Grand Valley opens yet another season as the predicted top team in college dodgeball. After going undefeated in 2019-20 prior to the Covid-19 shutdown, GVSU comes into the 2021 season with a handful of star players on the roster. The Lakers return 2019-20 NCDA Player of the Year Ben Smart, along with fellow All-American Nolan Stanko. On top of that, Captain Josh Hill is back for his second year at the helm. Collin Freeman is back (for potentially just the fall semester), along with Nick Hehl. Not to mention, GVSU had two All-Rookie performers a year ago, who are poised for a strong sophomore campaign: Tyler Peach and Thomas Williamson. GVSU will need to do a good job recruiting this year to keep the depth that has always made them so dangerous, but overall they have the experience and talent at the top to once again be in the title conversation.
In the 2020 Season, we had 47 technical upsets in 204 ranked matches (76.96% success rate) across 26 events.
The Gonzalez System is a computer ranking model similar to Elo and is a rating exchange system based on research performed by World Rugby. It has been adapted by the NCDA to the demands of College Dodgeball, but can be tuned and customized endlessly to incorporate accurate data. It has been used to help determine seeds for the Nationals bracket since Nationals 2014, and was used exclusively for the each Nationals bracket since 2017.
A recent policy adjustment has changed the carryover in the Gonzalez Ratings from 75% of a previous season’s total to 50%. All seasons prior to the 2021 season still carry the 75% modifier, with the 50% modifier effective for the carryover into the 2021 season.
Ten percent: that’s the percentage of women that comprise the National Collegiate Dodgeball Association (NCDA). The percentage who actually start and play? Significantly smaller. Looking from roster to roster across the league, a woman’s name seldom pops up, however their impact on the court can be significant. Women have been a part of rosters since the league’s conception in 2005, however they did not begin consistently being rostered members with frequent playing time until roughly 2008. The NCDA first began to recognize women’s involvement with the establishment of the Ladies’ Match in 2011 and things have slowly grown from there, adding the women’s All-American list in the 2016-2017 season. As important as this growth was for the NCDA, there’s still a long way to go. Being a woman in the sport of dodgeball, you are continuously over-looked; you’re seen as under-sized, under-powered and, if we’re being honest, under-valued. We’d like to change that mindset. As Michelle Obama once said, “there is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” My intention with this series is to tell the story of the powerful women, past and present, in the sport of college dodgeball in hopes to begin to erase that stigma. In order to start this, let’s begin with the easiest story to tell: my own.
This year’s rookie class brought in some incredible talent nationally, but when you look across the season one name stood out above the rest – Barry Butler III. Barry had begun to make a name for himself from the first point he played in. He’s already developed into one of Michigan State’s top arms and has strong catching abilities. He learns the game quickly and already has more court awareness than most seasoned vets. It’s hard to watch him play and remember that he’s only a rookie, this kid seems like he can do it all. Beyond his skill set, his work ethic is unparalleled and he is always striving for improvement. Barry has the potential to be a future NCDA MVP.
On August 8, the NCDA teamed up with the Dodgeball Club at UW-Platteville to host the league’s first ever Rocket League tournament. Rocket League is a fast-paced, exciting online video game featuring remote control cars with special abilities whose goal is to push a larger-than-life soccer ball into the opponent’s net as many times as possible in a given time limit. This event raised money to go towards the Tim Ebert Memorial Scholarship, which goes to help the NCDA’s internship program. The goal of the event was to raise $500 and I’m excited to announce that we raised over $750 through entry fees and donations.
The NCDA teamed up with current players: JT Warren (UWP), Jacob Sebranek (UWP),Caleb Frank (CMU & NCDA intern) and myself to host this competition. This tournament consisted of 9 teams that went head to head to be crowned champions. We started with a round robin tournament followed by a double elimination bracket, and the games were live-streamed for everyone to be a part of the experience. Teams consisted of current and former players from the league. Some of these schools included: UWP, VCU, and WKU. In the end, a team from WKU took home the title as the NCDA’s first ever rocket league champions. There was no one more excited about this than Felix Perrone (WKU alumni). As his response to the victory of his former teammates was, “WKU wins their first championship tonight”! A very much deserved win for sure!
Since 2017, the NCDA has honored the female competitors who have dedicated time and effort to their craft. The individuals on our list have excelled throughout the past year and made major contributions to their respective teams. Many of the NCDA’s female athletes also support their organizations through leadership roles, and this list is a way to recognize those outstanding individuals.
MVP – Kathryn Mays (Ohio State)
The NCDA honorably recognizes Kathryn Mays as our 2020 Women’s MVP. Kathryn sets the bar quite high for women’s participation in this league and should be seen not only as a role model for upcoming women in the NCDA, but for all women athletes around the country. Her dedication to her sport and her team is unparalleled by many players in the league. Her passion for the game was not the only factor in her MVP selection of course; Kathryn’s court knowledge and ability granted her high consideration for the MVP role. Making the starting roster on a top 10 team in the league is already no easy task, and while Kathryn not only starts for Ohio State, she can be seen as one of the main reasons for their success. Kathryn is a quiet player who may often be underestimated until she steps up late in the match to show off her survival skills, catching ability, and strategic throws. Her leadership and dedication will be landing her the role of President for The Ohio State Dodgeball Syndicate next year as she continues their team’s journey of success. Kathryn will continue to shine next year, and prove to everyone that women in this league can compete, and win, against many men on the same court.
