NCDA Nationals 2014 took place this past weekend, and as expected, it was one of the best weekends of the year for everyone involved. I had the privilege to play and spectate so many awesome collegiate dodgeball games this weekend, and it made me more than excited for the future of this league. Here are some of my reactions to what took place this weekend.
First off, the host school Ohio State didn’t have their best showing at this year’s Nationals, but I expect them to be a quality team next year. From what I have been told, the vast majority of their roster was sophomores or freshmen, which bodes very well for their future. Their future captain, Josh Conner is going to help their club continue in the right direction. Mind you, I am a Michigan fan, so I hate everything about Ohio State University, but I like what I see from this young team. Keep an eye on the Buckeyes next season.
Saginaw Valley State once again proved that they are one of College Dodgeball’s elite teams. They were obviously disappointed when they lost, but from my perspective as captain of GVSU, they handled the defeat with a lot of class, which is all you can ask for from such a competitive team. I certainly don’t expect there to be a drop off in their success next season.
Michigan State is going to be VERY GOOD next season in my opinion. They will lose some very important pieces to their success with the departure of Eric Paul and Mike Van Ermen, but the young talent on their roster has me confident that the Spartans will be able to reach their third straight Final-Four in 2015. I have mentioned this to a lot of people, but let it be known that Noe Galaviz was by far the best freshmen in the NCDA this year. MSU is a team to watch when you pair him with their future captain Colin O’Brien, one of the NCDA’s best sophomores this year.
Western Kentucky and Wisconsin Platteville were the pleasant surprises of Nationals 2014. UWP had a tough schedule this past weekend, but they played very well. I was able to watch their first round game against eventual Final-Four team MSU. Wisconsin Platteville took the first point from MSU, and played with a lot of confidence in that game. I have no idea regarding how many players they will be graduating, but it’s safe to say the future is bright for UWP. WKU also made some noise at Nationals this year. The best word to describe this team is: scrappy. Felix Perrone gave the Hilltoppers a great performance in his last tournament, but they did not rely solely on his talents. This team made countless clutch catches in the games I spectated. WKU beat the host school, OSU in the first round before losing to JMU in a game that was tied 1-1 at halftime. This team exceeded expectations in my opinion.
Speaking of JMU, they took another step as a program by reaching their first ever Final-Four. With so many competitive players, I assume they were not happy that they didn’t end the season as NCDA champs, but I have nothing but good words to say about this group. James Madison will come back next season, no doubt better than they were in 2013-14. They only lose a few players, so don’t expect any drop off from this talented team.
Central Michigan didn’t have their best showing over the weekend, losing in the first round to Kentucky, but the Chippewas definitely improved as a team from what they were at Nationals 2013 at University of Kentucky. Their Captain Wes Peters was able to get CMU back to having a full roster, and that accomplishment should not go unnoticed. There was a lot of youth on their Nationals roster. Overall, I expect them to improve immensely heading into the 2014-15 season. Experience is a very valuable thing in dodgeball, and CMU will have much more experience next season.
Maryland is no joke. Seriously. In their first ever Nationals, the Terrapins surprised a lot of people. They have a solid roster, and work together surprisingly well. I anticipate that UMD will make huge strides next year, they have what it takes to be one of the better teams in the NCDA.
Towson is another East Coast team that I expect improvement from next year. This team has the top end talent to be very good, but until they shore up the back end of their roster it won’t happen. With players like Jonathon Shaw and Sean Smith who are so passionate about the league, I don’t see Towson remaining a mediocre team for long. As I said, if this team fills out the back end of their varsity roster, watch out.
Of course I have to mention how proud I am of my team: GVSU. The seniors on our squad deserved to go out on top and that is what they did. GVSU will need to replace 6 varsity regulars for next year. The target will once again be on our backs going into the 2014-15 season.
The 2013-14 NCDA Dodgeball season ended with a very fun weekend at Ohio State. And while there won’t be any collegiate matches played for another five months, I have to admit I am already excited for the 2014-15 chapter of College Dodgeball to begin!