Tyler Stokespeare, aka "Stokes"
You may know him as the Sauce-Boy, Stokespeare, Stokesapotimus, or just simply “Stokes.” This week’s player spotlight follows the OG, nomadic baller himself and his journey back into the game of Roundnet. After qualifying for premier at West Regionals with a third-place finish in the advanced division and a fourth-place finish at Nationals in premier, Stokes hopes to build on the momentum of the 2018 season; with the Pro Division in his sights, the 2019 season promises to be a true test of his commitment and skill.
Stokes was born in Salem, Oregon but grew up in Utah. He played hockey for the Utah Junior Grizzlies before moving out to Chicago in middle school to play AAA hockey for Team Illinois as a right winger. After a severe concussion took him out of the game for almost a year, Stokes decided to focus on school and joined his high school cross country team. After high school, he moved back to Utah to attend school at the University of Utah. As an undergraduate student (junior) majoring in English literature, Stokes is currently working on his Honors Thesis in Shakespearean literature. With a passion for poetry, theater, and writing, he hopes to go on to graduate school to get his PhD.
Now on to Spikeball! During his sophomore year of high school in 2014, Stokes was introduced to the game and immediately fell in love. His time as a roundnet player predates the name “roundnet” and the sport’s current divisional categories. Before the Pro Set, in the time of “power pools” and Chico Spikes vs. Handsome Beavers, he began playing with friends from high school and his local church youth group. Soon after, he started practicing with Origin Spikeball and competed in Chicago tournaments with Jesse Throw—current Pro Division player for Tetelestai—under the team name Archangel Spikeball. Although the team showed promise, beating out Spicy Dirt in the Round of 64 and losing a close series to Bunz and Gunz in the Round of 32 at 2015 Nationals, Stokes’s decision to move back to Utah in early 2016 forced the team to separate.
While Stokes would go on to participate in a few local Utah tournaments with an eclectic cast of local players, including his Grandpa, troubles with school and family would prevent him from playing consistently in 2016 and 2017. Nevertheless, 2018 marked a year of resurgence. Awakened from hibernation, and more passionate than ever, Stokes would go on to play several tour stops with Anthony Oliver under the team name Agility and qualify for premier with Jonny Schmidt under the team name Stoked as Schmidt.
For Stokes, the story and evolution of roundnet is the story of his own evolution both as a player and as a person. For him, roundnet is ultimately about family: it is disagreement, hard work, and competition, but, most importantly, it is a place of friendship, fun, and community. Roundnet is the people who play it, and, for that reason, Stokes remains grateful for and committed to everyone in the Utah Roundnet family.