Spikelove: Tom & Alli
It’s April 2018...
Tom Rogers, a spritely young fellow living in Wales, has two weeks off in-between jobs. In the three years prior, he’d gotten heavily involved in the European spike scene, even connecting virtually with some of the US players across the pond. One such player was (his now best friend) Joel Graham.
“He had very kindly offered, if I ever got the chance…‘come stay with me, and we’ll play Spikeball and go to tournaments,’” Tom recalls, “so I took a chance, got on a flight, came to America.”
A quick eight-hour flight and “the most terrifying [twelve-hour] car journey of my life” later, Tom arrived at the Airbnb where a big group of players was staying for the Atlanta Spikeball Tour Stop. He laid down for a nap.
Meanwhile, Alli Kauffman set off towards the same destination from her home in Pennsylvania.
“I’d heard whispers of this British man who would be traveling all the way to Atlanta,” she remembers. When she arrived at the Airbnb, “there was a small crowd of people around Tom’s bedroom door, all peeking in…and he was just sitting up in bed, smiling.”
The tournament is the next day, and in the middle of a game, Alli lands the wrong way on her ankle. “It crunched and popped, and I rolled around and cried… It was pretty rough.”
Luckily, Tom is a physical therapist. “So he weaseled his way on over, pretended to care about my ankle–”
“That is not how it happened,” Tom laughs. The two of them ended up seated together, tending to her ankle.
“I remember thinking he was smart… that was our first good interaction.”
The next day,
Tom and Alli got in the car with a few other players and began a thirteen-hour drive back to Pennsylvania.
“I remember being glad that we were in the same car,” says Tom. “I was also wise enough to know that the situation I was in was not one where it made any sense to be exploring romantic pursuits.” In less than two weeks, he’d head back to Wales to start a new gig. “I was just there to play Spikeball.”
Still, the last three hours of the ride turned out to be significant for them. They had dropped off their friends, and they were able to “just exchange life stories.”
A few days before Tom had to leave,
they decided to get burgers together after hanging out in a group of friends. This event marks a massive milestone in their relationship: The Springy Cheese Incident.
“The waiter came to our table, placed the two burgers in front of us…and Tom lifted his top bun off of the burger. And up from nowhere emerged this piece of springy cheese… this cylinder of cheese that had been smooshed by the top bun–”
“I thought it was a cuboid. Of cheese.” Tom offers.
Cuboid or cylinder notwithstanding, the cheese sprung from the depths of the burger with the force of an undeniable true love. The two of them burst into laughter. They laughed so hard that Alli remembers crying.
“I do remember thinking, if I’m ever on a date and it’s not this good, I don’t want it.”
“You can’t publish that, because that’s too sappy,” Tom adds.
“I can,” says Alli. “Everything else was sub-par. Sub-Tom.”
Fast forward: Tom goes back to Wales, life resumes.
Five months go by. The two don’t talk much except for the occasional Facebook messaging about Spikeball-related topics.
Then, as a thank-you for hosting the 2018 European Championship, Spikeball surprises Tom with flights to the US to attend the tournament of his choice.
“That meant there was some reasonability in us talking,” he remembers. The two began texting, then calling, then video-chatting. One time, they ended up on a video call for more than five hours.
“That was when I thought, ‘ok, I’m pretty sure Tom like likes me,’” recalls Alli.
Somewhere in the mix, the two decided to try dating long distance. With a cross-continental, 5-hour time difference, the odds were stacked against them. But somehow, it worked.
Three months later, Tom flew to the US for the Seattle tour stop.
Alli picked him up from the airport and they headed to the park to play pickup spike with some friends.
At first, “it was really weird,” says Tom, “and it got less weird when I said ‘this is really weird,’ and we agreed that it was weird.”
Eventually though, it was great. Tom stayed in the States for a few weeks and met Alli’s family, who loved him. A few months later, she made the trip out to see his family, who loved her. It was on that trip that Tom popped the question.
Tomorrow, Tom and Alli will celebrate their third wedding anniversary.
“I’ve thought about… what are the odds that Tom and I actually would have met if we didn’t play Spikeball? And I have no idea what the odds are, cause I’m not a math person, and I’m not sure any math person could tell me what the odds are either. Probably zero.
“Yeah, it’s crazy that we met… but yeah, it’s amazing.”
Thanks to Tom and Alli for sharing their story. We are obsessed with them. 💛