A newly popular outdoor game, currently played on lawns, beaches and college campuses across the country, has joined the ranks of intramural sports at Yale.
Spikeball, a team-based sport that features players hitting a ball off a trampoline-like net, was introduced this week as the newest addition to Yale’s intramural options, which now include 25 sports. IM secretaries from all 12 residential colleges voted over spring break to replace coed volleyball — a spring sport that has equivalents in the fall and winter — and implement Spikeball as a pilot program this year, in hopes of increasing student participation and excitement within Yale’s IM program as a whole.
“I think IM Spikeball is inclusive, simple and fun,” head student IM coordinator Adam Jenkinson ’18 said. “It will add some excitement to IMs that will increase participation, something that never hurts an organization that needs students to run.”
The idea of introducing IM Spikeball was first proposed in a meeting between IM secretaries from all 12 residential colleges the week of March 7, Director of Club Sports, Outdoor Education Center and Intramurals Tom Migdalski said.
At that meeting, all IM secretaries present were in favor of adding Spikeball to the list of IM sports, Jenkinson said. He added that the “overwhelming support” from the secretaries was a crucial factor in approving the sport.
Soon after the affirmative vote over spring break, the Yale intramural program purchased new sets, which are produced by a single company, Spikeball Inc., that began selling them in 2008.
Kai Takahashi ’16, an IM secretary in Berkeley College, said because volleyball is already offered as an IM sport every other season, Spikeball was a good alternative to add.
“Spring volleyball is only 4v4, rather than 6v6 play [as in the fall in winter], and more importantly, we [offered] volleyball all three seasons,” Migdalski said. “So it makes good sense to drop spring volleyball and replace it with something more fresh and exciting like coed 3v3 Spikeball.”
The sport will be on a pilot program this semester, which means Spikeball will not count for points in the Tyng Cup. Spikeball will be evaluated at the end of the school year to assess its popularity among students and whether any changes need to be made to the game’s rules and format, Takahashi said.
This spring, Spikeball will be played as a 3v3 sport, with games going to 21 points under rally scoring, which allows both the serving team and receiving team to score points. Each contest will feature representatives from two colleges playing just a single game.
Currently, games are scheduled to take place at the IM fields, but the IM secretaries have discussed the possibility of playing at other locations on campus in the future, such as residential colleges or Cross Campus, Takahashi said.
The last time an IM sport, croquet, was introduced in a pilot program, it was not popular enough to make it through more than its first year. Spikeball advocates do not believe their sport will see the same fate.
“I played Spikeball for the first time last fall when I hopped in on a game being played by an absolutely incredible group of Branfordians. I’ve loved it ever since,” said Clare Ham ’17, an IM secretary in Branford College. “People who’ve played and enjoyed Spikeball were very excited about making it an IM sport.”
Takahashi expressed a similar view, and said he imagined Spikeball would be popular because many students already play the game around campus outside of IMs. He added that the sport could potentially attract a “different crowd” to IMs that did not previously participate in other games.
Spikeball is offered by multiple other universities in their intramurals programs, Migdalski said, noting that the Yale IM program has adopted the University of New Haven’s Spikeball rules.
IM Secretaries, referees and supervisors have all received a set of the rules, and there will be printed sets for reference on site this week as students prepare for their first games of the spring IM season.