The National Collegiate Dodgeball Association’s 2017 Executive of the Year is awarded to Erik Zander from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
Since its inception in 2015, this award is meant to showcase the outstanding officership of an individual over the course of the season. As administrators, we interact with Member Team representatives and follow their work with a different kind of attention. These individuals have made our lives easier, in addition to making exceptional improvements with their respective teams.
2015 – William Deutsch [PSU]
2016 – Caleb Arnold [Ohio]
2017 – Erik Zander [UWP]
This honor is bestowed upon Erik after a vote of the entire NCDA Executive Board, and we presented it at the 2017 Captains’ Meeting. Erik was nominated last year for the 2016 Exec of the Year Award which went to Caleb Arnold [Ohio]. There were a lot of great choices this year, and additional nominations for 2017 went to: Hunter Ford (VCU), Kyle Shaw (Miami), Zachary Parise (UK), Nick Johnson (WKU), Kyle Dattelbaum (UNG), Adam Pfeifer (Akron), Logan Rohloff (GVSU).
Here’s a short interview with Erik.
ZM: Congratulations! How does it feel to receive 2017 Executive of the Year award?
Erik Zander: It is really awesome that I got this award, I was not expecting it at all, and feels good to be recognized for the work that I have put in. This year all I wanted to do was to get to more tournaments and play more games, to show that Platteville can compete and make for a good game. I love the game of dodgeball and it is nice to see that the Board and others around the League took notice. I would also like to say that Hunter Ford is also very deserving of this award as he as done a lot to put VCU on map and show that they can compete with anyone.
ZM: Hunter was one of the nominations, and did some great work with VCU and Content Team work. They managed to play 18 different teams this year. Due to UWP’s location, how is your struggle of finding opponents to play?
EZ: It is difficult to get any one to come out and play us. The closest team to us, before Whitewater and Northern Illinois joined this year, was DePaul. The next closest teams to us are Nebraska and Grand Valley at six hours. In the past three years, we have been able to host a tournament each semester and have only been able to get Nebraska and DePaul to come. Shout out to DePaul the last few years for coming up and playing just a game against Platteville; it really helped keep the club going and retain players.
I think the biggest thing that hurts us is that we schedule these tournaments months in advance and invite teams and they decide to go to another tournament that is closer. I believe in all the tournaments we have set up, one of the teams we invited either had a tournament on the same day or the day after. Since it is closer for the other teams and higher caliber opponents they decide to not come to our tournament. It sucks for us because it is hard to improve as a team and get more competitive when you only play new teams at Nationals. Even when we do travel to DePaul for tournaments, teams still don’t come and play us.
For example, DePaul had the opportunity to host four tournaments this year and only two established teams made the trip to Chicago for one of those events. Hats off to Saginaw Valley and Bowling Green State for coming to the CDO and giving us much needed games. That is why every year if Nebraska hosts a tournament we make it a point to make it out there. Just getting a few games in a year can be big to keep a club going and grow for the future.
ZM: Agreed, we as a League need to play more dodgeball and be willing to travel. Gas is cheap for now, road trips are actually the funner parts of the whole college dodgeball experience. How do you go about recruiting new players at UWP, and retaining them?
EZ: To recruit new players at Platteville we hold our annual Labor Day event during move in weekend. This is the most important week for us to recruit new freshmen players. If we don’t get them there, chances are we won’t get them at all.
One of the biggest things that helps to retain players for us is simply talking to the students and getting to know them. It seems simple, but I know for a lot of our players, when we asked them why they stuck around that was the reason. They felt a part of the crew and we made playing dodgeball fun.
Another thing that has helped us is when we get to a tournament right at the beginning of the year. The individuals that were hesitant find that the game is awesome and are committed after that. I know that is what happened with one of our best freshman players Louis Thompson. He wasn’t sure if it was for him and then I begged and convinced him to go to the Nebraska tournament and he never missed a practice after that.
We also get our new players to bring their friends to try it out. In fact that is how most of the players on our team joined and found out about the club. We also do a lot of fundraisers and keep the costs to join at a minimum, which helps us compete against the various clubs on campus. We also like to do the Baller of the Month which gives players something to strive for and lets them know that we take notice of excellent play on the court.
ZM: It was great to see UWP with a full squad at Nationals, so you’ve done really well this year. What’s the structure of the club’s leadership, and how does that crew function to lead to the success of UWP this season?
EZ: Well, the club starts with its captain which is always a senior followed by are two assistant captains, of which one is the president. When it comes to how we practice, what drills are performed, and how we are going to play it’s the responsibility of the head captain. The president takes cares of the paperwork and makes sure everything that needs to be turned in is and on time. From there, we have the vice president who is in charge of putting on fundraisers and helping recruit new individuals. After that we have the treasurer who collects the money, pays bills, and makes budgets for our trips and Nationals. It then goes to our secretary who sends out the emails with all the information that the members need to know. Lastly, we have the position of the content writer who is in charge of getting stories out to show that we take the sport seriously.
At Platteville, since the start of the club with Scott Skelly to now, we have always made sure that a new member is on the board so that there is always experience on the board making it easier for the club to keep going. As a crew, we function quite effectively and we all communicate with each other to see if the assigned tasks are getting done. This year’s board did an excellent job on sticking together and getting us to Nationals. Our school changed everything up and added all new different forms to get approved and cut our budget in half without telling us. Through it all they got everything accomplished and we reached our goal of getting to Nationals. A big shot out to Nick Harding, Will Martin, and David Ruegsegger for putting up with me this year, I could not have asked for better board members. They were the key to our success, great job guys!
ZM: It was great talking to you, thanks, and Congratulations again!
In addition to his work with UWP as an club officer, Erik Zander is an active member of the NCDA’s Content Team while also juggling a Masters program at UWP.