It’s 65 degrees on a sunny, Thursday afternoon in the middle of April, and the campus at Northwestern College is full of activity. Students are walking from class back to their dorm rooms to catch a quick nap before they start their homework. Professors are walking to their cars, exhausted after a full day of giving lectures with thoughts of weekend plans on their minds.
And in the middle of the Green, a group of students are crowded around a small trampoline, running around in circles in order to keep a small yellow ball from hitting the ground. They are thoroughly enjoying themselves based on the huge grins on their faces. They are covered in sweat and grass stains from all the diving they are doing, but they don’t care. They are having fun on this beautiful spring afternoon while they play a game they all seem to love. This game that they love is Spikeball, and within the past year or two, it has become a huge hit at NW and at hundreds of college campuses across the nation.
Spikeball is a lawn sport that is a lot like volleyball. Usually, teams consist of two players and the main objective of the game is to get three hits between both players, like in volleyball. After doing this, the team then hits the ball off a small trampoline to the other team, and the game continues until the ball hits the ground. Every time the ball hits the ground, a point is awarded to the other team, and whoever reaches 21 points first wins.
While it seems like Spikeball has become an overnight sensation, the beginning of this lawn game craze began around 30 years ago. According to Esquire.com, the start of the game of Spikeball and Spikeball Inc. began in the 1980s when founder and CEO of Spikeball Inc., Chris Ruder, bought a Spikeball set at Toys R’ Us. At the time, Spikeball sets were only sold in Toys R’ Us for a short period of time and while people saw Ruder and friends playing this fun and catchy volleyball-style game, they had no way of buying it.
Fast-forward 20 years when Ruder had an idea to bring back Spikeball and spread the fun to everyone. After acquiring the rights to the game along with his brother, cousin and childhood friends, Ruder began to recreate the game he enjoyed so much two decades prior.
The beginning of the revival of Spikeball came in 2008 when Spikeball Inc. sold their first set. By 2013, Ruder was able to quit his day job and make Spikeball Inc. his main priority. Spikeball has become so popular that it is a club/intramural sport on over 100 college campuses, including NW’s.
With Spikeball being such a fun and simple game, it is easy to see that it would be insanely popular on college campuses. For junior Dave De Haan, that is one of the many reasons why Spikeball is so appealing.
“It’s not your average game,” De Haan said. “It’s a fun idea that combines different aspects of different games. Not only that, but it’s easy to play.”
De Haan is not the only person on campus that finds Spikeball appealing. Sophomore Ryan Penny agrees that this lawn sport is easy and fun, but also finds other aspects of the game to be rather enjoyable.
“The intense competition, the teamwork it takes, and the skills you must contain, all make Spikeball a great game to play,” Penny said.
Sophomore Matt Hillman is another Spikeball enthusiast.
“In the summer, you can play at any point of the day without having to worry about it being too cold,” says Hillman.
For NW students, winter weather can be a huge problem when it comes to playing Spikeball. With the weather below freezing and snow covering the best places to play, such as the sand volleyball court and the Green, students are almost left without Spikeball for months at a time. Sometimes, games are started in the racquetball courts in the Rowenhorst Student Center, but with the hard ground and the limited amount of room to move around, the conditions are less than ideal.
But when spring arrives, everything changes. The Green becomes full of groups getting in a few games of Spikeball before doing homework, and you can find more groups enjoying the spring day by playing some Spikeball in the sand.
Spikeball is easy to set up, easy to learn and easy to play. It can be played inside or outside and can be played with only a small group of people.
And that’s what makes it so popular here at NW. Anybody can play. NW is diverse with there being many different levels of athletic ability, but when it comes to Spikeball, that all goes out the window. Fun is bound to happen no matter what.
“You can play Spikeball with anybody because it doesn’t take that long to learn,” Hillman said. “And in the end, it is always a good time.”
So, the next time you are walking around campus this spring after a long day of classes, and you see a group of shirtless males crowded around a yellow trampoline, don’t be afraid to hop in. You are bound to have fun, and who knows? You might become the next Spikeball national champion.