What a night.
We shouldn’t have won. Really, we were dead in the water. But once again, my resilient group of misfits found a way to snatch victory from the small intestine of defeat.
The misfits in question are the Bourbon Ballers, an ultimate dodgeball team comprised of former and current WKU Dodgeball players. For those unfamiliar with ultimate dodgeball, it’s a 5 v 5 variation of our beloved sport played on a trampoline court. It is incredibly fun and completely exhausting.
After a victory in last summer’s local qualifying tournament our team came into the President’s Day tournament on Sunday holding ourselves to a high standard. We didn’t lose a game in the last tournament we played. We were college dodgeball players. We had a league to represent and a reputation to maintain. We weren’t going to lose.
Except we did lose. Twice.
In the round robin portion of the tournament we went 3-2. Our first loss came against The Dominators, who ended up as the overall #1 seed. Several team members were frustrated about our poor performance in the game and rightfully so. We didn’t play well. I was disappointed but somewhat glad the pressure was off of us to remain undefeated. We could focus on winning and play “fast and loose” (our motto for the day and the perfect sexual innuendo to shout without getting dirty looks) the rest of the way.
Then we lost against to a team from Nelson County that we played and beat last summer. That’s when it really hit me that the level of competition had jumped up considerably from one year to the next. There was only scrub team out of eight, and they nearly beat The Dominators in round robin play. Repeating as champs wouldn’t be easy given the high level of play from the seven other teams.
At 3-2 we grabbed the #3 overall seed in the single-elimination bracket. Our first round opponent was thankfully the one scrub team, so we felt good about making it to the second round. We were the last game of the first round and got to watch the three games before us, all of which were wildly entertaining. There were some huge upsets, including The Dominators getting knocked off by the team that didn’t win a game during the entire round robin. It was sweet to see Goliath toppled considering they beat us and their captain’s loud mouth had painted a huge target on his team’s back.
Good riddance to big talkers.
Our arch rivals, the Monstars (actually named the Legion of Boom, but whatever), led by a 6-foot-5-inch bald hulking behemoth with arms like tree trunks, barely knocked off a motley crew in the game before us led by Jamar (possibly J-Mar), a 300+ pound champion of the people who we cheered with unbridled enthusiasm.
The Monstars’ victory set up a rematch of last year’s championship that saw us rally from down 2-1 to take the victory 3-2. All we had to do was handle our business against the Big Green in the first round and our massive, muscular enemies would have their shot at revenge.
Thankfully everything went according to plan and we knocked off the very gracious Big Green 3-0. That was the last time I saw game action and I made the most of it, knocking out three of their five players during the second point. Sure, two of them were girls, but I pride myself on not discriminating on the dodgeball court. If you’re in my way, you’re getting a 48 mph fastball in the grill, no questions asked.
After the previously winless underdogs (the ones that knocked off The Dominators) earned their spot in the championship game, we stepped onto the trampolines for the game we knew would determine the tournament champion. After going down 2-1 the last time we squared off against the Monstars, I expected our team to dig itself a nice little hole and then miraculously claw its way out again. One thing I know about our team with 100 percent certainty is that we play better with our backs against the wall. We like life on the knife’s edge even if sometimes it comes back to bite us.
We got bit in the round robin. Twice. I was hoping we could conjure up the magic one final time and send our rivals packing once again.
Subconsciously our team decided the best way to beat the Monstars was to go down 2-0. Not the path I would have chosen, but hey, to each his own. At that point I had serious doubts. We were a couple mistakes away from going home. My guys would have to play flawless dodgeball in order to survive, and even then, winning three straight games against a team whose collective height is 6-foot-3-inches would be a tall (pun intended) order.
Could we do it? Absolutely. No doubt in my mind.
Would we do it? I had no idea.
I put our best lineup on the court and hoped for a miracle in the third point. Wouldn’t you know it, we got one. The Monstars would likely argue that a controversial call – their captain was ruled out when a player who was leaving the floor kicked a ball back to his team – cost them the point. That might be true, but the karma was repaid in the fourth point when a suicide by one of our players that ended the point was later ruled invalid. That ruling set up a 1-on-1 between their best catcher and the legendary Felix Perrone.
Both gentlemen started the sudden death period holding two balls. The 5-second countdown was initiated and Felix threw first. One of the balls their guy was holding came loose off the block and hit the ground. Point over.
My heart attack? Just beginning.
Tied at 2-2 going into the final point I knew we were going to win. I felt the exact same confidence last year when we rallied back from down 2-1. There are times as a captain when you just know what’s going to happen. You can see and you can feel it. I knew we were championship bound, and thanks to the brilliance of Ben Sobczyk (nursing a blown out elbow that was throbbing between games), Dylan Callison (our best player, he was a lithe ninja on the court whose throws got faster as the tournament went on), and Austin Dubree (four catches against the Monstars, which is nearly impossible in ultimate dodgeball), we emerged victorious once again.
The Monstars were slain and the Bourbon Ballers were moving on. It was a President’s Day Miracle and it wasn’t even President’s Day. I’m not sure what that means, but I know we handled our business in the championship game (after going down 1-0 for old time’s sake), and although we won a lame technicality, victory has never tasted so sweet.
Against unlikely odds and with several guys having an off-day, my team pulled together for a victory that seemed like a pipe dream facing a 2-0 deficit against our arch rivals.
But that’s the thing about dodgeball. Your fortunes can change in a second and games can swing on the tiniest moments. A kicked ball and a dropped block turned our fortunes around.
What a night.