Winter break’s effect on dodgeball

I can’t help but notice how much my dodgeball game usually declines over winter break. I don’t expect this year to be an exception either, as I was finally getting to the point I wanted to be at before the fall semester ended. And then, a four week layoff happened and I really am worried about how bad I am going to be tonight at practice.

However, I have been getting back in my workout routine, so maybe… just maybe I will be better than where I left off. While I’m sure I need to get a little rust off I am hoping that I can get my form back and play some of the best dodgeball I ever have.

Enough about me, I also think that effects the team as well. Take SVSU for example. We had a fantastic fall portion of the schedule. Our only loss was to GVSU (aren’t they like the two time defending champs or something?) , and we flat out dominated the rest of our opponents. It may sound like bragging, but I will stand by the scores of our games as proof.

That being said, I think a lot of that has to be thrown out the window the rest of the season. Teams have gone about a month without practicing, so really it is like starting over. There are people on our team that aren’t able to come back, and a few others that plan on joining. So the chemistry of our team is going to be effected at least somewhat. While I still expect SVSU to be one of the best teams the rest of the season, that isn’t going to mean we are going to dominate everyone as we did.

Sunday Jan. 18 we play Delta. Obviously there are plenty of reasons that this is a big game. I think that a lot of people, including Delta’s players think that SVSU is going to beat them. I’m not going to say that Delta is going to win, but I think that it’s going to be more of a battle than most people realize. I don’t care how many players Delta lost last season, they still have Dave Halloran, who is one of the best on the court generals in the league. Had we played a month ago, I would have said SVSU would have won 8-0, but throwing in the curveball of winter break I think it’s anybody’s game. I still think SVSU has the edge, but it’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out.

The Future of College Dodgeball

Since the first time I stepped on the court, I have always wondered where the future of college dodgeball is heading. In 2005, the first season of our league there were just five teams, Delta College, Michigan State University, DePaul University, Kent State University, and Ohio State University. Now we have almost 15 teams playing and several more popping up across the states. But where is it all going?

The beginning of our league kind of reminds me of the beginnings of college football. There were few teams, no coaches, and the officials were terrible. In fact the University of Michigan didn’t have a head coach their first 11 seasons. It seems in our fifth season as a league many of the complaints and problems are the same. However, the growth of our sport can not be ignored either.

Am I going to predict that someday fans are going to pack 5,000 fans in the Breslin Center to watch the University of Michigan play Michigan State University in a game of dodgeball, or have millions of people watch the University of Florida play the Cinderella Henry Ford Community College in the final four on CBS? Not even close, but I do think that this sport has plenty of room to grow and could develop into a great league.

I do not think dodgeball will become a varsity sport, not anytime soon anyways. But I look at college rugby as an example. While not a varsity sport, several schools in each state across the country has a club rugby team. They have conferences, state tournaments, and national tournaments. They also break up the teams into three divisions based on size and how good their team is. I think that in a few years college dodgeball could do something similar very soon.

However, there are a few things standing in the way of our growth. Firstly, as detailed on the league messageboard it is really hard to find people at other schools to get teams started. There is no reason that some of these schools don’t have teams, other than finding the right people to run them.

Secondly, is the cost of traveling to tournaments. We saw it first hand last year when several teams backed out of nationals because they couldn’t afford it. That’s why I have always been in favor of having a regional tournament one week to a month before the national tournament. Charge each team in the regional $200 to play, and give the winning team the money to go to nationals. Doing this you can also cut down on the teams that go to nationals. While still, teams that have to travel far this money may not have enough to cover their trip, they at least have a starting point to get their team to the national tournament.

Thirdly, is the lack of a commissioner or league board. In most developed leagues teams are issued a schedule and they are expected to abide by it. In the NCDA, we have one team who has played eight games, and at least four teams have not even played a game yet. I know that some teams would be against having a league commissioner or league board but in order for it to grow properly it might need to happen someday. Without having someone or a group of people running the league, it is just going to remain a loose collection of teams that meet up once a year for a national tournament. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that, but if we truly want this to grow into a league that is taken seriously then that is what needs to happen.

