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7-year-old girl defeats Olympic athletes in tetherball

Dec. 3, 2012 at 3:56 PM ET

U.S. Olympic Committee /
Ruby (second from the right) poses with her sister and three athletes at the Olympic Training Center.

After reading second-grader Ruby Harris’ adorable letter to the United States Olympic Committee requesting tetherball become an Olympic sport, I was excited to learn that the committee responded to her with an invitation to visit the Olympic Training Center. This week Ruby accepted that invitation and arrived at the center Saturday with her family to show some athletes why tetherball should be in the Olympics.

U.S. Olympic Committee /
Ruby plays tetherball with fencer Jimmy Moody.

According to Vanessa Virbitsky, associate manager of communications for the United States Olympic Committee, Ruby’s day began by having lunch with three resident athletes: Jimmy Moody, an Olympic fencing hopeful, and Paralympic swimming medalists Susan Beth Scott and Elizabeth Stone.

Over lunch, Ruby gave each of the three athletes a lesson in the basics of tetherball, along with a rule book she’d created. After the meal, Ruby faced off with Moody, Scott and Stone around a tetherball pole and proceeded to beat them all with her playground-honed skills.  

“Ruby defeated each of the athletes in the first set. It was pretty classic to watch,” Virbitsky told TODAY.com.

U.S. Olympic Committee /
Ruby explained the three rules of tetherball to the athletes before playing the game with them. Here she plays with Elizabeth Stone as Susan Beth Scott watches.

Ruby only started playing tetherball in this past August and was inspired to write her letter after watching the London Olympics and realizing tetherball was not among the events. It was her father who encouraged her to write a letter to the Olympic Committee to make the case for the inclusion of tetherball.

U.S. Olympic Committee /
Before playing tetherball, Ruby led the athletes in a warm-up of 20 jumping jacks.

“A good lesson for kids is to write a letter and to know that your voice does count, you know, and somebody is actually listening” Andrew Harris told NBC affiliate KOAA in an interview. According to Harris, Ruby received a boost in confidence when the Olympic Committee responded her query.

After an hour of demonstrating her tetherball prowess, Ruby was treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Training Center and a private fencing lesson from Moody. She didn't leave empty-handed either. All of the athletes signed a tetherball she brought from home while they, in turn, had Ruby sign the rule books she gave them. 

U.S. Olympic Committee /
Ruby poses with an epee weapon during a private fencing lesson with Moody.

Ruby's visit definitely seems to have been a step forward for the Olympic Committee to keep tetherball in mind. The athletes had such a good time that they decided to leave the tetherball pole set up. Who knows? If enough Olympians start playing at the Training Center, Ruby's dream may just come true! 

TODAY.com producer Lisa Granshaw, who has never played tetherball, has been inspired by Ruby to give it a try. She may set up a tetherball pole right in the 30 Rock plaza next to the Christmas tree.

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