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The Orion

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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Spikeball here to stay with students

Billy Buchhauser, Preston Bies, Tom Witt, and Avery Wolfe playing spikeball in the Shasta and Lassen Hall volleyball court. Photo credit: Sam Barker


Stroll through the beautiful Chico State campus on almost any afternoon and you will be hard pressed not to see at least one group of college-aged individuals surrounding a small yellow and black trampoline, frantically bumping a squishy ball between them and off the circular platform.

No, those people are not just playing a silly little game, and no, they are not inebriated. They are playing the sporting world’s new kid on the block, Spikeball. Chico State students can be found playing Spikeball on the grass fields outside Yolo Hall, on the volleyball court between Shasta and Lassen Halls and even in the WREC pool.

Preston Bies, senior exercise physiology major and member of top 25 team “Brock and Wolly,” has been playing Spikeball for three years. He has been playing Spikeball competitively for a year and a half, but was first introduced to the game back in his native Santa Barbara three years ago. Bies saw others playing competitively and was instantly hooked.

“I’m a competitive guy and I wanted to get better,” he said.

Bies says he plays Spikeball about five times a week. He plans on participating in the Spikeball National Championships in Nashville, Tennessee, this October.

“A lot of people are skeptical of the game because it’s new but it’s been getting bigger since Shark Tank,” Bies said, referring to the sport which was featured on ABC’s reality show this past spring.

Chico State graduates Skyler Boles and Shaun Boyer made appearances on “Shark Tank” with Spikeball founder and CEO, Chris Ruder, back in May. Boles and Boyer demonstrated how to play Spikeball to a panel of investors, one of which opted to provide financial backing for the company and sport. Together, Boles and Boyer form the team “Chico Spikes,” currently ranked second in the county according to the USA Spikeball rankings. While they are not the founders of Spikeball, Boles and Boyer are the elder statesmen of the Chico Spikeball community.

Preston Bies, Tom Whitt and Taylor Johnson in the middle of an intense Spikeball match on the volleyball court between Shasta and Lassen Halls. Photo credit: Sam Barker


According to Bies, this has caused awareness of the sport to grow rapidly. Having such prominent local ambassadors of the game, along with a spotlight on national television, has propelled Spikeball’s popularity to new heights.

“This year has been a lot cooler now that more people are aware of what Spikeball is. We used to get a lot of people looking at us from afar, but now people come up and ask to try it,” he said.

A combination of volleyball and four square, Spikeball is played with two teams of two around a circular net. There are no out of bounds and players may move all around the net, without hindering their opponents progress. A team is allowed up to three contacts with the ball before it must be hit off the net for the opposing team to receive. Play continues until the ball hits the ground. Games are played to 21 points, winning by two. Simple to learn but difficult to master, Spikeball can be played most competitively on sand, featuring ample displays of athletic diving, or more casually on grass.

Another Chico based team is “Johnson and Johnson Co.” comprised of Taylor and Bryce, who share a surname but are of no relation aside from a mutual love for Spikeball. They played against each other at a tournament and decided to join forces afterwards.

“I played with and against Skyler and Shaun when I was in high school,” Taylor Johnson said of how he got started with Spikeball.

As for what makes Spikeball so appealing, Bies says it is all about the different ways to play.

“It can be as competitive as you want it to be. I would say it takes as much talent and skill as any sport out there,” he said.

“Everyone starts out on the same playing field, so you won’t be as far behind as you might think,” Bies said.

The Spikeball community is still relatively small, Bies said, but more people are playing than ever before. There are even small companies sponsoring teams now, and tournaments are sprouting nationwide.

“If you haven’t tried it, you have to try it. A lot of people shy away from competition if it is not something they’re good at,” Bies said. “But Spikeball doesn’t have to be competitive if you don’t want it to be.”

“Give it an open and unbiased look, you never know how much you’ll like it,” he said.

Nick Reddy can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @NickIsReddy.

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