A League of Our Own – Kacey Durliat

Dodgettes Navigating a New League

The 2022 semester has come to an end, and one thing can be said for certain about the college dodgeball atmosphere: we are amidst an entirely new league. College dodgeball returned last fall, and with it came an exciting season of close matches, upsets, rookies, and of course, dodgettes (Shout-out to Akron University’s female players for coining the new term). 

This article continues to highlight dodgettes across the league: 2021-2022 season graduates, pre-COVID veterans, and new recruits. Stay tuned to hear how they made their name in the league and what they are looking forward to this year; in other words, dodgettes navigating a new league.

Kacey Durliat
University of Cincinnati
Mechanical Engineering Major, Finance Minor
Also involved in Kappa Delta, the Society of Women Engineers, and UC Club Softball. Off campus, Kacey enjoys exploring and adventuring, community volunteer work, and social media content creation and modeling.

In high school I played soccer, basketball, and softball all year round. Out of these the most useful was probably softball as I was a state-team nominated catcher. It is, however, different as that would focus mostly as blocking, and this tends to be more dodging. I used to play dodgeball occasionally in gym class and at the YMCA’s summer camp, but this is way more intense and strategic. I thought about playing dodgeball for a while in college; however, I was a bit scared since there were no females on the team at that time. Eventually during COVID I made the switch from softball to dodgeball.

Initial Involvement:
I initially found the club team through our campus Link portal, however I would say the Instagram page is the most useful for information and contacting. My first practice was fun although I’m not very good at names so that took awhile to learn. Also, I kind of added people into my contact list one-by-one so I didn’t end up overwhelmed. I would say dodgeball became a good stress reliever as engineering seemed to eat up a lot of my time and mental capacity. Also, a few of the guys would genuinely care about how my day was so I had to make sure I was consistently there to update them (as if they couldn’t wait).  

First Tournament:
The first tournament I went to was at UC (home) and it was exciting as I got to play honestly more than I was expecting. A lot of our practices can be goofy, so it was definitely thrilling to see the team come alive and go undefeated. I also got to officially meet some of the extra-supportive team parents, specifically moms. 

At this time, I didn’t yet have a strategy, but now coming from Nationals I’ve picked up a few from other teams. For starters, the next season I plan on coming back with kneepads and looking to catch lower throws. I also think that I will try to become a blocker for more of our stronger players. I will continue to pump-fake and look for open outs, however I may stick to a more defensive role.  

Nationals Recap:
The ladies match was a completely different game as I felt targeted right out of the gate (unlike normal games). It was fun to play with similar players, however I would say my play typically depended on my teammates and this felt more individual. I’m not exactly sure of a good way to fix this. I do think for future events a lot of the players were hoping for a full game. 

Cincinnati’s Performance & Off Court Bonding:
My team did phenomenal at Nationals this year considering we are still a newly developed team. Overall, I am very happy with the semifinalist outcome as the previous Nationals had an incomplete roster play. I know we will be back stronger next year as many upperclassmen as well as team leaders are returning. I think our next move will include recruiting more players and teaching our rookies areas for improvement. 

We did have many team-bonding experiences such as film, team meals, long drives and even a nice Airbnb stay with McDonald’s breakfast.

Final Four:
I was not surprised by the Final Four outcome. According to our film watching the practice prior to Nationals, we as a team were expecting to see both MSU and GVSU near the finals. After playing JMU in the round-robin, it was also implied they would be another team that would go far. With the top seed coming into Nationals, I was not surprised by the final four spot for UC either.

Upcoming Tournaments:
Next season I’m excited to see who on the team steps up as captain and co-captains. This will be exciting as captains are able to change the team dynamic and incorporate new team events. I’m expecting to see some fundraising, recruiting, and volunteer opportunities in the upcoming season.

Role Models:
Obviously, I look up to our current captains (Brett Liming, Cory Heitmann, and Ryan Engelman). They do a great job at explaining strategies and rules while still making sure everyone is having fun. 

Another person I look up to in terms of knowledge and game play would be Brannon McGinn. I feel he has a logical way of thinking and I hope he moves into a leadership role.

The UC coaching staff Wes Peters and Brandon Engelman are sometimes criticized by other teams/players, however I feel that they put a lot of time into the sport and deserve to be respected. They play a big part in keeping the team accountable and on track for a path of continuous improvement.

Being a Dodgette:
Being a female dodgeball player does come with its disadvantages such as smaller hands and most likely weaker throws, however it gives me an opportunity to read the floor and look for ball control and possibly organize team throws. Also, since I am not necessarily a big target I can look to block for other players or search for “free” catches. There have been times where I was last in at practices and matches and I try to maintain a “just catch one” mindset.

If you had to compare your play style to an animal, what would it be and why?
If I had to compare my play style with an animal, it would probably be a pigeon. I think that pigeons are slightly intimidating yet still good at delivering calls/dodgeballs to people. I also think that if given the chance a pigeon could ruin someone’s day such as an unexpected or catchable throw during games.

Summer Plans:
I will be spending my time on co-op with GE Aviation in Kentucky. Fortunately, I will be back again just in time for my last full season of NCDA dodgeball. I also plan on creating more content for my social platforms. 

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