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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Most kids have played with marbles but not actually played the game of marbles. Allegheny County has a program to teach kids how to play marbles, and the free lessons are happening all around our region in the spring.

All you need are some marbles, a flat surface and two people, and you can have a game of marbles.

“A lot of people think it’s weird and ‘what’s marbles?’, so I’m like, ‘It’s actually really cool,” says 15-year-old Haley Grenesko.

The kids at the Boys and Girls Club in Lawrenceville think it’s cool. They just learned how to play in the free lessons, and they keep coming back for more.

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One 8-year-old boy says, “I like that I get to shoot the balls, and we each get to play every time it goes out, and we get another turn if the ball stays in the white.”

Sierra Ricci, 13, from Shaler, won the National Marbles Championship for girls 14 and under last year. Her dad, Ed Ricci, runs the program along with her mom. Sierra’s sister, Amber, won the title in 2008.

“I was kind of like born into it,” Sierra says, “because my sister won, and my Dad played and then my Grandma played. So it just went through the generations.”

Four generations of marbles champions in the Ricci family, but they’re just as happy to teach other Pittsburgh kids how to play and win. In fact, Allegheny County dominates with 13 winners in the past 14 years.

Grenesko is one of them. She won the National Marbles Championship in 2016.

“It’s in Wildwood, New Jersey, right on the beach,” Grenesko explains.

“The game they play in the Nationals is called “Wringer”. It’s 13 marbles in an “X,” 10-foot diameter circle, and the players alternate turns,” Ed Ricci says.

The Riccis teach kids at 16 places around Allegheny County throughout April and May, leading up to the regional qualifier at the Allegheny County Courthouse May 31 through June 2, and the National Championship over Father’s Day weekend.

It’s sponsored by Allegheny County and the county parks.

The kids say it’s not hard to learn, but what it takes to get good is practice and, according to Grenesko, “focus – definitely a lot of focus.” And for the national champions, there’s also a $2,000 scholarship prize.

If you’d like to learn how to play marbles, there are several open sessions coming up in addition to the ones at schools.

You can get the information on this link: http://www.county.allegheny.pa.us/parks/about/programs/marbles-program.aspx

You can get information on all kinds of interesting things to do with your kids on Kidsburgh.org.

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