Campus News

New outdoor sport sees spike in popularity

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Quick: name your favorite springtime/summer sport. Basketball? Volleyball? Lawn darts? What about a new trend both on and off campus? What is that trend? Spikeball. The game matches its name pretty much exactly. Two teams of two face off around a small trampoline. The first team spikes the ball onto the trampoline to the other team. The other team then has a total of three hits between them to get the ball into position to spike it back on the trampoline. The volley goes until one team either misses the ball, resulting in a point for the other team, or hits the rim around the trampoline, equivalent to an “out” in volleyball, giving the opposing team another point. “I’ve heard it been put: if you take volleyball and you mix it with four-square, that’s kind of the idea of it,” said Justin Brown, freshman communication major and collegiate Spikeball ambassador. Games are played all over campus, in front of the Lodge, behind the Huffman administration building and even on the sand volleyball courts. But what sets this game apart from its two “parent sports” is the lack of a real court. “There’s no boundaries,” said Zoe LaCroix, a sophomore Spanish and sociology double major and campus Spikeball athlete. “You can hit it as far as you want and run as far as you want. You usually end up circling around the net and in a different position than when you started.” Sound chaotic? Well you may need to get used to it, because it’s becoming more than just a cult classic here on Bethel’s campus. As a matter of fact, a full-on Spikeball tournament was well underway as I walked out of the academic center at 3:00 p.m. this past Monday, April 13. I saw at least three games going on at once, with players all over the green behind the Huffman administration building. And that wasn’t even the beginning of the game’s life on campus. “Recently we’ve been playing a lot more,” said Brown. “We probably played for three hours this past Saturday, (April 11,) and then on Sunday we went to Notre Dame and played. And then on Monday we had a Spikeball tournament, there were about 11 teams total.” So my initial estimate was a little off. Speaking of Brown, you may be wondering what it means to be a “collegiate ambassador” for something like Spikeball. “I can buy sets at a discounted price and resell them for a discount,” Brown explained. “Which is super cool.” Brown said that he’s seen Spikeball blossom all over the country since about 2012, being played in Colorado as well as Florida. According to Brown, Chris Ruder, the founder of the Spikeball company, found the game at Toys-R-Us one season, when it didn’t catch on with consumers. After playing with a set he’d bought for around 20 years and seeing how popular it was with his friends, Ruder looked for more sets but couldn’t find any. Eventually, Ruder went back to Toys-R-Us to purchase the name and game, and began selling sets. 2012 was the year sales really began to take off. As for why it’s becoming so popular here specifically on Bethel’s campus, both Brown and LaCroix had approximately the same opinion. “I think it’s just something new,” said Brown, “You have intramural basketball and soccer and ultimate Frisbee, but (Spikeball) is like a new sport.” LaCroix said, “It’s fun and different than normal. You don’t normally see Spikeball tournaments. People around here longboard, or they go for a run or maybe play soccer, but you never hear about Spikeball. It’s a new thing and it’s fun to do and it’s usually pretty easy to learn.” If you’re walking around campus and you see a group of students playing and think you’d like to get involved, it’s not hard to get in on the game. “(People) can message any of us on Facebook or…if you ever see anyone playing just stop by and we’ll teach you the rules and you can hop in. It’s super easy,” LaCroix explained. Brown said, “I think we’re going to do one more tournament by the end of the year. Just find someone, really you can just ask around campus anyone you know who has a set and they’ll want to play.” School’s wrapping up and as the weather gets warmer, more and more students are breaking out those mini-trampolines and gearing up for a game of Spikeball. So, if you feel up for it, join in. It may be just the stress buster you’ll need come finals week.

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