Leading into Nationals, we look to spotlight as many teams as we can in hopes of shining a bright light on standouts from participating teams. These glow-ups include up to 2 of each team’s standout rookies as well as a handful of core contributing players that have gotten their respective team to where they are going into the National Collegiate Dodgeball Association’s annual finale. Lastly, we get a glance into each participating team’s mindset and expectations going into Nationals.
Wildcats’ Rookie Spotlight
FNU Akshat, or Ash, is the first rookie UK wanted to be sure we highlighted. Ash plays with high energy and is always in the mix of things. He has grown tremendously this season. Considering he has never played dodgeball before joining our team, he has played beyond our expectations. Once he learns the strategy of NCDA Dodgeball, he will be set. He has a bright future.
Sid is another high energy rookie on our dodgeball team. He isn’t afraid to square up with the best of them. He is always looking to make the play no one is expecting. His dodgeball skills have evolved making him a key part of our teams success, if he can channel his eagerness to make a play then he will be set throughout the rest of his career.
Key Contributors for the Wildcats
Tyler Kratzer #22
Tyler is an all-around player. He has shown the ability to take over points with his throwing, catching, and/or leadership on the court. He is a 5-year player who has grown his game each time he steps on the court. He isn’t afraid to go make a play happen or let the play come to him. He has been a top player for UK for allofhis career. He jumped into a lead position on the team early on and he was put there rightfully so. Kentucky will be losing a good player after this season, and it is going to be hard to replace a player like this.
Justin Conti #14
Justin is a 4-year player and is graduating this spring. He has been a key factor for Kentucky since the moment he stepped on the court his freshman year. He knows what plays to make and when to make them. He can be the determining factor when it comes to Kentucky winning or losing a point. Justin has one of the stronger arms on the team and he isn’t afraid to show it. After suffering an arm injury in 2020 and no tournaments last season, Justin is looking to make a statement in his last semester of dodgeball.
David Mead #59
David joined the dodgeball team during his sophomore year at UK and quickly became one the better players on the team. David is consistent in his game and is always reliable in matches. What he brings to the table in terms of his abilities is unmatched. He has had the chance to grow in the leadership role by having the teammates around him that he does. With UK losing 3 of their top 4 guys next season, David will have to step up to be to leader of the team.
Ethan Hale-Pate #81
Ethan has grown into his role over the 5 years he has been with the team. He has developed his game to be one of the more consistent players on Kentucky’s roster. Ethan displays his leadership on the court not with just his ability, but with his coordination with the younger players. His skills in throwing and catching have grown exponentially in his career and he will be a player that Kentucky must rely on in Nationals.
As the lone female on the team, Skye has had to grow into her position on the team. She knows her role within the team and performs in it day in and day out. Her knowledge of the game has grown, and she is one of the top in game leaders for Kentucky. As one of the two experienced returners for next season with David, Skye has some big shoes to fill. However, she has the drive and ability to do it.
Mindset for Nationals – Tyler Kratzer:
Going into nationals we just want to be competitive. We want to put ourselves into situations that will provide us an opportunity to win no matter who we are facing off against. Our team is filled with a few veterans and a bunch of newcomers. The newcomers have impressed us veterans and I expect some big plays from them. As for the veterans, I expect us to bring our best game to the table because for 3 of the 5 veterans, this is our last go around. We have no reason to not leave it all on the table and that’s exactly what we plan on doing. We have worked with these new guys a lot on strategy and in-game situations, hopefully we can make a deep enough run for that practice to show.