Welcome to the 2nd edition of 'Roundnet Players Around the World'! Where we feature players, conduct a brief interview, and build the #roundnetcommunity. Meet the inventor of Spikeball Jeff Knurek!
1) Tell us about yourself/yourselves, where are you from?
Hi! I'm Jeff Knurek. I'm originally from Southgate Michigan, but have lived in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. I attended the University of Michigan where I studied Industrial Design and Art Education. When I graduated in 1988 I knew I wanted to be a toy inventor. I moved to Chicago and got a job with toy inventing firm called I.D.E.A. (Inventors, Dreamers, Explorers and Artists). As toy and game inventors, our job was to create toys and games to be licensed to manufacturers for royalties.
Take a look at Jeff when he invented our sport!
2) What was the story behind Spikeball?
As a toy inventor, we would hold weekly brainstorming sessions to talk about new ideas. At one of these meetings I had the idea of taking a "Pitch Back" net and placing it horizontal to bounce things up off of it as oppose to throw a baseball at it and having it bounce back. From that meeting I started experimenting with things to bounce off of it. I tried everything from large ball to small boxes to represent dice. I eventually decided that the net should be round. So I tried using hula hoops for the prototypes and eventually created a prototype with plastic pvc piping. The after a while of playing and experimenting, I concluded that using 2 on 2 volleyball rules and making the game so there where no boundaries, it could be a fun game. Then I wrote the rules, named it Spikeball and we proceeded to present it to manufacturers. Tomy Games bought the idea in 1989. It was my first invention to make it to market.
"The Official Slammin Jammin Action Game"
Not much has changed if you ask me!
3) How long have you been playing?
Longer than anyone else! 29 years and counting.
4) What's your favorite thing about the sport?
I love that is it so simple. The components need to play are very basic. I love that you can play it about anywhere.
5) Anything else you'd like to share with your fellow Roundnet players?
I am humbled by everyone's passion and skill for my simple idea. It blows me away how big it has become. Most of you wouldn't know this but I have invented many other games and toys. What I am most known for today is that I am the cartoonist for the Jumble puzzle seen in over 600 newspapers, online, apps, books and more. It's played by over 10 million people each day. Between that and two other puzzles I create with my partner, Boggle Brainbusters and Word RoundUp) We are the world's most syndicated puzzle creators. So between Roundnet and the Jumble, I'd say I've pretty much covered the entire spectrum of humanity with my creations.
Plus, this year Jeff is sponsoring teams in all levels of the sport through his organisation Club Spike.