Five steps to make the NCDA go big

On Sunday, Nov. 15, this league accomplished something I wasn’t sure it was capable of doing.

Facing a mid-season crisis regarding Nationals (only our biggest and most important tournament of the entire year), we didn’t panic. We remained calm and formulated a plan to fix a very serious problem.

Two schools, SVSU and BGSU, stepped forward as potential hosts. I called for a vote to decide who would get the Nationals bid.

I doubted (as did many others, I’m sure) that a ragtag group of college students could organize itself enough to put out a fire like the inferno we were facing.

Sunday came, the votes rolled in, and the door to my skepticism was slammed shut.

12 teams emailed me their vote on Sunday. Eight of them voted for BGSU, making the “Dodging Falcons” the host for Nationals in 2010. That was that.

More than anything, our league’s ability to mobilize and solve a national crisis (literally) proved to me that we have enormous potential for growth.

I’m not just talking about a handful of new teams in the next couple years. That would be nice, of course, but my sights are set a lot higher than that.

I’m talking about the type of exposure that will garner consideration for games on an ESPN network. The type of recognition that will have video game companies taking notice (because everyone knows an NCDA video game would own).

I know what you’re thinking – “Josh, we’ve been down this road before. The league is still too young to accomplish those types of goals.”

Very good point, Mr. Fictional Critic. I’m not arguing that.

What I want to do is accelerate the growth of this league and transform those goals from pipe dream into an achievable reality.

It can happen. It will happen. And I’m going to tell you how.

I’ve been sitting on this list for a while, but after Sunday, I think this league is finally ready to step up and help legitimize itself.

Ladies and gentlemen, for your consideration, I present the “Five Steps to Help the NCDA Go Big.”

1. Film every game and put it on YouTube

Think for a second about the NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB. Think about the fond memories you have from any of those sports. Do the majority of those memories involve stories, pictures or podcast recaps of your favorite games? I didn’t think so.

What you most likely remember are the games you watched in person or on television. You can recall in detail the moments that defined your sports fandom because you watched it unfold. The NCDA is missing out on that element of popular sports. We aren’t seeing the games that matter, going crazy after the big headshots or memorizing the performances that transcend the game.

We can’t get our games on TV (yet), but YouTube provides a great alternative for watching teams pummel each other all season long. I know we have some teams that routinely post their games on YouTube, but that’s not enough. We need every team to provide footage.

Take it from someone who knows – setting up a camera, paying someone to film the game and uploading that footage to the internet is insanely easy. The guy who filmed WKU’s game against UK got 10 bucks. It took me about two hours to edit the footage and post it. That’s it! There’s no reason we shouldn’t have footage from every game. So, my challenge to every team is to stop making excuses and get those games on YouTube.

2. Mandate uniforms for every team, including shorts

What ensures that you don’t look out of place at a job interview? Sunday school? A swimming pool? I’ll give you a second…that’s right, the appropriate attire. If you showed up to a job interview in jeans and a T shirt, you would continue to remain unemployed and embarrass yourself at the same time.

As a league, we’ve done a decent job thus far of dressing to impress. Most teams have jerseys and those that don’t at least have some type of team shirts. But if we want to go big, “decent” isn’t going to cut it anymore. We need uniforms for every team in the NCDA. That means not only matching jerseys, but shorts, too.

“But Josh, my team is new and we don’t have the money for uniforms.”

Bullcrap. Money should never be an obstacle for a team when it’s trying to get uniforms. Even if by some chance your team can’t get a dime of funding from the school (highly unlikely since most schools throw money at clubs), you’re telling me each of your members doesn’t have 14 bucks? That’s right, each member of your team can buy jerseys and shorts for as low as $14. Don’t believe me? Check this website:http://www.epicsports.com/. I just found 20 jerseys and 20 pairs of shorts for $269.59, including shipping. That’s exactly $13.48 a person. If your members can’t afford that, then we’ve got much bigger issues going on then playing dodgeball.

