After leading Grand Valley State University to yet another Michigan Dodgeball Cup title, along with a strong showing at GVSU’s Blast from the Past tournament, Ben Tubergen earned himself “Baller of the Month”. Ben has emerged this year as one of the most dangerous players in the league with a strong and accurate throw, to go along with good catching skills. He has been a catalyst for GVSU’s offense so far this season, and will be a key to their success in a few weeks when they compete at Nationals 2017 in Lexington, KY.
I had the chance to chat with Ben after he won Baller of the Month. Our conversation touches on a number of topics, from his mindset heading into Nationals, to his dodgeball career outside of the NCDA, to the controversy over what grade he is actually in. I even ask him the ever-important question: “Chipotle or Qdoba?”. Here is my interview with GVSU’s Ben Tubergen.
Kevin Bailey: First off, congratulations on winning College Dodgeball’s “Baller of the Month”. When you joined GVSU’s team a few years ago, did you think this was something you would accomplish as an individual?
Ben Tubergen: Thank you! I was thrilled to even be considered for this award, hats-off to all the other candidates because they were all just as deserving. Winning this award never crossed my mind when starting out considering all the talent that I was surrounded by on my own team my freshman year. We had multiple All-Americans and an MVP candidate, I was more concerned about just making the starting roster.
KB: GVSU has had a very successful last few months. What do you think has been the biggest reason for your team’s success lately?
BT: I think the biggest reason for our success has been because of our team depth. We don’t consider ourselves to have a “bottom half” of a roster, and if you could see our practices you’d understand why I say that. A lot of our younger players are really starting to hone in on their skills and are making some big impact plays.
KB: Nationals is coming up in a few weeks. What do you expect from the season’s final tournament? Which teams will be your biggest competition?
BT: There are a lot of tough teams out there this year, more so than in the past. Personally, I see a lot of our biggest competition coming from the Michigan Region primarily in CMU. They’ve caught a lot of flak this year for being over-rated but playing them as frequently as we have, we know their record doesn’t reflect their talent. With that being said, I expect us to bring home our fifth straight National Title.
KB: In your three seasons in the NCDA, what has been your favorite on court moment, and what has been your favorite off court memory?
BT: I’d have to say my favorite on the court memory was winning Nationals last year. We weren’t viewed as that dominant Grand Valley team from years prior, so it felt good to prove some doubters wrong. There’s been a lot of great team bonding memories, but my favorite has to be at Nationals my freshman year when I saw Aaron Terenzi clap his feet together like a monkey. Absolutely incredible.
KB: You have emerged as a standout player this year in the NCDA. What do you consider your strongest skill as an individual player?
BT: I think over the course of my three years I’ve started to learn to play within myself and not try and do too much. In dodgeball a lot of players have the tendency to want to be the hero and end up either throwing a catch or leaving themselves open to get hit. I think I’ve learned what I can and can’t do which has eliminated a lot of my mistakes.
KB: Beyond the NCDA, you also have competed in Elite Dodgeball and Sky Zone’s Ultimate Dodgeball Championship. Can you talk a little about those experiences? Do you plan to continue playing dodgeball after you graduate from GVSU?
BT: After competing in Elite Dodgeball, you really become grateful for the NCDA’s throwline. Elite Dodgeball is incredibly intense primarily because of how compact the court is, it makes for a lot of exciting and quick points. As for playing in UDC it was a surreal kind of an experience. I had never played Ultimate Dodgeball before until the qualifier in Grand Rapids, after taking second place there, it qualified us for the UDC in Las Vegas. It all seemed pretty far-fetched but we managed to get a roster together that could make the trip. Playing dodgeball for prize money in Las Vegas makes you think “how did this happen”. I’ll definitely be trying to come up with an Elite and UDC team again, so I plan on continuing to play.
KB: There has been some dispute on social media about what grade you are in. Can you set the record straight right now? Are you a junior or a senior? Please explain…
BT: Despite what James Reyes says, I’m a senior. I brought credits into college from high school and also took a handful of summer classes to put myself on track to graduating early. If all goes as planned I should graduate this winter.
KB: Who is your celebrity crush?
BT: Easy. Anna Kendrick.
KB: Chipotle of Qdoba?
BT: Qdoba, hands down. (Ben asked me to leave the rest of his response out of the public interview)
KB: Any last thoughts? Bold predictions for Nationals?
BT: I just want to say thanks again for even being nominated for and a huge shout-out to everyone who voted for me!