Some people play one or two sports their whole life. Others miss out and, due to a growing skill gap, never have the chance to join a traditional sports team. Others just want to get out and have fun. Students looking for a low-competition, non-traditional sport are in luck. The Wade King Student Recreation Center will be introducing the wacky sport of knockerball.
What is Knockerball, you ask?
“It’s a sport you’ve never witnessed, ever.”
Flag football sport coordinator, Brad Lammers
Imagine a team of soccer players with each member inside their own personal, plastic bubble. Now, imagine those players colliding into each other and bouncing all over the field. That’s Knockerball.
Invented as a joke for their show “Golden Goal” in 2011, television hosts Henrik Elvestad and Johan Golden did not foresee their practical joke spreading from Norway, to the United States, commissioner of the National Association of Bubble Soccer John Anthony said in a story by The Huffington Post.
The Rec Center has purchased several KnockerBalls, a brand of bubble soccer balls that allow for full-contact five-on-five soccer to be played in a bubble suit.
The official KnockerBall website describes the suits as an “all-encompassing, protective, safe, single-chambered ball of air with inner handles and shoulder straps that enables you to almost literally defy gravity and defy pain.”
Intramural and Youth Camp Advisor Kirsten Schumacher wants students to know that the equipment allows players to play aggressively and safely at the same time.
“Being inside the ball, you feel 100 percent protected,” Schumacher said.
With a student-run tournament scheduled for Saturday, April 9, and another Rec Center organized tournament on the horizon, the Rec Center hopes to break out the KnockerBalls more often in the future. Right now, the Rec Center just wants to introduce campus to this zany sport, Schumacher said.
Rec Center employees have been testing the equipment out recently, including Schumacher and the flag football sport coordinator, Brad Lammers.
“It was surprising how hard you can get hit and still get back up with a smile on your face,” Lammers said.
Schumacher said the contact is part of the sport’s appeal.
“It’s exhausting. It’s a lot of fun. You kind of ignore the soccer aspect of it and just want to hit each other…it doesn’t hurt,” Schumacher said.
Lammers said the tournament will be fun for spectators as well.
“It’s a sport you’ve never witnessed, ever,” Lammers said.
If students would like to play KnockerBall, The Ark, a group of students who are a part of the young adult ministry of Christ the King Church, are staging a free KnockerBall tournament on Saturday, April 9. Jacob Hino is one of the organizers of the event and a member of The Ark.
“We just want to provide a setting where people can just hang out, get to know each other and have fun,” Hino said.
In the end, Schumacher hopes students are attracted to the idea of more approachable, less competitive sports being offered through the Rec Center.
“Just have some fun in these blow-up hamster balls, and run around and hit each other; that’s more what it is [about],” Schumacher said.
The tournament is completely open to anyone who wants to participate.