Not only are they cheap, but uniforms for every team will instantly make the league more legitimate. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “You guys have jerseys and everything!” from our fans. Uniforms work wonders. If your team doesn’t have them already, I strongly suggest they look into it.

3. Elect a board of representatives that can be efficient in decision making

I know we’ve got the captains, but one thing this Sunday illustrated was the need for a decision-making council in the NCDA. Not just one with fancy titles and special privileges, but one that could mobilize quickly and pass decisions without prolonged delay.

Even if it were just the captains who comprised the board (my suggestion), that group needs to nominate officers to help the proceedings run smoothly. The positions I recommended in my 5 Year Plan were President, Vice President and Secretary. Basically, I think we need a face for this league (president) and someone to assist them or fill in when the president is absent (vice president). We also need someone to keep records of our voting and decisions (secretary). Another important position would be head recruiter, or the person who received all the inquiries from new schools about starting a team.

Electing captains to these positions wouldn’t be difficult. We could do it at the Nationals meeting this season. We could do before then in another email vote. Whenever we do it, the important thing is that we get it done quickly. Having leaders at the forefront of the league, guiding its progress, is too important to do without.

4. Create season awards and have players vote on the winner

Who doesn’t like to be rewarded for their work? I know I do. So do athletes. The major sports leagues have awards for everything – most valuable player, best comeback player, best rookie, etc. In dodgeball, we have the potential for so many awards it’s not even funny. Let me demonstrate:

Most valuable player, killer of the year, best hands, most hated player, toughest out, best blocker, fastest arm and play of the year – I could keep this up all day. The point is that we need to start recognizing our best players for their accomplishments. This wouldn’t be tough to do.

First off, we’d need footage of each game so the league could see other teams in action. Before Nationals, we accept nominations for each major award. Then we let the people vote. Whether this happens at Nationals on a paper ballot or online through a poll question on the website, the end result would be the same. Players would get recognition, bragging rights would be established and rivalries would become more interesting. After all, who wouldn’t want to see the match-up between the NCDA’s fastest arm and its best set of hands?

5. Designate rivalry games and broadcast those games live on the website

Nothing gets a sports fan more heated than a rivalry. Ask any Yankees/Red Sox, Lakers/Celtics or Colts/Patriots fan what happens when their favorite team suits up against their sworn enemies. It’s what sports is all about.

As a league, we’ve seen the beginnings of great rivalries, but we must take an active approach to fostering those games and promoting them everywhere we can. That means coming up with games that have cool names. Right now, the only two games like that the NCDA has are the “Battle of the Valleys” and the “Battle of the Bluegrass.” I might be missing a couple, but even if I am, we still need more. I don’t want 5 rivalry games. I don’t even want 10. I want 20, 30 or hell, maybe even 40.

It’s a simple fact the rivalries mean bad blood, closer games and more intense action on both sides of the court. Teams don’t just want to win rivalry games; they want to destroy the other team. Flatten them. Make them wish they’d never been born. Pick your cliché because they all work here.

That means each team needs to figure out which teams they hate. I don’t mean hating individuals players on that team, but teams they want to beat the cat piss out of (to borrow a phrase from Mr. Zac Newton). To give you an example, we here at WKU are rivals with UK and UofL. Every time we play them, we want to stomp them into the ground. I love the guys on their team, but that doesn’t stop us from wanting to smash them once the game starts. To use a Bill Simmons term, teams need to have “sports hate” for their rivals, meaning you don’t actually hate them in real life, just when you see them on the dodgeball court.

The time for high fives and hugs is over. I want some bloodshed. I want some carnage. I want teams that are gunning for their opponents on every point. I want rivalries. Captains, let’s make this happen.

There you have it. I’ve racked my brain, and those are the five biggest things that I think can legitimize the NCDA in a jiffy.

It may not get us on ESPN right away, but if we implement these steps, it won’t be long before the Worldwide Leader starts calling.

