Local Couple Launches Knockerball Fishers For All Ages
Writer: Jon Shoulders
Photographer: Ron Wise
Last summer Dena Laverty took her daughters on a trip to Arkansas to visit Harding University, her alma mater, in hopes that they would benefit from a new, out-of-town experience. Much to her surprise, Laverty herself saw something new during the visit that inspired her to take a new career path.
One of the afternoon campus events for the children of visiting Harding alumni was a group activity called Knockerball, in which each individual puts on an inflated sphere with inner handles and shoulder straps that cover the head, upper body and a portion of the legs. Participants are then able to collide into each other harmlessly, as well as jump, flip, fall, roll and dive during structured games or simple knock-around sessions.
“My husband Eric and I had been looking for a small business that we could start up,” Laverty says. “I’d never seen anything like it, and found out that Knockerball has gotten popular in some areas around the country. I showed him some pictures and told him that we needed to look into it.”
The Lavertys officially launched Knockerball Fishers late last summer after researching the concept upon Dena’s return from the trip to Arkansas and have since brought their product to children’s birthday parties, church groups and fall festivals. The verdict so far? Lots of laughs, and plenty of bouncing, bumping and boisterousness.
“I’d say at almost every event we’ve done people have a good time and they’re always laughing,” Laverty says. “It’s pretty funny to watch. Basically, anyone who’s interested in having Knockerball for their event can contact us, and we come out to your event with the equipment and take care of everything.”
Laverty offers two inflatable ball sizes for participants – a smaller ball for five- to six-year-olds and a larger size for anyone over approximately five feet tall. She hopes to expand next summer and offer mini-balls for two- to five-year-olds, for birthday parties and other special occasions.
“We like that it’s an active event, especially for kids because a lot of times kids like to sit around with video games and things like that,” she says. “It’s something that really gets people moving – they’re panting afterward and saying how much of a great time they had.”
Originally created in Norway and referred to as bubble football, the concept started gaining traction in the U.S. four years ago. Structured leagues have been forming throughout Europe, Australia, and Japan as well as the U.S., and the first bubble football World Cup will take place in England this May.
Laverty says her Knockerball participants must sign waiver forms before suiting up for the fun, and she and Eric are always onsite to conduct games and make sure their Knockerball events are running safely and smoothly. Knockerball games include soccer as well as sumo wrestling and even bowling, where participants act as both the ball and the pins.
“It’s not all that structured, but if we do something like a private party then we will run some games,” she says. “We did a girls birthday party in December and did a rolling game which they liked, and we’ve done some soccer and different types of games that are hilarious to participate in and hilarious to watch. When we do a festival or a fair it’s less structured, and folks just get suited up and see what it’s like, and run into each other.”
A Valparaiso native, Laverty currently focuses her professional energies on the Knockerball business full-time with help from Eric, who works as an engineer in Carmel. The couple hopes to increase their Knockerball presence in schools and for corporate and other private events in the coming year, both in Fishers and throughout Central Indiana.
“I’ve done some direct sales with Mary Kay in the past, and I’d say that background has helped me with launching this business,” Laverty says. “I get things booked and get things going, and my husband’s kind of the muscle – he moves the balls and inflates them for me, and then does the events with me. We’re having fun.”
Visit knockerballfishers.com for additional information, pricing, FAQs, videos and more.