Before any of this can happen, we need more teams. We have clubs that are interested in joining our league all around us, but because of a lack of teams around them it wouldn’t be feasible for them to join. I also suggest you contact your local TV/Radio station or newspaper to see if they have interest in running stories on your team. The more exposure this league can get, the better. It will get people talking and get people interested. The more people that know about it, the more it has an opportunity to grow.

HFCC Debut spoiled by SVSU

Henry Ford Community College was officially welcomed into the National College Dodgeball Association on Dec. 6.

Saginaw Valley State University did the welcoming, and dealt the visiting Hawks a 16-0 loss.

Despite giving up 16 points (believed to be an NCDA record), Henry Ford believes it’s a start for their young program. After all, they had only formed the club a little over a month before hand and practiced four times before their match-up with the Cardinals.

“We gained a lot (of experience,)” Hawk assistant captain Daniel Bartrum said. “That being our first game in our first year as a team, we were not prepared for how a real game flows. Getting that first game behind us helped us and we also learned some technique from SVSU.”

Some members of the team came to Saginaw the week before, to watch SVSU play Bowling Green State University. They took back with them an idea of what their game the next week would be like, but were still alarmed once they got into actual game play.

“I think our team was a little surprised,” Bartrum said. “Nothing would have prepared us for what a real game feels like.”

To make things worse, most Saginaw Valley players gorilla grip (pinching the ball) while throwing the ball, a method not yet discovered by the Hawks.

“You don’t know how fast the balls are traveling until they are coming at you,” captain Kris Wright said.

SVSU captain Bryan Janick had a similar experience with SVSU when he started his team in 2007. Just a few weeks after their first practice they had to play an experienced Delta College team that at the time was ranked third in the nation.

Now the Cardinals are 7-1 and expecting to be one of the best teams at the national tournament in April.

“They just need to get the word out more and get more people at their practices,” Janick said about Henry Ford. “They need to get their techniques down.”

As for the future, the Hawks have a plan to get their team on the other end of the scoreboard, and have already scheduled games with Michigan State University, Central Michigan University, and BGSU.

“Next semester we will be more prepared,” Bartrum said. “More practices and more experience will help our team a lot.”

The first practice of Delta College Dodgeball

When the day finally comes that my collegiate dodgeball career is over I will have many memories of the game. I am currently in my fifth season in the game and already it seems I will have enough stories to last a lifetime. One such story is the day of the first practice in the history of Delta Dodgeball.

I remember rolling the balls out of the garbage bags that first day. I hadn’t bought any mesh ball bags yet, since our team’s budget consisted of whatever I had in my wallet. No one seemed to mind that I took them out of garbage bags, just like no one seemed to mind that most of the balls had cartoon logos on them. In fact many players seemed to enjoy trying to each other with Dora the Explorer, Rocket Power, and Scooby Doo balls. Besides, I found them all at a Toys R’ Us in a big clearance sale so it felt like a steal. Although I do have to say my personal favorite was the blue Monsters Inc. ball. I cried the day it popped, and it’s still sitting in my room as a shattered memory.

I remember seeing the gym full of over 30 players eager to learn a new game. They had heard we were going to play against Michigan State, Ohio State, and other schools and were about as excited as kid finding a gummy bear on the sidewalk. It seemed like we had so much talent there that day. We had a kid who could catch anything you threw at him (who strangely never showed up again,) a kid who could throw really hard (Michael Parker), and kid that tried to hit the girls on the team in the butt with the balls (Matt Pretzer.)

It was a simple time, really. Words like gorilla grip, shadowing, and shot clock weren’t even mentioned. In fact had you said something like that we probably would have laughed. There were no such things as a yellow or red card, and really we were never even worried behavior would be a problem. Had we tried to give someone a yellow card they probably would have walked out the door never to return.

We thought that we were pretty good too. I mean we only had ourselves to compare to but we felt pretty confident. Sure, we wouldn’t go on to win a game that year, or for half of the next season, but for that one day we felt like we ruled the dodgeball world. Since we were in a secluded gym that most of the other students at Delta didn’t even know existed, who was going to tell us otherwise?