Guess that means we’ll need new phones, too.

WIU Round Robin

MACOMB – DePaul Dodgeball joined Western Kentucky and Wisconsin Platteville for a Round Robin hosted by Western Illinois on October 23.

This week was a monster for DePaul. In preparing for our matches we had to weed 17 people of our 40 plus regular ballers. The greater majority of our veterans have been injured in non dodgeball related injuries, while others had work and all the right excuses. Then on the Wednesday before, one of our drivers texted us and said he broke his collarbone. By our Thursday dodgeball night, we had barely enough car space for 14 players, bringing just five people with tournament experience. And I got my neighbor’s bike was stolen on Tuesday.

We received our club shirts just a week before travel, and with no free time I managed to heat-press the traveling shirts so we might look like a team. Kevin Hill managed to get the waivers in, and I managed to take two of my cars to fill the space left by our other driver’s injury.

We ended up leaving only 15 minutes late, a small record for DePaul Dodgeball.  But after 60 minutes of driving in the rain, Kevin’s car suffered a blown out tire near Ottawa, IL. He had to wait more than two hours for a new tire to be installed. In the mean time, 8 members of the team continued onto Western. By this time, Western and the rest of the teams had already started playing. We made a small pit stop, and the Chicago Eight decided to keep going as we were more than half-way there.

Arriving an hour or two late, DePaul is forced to play three matches in a row, with only 8 people for the first match. Fortunately, UWP was awesome and really fun to play since they had only brought 11 people. For these 8 person matches, only Kuncklepuck [#54] and myself had any past tournament experience; the rest of our team were  By the time I got out of the car after that forever stretch of road that is Route 34, I didn’t care what really happened.  I wasn’t going to think about the crap week I just had, I wasn’t going to think about the five hour drive in my really small car, I wasn’t going to worry about the shot clock. I just wanted to run around and be really, really loud. And this is what I did.

By our second half with Western Kentucky, reinforcements show up from Kevin Hill’s car, WKU pulls out the crowns, and we continue to have a really fun game. Trick shots, gladiator dodgeball, and pulling an Iron Curtain keeps everyone happy.  Our rookie players really got into our cheers, and it seemed like we had a lot of catches. I believe DePaul definitely had the most fun out of anybody in Macomb.

For the later half of our match with WIU, some of the younger players started getting a little frustrated with how serious WIU was taking the game. I think this might have been part the team being tired from traveling for 5 hours and then playing three straight hours. Another part was the majority of WIU taking dodgeball against DePaul way to serious for the entirety duration of the match. But then again, the majority of DePaul didn’t let it faze them. No matter what they are going to play dodgeball their way, and I’m really proud of the way the team played that whole day.

Since not enough people wanted to stay the night, we decided to hit up Walmart to take advantage of cheaper taxes for the hanging out at home. Then the team had a quick family dinner at Wendy’s before driving home under a full moon. We even managed to stay under budget if you don’t count Kevin’s blown tire.

500 pictures and 500 miles later, DePaul Dodgeball remains undefeated.

NCDA: Headshots Welcome

Story by: Aleks Bomis

Maybe you’re interested in playing a game or sport that’s devoid of all the drills and practices.  It could be that you’re trying to recapture a memory from your youth.  Maybe you’re just looking for activity where “upside your head” is heard frequently.

It’s okay, you can be honest.  You’re among friends.

Anyway, chances are that if you’re on this website, you like the idea of dodgeball.  This is good.  This usually leads to the idea of joining the school intramural league, with their padded foam balls and their no head shot rule.

This is bad.  Forget that garbage, there’s a better alternative: us.

There are three big advantages that the NCDA has over any intramural league, any so-called “pro” league out there, and pretty much everything else.

1 – It’s real dodgeball.  8.5” cheap rubber playground balls that bounce off harmlessly are the weapon of choice.  You’re playing with a huge number of friends.  And yes, you can hit people in the face if you can swing it.

