While things may not have happened as originally planned, 2017 Spikeball Nationals will still go down as one of the biggest events ever hosted by the Spikeball Roundnet Association. As mentioned in our previous article “Why you Should go to 2017 Spikeball Nationals” this was more than just a tournament. It truly was the experience of a lifetime for roundnet players of all skill levels.
The festivities started on Friday with a “ballers meet-up” for everyone to get in one last practice before the big day and also to hang out and chat with friends from all ends of the country. Following that was a trip to Wrigleyville for the team check-ins and a welcome party at the Brickhouse Tavern. As everyone filed into the tavern, they were delighted to see two big screen TVs showing epic highlights from the 2017 roundnet season. Most crowded around the TVs and were either praising those making the highlight reel plays or joking around with whoever lost the points.
As everyone went to bed Friday night, all eyes were on the forecast for the following day with it calling for rain and storms. As players awoke, the weather was looking downright awful with thunderstorms and flooding possible. After careful consideration, the call was made that the conditions would not allow for the tournament to go on as planned at Cricket Hill. As this message was delivered through Facebook- the post on the Spikeball Roundnet Association page quickly reached 100 comments within the first 15 minutes and currently has 352 comments... While this had people initially disappointed, the Spikeball crew worked their magic and were able to secure not one, but two indoor soccer facilities that would allow the tournament to go on. Premier and women’s divisions would play together at one location, with advanced, intermediate, and beginner divisions playing elsewhere.
Despite the unexpected circumstances, everyone arrived with an energetic attitude and were ready for the biggest tournament of the year. For insight about the Spikeball community as a whole, the coolest part of the day seemed to be the impromptu assembly line of players at the Premier/Women's location helping unload dozens of nets and other equipment from U-Hauls. It was certainly a sight to see everyone coming together to make this happen. As expected, the premier and women’s divisions provided epic matches as the day went on, major upsets, and some of the biggest and loudest crowds ever seen. The atmosphere throughout bracket play was electric with family, friends, and players providing plenty of cheering with many highlights from some intense matches. During the women’s finals, the crowd got really into it as the match went on. With the tournament being indoors, the crowd noise was even louder as everyone cheered on each great rally. As the match concluded, everyone gave one big round of applause as the trophies were handed out to the top finishers.
On the men’s side, we witnessed many great matchups, even in the early rounds with so many talented teams in attendance. One quadrant of the bracket even included 4 top 10 ranked teams, 3 of which were in the top 5. With great matches going on from the round of 32 on, the venue had a constant electric atmosphere that only increased as the rounds went on. Spectators surrounded the players in wide circles on the outskirts of the field, several spectators were even huddled under soccer goals trying to get as close as possible. Spectators were told several times that they needed to be on the outside of the field. Perhaps unsurprisingly, no one moved, instead everyone looked at each other and smiled. Everyone wanted to be as close to the action as possible. When the finals rolled around, the roundnet community showed just how passionate of a group they are by still making plenty of noise despite the tournament going on for over 10 hours. The place was buzzing especially after we realized the final would be going to the third deciding game. In the end, Cisek_Showalter defeated Spicy Rubi in a close entertaining final.
As we look back on 2017 Nationals, it will be one remembered for the incredible resolve of one of the best communities in all of sports to have a great day despite less than ideal circumstances. Congratulations to Cisek_Showalter for winning the competitive premier division title, to Ogres Heroes for repeating as the women’s division champions, and everyone else who took home trophies from their respective division. Finally, a big, big thank you is in order to SRA director Jack Scotti, Spikeball CEO Chris Ruder and the rest of the SRA crew that were able to make all of this possible. It looked like the day was lost, but they were able to pull it off on the fly and make the tournament happen. It ended up being an amazing day that will be talked about for years.
This article was co-written by Joey Pierron and Wyatt Semke.