Voices of the NCDA: Joseph Perez

In the next article in our series, Leon Rockamore interviews Joseph Perez. Let’s take a look at the interview and see what he has to say.

Leon: Where are you from? How old are you? What team do/did you play for?
Joseph: My name is Joseph Perez. I am a 21-year-old from Charleston, IL and I am currently attending Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

L: What was your first experience with dodgeball?
J: My first experience with dodgeball was when a TA I had for one of my Biology classes kept bugging our class about joining so I said that I would go to the club meeting that night and I have been going ever since.

L: What got you started playing dodgeball in the NCDA?
J: I started playing with the NCDA because SIUE was getting ready to go to the tournament in Platteville, Wisconsin and they did not have enough people to go and due to the fact that I played goalie for soccer for many years, I am a skilled catcher, a welcome addition to the team.

L: When did you start playing in the NCDA and do you still play?
J: I started play in the NCDA Spring of 2020, while technically I am still on the team there hasn’t been tournaments to go to due to Covid.

L: What was your first tournament experience like?
J: My first tournament was an amazing opportunity to see how the other teams worked together and how they focused on trying to get the other team out with me recently being appointed to president and captain to allow me to create an idea on how to better facilitate practices.

L: What’s your favorite dodgeball memory so far?
J: My favorite memory is from the glow in the dark event that we put on for Halloween, this is amazing event because it allows for people who are not normally part of our club practices to see what we are about. This event is put on using glow in the dark dodgeballs and black lights to make the balls glow. It’s a really cool event because you get to see a large group of the student body get to gather to play dodgeball in the dark while most of the people are dressed up for Halloween.

L: Did you notice the lack of diversity in the NCDA as a player on the court?
J: From what I have noticed from the few tournaments I have been able to go to, the amount of diversity that I experienced compared to other sports that I have played is a high amount. I feel that this is due to the fact that the NCDA is inclusive and the members that I have had the pleasure of interacting with are very welcoming.

L:Have you ever experienced discrimination during your time as a dodgeball player due to your ethnicity? Have you experienced discrimination outside the NCDA?
SIUE has a very diverse team and most of the teams that we have also played against are also diverse, this allows for people from every background to feel accepted and I have never experienced any discrimination during my time playing dodgeball. I am half Mexican and I look white, so most people are unaware to the fact that I am Mexican unless I tell them. Due to this fact I have been lucky enough to not have to deal with discrimination in my life.

Joe Perez(#23) pictured here with his teammates at UWP.

L: Do you feel like the diversity in the league has grown over the years? What do you feel that the league can do to be more inclusive to encourage more diversity in the league.
I have only been in the league for the past year, so I have not been around long enough to see any change or lack of change. I feel like the league could do a better job at highlighting players of diversity during their respective months like black history month. I feel like this would help in showing the diversity we have and make more people want to join a group of people who understand and celebrate diversity.

L: What advice would you give to fellow minority players just starting out in the league?
Do not be afraid to reach out to any player in the league everyone is very welcoming, and you will always have a good time. You will always be able to find someone that you can connect with on your own team or another team and while playing it does not matter who you are Male, Female, Non-binary, Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, Latino, etc. we are all just there to play some dodgeball and have a good time.

L: What are your plans going forward as a dodgeball player? Any big goals you have set for yourself or your team?
I plan to go back to campus in the fall and continue with practices and tournaments, hopefully, and then graduate in the fall. I am hopeful that the SIUE Dodgeball team will be able to get to the next nationals that are held.

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