The DePaul Dodgeball Society is one of the eldest teams in the NCDA. Since being founded in 2000, their campaign has always been to show the league why they’re “undefeated.” Finishing with an overall record of 3-8-0 (#12 in the standings) last season, DePaul will look to build on that with more victories this season while maintaining the essence of what makes this team unique. I sat down with a former teammate and current DePaul co-captain to discuss the upcoming season and have a few laughs about the club.
TD: First of all, let the NCDA public know who you are.
SM: Well, my name is Sam “Smurfdoggydogg” Murphy, I’m a junior at DePaul. I’m the secretary and resident sniper for DePaul. I enjoy long walks on the beach and headshotting freshman. I spend evenings curled up with a good book and a rubber ball.
TD: The season isn’t even underway yet and you’re sending warnings to the opposing team’s freshmen? Bold move my friend.
SM: Bold move, or boldest move? And for the record, opposing freshman are safe for the time being. I’m more about whooping our own freshman into shape. A headshot is a costly mistake, and can leave you pretty damaged. Of course I speak from experience.
TD: I apologize for the many “costly mistakes” that I’ve had to give to you the past two years. Let’s call it tough love. How does it feel to finally be stepping up into a new leadership role in the club this season?
SM: It feels… Strange. To be honest, stepping into this club was intimidating for me at the beginning, so to know I’ve made it this far is quite an awesome accomplishment. My goal as a leader for DePaul, is to continue our inauspicious legacy and to make sure that no matter what, people are having fun playing dodgeball and that they are excited to play. But to have a leadership role is very humbling and I’m happy to say I’ve made it.
TD: No doubt that people around the league are really taking notice about the fun that the DePaul Dodgeball Society has. From personal experience, I can say that our recent teams have “underachieved” in NCDA play. What do you feel this team will need to compete against the higher level teams in the league?
SM: I think the biggest thing to keep in perspective is that we aren’t any other school. We aren’t MSU, or Saginaw, or any other high caliber team. We are DePaul, and in order to play with the higher level teams, we have to play like DePaul. We can’t expect to go out and win by playing the same way others do. That just doesn’t work. What we should concentrate on doing is keeping our own level of competition like we do every Monday and Thursday. We need to play DePaul Dodgeball, because for a lot of us, that’s the only way we know how to. If we try and go out and play like other teams, not only will we not play as well, but we won’t enjoy it as much. Don’t get my wrong, I’m not talking about being overly goofy, I’m talking about just keeping a level head and getting teams to play on our level. That’s how we can compete with stronger teams… Or if that’s not possible, be as goofy as possible. That’s always a win.
TD: Building off of last season’s results (#12 in the standings), could we realistically see the team have a top ten finish?
SM: Yes. We have a strong group of returning players and while we lost a lot talent wise in our seniors, we didn’t lose too many bodies on the court. Overall, I’d say we have more depth than we have in the past two years, and that will certainly give us a leg up when it comes to playing more closely contested matches and longer tournaments.
TD: One can always expect a few surprises from our squads every season. Brian Van Meter (#91) and Mario Romanelli (#85) were the big names on the team to take their game to the next level last season. This season they won’t be as big of a surprise to other teams. Who do you believe will be the x-factor(s) for the team this year?
SM: From what I’ve seen, there could be a mix of x-factor’s this year. There will definitely be a great deal of productivity from junior Matt “Howitzer” Schroeder, as well as sophomore Nikolai “007” Nodal, and I feel like their two play styles definitely fit the role of x-factor. But I also see x-factor potential in our two big men, 6’5” junior Austin “Treebeard” Downs and 6’8” senior William “Gigantor” Guenette, due to their continuous improvement over the past few years. Only time will tell, but a little under the table info from you to me, that Sam Murphy kid will suck. He couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat.
TD: Last season, we managed to take The Battle of the Brown Line series against Moody two games to their one. I trust that DePaul has plans to once again take the crown as top dog in Illinois?
SM: Being one of two teams in the Chicago, our matches with Moody are always exciting and hard fought. That being said, I feel confident that we can improve upon last year’s series and hopefully make it a full sweep. There’s always a sense of pride in being the top team in Chicago, and I’m hoping to claim it again. But if we don’t, at least there’s always Chick-Fil-A to be enjoyed after, so it’s a win-win either way.
TD: Just know that should you guys fail, there will be 100m sprints to be ran. Is there a new team that you’re looking forward to possibly facing this year?
SM: Well, we didn’t get to play them last year at Nationals, but I’m really looking forward to possibly playing Penn State. We talked with them at Nationals and really liked the stuff they told us about their team and program. Not to mention having another big school like Penn State joining the NCDA really helps to get the word of college dodgeball out more and more.
TD: Mario has mentioned big plans to travel more this season. What tournaments interest you guys?
SM: Well I know we’ll definitely be at Ohio State and MSU in the fall. But I think we’re planning on making some moves to Kentucky as well. It’s still very much up in the air as far as where we’ll go in the spring, but in my personal opinion, I’m hoping to make it to Virginia for JMU’s tournament. It’s a long drive, but one I’d definitely like to make.
TD: I’m sure JMU would welcome DePaul out for the BEAST tournament. Hopefully, we won’t have a repeat of the infamous “Gigantor-Red Rover” incident from Nationals 2013. Care to retell the story?
SM: Well, to set the record straight, I grew up playing Red Rover back in Maine, but I guess in Massachusetts (where Gigantor is from), they don’t have it. But anyways, in a friendly Depaul v. JMU Red Rover match, JMU called Gigantor over with their first call. Normally, you’d expect a man that size to lay the entire wall down, but rather Gigantor gingerly ran right around the line. That was by far our worst loss of the season. Hopefully, JMU would be interested in a rematch now that our team actually knows the game.
TD: It was indeed a great failure. I have to say I was very upset to know a person who had never played Red Rover as a child. Back to dodgeball, i believe you guys have enough experience to play extremely beyond people’s expectations this season. I wish my alma mater the best of luck this season.
SM: Thank you, Troy. We’ll make you proud. And in the words of Dave Chappelle as Prince: “Why don’t you purify yourself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka?”