Football Practice, Jesse Luketa (40), Micah Parsons (11)

Linebackers Jesse Luketa (40) and Micah Parsons (11) chest bump during practice at Holuba Hall on Wednesday, March 13, 2019.

It all started with an Instagram story.

On Monday, Micah Parsons put out a challenge looking for someone willing to break in his new Spikeball kit that came in the mail.

Little did he know, former Penn State wrestler Bo Nickal was an experienced Spikeball player.

“Last week or a couple weeks ago, we were playing on the HUB lawn and Bo was sitting nearby watching us, so we just kind of invited him over,” Isaac Freeman, president of the Penn State Spikeball Club, told The Daily Collegian.

It didn’t take long for Nickal to get hooked.

“He played a couple games with us,” Freeman said. “He was really into it, so we threw him in the GroupMe. He’s been in there ever since.”

So when Nickal saw Parsons’ public challenge, he had to act on it.

“This morning Bo just sent in the GroupMe that they were playing at 1:20 [p.m.] and that people could come watch and hang out,” Freeman said.

2019 Division 1 NCAA Wrestling Championships Finals

Bo Nickal (197 lbs) holds the NCAA National Champion Team Trophy at the 2019 Division 1 NCAA Wrestling Championships, at the PPG Paints Arena on Saturday, March 23.

Nickal brought backup in his former teammate, Penn State 133-pounder Roman Bravo-Young. Parsons did the same with fellow Penn State linebacker Jesse Luketa.

Early on in the match, it became clear that experience would play a factor.

“Bo definitely was the best out of the four of them,” Freeman said. “After playing with us even he got a lot better. He serves really hard and hits the ball hard unsurprisingly.”

The rest of them, including Nickal’s teammate, made some adjustments on the fly, though.

“The other three caught on pretty quick,” Freeman said. “I think the score of the first game was 21-5 the wrestlers, and then the next one was like 21-15 and the last one was 21-19, so Micah and Jesse definitely learned the ropes pretty quick.”

Freeman, one of the small crowd of 15 or so in attendance and an experienced Spikeball player in his own right, expects to see a jump in skills if the football players keep at it.

“Play a little more on their own time, I’m sure they’ll be nasty really quickly,” Freeman said.

As for if a rematch is in the cards following wrestling’s clean sweep, Freeman believes the answer to that is “definitely.”

“As soon as they were done, Micah and Jesse were like, ‘Alright, Alright. Good game, but we’re running this back for sure,’” Freeman said. “They’re as competitive of people as there are, so I’m sure that they’ll run it back at some point.”

The impromptu game came as a major surprise to everyone in the Spikeball Club, but Freeman hopes that more events like this can be planned in the future.

“It’s tough to facilitate that sort of stuff, but Spikeball’s super easy to play and learn and bring wherever,” Freeman said.

And the club is open to having more than just football players and wrestlers competing. Freeman even has a prediction for a potential dark horse if all Penn State sports got involved in a friendly tournament.

“I’m sure all the football players would probably turn out to be really good,” Freeman said. “My sleeper pick would be like the gymnastics teams. I feel like they’d have a good handle on it. They’ve got good reflexes, they’re flexible, like they could lay out for the ball and stuff like that.”

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