Move over, spikeball.
Hunnyball may be the next big outdoor 2-v-2 game.
And if it is, Westport youngsters will have been in on the ground floor.
The backboard-and-ball sport was invented by a Fairfield family. The Hallidays — dad Jim, mom Kathleen and 20somethings Nick, Kevin and Zack — have always tried to come up with new ideas. Usually they’re too tech-based, or grand, to work. Jim and his sons all have fulltime jobs; these would just be side gigs.
But while Nick — a former soccer player at Bentley University — was commuting to an internship, he listed to Guy Raz’s “How I Built This” podcast. He started thinking about all the backyard games he and his brothers invented when they were kids.
The Hallidays sketched out Nick’s idea on paper. They bought some plywood at Home Depot. They had a prototype, and started playing.
It was during COVID. Everyone had time; all the sons’ soccer, lacrosse and baseball-playing friends were home. They spent weeks refining the game, and defining its rules.
The pandemic was a tough time to launch a new sport, Jim admits. But the game benefitted from it.
Being in business with his sons has been a joy, Jim says. He sees “a whole different side” of them.
Each brings a different skill set to the business. One works for an investment firm; another is a web developer. The third is in marketing.
One of the first hunnyball customers was Westport’s Parks & Recreation Department. They bought 2 sets, for camps this summer.
Camps — day and sleepaway — may be a great market. Jem Sollinger — the owner of Maine’s Camp Laurel, whose winter office is in Westport — advised Jim to go to the American Camp Association conference in Atlantic City.
Hunnyball was received well there for 2 reasons, Jim says. Many camps are family owned; those owners liked the Hallidays’ family story.
And, he notes, camps are always looking for something new to excite campers. Hunnyball fills that bill.
That’s not idle talk, or marketing puffery. Jim says that on a recent college spring break trip that usually ends with a spikeball tournament, almost half of the group opted for hunnyball.
School phys. ed. teachers like it too. Spikeball can be difficult for young kids, who have small hands. Catching and throwing — the basis of hunnyball — is easier.
You may not have heard of hunnyball yet. But for all the right reasons — including Westport Parks & Rec’s introduction of it this coming summer — your youngsters (or their college friends) may soon be playing it.
If so, remember where you heard it first.
OVERTIME: Why is it called “hunnyball”?
Pickleball was named after the inventors’ family dog. Hunny is the Hallidays’ dog. So naturally …
And because Hunny is a rescue, they’re donating a portion of each set to animal rescue organizations.
(To learn more, click here for hunnyball.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.)