2 – It’s by college kids, for college kids.  No one’s trying to make a buck, there’s no big legislating body issuing bylaws or any of that nonsense, this is about getting together to play people you don’t know and don’t feel bad about smacking around a bit, then possibly hanging out with them afterwards.

3 – It’s a chance for leadership.  This sounds silly, but running a sport club shows you’re able to handle financials, personality conflicts, delegation, and all those other things that employers want an employee to be able to do.  Dodgeball can actually pad your resume if done right.

All colleges and universities are eligible for membership.  All you have to do is register as a student group at your school, find a bunch of people who like to play, and let us know you exist.  We’ve got plenty of teams interested in meeting up for a game.  Put it together and you could start something big at your school.  Check out some of our video clips to get a better idea of what we’re about.  We guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

So get in touch with us already, either to say you’re good to go or to ask some questions.  And if you’re not gonna do that, at least forward this to a friend who’d be interested.  The national tournament is in April and the more the merrier!

2010-11 Season Preview

WIU’s Tim Wohead

1. How many players are returning for your team?
We are only losing two players- Tina Miller and Any Janota- due to graduation. Also for Nationals this year one of our last year’s captains, Paul V., will be studying abroad and possibly won’t attend.

2. What strengths/weaknesses do you anticipate going into the season?
A big strength we have is that we are attracting a lot of incoming freshman and recruiting big arms who have heard of our club now. Our only weakness is financial and being able to travel to all the schools we want to this year. But if there’s a will, there’s a way.

3. What are the areas you’ll look to improve when scouting new players?
You can never have too many big arms on your team but we would also like a couple players that can catch just about anything. And good footwork and agility is a must.

4. What are you goals for this season?
National Champions

5. Why should other teams be scared to play you?
We went to Nationals with one match under our belt. We didn’t start pinching or being strategic until a week before Nationals and we still held the 4th seed after the first day of tournament play. Needless to say with most of our players returning and bringing in better athletes, we are going to be more dangerous.

6. Which teams would you like to play?
We get along well with SVSU so that would be one of them. We would also like to face Michigan State just because we got knocked out by them and I feel that we played like crap and would enjoy a little revenge along with BGSU. Lastly, we would be interested in taking on CMU.

KSU’s co-captain Kyle FitzPatrick

1. How many players are returning for your team?
Definitely lost 2 of our Vets (catchers at that). But overall were a really young team. We just need people to have the time / money to travel.

2. What strengths/weaknesses do you anticipate going into the season?

Strength: Our teams is no longer 70% rookies, and I believe we will be underestimated. Also I have a better grasp of how to manage a team.

Weakness: Money, we may lack some raw athleticism unlike other teams (cough cough GVSU, CMU)

3. What are the areas you’ll look to improve when scouting new players?

We hope to be more active in the scouting procedure. We might try scouting out some middle school dodgeball games for a feeder program.

4. What are you goals for this season?
Having fun, getting new players and improving current players, getting something in the win column. Hopefully attend more tournaments. (Maybe even try to host one.)

5. Why should other teams be scared to play you?
Because you might have fun doing it. Also, we have a unique strategy since even we don’t know what were doing most ofthe time.

6. Which teams would you like to play?
Hopefully we play as many teams as possible. I would like to see more of the native Ohio teams this year since we only played BG, OSU and half of Miami once last year. WIU & NSU were fun, competitive new teams I would like to play again. I personally have never played WPU, EMU, CMU and DePaul. Saginaw (meaning Stein) has already issued a challenge to Kent on the forum. GVSU as long as I don’t fracture me wrist again. Finally, MSU and WKU are always welcomed opponents.

DePaul’s Zigmas Maloni

DePaul Dodgeball will be returning for the start of the dodgeball season with its usual vengeance, and by vengeance we mean beating up on the random freshmen who don’t know how to keep their eyes open.

