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.
Before we get to that, however, our Chief of Content, Kevin Bailey, caught up with Daniel Fernald of the Terrapins. Daniel was asked how this season has gone for Maryland, and the East Coast as a whole, as well as the perception of their region from the outside looking in.
East Coast Region Thoughts
Kevin: What are some key takeaways from both the Happy Valley Throwdown and BEAST? Both for the east Coast as a whole and for Maryland?
Daniel: For East Coast as a whole, I think it is very clear James Madison is the top team. In 5 games vs the East Coast this semester (which is also the first time they had their full lineup), there’s only been one point taken off them and that was in our 5-1 loss to them at the Happy Valley Throwdown. For Maryland, I think we have a lot of potential at Nationals. I think we are right on the edge of the top 10 at the moment. Considering we were heavily injured or undermanned at BEAST, I think a lot of teams are underestimating us. However, nearly our whole team (all but 4 players) are NCDA rookies this year. We will continue to improve on the fundamentals in practice to be ready to make some noise at nationals.
Kevin: There hasn’t been as much inter-region travel this year. How has that impacted Maryland, and the other East Coast teams?
Daniel: I think the lack of travel really hinders some of the teams being able to figure out what they need to work on. Playing the same couple teams repetitively doesn’t expose us to other styles of play. We try our best to work within the COVID constraints UMD has put on us and improve on what we know we can get better at. One good thing about the East Coast is that James Madison, Towson, and Penn State are all usually strong opponents so playing them more enables us to compete against higher competition.
Kevin: How do you think the East Coast is viewed this year by the rest of the league? And do you think it is an accurate representation?
Daniel: I think the East Coast is definitely being underestimated at the moment. The only out of region competition we have had to this point is Towson and James Madison going to Ohio severely undermanned. To my knowledge, all East Coast squads going to nationals will be at their best. All I gotta say is we will see what they think after April 10th. I think we can have 3-4 quarterfinal teams.
Kevin: What players on your team aren’t getting the recognition they deserve by the rest of the league? And actually, what players across the East Coast deserve more recognition?
Daniel: We have a lot of young players on our team and I feel outside of myself, most of the league does not really know any of the top players on UMD. We got a couple rookies Adam Butz, Caleb Dixon, and Zach Demos who have really helped in big moments for us thus far. Also, getting senior Alec Goodman back from studying abroad this semester has really boosted our firepower which we were heavily lacking prior. I have a feeling much of our team will be big names across the league in a year or two but many of us are just so young at the moment.
Across the East, I think there are a lot of slept on players primarily on Penn State and James Madison. I think PSU is kind of unknown as a unit outside of the East Coast. They play organized, fundamental dodgeball and are really a squad that is more than the sum of its parts. For JMU, the squad is upperclassmen heavy led by Drew Funk and Evan Eschenburg. In my opinion, JMU should at least be considered as one of the top 4 title contenders with GVSU, MSU, and Cincinnati. I trust the country will see that in a couple weeks.