A Closer Look at the Region

A Closer Look at the Region- (Midway Conference)

Next year should be a great for our region of the league. Just two years ago there were only three teams: DePaul, Platteville, and Nebraska.  Now we have eight teams in our area (UW- Eau Claire, UW-Whitewater, UW-Platteville, DePaul, Northern Illinois, North Park, Nebraska, and Minnesota) and it won’t take long for these teams to be competitive.   I interviewed each team and here is what they had to say.

UW-Platteville

Erik Zander-What are your team goals for next year?

Will Martin- Our goals for next year starts with building on what we did last year. A lot of experience was gained in the 2016-2017 year, which culminated in what we feel was a pretty good showing at Nationals. Moving forward, we hope that 2017 will be the year that Platteville puts itself up with the elite of the NCDA. Additionally, we hope to continue to foster the growth of the NCDA in our area, both through the continued growth of our own team as well as the growth and improvement of new teams in our region.

EZ- What is your team looking forward to most for next season?

WM- We are looking forward to increased opportunity to play teams in the area. With all of the new teams popping up in the Midwest we feel that the coming year will provide a greater variety of games than this team has seen in a long time.

EZ- Who are your top players to look out for?

WM-This year we have a lot of players moving from their second to third year with the team, who should have even bigger impacts next year. Two of these players are Tim Ebert and Carter Vosters, each of whom look ready to move into roles as leaders on the court. Additionally, soon to be second year players, Tomas Zander and Louis Thompson, have shown excellent promise in their first year and should be very fun to watch going forward. Oh, and never sleep on Erik Zander.

EZ- What do you want the league to know about your team?

WM-This team is extremely hungry for opportunities to test itself against other talented teams. We were happy with our performance at Nationals, but were most definitely not satisfied. We plan on proving that this team is ready to contend with the top teams in the league.

What I Think

I couldn’t agree more with Will about our team.  We definitely have high expectations for what we can do next season.  My hope is that we can get more games in and play higher caliber teams to get us more prepared for Nationals.  We got 20 games in this year and next year we are going to try to aim for 30. It will be tough, but I know with the board and committed players will hit this goal and really be able to make some noise.  I also expect Brandon McCullough and Dominic Cypher to step up big this season and be excellent leaders on the court.


UW-Whitewater

Erik Zander- What are your team goals for next year?

Avi Mathe- Our goal is to have enough players to be able to play in multiple tournaments next school year.

EZ- What is your team looking forward to the most for next season?

AM- Nationals next year.

EZ- Who are your top players to look out for?

AM- That’s a tough question to answer because we haven’t been able to compete with other teams and we haven’t had consistency with our members showing up. Meaning we’ve had different people show up different weeks, which I believe is great.

EZ- What do you want the league to know about your team?

AM- I want the league to know that we’re a young developing team. But once we start playing actual matches and start getting more experience with the game, I believe we can be an impending threat.

My Thoughts

This team is on the right track and an athletic bunch. A couple individuals Matt Zemla, Brad Bautch, Tyler Jagiello, Ben Grayson, and Avi Mathe all went to Nationals this year and are a core bunch that will get the numbers they need next year to have a full squad. While talking to them at Nationals, they were excited to be part of the league and wanted to understand how the game was played.  I expect them to be able to play competitive games in no time and hope that they can make it out to at least four tournaments this year.


UW-Eau Claire

Erik Zander- What are your team goals for next year?

Ian Hanson-We here at Eau Claire Dodgeball hope to further expand our program and travel to more tournaments in the Midwest than we did last year. By increasing advertising around campus and to new students we hope to build a reputable team that will gain reputation throughout Wisconsin.

EZ- What is your team looking forward to the most for next season?

IH- We are looking forward to participating in more tournaments and being more active within the NCDA. Now that we know the rules of the game, going to tournaments and hopefully placing in a few would be awesome as the competition is already quite stiff. Traveling and seeing the different universities is always a plus and additionally we can get tips and pointers from the veterans in the league.

EZ- Who are your top players to look out for?

IH- As we are a new team, I will leave this blank. Hopefully next year we have a few of players that will be recognized league-wide.

EZ- What do you want the league to know about your team?

IH- We are still new to the league so Eau Claire is quite the underdog. Internally we need to gain a steady group of dedicated players that are willing to travel and participate in tournaments in order for us to gain recognition. Many teams exist currently that excel in the sport and while we aren’t there yet EC plans on building a solid team that’s more competitive in the future.

My Expectations

I first meet this crew at the NCDA’s first 6 v 6 matches at The Blue and Orange Ball Chucking Bonanza. They were a fun bunch and like to have fun playing the game of dodgeball. Hopefully, this fall I can get them out to Platteville and play their first 15 v 15 match. Eau Claire has Minnesota in its backyard so hopefully they can host and get them active in the league.  It is awesome to see them in the league and I look forward to playing them once again. I think that they can get to at least three tournaments this season.