We’ve lost a handful of our “competitive” roster, but one of the most notable losses has been the graduation of Jack Young. As the face of the team in the league’s eyes, “Jack Attack” has become a herald and guardian of that DePaul Dodgeball decorum. So I’m sure he will be missed.

DePaul’s plans for this season include our normal thing – playing as much dodgeball as our bodies can handle. We have hour and a half practices twice a week, but we invite anyone to play without commitment. We play the game as our childish forbearers did. Our games are a juvenile program of delinquency, where the headshot hug rule substantiates our collegiate goals and ambitions.

In other news, DePaul also plans to do more this season than just throw balls at its own team. We are looking to host matches against other teams, as well as travelling to play nice at other schools.

We are kicking off this commitment by hosting our own tournament on October 2nd, 2010. The Chicago Hat Invitational will mix up the teams and hopefully foster some good times to be had. Any teams looking to participate should check out the NCDA forum and/or aggravate their respective captains.

At the last, we would like to keep up our reputation of playing a really fun game of dodgeball. If there is anything to be said about DePaul Dodgeball, it is that we will always be able to entertain ourselves.

Cardinals Looking to Improve

As Grand Valley continued its march toward another inevitable national championship last year, brutally destroying every team that stepped in its path and averaging more fans than some professional sports teams, another team in the college dodgeball heartland was making some noise of its own.

Saginaw Valley State, despite the stiff competition from GVSU, Delta College and Michigan State, continued to prove why it belonged amongst the NCDA’s elite teams.

But despite the recent success, the SVSU dodgeball squad wasn’t always associated with winning.

The team got its start in the fall semester of 2006. They suffered through a winless regular season their first year only to surge during the national tournament and take home a sixth place ranking and a fresh wave of confidence.

Under the fearless leadership of team founder and captain Bryan Janick, the Cardinals returned for the 2007-2008 season with a mission: to beat Grand Valley and win the national championship.

“The obvious school rivalry between SVSU and GVSU naturally makes us want to beat them, and we figured if we beat them we could have a good chance to win a national championship,” Janick said.

Unfortunately for Janick’s squad, GVSU derailed both of his team’s ambitions as they beat the Cardinals twice during the regular season and again during the national tournament.

The Cardinals finished the year with plenty to build upon, though, ending with an impressive 9-5 regular season record that included a notable overtime victory over Delta College.

Their hot streak continued into the postseason, where they racked up a 3-2 record on their way to the team’s first ever final four appearance.

“Last year was our first full year playing college dodgeball and to make it to the final four was amazing for the team,” Janick said. “Most of the team was freshman and sophomores, so we feel like we have a good chance to win a few national championships before we’re done,” he said.

Perhaps the most important accomplishment for the Cardinals last season wasn’t reflected in their overall record. Despite losing to GVSU three times last season, each loss came by smaller margin than the one before it.

“We are a young team and we’re getting better every time we play. I feel like we have a good chance to upset them this year, especially with the new students coming in this season,” Janick said.

Only time will tell which “Valley” team will emerge victorious and claim dominance in the college dodgeball capital of the world this season. Their first clash, which takes place on September 12, should offer anxious fans some clues about this intense rivalry.

No matter which team comes out on top, don’t expect the outcome to stop Saginaw Valley from striving toward the ultimate prize of winning the national championship.

“Winning the championship is more important because we would be helping the prestige of the club sport and Saginaw Valley State University.”

Something to Learn: To Err is Human

Story by: Aleks Bomis

On June 2, 2010, baseball fans witnessed some of the best things about the sport. Detroit Tigers fans will be quick to disagree. Who can blame them? Armando Galarraga, pitcher for the Tigers, had the game of his career, officially retiring 27 out of 28 batters without a hit. The lone standout to Galarraga’s streak would be rookie Jason Donald, chalked up as a single.