The Odyssey of Ben Murphy

Story by: Andrew Allen

After four years of playing and being president of the Delta College Dodgeball team, Ben Murphy has left the team to pursue other interests.

What do those interests include? Playing for Saginaw Valley State University’s team.

“I had four great seasons at Delta College,” Murphy said.

“It was just time for me to move on. I graduated from Delta back in April of 2007. I stayed last year because my job required me to take classes there and to play dodgeball.”

While there Murphy saw his team reach three consecutive national final-four appearances and set a single season wins record in the NCDA in the 2008 season with 17 victories.

“We had a special group of players these last three seasons,” he said. “My time there will be something I will never forget.”

As for whether he is going to miss running a team that he founded back in 2004, Murphy isn’t going to deny it.

“There is no question that I’m going to miss being at Delta,” he said. “In fact I already do. But I am already having a lot of fun and learning to play with a bunch of great new teammates.”

There was also something that he wasn’t quite used to when he fist took the court for SVSU.

“I can just go to practice and focus on playing dodgeball and nothing else,” Murphy said. “I don’t have to worry about who isn’t playing well and who isn’t at practice. I can just focus on my own game and helping my teammates out on the court.”

On Sunday, Oct. 26 Murphy saw his first game action with the Cardinals against Michigan State University.

“It was weird being out there in a different uniform,” he said.

“But I was so excited to get my first kills and catches with a new team it was unreal. I just hope I can keep improving my game so I can stay on varsity for the rest of the season.”

Taking over for Murphy at Delta is David Halloran, who will be entering his fifth season with the team. Halloran served his previous four seasons as a captain and vice-president.

“The team is in good hands with Dave,” Murphy said.

“A big reason that Delta was so successful over the years is because of him. He understands the team concept and the hard work it takes to win dodgeball games more than anyone I’ve ever met.”

Halloran is excited as well to take over the club, and hopes to get the team over the hump and into the national championship game.

“Taking over the team has proven to be something more than just stepping into the shoes of the past president,” he said.

“It’s been challenging, yet very rewarding. The team looks great and I’m excited about the young talent that keeps coming through the door. I expect to be a national contender and I can only see third place as the last option.

You might be wondering on if Murphy is going to be rooting for his former team.

“I really think that SVSU is going to be a great team this season,” he said.

“But if Delta happens to win it all I hope they don’t mind me stealing one of their championship t-shirts.”

AJP #02: Part 1

In the first half of this two-part episode, Josh talks about reaction to the website launch, tells schools how to start a team and previews the GVSU-SVSU match.

In the second half of this episode, Josh chats with SVSU captain Bryan Janick about the upcoming season and takes potshots at GVSU with Jason “He Hate Me” Stein.

Play

Teams Battle First Year Woes

Story by: Randall Rearden

Since the inception of the National College Dodgeball Association (NCDA) in 2005, the performance of teams just joining the ranks of the dodgeball wasn’t the best to speak of.  Not that they played terribly, but they were just feeling out the game and playing against more experienced teams.

In fact, since then almost every team competing in its first season has come up at the end of the year winless. I don’t want to sound all gloomy on teams that didn’t fare so well last year and the teams that are about to embark on their inaugural season.  There is a ray of hope for those who are in their second season.

Last year there were three teams who competed for the first time in the NCDA, including Central Michigan, Western Kentucky, and Wisconsin-Platteville.

Kevin Flynn of Central Michigan has high hopes for his team this year.

“I think that we can win a lot of games,” Flynn said.  “I think hopefully we’ll win about 50% of our games.”

Flynn also said that this season would be a learning season again but they are just trying to build their program and have fun doing it.

Western Kentucky also suffered a winless season last year but they have intentions of competing for a few wins this season.

“I think we got enough people coming back to help the new guys out. We are going to get a head start over what we had last year for sure,” Western alternate captain Ryan Graham said. “Last year there were a lot of rules we didn’t know about and also things we weren’t clear on.”

