Spikeball, an entertaining outdoor game that nearly anyone can play, has taken over Helmick Commons at Drake University. The game involves four people, with two partners competing against one another. Before play begins, all four players start six feet from the net, with teammates on the same side. Play initiates with a serve and once the ball is in play, each team of two has three touches to return the ball back onto the net and to the other team.
The game involves a lot of diving for balls and quick footwork. The exercise and movement involved in Spikeball has drawn Drake students to the game, giving them a chance to escape the indoors and interact with other people.
August 29, Drake seniors Brian Etzenhouzer, Trey Newman and Jordan Delara organized a Spikeball tournament. There was an incredible amount of participation from both Drake and Grandview students, with over 40 teams and two pro players.
This tournament drew many eyes from the community, with many local businesses donating prizes for the tournament. Jethro’s, a barbecue staple near campus, donated gift cards, and local gas station chain Kum & Go donated fanny packs. Most participants left the tournament with a handful of prizes.
The tournament even incorporated amusing contests such as “best dressed,” an award that went to Max Pettit and his partner. The two left with a twenty dollar gift card to a local coffee shop in dog town.
Many students commented that the Spikeball tournament was a positive experience for Drake’s campus.
“It is a nice thing to do because not a lot of events have been going on,” freshman Dyer Jarabek said. “It’s a good way to connect students.”
Other students thought it was a good way to get to know more people, especially given COVID-19 restrictions. Concerns over COVID have led to the cancellation of on-campus activities and events, making it particularly difficult for incoming freshmen to meet new people and become familiar and comfortable with their new home. Many students were pleased they were able to meet new people through this spontaneous event.
“Playing in the tournament was really fun and there were a lot of cool people,” Pettit said.
Despite the positive feedback received from many first year students, many students also expressed concerns about COVID.
“It’s a good activity, but you have to trust students to wear masks and be social,” Jarabek said. “If we have a rule about social distancing and wearing a mask, I feel like spikeball does not follow that.”
Large crowds gathered to watch the tournament, and none of the players wore masks during competition. Because spikeball players are standing approximately six feet apart, participants on Drake’s campus did not wear masks, which sparked controversy among students.
“If Drake is limiting the amount of people in a room, they should limit people playing,” said Aayushi Sarkar, a freshman who observed the event.
Hundreds of students walking by and observing the tournament were shocked at the amount of people in a single space playing in an event together. However, given that the spikeball tournament was successful and no cases were reported, the question then arises: will similar events now be able to occur?
It is unclear if another Spikeball tournament will be held on campus, but many students are eagerly waiting for another competition. The enthusiasm for the sport certainly has not died on campus; tens of students can be seen playing on the field on a daily basis. In the end, the tournament provided a unique avenue for social interaction and opened up new conversations about social distanced events that can occur on campus.