Each year, as the last remnants of snow melt from the ground and the first signs of the approaching summer season show themselves, families and friends alike gather outdoors to enjoy the weather and each other’s company. On any sunny day, it’s a typical sight to see groups convening to play lawn games such as cornhole or KanJam. However, recently, a new game has emerged on the scene: roundnet, or as it is more commonly known, Spikeball.
The high school is no exception to this trend. In fact, three students, seniors Elliot Roe and Matthew Levy and junior Miller MacDonald, have recently co-founded a new group, Bexley Roundnet Club, for students interested in the sport.
MacDonald explained that roundnet is played between two competing teams of two and is similar to volleyball. However, instead of serving the ball over a vertical net, players aim to hit the ball off of a circular, horizontal net, he explained.
He added that roundnet was invented in the late 80s but experienced a loss of popularity until it was subsequently revived in 2008 when the company Spikeball began to promote their own line of roundnet equipment.
MacDonald and his friends were introduced to roundnet during cross country season when Roe would bring his net to play after practice, MacDonald explained. After a while of playing against each other, he said that they were looking to expand their competition and discovered that other groups were also playing roundnet.
“That’s where the idea started,” MacDonald said. “We just decided to create the club to unite all those people who have an interest in Spikeball and to get more people into the game.”
Roe added that the group has been playing roundnet for about two years now, but their interest intensified during quarantine in the spring.
“All of us were going stir-crazy, so it became a quarantine activity that brought all of our friends together,” Roe said.
At the moment, the club is still largely informal, as they are waiting for official approval from the school, Roe said.
He explained that they have taken the steps to become an official club by securing assistant track and field coach Jeff Landis as a faculty advisor and submitting all necessary paperwork to Principal Kristin Robbins. Right now, he said, they are just waiting for her to sign off in order to solidify their club status.
While the club is not yet official, MacDonald and Roe both said that they have many goals for the club in the meantime.
In terms of short term objectives, Roundnet Club has planned a tournament at East Commonwealth Park on April 11 at 11:00 a.m., which MacDonald said he hopes will be a success.
“My main goal so far has been to spread publicity about [the tournament] and get people informed about the competition and how to sign up,” he said.
He added that people were able to sign up by following the link on the club’s Instagram account, bexleyroundnetclub, and by paying a $5 registration fee.
He also said that the tournament will have a $70 top prize and a successively smaller prize for second and third places.
Roe added that it has been his goal to keep the tournament as safe as possible and that COVID-19 safety measures, such as pre-tournament temperature checks and safety questions, will take place.
In order to ensure the safe and smooth running of the tournament, Roe explained that he has decided not to participate.
“I wanted to step back and make sure it’s well organized, but I’m excited to be on the sidelines and cheer for my friends,” he said.
As for future goals, MacDonald said the club hopes to host another tournament over the summer. He added that they aim to begin having scheduled after-school practices and compete at city-wide tournaments or against other schools in the coming years.
“I know there are several spikeball clubs at surrounding schools, so we could possibly connect with those people and maybe get some tournaments going,” he said.
Another more distant focus would be to gain funding from the school once they are an established club, he added.
“Right now we have a problem where we are short on good nets,” he said. “If we can secure funding through the school and buy nets at a discounted rate, that would be really, really good for the club.”
MacDonald said that he is extremely excited about the upcoming tournament and more specifically to enjoy the social aspect of the game.
“I think the four-person game is a perfect amount,” he said. “It’s a sweet spot where you can have some nice conversations during or after the game while still having fun playing the game itself.”
While Roe agreed that roundnet is a great source of friendly competition, the competitive aspect is not what’s most important to him about Bexley Roundnet Club.
“I don’t want people to feel like they showed up to have their money taken, because that’s not the case,” he said. “I want people to show up and have fun playing the game, because that’s what the club’s about.”