The controversy? Donald’s single, the 27th at bat for the Cleveland Indians, was a blown call by umpire Jim Joyce, costing Galarraga a perfect game and a no-hitter. That’s not a matter of opinion, as calls often are. Joyce personally apologized to Galarraga minutes after the game, later saying “I just cost that kid a perfect game” on local radio. Replay showed Donald was approximately 2 feet from the base when Galarraga, then positioned at first, made the catch to force Donald out.

There are a couple of ways to properly frame this scene. The first is to note the rarity of the perfect game. In almost 400,000 games of Major League Baseball, 20 have achieved perfection. Sweeping a presidential election might be the only task more difficult. Galarraga earned that perfect game and should be rightly credited for it. For Joyce to take the rarest of achievements away from a player with a clearly incorrect call is bad for baseball and infuriating for Tigers fans.

The other way to frame this is in terms of what happened after the call by Joyce. If you watch the replay, you’ll see Galarraga’s reaction to the call was one of the calmest responses ever observed. No tirade, no outburst, just a smile. You just don’t see that kind of behavior in professional sports.  Joyce’s actions after the play were equally as rare. Officials make bad calls, but personally apologizing to the aggrieved player and announcing to the media that you screwed up is unheard of.

In short, the participants involved acted the way people are supposed to behave. As the NCDA enters the 2010-2011 season, it’s nice to know officials at the highest level of competitive sports err, sometimes egregiously so, and players at the highest level can act with the docility Galarraga exhibited.

There’s no question officiating has been a sticking point since the NCDA’s inception. Teams need to place a greater emphasis on educating their players on the rules and on how to properly officiate a game. Further, the practice of grabbing a couple freshmen at the last second and telling them to ref needs to end. New players are often in the worst possible position to officiate, having played precious few games themselves.  At the same time, the hysterics some players resort to when receiving an unfavorable call also needs to end. If a man can have history taken away from him and smile, there can be no justification for getting into a shouting match over a dodgeball match.  Hopefully this baseball game and the MLB’s subsequent actions can serve to benefit NCDA operation this coming season.

Saying goodbye to the game I love

If you’re in college, hopefully you’ve had the experience of graduating high school.

(If you haven’t, you don’t have to turn away, but this next part might not resonate with you.)

Graduation day is packed with emotions – happiness, anxiety and nostalgia come to my mind. It’s the last time you’ll probably see most of your classmates, some of whom might be friends you’ve known since childhood. You’re shedding a chapter of your life you were convinced would never end and facing a future that suddenly seems much scarier. To cap off the craziness, your entire family usually witnesses your ascension into the ranks of adulthood.

For many students, graduation day is tough. For others, it’s a celebration many years in the making.

I fell somewhere in the middle about four years ago. I wasn’t sad to be leaving high school or scared of what lay ahead at Western. I was content. That’s the best way I can describe it. Not joyous. Not depressed. Just content.

That same feeling washed over me the minute I walked into the Perry Fieldhouse on April 10. For those of you in the know, that was the first day of Nationals 2010. After a mid-season vote, BGSU had stepped up to deliver the cherry on top of an incredible season.

But as the league descended on Ohio for their crack at the championship, I was gearing up for my final NCDA event with the men who comprised Western’s team.

It wasn’t graduation day, but my emotions were fully in control as I crossed the track surrounding four shrouded basketball courts early Saturday morning. As I passed, I saw faces familiar from past games and some I knew only from profile pictures. I smiled at everyone. This weekend, I was among 250 of my closest friends.

Our first game was against UWP. At last year’s tournament, we’d played them in the third game on Saturday and gotten beat 7-1. I had been embarassed but knew at the time my young team was running on fumes and UWP seemed to be going strong.

I knew my team had improved significantly since that loss and I planned on proving it at Nationals. I had a plan in place that I thought gave us the best chance to win on Sunday, and the first step was dishing out some revenge against the Pioneers.

