Kyle King approaches the table and takes a deep breath.
He focuses his eyes on the center of the 12 plastic cups before allowing his peripheral vision to encompass the range of his 35-by-13-inch sport stacking mat.
King jerkily erects a stack of three cups, one of six and another of three. He rapidly converts them into three other sets of predetermined stacks. A couple of "fumbles" force sighs from the 12-year-old Concord resident.
Since November, this is how some students in the Cabarrus County Home School Association spend a couple of hours on the first Monday of every month at Kannapolis' Charity Baptist Church.
About 40 youths have become members of the association's club for "sport stacking," a sport in which competitors are timed on how fast they can build sets of pyramids with their 12 small but aerodynamic tumblers.
Sport stacking (sometimes called speed stacking) originated about 25 years ago and has become a worldwide phenomenon. The CCHSA Stackers are still novices: They're waiting until March to participate in their first formal competition in Advance.
The CCHSA Stackers started with Kannapolis resident Rhonda Barber and her three children, Travis, 17, Chelsey, 16, and Emily, 10. The family picked up on the sport at a creative Christian ministry festival in Charlotte about three or four years ago, when Rhonda observed a stacking demonstration and purchased sets of equipment for the kids.
Not knowing of any local stacking clubs or competitions, the Barbers embraced stacking as a family pastime.
"They just would get the cups out and play with them whenever," Rhonda Barber said.
Being the oldest of the siblings, Travis and Chelsey caught on more easily, but Emily quickly surpassed their abilities. Her time in "the cycle" (the 3-6-3, 6-6, 1-10-1, 3-6-3 cup combo) of 10.09 seconds is a Barber record and is printed proudly on a piece of paper affixed to the family refrigerator.
"A lot of people think the harder they stack, the faster they go," Emily said. "If you go slowly with it, you don't mess up any."
After further research, Rhonda Barber discovered the World Sport Stacking Association. She learned that clubs with at least four members could be organized and sanctioned. She thought of various groups her family was associated with and thought their homeschool group was the best match.
She spread the word through the CCHSA e-mail chain and received what she called an overwhelming response.
The group's first gathering corresponded with the WSSA's Stack Up event, the group's annual attempt to break its own Guinness Book of World Records mark for the number of people sport stacking on the same day.
Cups in hand, 20 new stackers attended CCHSA's Nov. 12 meeting and became a part of history. Participants received an e-mailed certificate from Guinness officials, marking their involvement.
The group has doubled in number since then. One of CCHSA's newest stackers is 15-year-old Concord resident Karin Lord, who was introduced to it by Chelsey and Travis Barber.
"It's definitely interesting," Karin said, "because you wouldn't think someone would say, 'I'm going to stack cups one day, but you have to put holes in them to make sure they work.' It's kind of weird to think how somebody came up with that."
At the Feb. 8 meeting, Karin and Chelsey Barber discussed forming a doubles team for their first competition. In doubles play, one player must use the right hand and the other must use the left. The local teens were amused by how their hands struggled to coordinate their movements with each other's minds.
But that's a pyramid scheme they or their parents won't mind getting into.