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.
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.
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.
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 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.
With only a few months left in the 2019-20 season, the rankings continue to shift. The months of January and February saw some very entertaining dodgeball to say the least, with some teams finding themselves on hot streaks, with others falling into a slump. With Nationals quickly approaching, it will be fun to see how the rest of the regular season shakes out!
Below is the official March Power Rankings list, voted on and written by the NCDA Content Team. Please keep in mind: these power rankings have no impact on the actual NCDA Standings.
1) Grand Valley State
Grand Valley remains undefeated after some very close calls so far this winter. The Lakers have been forced to overtime each of the past two times they’ve faced Michigan State. GVSU also had some first half struggles at the Michigan Dodgeball Cup against Central Michigan. The best GVSU teams over the years haven’t been simply their most talented or most skilled squads, but rather the most disciplined ones. If GVSU plans to be the first team since 2009 to go undefeated for an entire season, they will need to lock in over the next month and a half and get back to being the most disciplined team in dodgeball.
Saturday, February 22, 2020 was a hectic day for college dodgeball. In total, 18 schools were in action on Saturday, spread across 3 separate tournaments: Ohio Dodgeball Cup, BEAST, and Viking Cup. It was a day full of awesome games and interesting results, with 28 total matches taking place throughout the day. There is certainly a lot to unpack after Saturday, so to break things down a bit, let’s take a look at the biggest ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ from last weekend.
Before we get to the fun stuff, here are the results from the weekend:
…And here is your current top 20 Gonzalez Standings:
Now onto the winners and losers from Saturday:
It was a historic day for the Western Michigan University Dodgeball Club on Saturday, as the Broncos earned their first two wins ever. WMU beat Ball State 5-3, then followed it up with a 5-2 win over Kentucky in which the Broncos came back from a 2-1 halftime deficit to score four-consecutive points en route to a huge victory. Along with Captain Peter Broe leading the way, WMU had some strong consistent play from Ryan Allor and Randy Santana-Jiminez as well as some clutch performances by Hue Pettway and Evin Cooper. Saturday was a great day for WMU, and a stepping stone for their program moving forward. Western’s commitment to consistently facing tough competition in the Michigan Region is starting to pay off, and they are moving up the rankings because of it. This team has an exciting future.
EAST LANSING, MI: For the 6th-consecutive season, the Michigan Dodgeball Cup will be staying in Allendale Michigan. The Grand Valley State Lakers won the 16th Annual MDC with a 4-0 record on the day, including an overtime thriller against Michigan State. The Spartans were able to win each of their other games, going 3-1 at MDC, making it the first time since 2005 that MSU had a winning record at the event. Central Michigan (2-2), Saginaw Valley State (1-3), and Western Michigan (0-4) were the other three teams in attendance, and each showed some good things throughout the day. Below are the final results from the tournament:
This Saturday, every collegiate dodgeball club within the state of Michigan will converge on IM Sports West on the campus of Michigan State University for the 16th Annual Michigan Dodgeball Cup (MDC). Games begin at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday and will be streamed live on the NCDA’s social media channels.
The second half of the 2019-20 College Dodgeball season kicks off on Sunday, January 26th in Allendale, Michigan in what we are going to call the ‘Pre-MDC Tournament’. As the tournament title indicates, every Michigan school will be in attendance for this event. With the Michigan Dodgeball Cup just two weeks after this tournament, it’s safe to say this Sunday will give us an accurate preview of what to expect at MDC. Court 1 games at this tournament will be livestreamed on the NCDA Youtube Page, so make sure to tune in on Sunday for all the action!
Below is the schedule for the tournament:
The schedule for this event is interesting because it is not a full round robin (what we always see at MDC). This Sunday, some teams will play more games than others. Here is the list of opponents for each school along with a graphic comparing each team’s resume to this point in the season:
Let’s start with the most obvious choice: GVSU and Ohio. The top two teams in college dodgeball at the halfway point in the season, everyone wants to see what would happen when these two undefeateds face off. While their records are the same, the two programs couldn’t be much different. GVSU has been a dominant team in the NCDA since 2006, winning 10 national titles in that time-frame. Ohio, on the other hand, has never even made it past the round of 16 at Nationals. The Bobcats look like a team with national title potential, with some great top end talent, but more importantly, quality depth. We hope that a GVSU vs. OU matchup happens in the regular season, but if we don’t see this duel until the NCDA National Title Game, that would be pretty epic as well…
Grand Valley is still… Grand Valley. But outside of the Lakers, the rest of the region seems a bit off so far this season. Michigan State is currently the second best team in the region, but they have lost by multiple points in each of their games against GVSU, and in one of their only games against a non-Michigan team (BGSU), they lost in overtime. Meanwhile, Central Michigan has been nowhere near the caliber of team that they were a season ago when they made the Final Four. The Chips have some work to do to get back to reaching their potential. Then there is SVSU, sitting at 2-7 currently. The Cardinals had a rough first semester, but they are known to turn it on in the winter and become a contender, so the jury is still out on them. Lastly, Western Michigan has played only against GVSU, so they are yet to get their first win. The feeling around the league is that the Michigan Region has significantly regressed, and will have only one team (GVSU) even make the Final Four this year. The state that back in 2017 held all four spots in the Final Four, now looks much more average. But maybe this is all a big overreaction. Michigan State is still loaded with talent, and a few content team members expect the Spartans to make the National Title Game still. CMU had a rough first semester, but they have most of the same players from a year ago, so if they can get in a groove, a Final Four run shouldn’t be ruled out. And we all know SVSU improves dramatically in the second half of the season. It was a lackluster first half to the season for the state of Michigan, but it will be fun to watch how each team performs this semester leading up to Nationals.
We have reached the midway point in the 2019-20 NCDA season. There have been some surprising upsets so far this year, with some teams performing differently than expected preseason. With still four months until NCDA Nationals 2020, teams continue to shuffle in the power rankings order, as we get a better grasp at who are the contenders and who are the pretenders.
Below is the official December Power Rankings list, voted on and written by the NCDA Content Team. Please keep in mind: these power rankings have no impact on the actual NCDA Standings.
1) Grand Valley State
For the second consecutive fall semester, the Lakers finish undefeated. GVSU is once again a title contender, proving their abilities against many of the top teams in the country. Grand Valley has several players who should be considered in the MVP hunt, most notably Ben Smart and Nolan Stanko. It’s never a bad thing to have several players in that discussion. The the biggest bright spot for GVSU though, is the way Captain Josh Hill and the other leaders have been able to develop the talented depth on this roster. GVSU is a much deeper team than some may have expected them to be after how may contributors they lost from a year ago. This team looks poised to start a new title streak this spring.