DePaul University

Erik Zander- What are your team goals for next year? 

Ryan Atz– As a club sport organization, DePaul Dodgeball is always looking to recruit lasting members into the club. Whether you are a casual baller or fueled by the competitive spirit, DePaul Dodgeball tries to create a fun atmosphere for anyone interested in slinging rubber. We hope to do this going into next year by focusing more on our social media platforms, such as Instagram and Twitter.

Another major goal for DePaul Dodgeball during the 2017-18 Season is to foster less-established organizations in the area, namely NIU and North Park. We hope to do this by both hosting and attending events in the Midwestern area, because the best way to help these new clubs acclimate to the NCDA is by playing an experienced team.

EZ- What is your team looking forward to the most for next season? 

RA- DePaul Dodgeball is excited in particular for the growth of the NCDA in the Midwestern region. This included NIU and Whitewater joining in 2016-17. Now with teams such as Minnesota, Eau Claire, North Park, and Indiana-based organizations on the horizon, this season could change how the NCDA regards the Midwestern scene.

DePaul is looking forward to create lasting bonds with the new organizations joining the league, through bouts of high-speed rubber balls and inhuman reaction times.

EZ- Who are your top players to look out for? 

RA- Despite losing players like Tyler Hamilton and Brian Hymel, we hope to see many of our returning players come into their own in the next year.

Jake Binder (#37) and Ryan Campbell (#15), two members who have been announced as upcoming board members for the club, are examples of players that I expect to see huge growth out of, as they begin to develop leadership abilities. They are both very confident players, so I don’t think either of them will have a problem with being in charge.

Furthermore, we still have the Nodal bloodline in our ranks, as Josiah Nodal (#27) returns for another year. Always a strong dodgeball player, both in NCDA and Elite, Josiah is an inspiration to anyone he plays with.

Finally, Captain Fluffy himself, Alec Scott (#30) ascends to Co-Presidency in the fall, as he has chosen to stay at DePaul University for a fifth school year. Some say they feel earthquakes when playing against DePaul, but it’s usually just our resident Dad-Bod running in the opening rush.

EZ- What do you want the league to know about your team?

RA- Just as every team goes through changes as old players graduate and new players join, identities change as well. As one of the oldest teams in the NCDA, DePaul Dodgeball has created an identity throughout the years that we all strive to uphold, where having fun and enjoying the game is more important than the standings. However, in the past few years, many of DePaul’s iconic players that have exemplified this mindset have graduated and gone away, leaving the new blood of the club searching for how they want to fit into DePaul’s storied reputation.

DePaul Dodgeball is going through changes. While the fun-loving, goofball mentality has not been lost, this past season has given many new players an idea of what competing in the NCDA is like. At Nationals 2017, the club had a taste of what a little bit of strong leadership and determination could accomplish, but will that carry on to next year? Only time will tell. Are we suddenly going to drop everything and start focusing on winning over everything? Of course not. But, if the people desire it, DePaul Dodgeball could look to be more competitive in the near future.

Thoughts

In keeping with what Ryan was saying about DePaul being more competitive, I asked Zig of what he thought of this year’s team performance being the best every at Nationals.

“Including going back to 2005, you can confidently say Nationals 2017 has been the best showing for DePaul. At Nationals 2005, they took 3rd out of four teams (Delta wasn’t allowed to play in the bracket portion because of club status it appears), going 3-3 over the weekend. Did about the same in 2006, having went 4-1 at the first Chicago Dodgeball Open. 2007 and 08 was a “rebuilding” year and essentially confirmed many traditions you see DePaul carry on today. The spirit of DePaul’s game was originally developed in 2005 and 2006 with notable threads going back to 2000, and after the League was founded DePaul rebutted with being the DePaul you see today. Nationals 2006 was pretty much the last time DePaul won a game until we beat Miami at Nationals 2010. Still went 1-4 that event. It’s also the last time DePaul was above a .500 W%.” -Zigmas Maloni

In my time in the league, DePaul has managed to get more competitive every year.  My freshman year, they would play the first point or two and after that play for fun. Now, they play hard the entire match and your team has to play the entire game or DePaul will make you pay. They are losing two big players this year, but they have a solid board and a good amount of returners.  I expect them to play just as competitive next season as they did this season. My expectation for DePaul next year is to get a winning record and win more games against evenly matched opponents.


Northern Illinois University

Erik Zander- What are your team goals for next year? 

Clint Summerfelt– Our team goal is to ramp up enrollment and to get more of our exceptional recreational players interested in competitive play, too. We also hope to host at least one tournament at home and to travel at least two times, or as much as our budget allows us to, the following semester.

 

EZ- What is your team looking forward to the most for next season?

CS– Next season, we are looking forward to playing with some of the current and new local schools. We want to prove our strength as a team and are looking forward to showing everyone else what we’ve got!

