Kent State Dodgeball’s Kyle FitzPatrick
5:30pm November 12th 2011. Fifteen Kent State students assemble in a parking lot preparing for a 6.5 hour drive to College Park, Maryland. It’s our 3rd tournament in 4 weeks and the roster is thin. Many of our usual players drop for a variety of reason: a lack of $$ due to the other tournaments, being overrun by projects and exams for school, and a flu like illness that eliminates some of our dependable players. Our Co Captain Ryan is on Injured Reserve due to a knee injury occurring at the MSU Invite. So we looked to some of our untested freshmen to step up and fill the much needed roster spots. We arrive at the hotel around 11:30 and cram all 15 members of our family into 2 smaller than average hotel rooms. As we warm up in the Armory (yes, the name of the building we played Dodgeball was the Armory, bad ass). A sense of nervousness, that subconscious the whole trip becomes very tangible. We are the only battle tested team in the tournament, but that didn’t necessarily mean we were the best. For all we knew we were walking into a slaughter from unknown east coast teams. It was the 1st tournament that I didn’t have any Intel going into the games. I didn’t know how the teams played, what numbers were gunners, who the catchers were, and tricky players to keep an eye on… nothing. It lead to a swirling combination of frustration and excitement.
Our 1st opponent of the day was James Madison University, They sported sleeveless (basketball style) Dodgeball jerseys, DePaul would have been proud. JMU was a very passionate team that never gave up in any of their matches. They seemed to change their strategy multiple times throughout a single point. Sometimes they would hang back making clutch catches, until they had 7-8 balls then they would storm forward and perform an all out team throw towards ½ the court. And other times they were right in your face coming at you no matter how many players stood against them. Hess, 69, backwards hat, and the Assistant captain (sorry I forgot most of the numbers) individually stood out, but the entire team played well. Especially considering it was their 1st match ever.
Towson University was next on the schedule. We lost the 1st point in about 3 minutes. These guys started the game like bats out of hell; I’m talking about some pedal to the metal Dodgeball! That first point was probably one of the most chaotic games I had ever played. Their entire team was relentlessly attacking from every direction. I don’t recall anyone on their team pinching, but afterwards some of us talked about how to develop throws and get used to pinching/gripping. They slowed down a little bit throughout the match. But a team with such a high paced playing style combined with the knowledge of the pinch could turn into a dangerous ambush style team.
University of Maryland was our last opponent of the day. When you line we lined up against this team there was a distinct feeling that they had done this before. They looked confident, most of them had a very athletic build, and their Jerseys (black with red) were rather reminiscent of SVSU’s. Again Kent lost the 1st point. This team had some real potential for individual talent, 00 and 4 had some serious hands, while 8, 20, Chris V all had rather impressive throws, although they were plagued by the inaccuracy of adapting to the pinch. After watching and playing against this team I got the feeling that they would quickly adapt and over a year or two come to thrive in the NCDA, mainly due to the athletic potential of their team.
These teams are 3 great additions to the NCDA, and as a born and raised Delawarean, I personally am very excited to see the potential rapid growth of the NCDA on the east coast. It was a great weekend, with many 1st’s. JMU, UMD, UMD JV, & TU all played in their 1st NCDA tournament. All (except UMD JV) got their 1st victory, as well as their 1st losses (but that’s part of the process). And Kent State won its 1st NCDA tournament. And due to the wins from the tournament it was the 1st time Kent has ever been ranked 1st in the NCDA. I’m proud of our team, as well as the NCDA for gaining three more teams that will continue to contribute and shape the NCDA of the future. We look forward to crossing paths with these teams again!
Kent State Co-Captain,