Graham said that last year was a good year in that they gained knowledge of basic game strategy and got some good experience.

Wisconsin-Platteville is aiming higher this season according to Curt Weyenburg, who is acting Vice President for the team.

Like the other teams last year Wisconsin-Platteville struggled through their first season. The different style of play, lack of talent compared to other teams, and the fact that their team was young were determining factors for the sub par season last year.

But just like the other teams coming off their first season, Wisconsin-Platteville is definitely looking forward to the upcoming season.

“We’re planning on doing a lot better this year,” Weyenburg said.

Weyenburg cites future success on more new talent coming out to play for the team.

Unlike these teams, Saginaw Valley is just coming off their second season and performed vastly better than in their first season. I’m sure that’s a sigh of relief to for squads entering their second season.

Going into the season last year, recruiting was taken more seriously than the previous year. Also the fact that Saginaw Valley just had more fan support helped them last season.

From their first season record of 3-6, Saginaw Valley improved to 11-7 with four of those losses coming to Grand Valley State.

“We actually won three games at nationals,” Bryan Janick said.

After their successes last season, Saginaw Valley is hoping to compete for a national championship while actually roughing with some of dodgeball’s professionals in Auburn Hills soon.

So look for the teams that are coming back this year to become forces to be reckoned with this season. You never know, they might even dish out a little pain of their own this year.

GVSU Repeats as NCDA Champions

by Kelvin Koster

The Lakers made it two in a row at this year’s NCDA Postseason Tournament in Columbus, defeating the Buckeyes of The Ohio State University 9-1 in the championship game. The win marks the second straight year GVSU has come back to Allendale proudly equipped with the NCDA championship trophy.

The win in the finals capped off another perfect season for the Lakers, giving them their 14th win against no losses for the year, and extending their winning streak to 25 matches.

Among other accomplishments for Grand Valley this season were first place finishes at the inaugural Kentucky Classic, held in Lexington last November, and at the now well-established Michigan Dodgeball Cup, held in East Lansing this February.

With the #1 ranking intact and a large target affixed to their backs, the Lakers now focus on the upcoming season. GVSU Captain Kelvin Koster is excited for what promises to be the most competitive year yet for the NCDA.

“I was very impressed with the strides some teams made last year. SVSU and BGSU are emerging as contenders for those top spots. As for Delta, those guys have scary arms and work together better than anyone. OSU is always a top team. If we’re going to win this thing again, we’re going to have to work harder than ever this year.”

GVSU is looking forward to another year full of NCDA action, but especially to the 2009 postseason tournament, which will be held on Grand Valley’s campus in Allendale, Michigan next April. GVSU junior Jimmy Stokes anticipates a historic weekend.

“It will be great to have our fans there with us, and I think other teams who haven’t experienced a game here yet will enjoy playing in front a crowd as large and excited as the one we expect to draw.”

With most of GVSU varsity squad returning this season, the team hopes and expects to find themselves in the championship game of next year’s tournament.

Scheduled Events 2008

As of 2007-10-07

2008-01-28

Michigan State @ Delta College (Saginaw, MI)
Kent State, Kentucky, Marshall @ Ohio State : Buckeye Invitational (Columbus, OH)

2008-02-18

Delta College, Grand Valley State, Oakland @ Michigan State : Michigan Dodgeball Cup (East Lansing, MI)

2008-04-13

End-of-year tournament @ Ohio State (Columbus, OH)

TBD Events

Bowling Green State v Michigan State
Grand Valley State v Delta College
Oakland v Michigan State
Michigan State v. University Center-Dublin (exhibition)
Multi-team tournament @ Grand Valley State

School year begins, updated rule packet posted

Dodgeball season is upon us! Best of luck to all teams in their first full year for what is sure to be an enjoyable experience. The NCDA also requests that you send photos of games and practices along with any game scores to the League email.

Also, the new rule packet is (mostly) completed, undergoing mostly cosmetic revision.  The only fundamental change is the new 15-second/10-second shot clock.