EZ- Who are your top players to look out for? 

CS- Top players include Mathew Soulis, Jeff Willer, and Sam Shemroske. Three brilliant players with an oddly amazing ability to tag team and cooperate silently on the court.

EZ- What do you want the league to know about your team?

CS- We want the league to know that we’re coming this season. We plan to do big things and if enrollment is successful, you will definitely be hearing more about us! See you all out there!

Hopes/Expectations

With this team I hope that they can get out to more tournaments and get more dedication from their players. Clint is doing all he can to get his teammates motivated to get out to tournaments and hopefully it will pay off. They have the numbers it is just a matter of getting out to a tournament. DePaul being close by and Platteville not too far off I expect them to pick up the game in no time and play competitively. I can’t wait to see a matchup between them and UW-Whitewater, it should be a good game.


North Park University

Erik Zander- What are your team goals for next year?

Issac Nodal- Our team goals for next year are simple. We want to establish what North Park dodgeball is going to be about. Our goal is to find out what we want to represent and bring that into the NCDA.

EZ- What is your team looking forward to the most for next season?

IN- Our team is really looking forward to the competition from other schools. We are all pretty competitive and so now we can’t wait to see what other schools can do as well and show them what we can do.

EZ- Who are your top players to look out for?

IN- I wouldn’t say at this moment that we have top players to look out for. We are all still learning the game in one way or another and everyone is pretty much balanced in talent and skill.

EZ- What do you want the league to know about your team?

IN- I want the league to know that we are excited to be in the league and excited to show everybody what we can do, so look out for us, we may not be as easy of a team to beat as it may seem.

Expectations

From my sources at DePaul, North Park has a lot of athletic individuals already picking up on pinching and should be very competitive. They apparently have one guy that was close to throwing around 60 mph without even pinching. Issac is looking to recruit more players to play in the fall and they should be very active in the spring.  My hope is that they will get out to Platteville this year and maybe even host a tournament.  I want to see them play Whitewater this year as I think that this would be another good game to watch.


University of Minnesota

Erik Zander- What are your team goals for next year?

Damon Gwi- Our team goals for next year would obviously be to inspire or spread the news about competitive dodgeball around the U of M campus. As we’re a very small group right now and yet to have any impact on the student groups. We also have goals to get our non-experienced players to learn and experience what dodgeball life is all about (teamwork and friendship mostly).


EZ- What is your team looking forward to the most for next season?

DG-We are definitely looking forward to joining the NCDA and also in the meantime start to train. We’re also looking forward to any other competition nearby and afar to join in the dodgeball community and have fun while competing with one another.

EZ- Who are your top players to look out for and what do you want the league to know about your team?

DG- Currently as our team hasn’t officially start training yet, the third and fourth question will yet to be answered. However, I will make sure that our team gets synchronized with one another. I personally believe that our team will stand out just like the rest as I’m sure we’ll not just have our personal talent but also dedication to the sport.

Leski’s Thoughts

Jacob Leski had this to say,”They will be playing next season. They already have funding and committed board members. Their biggest challenge will be recruiting, but once they have done that they shouldn’t have too much difficulty traveling in that region.” 

As for me, I’m excited to hear that they have everything in place and can’t wait to get a chance to meet and play them. My hope is that they can make it down to Platteville in the Fall and get some games in. Hopefully, they can host a tournament next year and start to build up their numbers. I can’t wait to see them this fall.


University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Erik Zander- What are your team goals for next year?

Tanner Obermeier– Our team goals next year would to be able to attend more games (whether home or away), grow our team since numbers became an issue, and to possibly try to attend Nationals.

EZ- What is your team looking forward to the most for next season?

TO- I would say we are looking forward to of course playing games but also to get our new jerseys. We had issues this year with vendors and were never able to obtain jerseys for the team.

EZ- Who are your top players to look out for?

TO- I would say the top plays to look out for are the 5 seniors we have returning: Sean Visitacion, Nick Bohlim, Alex Burbine, Jacob Bish, and Tanner Obermeier.

EZ- What do you want the league to know about your team?

TO- We want the league to know that even though we may not always have numbers we are ready to try to play as many games as we can this year and try to win as many as we can.

What I want from them

In terms of talent and how to play the game of dodgeball this team has drastically improved over the last few years and that was seen at the Corn Husker Clash this season.  As a unit they play together more, throw harder, and their games are more competitive.  I want to see this team to play at least eight games this upcoming season and get back to Platteville. If they can get out to Platteville I will try my hardest to get them games against new teams.


Final Thoughts

Next season is going to be interesting to say the least for this region. With more teams than ever before there should be several games played that will bring with it a lot of competition.  I can’t wait for the fall semester to come and be playing with all the new teams in the league.  These are my thoughts and expectations on the teams in the region. Now we want to hear from you on what your expectations are for these teams. Leave a comment below, we would love to hear from you.

 

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