In the bubble, no one can hear you scream.
Just ask Macie McKinley.
I was deaf to her PVC and thermoplastic polyurethane-muffled yelp of surprise when I knocked her over. I only saw the soccer ball in front of me and, a few yards behind it, the goal. I let my foot go. I kicked. I scored. I celebrated. Then someone ran into me and I watched my feet fly over my head a couple times before rolling to a stop.
There was no time for apologies. I didn’t mind. I don’t think Macie cared, either. It was a bubble smash bubble world on Soldiers Field last Sunday, when Rochester BubbleBall launched with a series of free pick-up games.
“I was knocked down a lot, but I thought it was a lot of fun to knock down people,” said McKinley, preparing for her second game, “I like to get a good distance and charge at them. It works really well with my friend Allison. She’s tiny.”
BubbleBall is soccer with inflatable armor. Players slide into giant PVC spheres, which are affixed to their backs like backpacks, then square off. It makes for a surreal scene – a con-glob-uration of giant, see-through orbs with feet careening around an open field, chasing a smaller orb and bumping into each other.
It’s also a blast. For two hours, Soldiers Field was full of laughs and surprised yells (outside the bubble, people can hear you scream, it turns out). You can hear it in my GoPro footage – I’m laughing with each step like I’m riding skiblades or something. It turns soccer into a real-life Super Smash Bros game.
“Normally you don’t get to bump people off their feet, but with this ball, there’s not much skill or dribbling, it’s just pretty much bump people off their feet and maybe get a shot,” said Daliso Chitulangoma, who plays soccer year round as part of Mayo High’s soccer team and other private clubs.
If you want a turn in your own bubble, head over to rochester.bubbleball.co to check out your options. They offer different rates for private, corporate, and charity events, and I’m told plans to organize pick-up games are underway.