The sweeping tide of Spikeball

Round Net, better known by the brand name Spikeball, is a game that has been sweeping the Hope College campus this year. Students play with their friends in the Pine Grove or other green spaces around campus. The game has also been featured at multiple SAC events this semester.

Now the college has an official Spikeball Club, opening up even more opportunities for students to get in on the game. The Spikeball Club became an official club recognized by the school this year, and it meets every Friday at 1:00 p.m. However, it was first formed last year by Brenner Wallace and Micah Stilwell. 

Since both Wallace and Stilwell graduated in May, underclassmen have taken over, led by Wallace’s younger brother, sophomore Jack Wallace. Wallace has been playing Spikeball since he was in eighth grade, though he didn’t start getting serious about it until his sophomore year of high school. By his senior year he was playing in tournaments with people at the professional level.

The game is played in two teams of two and involves hitting a ball and bouncing it off of a round net that sits on the ground.

“People say it’s like volleyball mixed with four square. The rules are all of the same as volleyball, where you have three touches on your team and you can’t touch it twice on your own; you have to pass it,” Wallace said. “So yeah, it’s like volleyball in the rules sense, but instead of hitting it over a net to the other team you’re hitting it onto the net to the other team. And it’s 360 degrees which kind of makes it more fun. You have to run around the net.” 

According to Wallace, Spikeball can be considered both a yard game and a sport, depending on how serious the players are about it. 

“I think that’s kind of why I like Spikeball, just because it’s very versatile where you can play competitively in tournaments and stuff, or you can just have fun with friends,” Wallace said.

Wallace said that the club has seen a swell in attendance this year. He attributes this in part to the lack of opportunities for socialization and community-building that has resulted from COVID-19. Specifically, he said that this has drawn many freshmen to the club.

“[COVID-19] definitely helped Spikeball Club in the attendance area, where the freshmen are needing something to do and want to get outside,” Wallace said. “I think they just really needed something to do, and that was available.”

According to Wallace, 75-87% of participants that come to the club on any given Friday are freshmen.

Ellie Johnston, who runs the club’s Instagram page, is one of those many freshmen who have gotten involved. She said that she thinks the ability to meet new people is a part of why the game is so popular at Hope. She said that it is especially helpful for students like her who come from out of state. 

“It’s just a good way to meet people at this school. Like, I come from Illinois, so not that many people from my high school went here, as opposed to, like, the Michigan people. So, like all of my friends have been through Spikeball Club and it’s just fun,” Johnston said.

Spikeball is a convenient option for those looking to meet new people this semester since it is played outdoors, which is the only place that large groups of students can gather right now.

“It’s something you can do with others and at the same time keep it spaced out for COVID,” said freshman Braeden Pfeil, one of the people who helps run the club and tournaments. 

Pfeil said that he got into playing back in April because of the pandemic. He and a friend had been looking for a way to fill their time in quarantine when they realized how much they enjoyed the sport.

The Spikeball Club has made it easy for those looking for a community and a way to have fun during these times. Players of all levels are welcome at the club and the tournaments they host. Students also don’t need to come with a partner to play with and can be set up with a teammate when they arrive.

“Jack, the president, he’s just so inviting, and like, it doesn’t matter if you’ve played a hundred times or one time. Like, he still wants you to be here,” Johnston said.

While some students come alone to meet someone new, others choose to come with a group of friends. That was the case for freshman Anna Vievel who came to her first Spikeball Club tournament on Saturday, Oct. 24, with three of her friends. Vievel said that all of them were looking for a way to have some fun.

“We want to be outside as much as we can right now, and it’s a great way to just get out,” Vievel said.

Overall, Spikeball is proving to be a great way for Hope students to get active outdoors and build connections at a time when that can be very challenging. If any of this sounds intriguing, or you’ve found your ultimate COVID sport, let Spikeball Club know through email: 

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