A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Roundnet enthusiasts find friends, community, fitness and good times with games in Independence

By Maridith Yahl
NKyTribune reporter

There’s a new game in Independence taking the community by storm, and it’s building relationships.

Six years ago Stephen Petrie went to camp where he discovered a new passion, a game called Roundnet. All the rage at camp, Stephen could not play enough.

Organizers Maggie, Sarah and Stephen love to play

Stephen, who is so down to earth, describes Roundnet as a cross between four-square and volleyball. Played in teams of two, the goal is to serve the ball off the net to the other team. That team has three hits to bounce it back off the net to the other team.

By the way, the net looks like one of those small, round trampolines, but it’s a net.

The game is very energetic and becomes 360, moving all over. That is especially true because there is no out of bounds, which makes the field of play anywhere there is an open space, like a football field or beach.

Sharing the game with anyone, Stephen introduced it to his sister Sarah, who shared it with her best friend, Maggie Fields. The three are enthusiastic about sharing Roundnet and their experiences with the game.

Sarah loves “it just because you can get a few other people and it’s more personal, I feel like when you’re playing with just three other people than on a giant team. I can go and play with [Maggie] or I can go and play with someone who has never played and teach them and meet them.”

The net

For Maggie, the attraction to the game is that “It’s a really high-paced game and it keeps you on your toes the whole time. It’s really fun. I’ve played sports all throughout high school and now that I won’t be anymore, I graduated, I can keep playing, and you only need three other people.”

“I appreciate that it can be played super recreationally or super competitively, depending on who you are playing with,” shares Stephen. “I could play very casually with some people and still have a good time or I could play with some serious athletes and play a super competitive game of Roundnet. So I appreciate that aspect.”

It’s not only just the fun and getting a workout, but the game has created a community. Maggie likes that “The more that I’ve realized everyone who plays Spikeball just has this bond and it’s a really easy community.” Spikeball is the brand name of the equipment.

Stephen agrees. “It just brings people together, you can take it, it’s easy to transport, put it down and random people just [start] asking questions. It looks really weird to see, so it creates a community, people are attracted to it, drawn to it, and I’ve made a lot of friends from just playing the game.”

Last Saturday these three young adults held a Spikeball Roundnet tournament at Memorial Park in Independence. It was electrifying. Fifty-five teams, a total of 130 people, participated in the tournament. Most were high schoolers from the Northern Kentucky area as well as some teams of college-age students from WKU and University of the Cumberland’s. Teams from as far away from Akron, Ohio, and North Carolina joined in the fun.

Preparing for such a tournament is no small challenge.

“We just started by putting it out on social media and just seeing if we were going to get people interested and it just continually every day was progressing, progressing, and more people interested.” Sarah said. “And that’s when it became more daunting.”

Maggie agreed, adding registration was online and “and it just kept growing and

Playing the game

The three did a great job organizing the event, it seemingly ran without a hitch. For that, they leaned on Stephen, who has played in some tournaments across the country.

“It’s definitely helped having been to tournaments before to see how Spikeball runs [them]. I’ve been to five tournaments around the country, from Chicago to Atlanta, so that was helpful in providing some guidance.”

The tournament was the type of event to bring a smile. The energy was high and positive. Across the field teams were encouraging each; high fives were abundantly plenty. The sportsmanship was quite refreshing. So many smiles, laughter, and congratulations of games well played.

Proud brother Stephen beams when talking about the accomplishments of sister Sarah and friend Maggie. Not only had they successfully organized and run this tournament, but these two young ladies have begun a regular game night, Monday’s at Memorial Park. “I think it’s been awesome to watch the two take something so unique and interesting and make it widespread and popular.”

Maggie shares how the Monday night pick-up games have evolved.

“The growth has been super cool because it started with 15-20 people it was pretty small at first. We were looking last Monday and there were over 50 people out on that field playing.”

Most importantly, Stephen shares the essence of what this game has done for him and is bringing to the community.

“That’s been really cool to watch as people get more involved and willing to come out here and play a game with other people, connect, and build relationships. That’s been the biggest success, I think of it all, is just the relationships that have been built, the community pride almost that has come around playing a weird game like Spikeball.”

Learn the game and join the community Monday nights at 6:30 p.m. at Independence’s Memorial Park. Follow NKYspikeball on Instagram and nightspikeball on Twitter.

A lot of folks showed up for the tournament.

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