By J. Harvard Feldhouse
Club sports at Youngstown State University have grown rapidly since the beginning of 2018, adopting more and more unusual sports. One of the newest and more obscure sports hitting the field this semester is Spikeball.
Spikeball, known also as “roundnet,” was originally a backyard toy created in the late 1980s. Chris Ruder, CEO of Spikeball Inc., created the sport after inventing it with close friends and family members.
Since then, the game has grown significantly in popularity, reaching college campuses like YSU.
According to Seth Opladen, junior finance major and team captain of Spikeball Club, Spikeball is a coed two-versus-two game similar to beach volleyball that uses a ball and a miniature trampoline.
“One team will serve it to others, and then the other team has three hits to put the ball back onto the net or it will bounce off and [the serve will] go to the opposing team,” Opladen said.
“If it hits the ground, it’s the other team’s point. If they missed the ball, it’s the other team’s point. If it hits the edge of the net, it’s the other team’s point,” Opladen said. “It’s like beach volleyball two-on-two, but you can get 360 degrees around the net wherever you want once the ball’s served.”
The game is played to 15 points, with each score worth one point. There is no time limit, but according to Opladen, a game can last anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes depending on the competitiveness of the match.
“I think the easiest part is it’s just your body, your hands and a ball, so you don’t have to learn any new equipment or anything like that,” Opladen said. “It’s relatively easy to catch on.”
Spikeball’s ease of play and versatility between fun and competition is what drew people to starting a club.
Anthony Vross Jr., junior finance management major and president and founder of the Spikeball Club, discovered the game with his friends during spring break last semester.
“We played [Spikeball] the entire vacation on the beach, and we instantly had a love for it, so we kept playing it when we came home,” Vross said. “One day, we decided to hold a couple of tournaments. We played it for fun, and then this last summer, we were starting to play so much that we’re like ‘Why not start a club and see if other people at YSU would like to play.’”
Vross said the club will wait until spring to attend competitions.
“This fall we’ve … just been playing YSU pretty much as of now,” Vross said. “In the spring, we’re aiming to play in a tournament, a regional tournament, but they haven’t come out with a location yet. In fall, it is at [the University of] Notre Dame, but we just started and don’t want to go yet. So we’re going to wait until the spring.”
To start Spikeball Club, Vross, Opladen and the three other founders sought guidance from Domonique Sak, the coordinator of YSU Club Sports and summer camps.
“Over the summer, they came to me with about 12 interested participants, and that includes [the five founding members], so, seven,” Sak said. “They just asked ‘How can I get the Spikeball club started? What do I have to do?’ And so I walked them through all the steps of how to become a student organization first.”
Club sports begin like any other student organization, with at least five members and a roster of interested students. For club sports, they must also provide potential practice times and have two CPR-certified safety officers.
The team has grown to 22 members.
“We’re nearly at the halfway point, and so I can see their club expanding a lot more,” Sak said. “Right now, they’re headed in the right direction.”
In the end, Opladen and Vross wanted to emphasize the fun Spikeball has brought to their lives.
“My favorite thing is just playing with all my friends,” Opladen said. “Even if it’s a two-versus-two, we have good, friendly competition. But then if we have a bunch of people, it’s always fun to go around, watch the other game, cheer on your friends and just have a good time with everybody.”
Practices are held Tuesday and Friday nights from 7-9 p.m. on Beede Field.