The next great American sport

The Olympics may not be too far in the future for Spikeball


Photo by Ariana Castañeda

Senior Sam Yifrach eyes the ball as it is passed to him. Yifrach and his partner placed third in a Spikeball tournament in Oklahoma.

A new sport is taking the world by storm, and no, it’s not pickleball, it’s Spikeball. Spikeball, commonly understood as a combination of volleyball and four-square, is a sort of trampoline-game commonly played in the backyard or along the beach. With over 4 million players worldwide, the sport’s growing popularity and competition have even led to its consideration as a future Olympic sport.

Several students at Bellaire have hopped aboard the Spikeball train, playing casually with school friends or even traveling out of town for competitive tournaments.

“I was first introduced to Spikeball through a camp I attended the summer after my freshman year,” senior Sarah Wu said. “Soon after that, I started playing a lot more, especially in the middle of my sophomore year.”

While Wu originally played just a few times per month, Spikeball quickly became a part of her everyday routine.

“One of my favorite memories is playing Spikeball in the old school,” Wu said. “The hallway was super narrow, so we’d even play off the walls. Everyone would meet during lunch every day and I always remember it being super fun, even if I wasn’t actually playing Spikeball.”

The large amount of student interest in the sport soon led to the formation of the Spikeball Club, which provided its members, including Wu, with opportunities to participate in school wide tournaments.

“I enjoyed the sport so much that I began playing outside of school,” Wu said. “Sometimes, I randomly went to parks with some friends and played some casual spikeball.”

That tradition is long-standing, as Wu and her friends can often still be found playing Spikeball at Evelyn’s Park or in someone’s backyard.

“While I play for pure enjoyment of the sport, I soon realized that it is also a great way to meet and bond with all sorts of people,” Wu said.

Aside from its social benefits, Spikeball is also loved for its intense competition. While senior Sam Yifrach discovered Spikeball at Bellaire, his dedication soon brought him to the national stage.

“I started playing Spikeball in January of my freshman year in 2019,” Yifrach said. “One lunch, I was invited by Dylan Ballard to go play spikeball after taking one of Mr. Reynolds’ math tests.”

The following summer, Yifrach played his first tournament with former Bellaire student Jamey Duong. The two placed fourth in the intermediate division and this success only furthered Yifrach’s interest in the sport.

“Since then, I have had varying levels of success in tournaments in many divisions (intermediate, advanced, contender and premier) with many different partners,” Yifrach said. “Besides Jamey, I’ve also played with Seth Broadwell, Daniel Wong, who I won the 2020 Bellaire Spikeball Tournament with and Noah Beinart, whom I qualified for premier with.”

Yifrach’s status as a premier player is the highest level of spikeball before pro. Yifrach said his premier qualification with Beinart is undoubtedly his favorite Spikeball memory.

“The tournament that Noah and I qualified for premier, we were playing in the highest division in a tournament in Stillwater, Oklahoma,” Yifrach said. “In order to qualify, we needed to place in the top two non-premier teams in a very competitive tournament. We placed third overall, taking games off of some of the best players in Texas on the way.”

Yifrach continues to play once or twice a week for several hours, either with Bellaire students or the Houston Spikeball Hub. The Houston Spikeball Hub, sponsored by the Texas Association for the Sport of Roundnet, is a group of Spikeball players from around the Houston area. Yifrach serves as a Houston Hub leader through TASR, organizing meetups and scheduling practices.

“I started to play spikeball because it was something social that could be competitive,” Yifrach said. “Coming from a small school, it was difficult to meet people because unlike all the students that knew each other, I didn’t know anyone. The atmosphere of spikeball gave me a group of people to hang out with and play the game that I grew to love.”

Seeing college students playing Spikeball on a beach when he was in eighth grade inspired senior Noah Beinart to found the Spikeball Club with Spencer Lee and Sam Yifrach.

“It was a success,” Beinart said. “We would play every Thursday in the gym and would get a good showing of around 35 people to come. We would hold open tournaments and coed tournaments for Bellaire, which were fun and successful. We would get around 20 teams at these tournaments, which was amazing for a high school club to do.”

Outside of school, Beinart began playing competitively the summer after ninth grade in TASR tournaments with elite college players.

“These tournaments were fun but showed me that I would need to practice to become better,” Beinart said.

While Beinart frequently placed in the top five or 10 teams in these tournaments, his best performance was the gold league competition the summer before 11th grade.

“I played with a college player at A&M and we got second out of the whole state in the most competitive division in Texas,” Beinart said. “After I got second, I was qualified to join Lonestar, the professional Texas team.”

Even as the only high school player on this team of 15 of the best players in Texas, Beinart made his mark, receiving the ranking of the No. 1 high school player in the state.

“I like to play spikeball because I get to meet a lot of new friends while playing and being in the spikeball community,” Beinart said. “Everyone is very welcoming no matter if it is your first time playing or if you have been playing for a couple years.”