Culture -

The true story behind ‘9 Square in the Air’ —

By Becca Haines

Fun is a staple of CIY events and a lot of the time that fun is achieved in never-ending bouts of 9 Square in the Air … But do you know the origin story of this game?

It all started 19 years ago when youth pastor Steve Otey was trying to solve a little problem he saw with his junior high students after the youth programs at First Free Church in Manchester, Missouri.


“I noticed the same group of kids would be playing volleyball and another group would put tape down on the floor to play 9 Square on the ground,” Otey said. “I was trying to find ways to connect the two groups, and neither side wanted to play the other game. I searched for other games, and at the time there was no other game on the market like what I had in mind.”


9 Square in the Air was born when Otey combined the two worlds … and the rest is history.


“Everyone instantly loved it,” Otey said. “I’ve been so happy with the way God has used this game in so many cool ways. Turning it into its own business happened pretty quick, and it’s been incredibly humbling to know God is using it across the country.”


Fun and silliness is something CIY takes seriously considering what happens when kids are having a blast.


“Laughter breaks down walls,” Otey said. “Ultimately when a kid feels comfortable there are more opportunities to share the Gospel with them. We’ve seen 9 Square in the Air connect kids and build relationships with their youth ministers. I would encourage youth pastors everywhere to look for ways to be creative, tweak games and curriculum to better serve the students. You never know how God will use it – He’ll take it far from anything you ever imagined.”


Find more information about this game by clicking here.