"The Day I discovered Spikeball was like love at first sight"
In 2016, I was on exchange in the University of Colorado Boulder. New People, new environment, new everything. Id be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. Then one day, I saw a group laughing, celebrating, shouting…. Having more fun than I thought was possible. I immediately went up to the group and asked to join. This moment not only changed my exchange experience but also the course of my life.
I played a competitive season as an intermediate player for Colorado Roundnet that semester and I was immediately hooked.
When I returned home, I had no intention of creating a National Roundnet Community, however, in the end I had no choice. I had introduced Spikeball to my close friends and soon was being asked to come out and play at every hour of every day. Thank god I loved this sport.
In 2017, Roundnet Ireland was established and the first University Spikeball League was underway. 20 teams entered in the USL’s first semester and this increased to 40 teams in the 2nd semester. I believed that Spikeball was about to take off in Ireland but then winter came. With no training facility to hide from the harsh weather and a dispersed community across Ireland it now looked like Spikeball was just a phase.
I was heartbroken, not to mention broke after having pre-empted a surge in sales which would not come to fruition. I was in a trough of disillusionment that seemed to last forever but I believed in Spikeball. I knew that there were people in Ireland just like I was when I was lost and alone in Colorado.
In the next year, I travelled the length and breath of Ireland visiting schools, universities and clubs offering free social sessions where students and teams could trial this new sport and have fun while doing so. We were leaving sets behind everywhere we went.
New communities were forming nationwide and it seemed for the first time like the fastest growing sport in the world was becoming a reality for Ireland. In fact, the EU Roundnet Association recognised this growth and awarded our community by choosing us as hosts to the European Championships in 2020. The stars had aligned and then COVID came along.
Like every small business owner, I was concerned that all of the work done to this point might be in jeopardy. Are people going to be able to play? Will they even want to? What is going to happen to our upcoming national and European tour season? But this time things were different!
Our community is made up of active, fun loving, positive people that saw this challenge as an incredible opportunity. Kids and Teens had been sent home from school and they couldn’t help but tell their parents about the fun new sport that they had been playing in P.E class. University students needed something to ignite the summer of fun under these restrictions. And everyone else could see how much fun Spikeball was anytime they went out because sets were taking over park, beaches and back gardens everywhere.
To give you context, before COVID over a period of 3 years we sold on average 1 set every 5 days. Since COVID we have been selling 5 sets per day on average! Our only goal is to grow our sporting community in Ireland. In fact, all profits go straight to support the community through organised events, outreach efforts and players support.
Today our community is made up of 10,000 players nationwide. It makes me so happy to think that a person just like me, who hasn’t yet found a sport or a community that they love now has this chance to change their entire life, to meet some incredible people and just have some fun.
Founder of Roundnet Ireland.