Now, before I start this off, you must know that in all my “Presidential” monikers (and in our many “Intern” allusions), I’m having fun. This is how I was raised by DePaul Dodgeball, but I’ve always considered titles arbitrary to the reason I need to do my duty. But in the end, I like calling my lowly Nationals hotel room the Presidential Suite. It sounds magnificent.
Let’s begin. Nationals 2015! WKU! Nick Johnson! My favorite Nationals shirt ever has been the Nationals 2011 shirt, from the first time WKU hosted Nationals. In fact, that was the first time the event was hosted outside Ohio or Michigan, and really, it was one of the very, very few times Nationals was hosted outside the state of Michigan. Coming up to the event, I was concerned if we would ever live up to that event held so long ago. But the League is in so much better straights nowadays. Everyone. Do NOT underestimate the family that consists of the League in the present day.
Perhaps the “Dodgeball is Family” moniker started with the NCDA. I don’t presume to think that as fact. I don’t have the proof, and to be honest I haven’t researched the start to that. It could have well been a midwest thing that evolved aside our humble college league.
In Nationals 2011 at WKU, when I was just a player, DePaul played kickball versus GVSU. I’ve never been good at base centered sports. I never learned how to catch “off-hand” with a mitt, my skill lay with the pure two hand catch. I did terrible in the outfield. So much so that GV scored a headshot on me while I tried to field a ball out of center field. In kickball. I witnessed wiffleball in that very same field this Nationals 2015, and I heard pray tell of kickball played in the wonderful 83 degF weather as well. These are some of the things I’m proud of facilitating as a servant to the NCDA.
In review of what’s changed in the NCDA… Well, we as a League are not mildly a Midwestern conference anymore! We had a whole smackdown of teams from the East Coast make the trek to Bowling Green, Kentucky this year. They were the best represented “region” in attendance. The “Ohio” and “East Coast” regions are fast growing in this little League of ours. 26 current teams, two new Ohio members and one new Maryland member. Once again, do not underestimate having more family to compete against. Regardless if they aren’t able to make it to Nationals, that’s a feat in itself. But we need so, so many more.
In Nationals 2015, we were fortunate enough to have 16 Member Teams compete, and an additional 2 more be represented. Both tremendous strides a testament to where our organization has arrived, and a convenient blessing in having an even 16 teams to schedule out games for. There are two parts of the Nationals event. We call the whole thing Nationals. The tournament, the run for a dented and tarnished little cup that so happens to conveniently hold a 8.5″ dodgeball… that’s just Sunday. But the true spirit of Nationals, aside from the whole weekend’s play, is Saturday and Friday’s games, and the stuff that happens before, after, and between the scheduled matches.
For the first time in NCDA existence, we actually had parity between most games. Few games were unreachable. There are three main reasons for this:
One, parity in the League has simply grown. It is NOT there yet. The top six teams cannot simply compete fairly with any team below that threshold. Yet there are more teams nearer each other, playing more matches and distilling out to more than just two tiers of strength.
Second, stronger teams were competitive and teachers to their opponents in the most important pursuit of sportsmanship. Blowout games do nothing for the lower team, and do not signify anything in the rankings other than a certain team lost and a particular team won. They do not further our organization. There should be no record promoted regarding the biggest blowout win. What was seen in many matches was dodgeball being played. I saw fast dodgeball, I saw slow dodgeball, I saw competitive dodgeball, I saw the ebb and flow that predicates our game at any regional style. I saw some fun. I saw some smiles.
Third, we were able to hand set a schedule that allowed parity matches to be achieved. Great accolades go to Executive Felix Perrone for coordinating a great deal of scheduling regarding that feat. Moving away from “pool play” is an absolutely incredible feat of this organization. There are still so many complications and obstacles to ensuring fun will be had, but this schedule helped. A pinnacle of the decisions made this year.
I’ve rambled enough. But I would like to once again thank the staff that contributed to the success of Nationals 2015. We watch these professional or even college varsity events on television, and see them handled so well. We get by with less than a HANDFUL of volunteer staff, whereas dozens of paid individuals are needed to keep those gladiatorial contests going. It’s the family attitude, the dedication to the craft of giving back to the dodgeball player.
Hail! This executive, in debt, salutes you.