Jonauskas comes in one spot shy of making the 1st Team after another strong season. This GVSU star has been a force for years in Allendale, Michigan. Jonauskas developed over the years into a strong leader, and well-rounded player for the GVSU Lakers. His survivability and knack for making clutch plays as the last man standing helped him gain recognition. In his final year as a college dodgeballer, Jonauskas stepped up as a leader and playmaker and helped Grand Valley to an undefeated season prior to the season being stopped due to COVID-19. Congrats to Jonauskas on making the list!
The National Collegiate Dodgeball Association continues to grow and improve. As the number of teams and players in the league increases, so does the competition to make the All-American Team. With COVID-19 cutting short the 16th season of College Dodgeball, it is time to announce the players who have earned a spot on this year’s list. Congrats to all the fantastic players who made the cut!
Player of the Year: Ben Smart – Grand Valley State
Earning his 2nd consecutive 1st Team All American honor, Ben Smart lands at #1 on this list, taking home the title of 2020 College Dodgeball Player of the Year. This Grand Valley State University star had an impressive season, showing off his skills any time he had the chance. Smart burst onto the scene two years ago in the 2018 National Title Game, and since then the legend of Ben Smart has only grown. He is one of the top catchers in the game, showing an ability to get low and make tough catches on well-placed throws. His arm strength has improved dramatically over the past few seasons, and he now has one of the toughest throws in the entire country to block/dodge. Smart was a play-maker all year long, at times showing he can secure outs at will when he is on his game. Smart will be back on the team again next season so look for more dominance from him in 2020-21.
This year the Platteville Dodgeball Club will be hosting an online tournament to raise money for the Tim Ebert Memorial Scholarship. With all the uncertainty going on, Platteville wanted to ensure that they could continue to help the NCDA with their internship program. For this year’s fundraiser, the Platteville Dodgeball Club will be putting on a Rocket League tournament. The tournament will be held August 8-9. Registration is due by July 26th, at 11:59p.m eastern time.
Below are the results of the preferential election for the 2020/2021 NCDA Rulebook, select Policies, and 2021 Executive Board. The Rulebook is scheduled to be released prior to the start of the 2021 Season.
Here were the final results for Nationals 2021 selection:
Ohio State University – 1st Round
Ohio State University has retained the right to host Nationals 2021.
Listed below is the 2020 All-Region Team for the South. This list was voted on by captains within the South Region.
The following was produced by Zachary Rivera, Kyle Dattelbaum, and Hunter Ford:
1. Daniel LaJeunesse (Kentucky):
Back to back All-South #1’s for the University of Kentucky! Leading the Southern Region list is the captain of the University of Kentucky dodgeball team himself. This is his second year in a row being on this list, moving from #2 to MVP in the South, and rightfully so. LaJeunesse stepped up big time for his team this year, leading them to several victories throughout the season and the first ever Southern Dodgeball Cup Championship. He is an extremely versatile player with a ton of energy and presence on the court, and he has some pretty awesome moves which makes him surprisingly hard to hit. He also makes some pretty funny Tik-Toks, so check him out!
Listed below is the 2020 All-Region Team for the East Coast. This list was voted on by captains within the East Coast Region.
1. Evan Eschenburg – JMU
For the 3rd year in a row, Eschenburg finds himself receiving an All-East Coast selection, and now adds an East Coast MVP to his illustrious career. While taking a step back as captain of the Dukes, his play certainly didn’t take any steps back. He was constantly a spark on a talented JMU team that finished 4th in the country.
Listed below is the 2020 All-Region Team for Michigan. This list was voted on by captains within the Michigan Region.
1. Ben Smart – Grand Valley State
Landing at #1 on the All-Michigan list in Grand Valley State star Ben Smart. Known for his great instincts, clutch catching, and devastatingly accurate throws, Ben Smart is the definition of an all-around player. At times this year it seemed like he could eliminate opponents at will. The lefty for the Lakers has such phenomenal movement and placement on his throw, and great timing in transition, that he can pick off opponents at a very efficient rate. Smart helped the Lakers to an undefeated record prior to the season being suspended, and while he would’ve loved to finish out the year with a National Title, he will be back next fall to help lead GVSU in their pursuit of a championship.
Listed below is the 2020 All-Region Team for Ohio. This list was voted on by captains within the Ohio Region.
1. Owen Sill – Bowling Green State
This year’s All-Ohio MVP is none other than the man behind the infamous gym hype video, Owen Sill, of the Bowling Green State Falcons. Owen is a tour de force on the dodgeball court and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t been on the wrong end of his terrorizing throw. Owen is a larger than life presence on the court and he knows it. He’s in the middle of every big play for the Falcons and when he’s on the court, the mission of the opposing team is to get this man to the outline so they have a chance of victory. As soon as Owen is ever caught back into a game, you can feel the tides changing in favor of Bowling Green. His team and BGSU fans alike cheer out loud when this man enters a game. There hasn’t been many talents like that. Congratulations to Owen on what has been a monumental career. Hopefully we get to see his talents on the court in grad school. Truly a once in a lifetime player.
The 2019-2020 season comes to an end and it is time to announce the Midway Conference All-Region team. Our Midway Conference consists of: University of Nebraska Lincoln (UNL), DePaul University, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, (SIUE), Ball State University (BSU) and the University of Wisconsin Platteville (UWP). This list consists of the top 12 in the conference, voted on by their peers. A special thanks to the players that helped me out with this. Let’s take a look at the results and see who impressed this year!