Spike baller

Skyler Boles

Photo by Vic Cantu

A pair of Chico natives and Chico State students just won a national competition for a new outdoor sport that you may not have heard of: spikeball. It’s sort of a mix between volleyball, foursquare and ping pong and it’s quickly gaining popularity. On Sept. 28, the Chico Spikeball team of Skyler Boles, 23 and Shaun Boyer, 21 (pictured at left and right, respectively), took first place in the Spike-A-Palooza national tournament in Nashville, Tenn. Boles, a self-described spikeball ambassador, sets up matches at Chico State, teaches the sport at local schools, sells the equipment and enters tournaments all over the U.S. Visit www.facebook.com/chicospikeball for more info, or call/text Boles at 519-3965.

How’d it feel to win Spike-A-Palooza?

It felt very cool. I wanted to make sure we were the best in the U.S. There were 62 teams. We won $500—$250 each—and got engraved glass pitchers. We also won a tournament in New York last June that had 44 teams. We are sponsored with cool merchandise by SAVAGEultimate, but I really play for the love of the game.

How’s the game played?

It’s super easy and you can play anywhere. It’s two-on-two and you use a small net that looks like a mini-trampoline. Each team hits a ball by hand a maximum of three times before bouncing it off the net to the other team, [and they do] the same until one team messes up, giving the other team a point. The first to reach 21 wins.

How did you get into spikeball?

I saw a video of it on YouTube 1 1/2 years ago and fell in love. I said, “That’s the kind of sport for me.” I wanted to unite people and organize competitions. I now teach it at Chico State, Chico High, Chico Junior High and Marsh Elementary. I also sell the sets—the net and ball—for only $50.

What do you like best about the sport?

Going as hard as you can and getting the ball back on the net. It’s about hand-eye coordination, finesse, deception and not quitting on the ball. Playing in the sand is the most fun because you don’t have to think about landing.

What do you think the future holds for the sport?

It’s only going to grow, with bigger prize money. In my first tournament there were only 21 teams and at Nashville there were 62. We have open game days Wednesdays, 4 p.m., at Chico State’s Yolo Field by the tennis courts. My family always said I should do something I love for work and now I’ve found it.