Outdoor sport enthusiasts know the struggle of trying to find space to play when fields or courts are full. Spikeball is a new sport rising in popularity around town that is easily set up and requires little space, meaning that any four friends can play on a random patch of grass at a nearby park.
The game is considered a cross between volleyball and foursquare, as teams of two pass a softball-sized ball between partners before “spiking” it into a round net that measures about three feet across. Defending teams are allowed three touches to “return” the ball, and points can only be scored on plays when your team served.
Beginning as a casual backyard or beach game in the late ’80s, Spikeball is now emerging as a popular sport recognized on a national level. There have been two annual national championships to date, and as it happens, Santa Barbara is home to some of the top Spikeball players in the nation.
Two of these players include former Westmont student athletes Jarratt Rouse and Devin Matson, who recently placed second at the U.S.A. Spikeball National Championship in mid-October. Rouse first discovered the sport a few years ago in college and has been actively involved ever since.
Earlier this year, Rouse hosted the 2nd Annual West Coast Spikeball Classic at East Beach in Santa Barbara, and he was responsible for organizing teams, recruiting sponsors, and procuring the necessary equipment, most of which is provided by Spikeball for organized tournaments.
On campus over at UCSB, Chris “Kit” Ryan and Chadwick Wickersham took it upon themselves to start the first-ever Spikeball Club this year, hosting games on Tuesday and Thursday nights at the Rec Cen field. The duo also competes nationally, having already won a major tournament in Texas.
Ryan, the club president, says that the abundance of competitive teams in Santa Barbara has helped create interest for the sport. Having previously started a similar club in high school, he has seen firsthand how Spikeball has risen in prominence in the past few years.
Santa Barbara Spikeball players have set the bar high for themselves, which bodes well for the continued growth of the sport. Rouse, Matson, Ryan, and Wickersham all want to see support for the sport increase, and with a strong community base and network-building tools such as the new Spikeball app, this vision is likely to be realized.