room as well as several others and eventually became very skilled. Seeing how skilled Steve and his friend were, the smaller game room decided to sponsor them. After this sponsorship Steve and his friend, wearing T-shirts of the company, would go out to other local tournaments and meet other players. Within a year Steve and his friend were able to help that game room grow so large that the company needed to move to a larger building just to accommodate all of their new clientele.
After playing there Steve and a friend of his eventually began their own tournaments in North Virginia, starting VA Foosball. They would run tournaments every Tuesday and Thursday, over 100 tournaments a year, with over 365 regular players. They had so many players that they would have to put a limit on how many could play just to be sure they could end on time.
After a few years Steve’s job transferred him to a new location and he had to unfortunately give up running the tournaments. But now, 15 years later, he is back in foosball and running the 50th Anniversary Virginia State Foosball Championship. This tournament is a celebration of the first major French style foosball tournament ever held in the east coast which originally took place in November of 1971 in Virginia Beach. John Hayes, who was actually the first winner of that tournament back in 1971, is actually travelling all the way from Chicago for the 50th anniversary.
One thing Steve really appreciates about tournaments is that no matter what your skill level, you can still enjoy the game at a tournament. If you are a new player you can enter the novice division and play with other novice players so that you can learn together. Or if you are an expert or higher you can challenge yourself playing against other people on the same skill level. This makes tournaments not only an ideal place to challenge yourself against the best of the best, but a great place to develop skill as well.
At the tournament in November players can expect a number of different games including the “Goalie Wars” where players who focus more on their goalie skills can go head to head. Then there is a separate event for people who focus more on offense and hitting the ball in. These “strikers” fight it off in 3 rod competitions. The event will also feature more standard events like singles, doubles, amateur, experts pro, pro-masters and even a kids event.
This event will also be introducing the Cribbs Cup, named after Alan and Gloria Cribbs, who were instrumental in nurturing the passion for French style foosball in the states. Alan and Gloria Cribbs were the original owners of Bonzini USA and would even host tournaments throughout the east coast. They would meet players face to face and give them a place to play the game and grow their skill. In the early 2000s Steve was actually introduced to Bonzini foosball specifically through a tournament being held in Virginia Beach, hosted by the Cribbs. The Cribbs retired in 2019 and now their legacy continues through Bill Mitchell with Bonzini USA.
To honor the Cribbs, every year, the winner of the Virginia State Championship will have their name inscribed at the bottom of the Cribbs Cup Trophy. This would forever inscribe their names as champions of Virginia Foosball. Steve also hopes that one day this Championship will not only be a tournament but grow into a festival. At this festival they would have even more family friendly oriented events, artists and activities for everyone to enjoy while also being able to participate in a nice game of Foosball.