"The turning radius is faster, which allows you to hit the ball faster. It's longer and takes up more room, and you can put a weight on the back, which gives you more leverage so you can push against other people," said Luke Labas, 18, and a seven-year member of the team. "It's challenging because the speed of the game has picked up and it takes some time to get used to. "
Turnstone has always had some of the nation's best power soccer teams, but the Flyers were at a competitive disadvantage recently with the old chairs. The new chairs, designed by power soccer players, have a lower center of gravity, and the reaction from joystick to tires is half a second faster than the old chairs. Imagine a sprinter getting a legal false start on every move.
"It's a lot faster, and you just can't compete without it,'' said David Dowling, 13 and a four-year member of the team. "You get a really big adrenalin rush."
Dowling got his new chair last week, becoming the fifth player on one of Turnstone's three teams to use the equipment. The organization is asking for donations to buy more chairs.
There are four players to a side in power soccer, and there are 15-18 players on Turnstone's three teams. The new chairs cost around $7,500. Turnstone's top team is ranked No. 9 nationally, and the second team is ranked 19th.
The forward speed is limited and monitored in power soccer, so the start time is everything. The Circle City Rollers of Indianapolis were the No. 1-ranked squad in the country last year and hadn't lost in several seasons before facing the Minnesota Magic for the national championship. Utilizing the new chairs, the Minnesota team dominated, and everyone has been trying to catch up since.
"Everything is about reaction time,'' said Flyers coach Jim Labas, Luke's dad. "It's the acceleration and the turning speed, the quickness in the way it reacts to every single touch of the joystick. Even the better players can only make that chair turn so fast and react so fast no matter how we have them set, and with these the reaction time is so much quicker.''
They'll get a big test this weekend at the Summit City Showdown Invitational. All eight participating teams are ranked, including No. 1 Minnesota Magic and No. 2 Circle City Rollers out of Indianapolis. Play starts at 9 a.m. Saturday and continues until 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
Now the Flyers will be able to really fly.
"It puts us on an even playing field with all the top teams, and that's the most exciting part,'' Dowling said. "Now we'll have the same equipment.''
Up nextSummit City Showdown Invitational
Play starts at 9 a.m. Saturday and continues until 5:30 p.m. Sunday.