Spikeball Comes to Boston Common

By Mark Duffield

Spikeball – a game once introduced on Shark Tank – is a new sport that’s sweeping the nation and has now found its way to the Boston Common.

The first day of summer brings many delights and activities to the Beacon Hill neighborhood. Two main attractions nearby – the Public Garden and the Boston Common – draw residents and tourists in droves.  Two historic pieces of real estate with two different ways to experience the great outdoors.

The Public Garden is devoted to a leisurely, shaded walk down quiet paths lined with stately trees, beautiful flower gardens and majestic Swan Boats floating peacefully across placid pond waters.  Sunbathing, reading a book, snoozing on a bench…ah so peaceful.

But the pastoral Boston Common, on the other hand, is the exact opposite.  Spinning carousels, joyous children splashing around in the Frog Pond, people jogging, exercising themselves and with their dogs chasing sticks and frisbees, the common tennis courts alive with competitive games…and now…SPIKEBALL?

Yes, Spikeball!  Players Taryn Corey and her friends Kai Simmons, Lucas Tejada and Dominick Farino are graduate students at Boston University in the Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program (DPT) and their friend Connor Hannemann works in Boston and on occasion in Beacon Hill.  Together, they have brought and introduced this new portable sport to the Boston Common. At first glance to the uninitiated, the game takes place on a small piece of ground and resembles a sports hybrid.  It is volleyball, tennis, badminton, handball and acrobatics, and goodness knows what else all rolled into one. All the equipment you need is packed neatly into a very small bag. It is performed by four players at a frenetic pace circling 360 degrees around a small Hula Hoop sized trampoline net a foot off the ground.  It involves spiking a soft yellow softball size ball back and forth ricocheting off the net towards and skillfully escaping the hands of opponents to score points!

As explained by participant Connor Hannemann, the game is played two versus two with the small round net placed between the two teams. A player starts a point by serving the ball down on the net so it ricochets up at his opponents. This side has up to three hits between them (just like volleyball) to control the ball and bounce it back off the net to the other side. When they miss, you score a point. There are no boundaries so players can circle the net anywhere to return the ball.  The game can be played to a score of 11, 15, or 21. In case of a tie, you must win by two points.

Taryn Corey says, ‘”I played a lot of sports in my day, but Spikeball is the best because it is so easy to play and portable. It is a great way to get out, be social, exercise and a fantastic way to relieve stress.”

Spikeball, now called Roundnet by some, is less than a decade old but it has definitely caught on, with leagues popping up all over the U.S. There is now a Roundnet National Championship that features a Pro Division. The game has been featured on ESPN.

Thank you to Taryn Corey and her friends for bringing the sport to the Boston Common and educating us all on this new sport that is slowly becoming global.

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