Courtesy of MCT
If you’re anything like I am, your favorite part of elementary school was gym class and your favorite part of gym class was dodgeball. So when I found out that Ohio State had a competitive club dodgeball team, I had to go check it out. Ever since that first Wednesday of the school year, my life has revolved around a semi-obsessive relationship with a game that most people stopped playing after middle school.
Dodgeball at the club level has all the same wonderful pieces as it did in elementary school: the immensely satisfying feeling of hitting someone on the other team, the pride that comes with making a catch and bringing back one of your teammates and of course, the crushing disappointment that comes with getting out. But competitive college dodgeball takes the game to a whole new level. Rather than palming the 8.5-inch rubber dodgeballs, players prefer to dig their fingers into the skin of the ball and latch on to a flap of skin. Using this technique, players can throw much harder, with the more impressive throwers breaking 75 mph and some players even touching 80 mph. And headshots in college dodgeball are not only legal – they’re encouraged.
Not only do people throw much faster than they do in your friendly neighborhood dodgeball game, teams are also much more organized. Generally, those are the two things that are most noticeable among the better college dodgeball teams, they throw fastest and play smartest. Naturally, the idea is to have as many dodgeballs as you can on one side so that you can throw them together, or block any throws coming your way, so one of the most successfully employed strategies is the fake throw.
We play as a part of the National Collegiate Dodgeball Association. The group was started back in 2004 and since then has grown to incorporate more than 20 different teams from as far south as Louisiana (Northwestern State University) and as far north as New York (Rochester Institute of Technology). The champion is determined at the national tournament, which was held this year at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan. Sixteen teams showed up for the tournament April 14 and 15 with Saginaw Valley State eventually winning the championship after inching by a semi-final match in overtime. OSU lost a heartbreaker to Kent State in the second round of the tournament, winning two games against Western Illinois and Bowling Green, and losing three games in the tournament against Kentucky, Saginaw Valley State and Kent State.
Although they play competitively and love to win, most college dodgeballers realize that they aren’t varsity athletes. Dodgeball, like it was back in elementary school, is mostly about getting together with friends and having some fun. And after all, what’s more fun than throwing things at your friends?