Torao Ota, a former member of the NCDA, will describe his experience as a minority player in the league.
Leon Rockamore Jr (CSU): What got you started playing dodgeball? Torao Ota (VCU): I really liked dodgeball back in the day when I was in middle school and I was stoked to find out that people were playing dodgeball at the VCU gym.
L: When did you play in the NCDA? T: I played all 4 years when I was at VCU from 2014 – 2018.
L: Do you still participate in the NCDA even now? T: I don’t but I love watching the highlights that the NCDA makes from time to time.
Kevin Nguyen is a former player of the NCDA, and current captain of the team Final Justice. In this interview, he will talk about his experiences as an Asian-American player and member of the community.
Leon Rockamore (CSU): What got you started playing dodgeball? Kevin Nguyen: Gym class. We had a class called team sports where we would play 4 out of 5 days. I met former MSU captain Ian Childs there and he later on invited me to MSU practices after he started attending college.
L: When did you play in the NCDA? K: I started practicing with the MSU team my senior year of high school. Continued that until I played at CMU during the 2015 and 2016 season.
L: Do you still participate in the NCDA even now? K: Yes. I have been an advisor/mentor to the MSU team for the last couple years.
In the next article in our series, Leon Rockamore interviews Joseph Perez. Let’s take a look at the interview and see what he has to say.
Leon: Where are you from? How old are you? What team do/did you play for? Joseph: My name is Joseph Perez. I am a 21-year-old from Charleston, IL and I am currently attending Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
L:What was your first experience with dodgeball? J: My first experience with dodgeball was when a TA I had for one of my Biology classes kept bugging our class about joining so I said that I would go to the club meeting that night and I have been going ever since.
The following series, Voices of the NCDA: Looking at Diversity On/Off the Court, has been created to give minority members of our organization a chance to be heard and share their experiences. It allows the rest of the league to hear different perspectives and to highlight the diversity among our members. We will share not only experiences within the NCDA, but off the court as well. The Voices of the NCDA team will be lead by Zachary Rivera (GSU alumni), Leon Rockamore (CSU), and Shadeed Drakeford (VCU alumni). Let’s jump right in and hear their stories.
The NCDA will be hosting another online video game tournament to raise money for the organization’s Recruitment and Retention Fund. This online tournament will feature Among Us. The tournament will be held on January 23 and registration is due by January 21, at 11:59p.m. eastern time.
The second of our article series – as well as a personal role model – has had her fair share of turning heads. With one of the most unique (and accurate) throws on the court, coupled with phenomenal court IQ and strong catching abilities, she proved herself to be a stand-out almost instantly. Sami Beining was a star, not just on the East Coast but across the league; at one point or another everyone had heard of the girl who softball pitched from Penn State. She carries a decorated career through her time in the NCDA, finishing as a 2x Female MVP. I had the pleasure of talking with her about what her collegiate career was like.
When I began thinking over who to center my first main article of this series, one name stuck out from her play this past season and the new honor of becoming the 2019-20 Women’s MVP: Kathryn Mays. She quickly developed her skills through hard work and dedication, proving that she’s among the top tier of players on Ohio State’s roster. Most people may know her for her incredible catching abilities, but fail to realize that she’s frequently called on as a thrower for the Buckeyes. In three short years, she has climbed to the top of the women’s rankings. With her impressive resume in mind, there seems to be no better choice to kick off this series about strong women in the league than Kathryn.
The NCDA will be hosting another online tournament to raise money that will help jump start the organization’s first officiating fund. Our goal for this fund is to be able to pay for referees not just at Nationals, but other tournaments too. This online tournament will feature Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Gunfight mode). The tournament will be held on October 24 and registration is due by October 11, at 11:59p.m. eastern time.
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!