With a carefully crafted rotation in place, my guys took the court. Like they always do, everybody played frantically the first half, rushing throws and acting like they’d never heard of teamwork before. We went into halftime down 2-1. My plan was in serious jeopardy, and I yelled at my team to “get their s**t together” for the second half.

Not one of my finest moments, I’ll admit.

But right after my meltdown, I experienced one of my greatest moments as captain with a little help from Andrew Swanson, one of our newer players. As I strolled away from the huddle to collect myself, I heard Andrew encouraging his teammates and telling them keep their heads up lest UWP feed off the negative emotion.

I was taken aback. Here was a guy who’d only joined the team last fall, yet cared so much about his teammates that he countered my frustration with encouragement. In the words of my dad, Andrew’s speech served as my “attitude adjustment” for the weekend.

I sheepishly returned to build off Andrew’s encouragement and get my guys ready for the second half. Whether it was me or Andrew, they were ready to respond to some positive reinforcement.

We ended up winning the game 4-2 with some of the best teamwork I’ve ever seen. Guys were throwing together, blockers were diving in front of their helpless teammates and everyone played their role.

That feeling of pride only swelled during our next game against GVSU. I had only played the defending national champs once, and that was a 16-0 trouncing at my first-ever NCDA tournament. I wasn’t planning on a getting even, and with our defensive game plan, I actually expected the game to be quite painful. I had no idea how my guys would respond to what was essentially catching practice against the league’s hardest-throwing team, but I needed to see if we could stick to our strategy.

I could spend the next 1,000 words breaking down the game, but I’ll just say that I was happier with our 4-0 loss than I’ve been with several victories during my time at WKU.

Every single guy played brilliantly. Some guys had to step into roles they weren’t used to for that game, and their response astounded me. I’ll never forget the sight of J.D. Gilliam, probably our greenest player, racking up 6 kills during the first point of the game.

To put it in perspective, that would be like Dennis Rodman putting up 20 points in the first half of a Bulls game. I was stunned, but the Lakers seemed flabbergasted by our tactics and J.D. just picked them off one by one. Sure, we lost that point and the three that followed, but for a brief moment, a rookie got to step into the spotlight on college dodgeball’s biggest stage.

The weekend was filled with plenty of other awe-inspiring moments for me.

After finishing up the first day games, I attended my final captains’ meeting. I hyped on my blog that this meeting would be a Team Jacob vs. Team Locke showdown between myself and Jack Attack. While we did disagree on certain issues, I was frightened later that night at how much Jack and I saw eye-to-eye on. As I told him via text, I didn’t like that he was pulling me over to the dark side.

Following the meeting, I got to indulge in one of my favorite rituals: eating at Ruby Tuesday’s. Driving 30 minutes and getting sidetracked by a dumbfounded GPS didn’t matter once I sank my teeth into a Tripe Prime burger. Felix Perrone and Alex Heichelbech (my two alternate captains) will attest to the amazingness of that burger.

I finally fell asleep on the hotel bed around 2:30 that night. Our two late arrivals knocked on our door at approximately 2:31. I’m convinced they waited outside until they knew were asleep so they could wake us. Needless to say, I let Felix handle their arrival while I worked on falling back asleep.

Ahhh, the perks of being a captain.

The next morning, my guys showed up sore. Since our best player decided about 12 hours earlier he couldn’t make it for Sunday’s games, I knew our goose was pretty much cooked. I wouldn’t be winning a championship in my final season, but I did want to go down swinging.

We did just that in our final two games. Against DePaul, we caught the court jesters off guard with some antics of our own. Just check out the pictures from Nationals for a glimpse at raccoon boy and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. With the goofy karma on our side, we made it 2-for-2 against the Blue Demons by beating them 4-0.

Kyle Dahl provided some fireworks when the Sasquatch of college dodgeball tried to punk Jared McKinney, one of our newer players. I won’t comment any more than to say I’ve never been happier for Kyle to get a red card.

