Exeter Deconstructed: Cilley Ball

The school we love in detail.

October 31, 2022

Spikeball is an amusing distraction. Cornhole’s great for barbecues. The gentlemen of Cilley Hall have their own game of skill and athletic prowess that has endured for decades: Cilley Ball.

The official sport of the boys dorm is equal parts volleyball and tennis with some custom modifications. The court, set along the building’s north side, is split in half by two wooden benches to serve as the “net.” A game of “C-Ball” — as the denizens refer to it — requires two teams of two and a specific Hedstrom-brand ball. The current game ball is adorned with the puppies of Paw Patrol.

“We tend to pop about eight balls a year, so someone has to go and get balls every once in a while,” says Joe Doherty ’23, a dorm proctor and four-year C-Baller.

“There are three basic rules,” Doherty says. “One, each team gets three touches. Two, each team gets one bounce. Three, if it hits the bench, the touches and bounces reset.”

Believed to have been invented in the 1990s and modified since, Cilley Ball has been a welcome diversion for hundreds of Cilley boys.

“Those forged-on-the-court friendships are worth any dip in grades,” wrote Cilley Hall resident Max de La Bruyère ’09 in The Exonian in 2008. “Something it has taken me a few years to convince my parents.”

Editor's note: This article first appeared in the Fall 2022 issue of The Exeter Bulletin.