My final game against CMU ended up a left-handed throwing point. How appropriate. Amidst all the testerone and machoism, my dodgeball career ended with a reminder that we’re still playing a children’s game.

I left Ohio without a trace of sadness in my heart. My dodgeball career played out better than I could have imagined. The friendships I helped forge during my three years as Western’s captain are a high point in not only my college career, but in my entire life. I could never express my gratitude to the people who helped make it all possible.

Like Michael Jordan, I’m stepping away from the game I love in the prime of my career. But not to worry, because much like MJ, I won’t be gone long. In fact, the next time you see me, you probably won’t even have realized that I was gone.

What do I mean, you ask?

Four words: Western. Kentucky. Nationals. 2011.

See you there!

Why I love College Dodgeball

Just admit it.

Deep down, way past any sense of self-control and common decency, there are times when you would love nothing more than slam someone in the face with a hunk of rubber the size of a soccer ball.

It’s alright. We’ve all felt that way.

But here’s the exciting part that most people don’t seem to realize: you can.

Whoa, wait a second!

Before you go rushing out to your nearest sporting goods store to snatch up your very own plubber (plastic/rubber) kickball emblazoned with Scooby Doo, let me rephrase that last statement.

There is a game that not only allows you to slam people in the face with rubber balls, it encourages such cranial obliteration.

That game is college dodgeball.

Ever since the release of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, there has been an underground resurgence in the popularity of the playground game taking place on college campuses across the nation.

What started as a clash between the first collegiate teams at Kent State and Ohio State has blossomed into a national organization (the NCDA) and a slew of new teams with more on the way.

So with the popularity of the sport skyrocketing to new heights, is there a reason some people still think college dodgeball is a joke?

(Thinks to himself)

Nope…I got nothing.

Unless you were the scrawny kid in gym class or just allergic to fun, you’ve got nothing but fond memories of dodgeball from your childhood.

I know I do.

We used to play almost once a week when I was in middle school. Anytime our PE coach wanted an excuse to eat donuts or check out his latest skin mag, he would roll out the dodgeballs and all Hell would break loose. The utter chaos that would ensue during the next hour never fails to make me smile in hindsight.

I continued to play during high school and loved the game so much that I even started my own team once I arrived at Western Kentucky University.

Starting off, we only played each other. It was fun for the first couple weeks, but facing the same opponents every weekend got tedious pretty quickly.

So imagine my delight when I found out there were other college teams out there that wanted my squad to come join their ranks. It was like Christmas come early!

I worked the rest of the spring and the beginning of the fall semester to get my team ready for play. Amazingly, I found it was pretty challenging getting people to come play on my team. Some claimed they had more important stuff to do.

Puh-lease!

More important than some much needed stress relief and a chance to get all the hottest babes on campus? (OK, so I made that last part up.)

Nevertheless, we showed up to the first annual Kentucky Classic anxious but ready to go. My heart was hammering inside my chest like Woody Woodpecker stuck in a permanent time loop.

To this day, I still feel that one of the most underrated things about college dodgeball is the nerves before a game. Standing on the court before our first ever match, I literally felt like I was about to leap out of an airplane. With no parachute. Naked. And on fire.

When that whistle finally blew, my life as I knew it changed forever.

I dodged, I ducked, I dipped and I dived. Playing GVSU in the second game, I even dumped in my shorts a little bit.

This was a game that I had never played before and am convinced that I will never play in the future. It was beautifully simplistic and utterly unique. The sound of rubber slamming into flesh had never sounded so beautiful.

It was the tempo of the game, the teamwork from the players and the total intensity of the whole experience that completely sucked me in.

One year and several losses later, I’m still in love with this crazy game.

Why?

Because contrary to popular belief, you can never have enough of a good thing. And considering that dodgeball left “good” in the dust a long time ago, you know it’s got to be tough to walk away from this amazing game.

I, Josh Raymer, love college dodgeball.

Patches O’Houlihan would be proud.