2013-2014 Season Preview: Saginaw Valley State University

Many people know him as the former head captain of Saginaw Valley. If you frequent the forums, you know him as one of the NCDA’s Gods. Those close to him simply just call him Spencer. His playing days may be over at this point, but Spencer Jardine’s role with SVSU is vastly undiminished. We sat down to discuss the past and future of SVSU Dodgeball and the league as a whole. He also reassured me that there are no hard feelings about DePaul’s default win over SVSU at Nationals 2013. Trust me, if you didn’t know about this man’s passion for his team and the sport before….you will.

TD: Your name has been synonymous with Saginaw Valley for quite some time. Last season, we saw you step down out of a major leadership role and in comes Max Siler. What will your role be with SVSU this season, if any?

SJ: First of all, let me begin by commending Max Siler for his incredible work as captain last year, and this year. He has grown so much from his first year into someone I’m proud to have left the team to. He’s been a leader on and off the court as well as an ambassador to SVSU. I was proud to have him as my captain last year. Second, it was great to step down after the stress of being a captain for a team like SVSU. I really enjoyed my final year being just about dodgeball. It made the season so much more enjoyable. Players really do not understand how much work being in a leadership role for a club team is. As far as my role this year, I’m looking forward to taking over the social media positions of the team. Being the social network addict I already was I feel like this is perfect for me to stay involved. On top of that with my video editing skills I hope to record and upload EVERY game SVSU plays this year. Not just one angle either, I’m hoping to have all the games action recorded for the world to see. Video highlights are a powerful thing, and I plan to use them.

TD: I’ve always wished that more teams would try to film their games. It’s one thing to be able to talk about these great matches that teams have all the time, and it’s another thing entirely to be able to readily have access to the footage from them should someone want to view it.

SJ: EXACTLY! For example, SVSU has only beat GVSU 3 times in the past 2 years. 2012 MDC, 2012 National tournament, and Battle of the Valleys last year. That’s 2 OT games and a 2-1 epic that no one will ever be able to relive. Ever. And 3 games that are arguably one of the most important wins for SVSU ever. I don’t want that to happen again.

TD: From what I’ve read, the team recently had it’s first practice of the season. Any offseason rust to speak of, or is the team already in mid season form?

SJ: Its hard to tell with the first practices because its pretty easy for last years players to look good against people who haven’t played before. Only time will tell in their first games at Kent State how rusty the Top 20 is. Considering how slow SVSU always starts the season off I’m expecting some bumps in the road, but I have every confidence in Max and the assistants in Zach Phelps, Torrie Peplinski, and Nathan Council getting the team back to mid season form.

TD: Are there any returning players not listed there that you believe have flown under the radar for long enough now? Anyone who could have a breakout season?

SJ: Besides Torrie who I believe is one of the most underrated players in the NCDA as well as Myles Shepard. Trevor Mielock, Cody Putnam, and Kyle Foster are the 3 “under the radar” players that come to mind. Mielock and Putnam are both coming into their Sophomore dodgeball years and show promise to be a pair of dual threat players that can really step up for the team this year. After seeing them cut their teeth at Nationals last year I think they are both poised for a breakout season this year. As for Kyle Foster, he’s been a top 5 player for SVSU for a while now. But he’s had to play under the shadow of guys like Stein, Siler, Grayson, me, etc. It’s going to be up to him to step up and fill the holes in the roster with his play making abilities. SV needs all three of these guys to have huge years if they want to continue to be a power house in the NCDA this season.

TD: Now, we’re a little over a full season removed from SVSU’s championship at Nationals 2012. What was the key element(s) from that team that will need to be focused on to get back to that level this season?

SJ: Looking at last year’s team compared to the 2012 team, SV needs to get back to being able to close points. At last years MDC, SV was up 5 players to 2 vs GV in point one only to blow it and let GV take the lead. Then we come out in the second half and dominate to tie the game. Instead of losing in OT we could of closed the point out like we usually do, beat GV 2-0 and repeated as MDC Champions. Who knows what would of happened after that? Same would go for our game vs WKU at the BEAST. Up 5 players to 1 and a lucky catch with minutes left sparks a roaring WKU comeback to send the game into over time. And then we blow the lead we had vs MSU at Nationals last year. All devastating losses for us that can be blamed by no one but ourselves, had we just kept playing our game who know what could of happened last year? Besides that major issue, recruiting is going to be the key element in replacing the holes the team has. This could possibly be a make or break year for SV. Either they slip up like CMU did after their Championship or they just reload like GVSU did last year. Some of the most iconic players in the NCDA are gone now as well as the players behind the scene that put so much into the team like (ret) Vice President Lindsay Maynard. They need to find that next group of core players that are going to dedicate the next 4-5 years of their life to SVSU Dodgeball. Their future depends on it.

TD: Can you explain what it was like to cap off the 2011-2012 season in that fashion? You guys won the championship and you were voted league MVP that season by your peers, all while hosting one of the better Nationals weekends in recent memory and doing so in front of your home crowd.

SJ: You would hit me with that one (hahaha)….give me a bit to answer this one.

TD: (Haha) Take your time man.

SJ: I went in to the 2012 National tournament after a year of INCREDIBLE stress planning the tournament. (If you don’t recall we had to change the date of it TWICE!) Planning the tournament for at the time the most teams ever. Pressure from everyone having already won the MDC, the added pressure of it being at HOME in front of a much hyped Death Valley crowd. Having to find alumni refs for all the games. (I will forever take credit for that) All while getting the team ready for some of the best competition I think that has ever been at Nationals. If it wasn’t for Lindsay I would of jumped off my schools library roof. After all that stress the weekend went like a dream. I could not of been prouder of my team and the way they played. Seeing their eyes Saturday morning I knew that even if we lost in double overtime in the Championship it was a bad year. Nothing but a Championship would be allowed. The tournament went off with out a hitch, everyone loved the carnival, teams loved the arena/city, and my team found itself in the Final Four in Overtime vs our rivals GVSU. If you ask me, it was the game and situation everyone at SV would of taken. OT with our fans behind us for a shot at the title against the greatest dodgeball franchise ever? You can’t DREAM of anything better. I still get adrenaline rushes watching the OT footage on my Youtube channel. And to win by only 1 player? Unreal! Then to handle UK in front of a PACKED gym like we did was just the icing on the cake. After we beat Kentucky I was no where to be found shortly after the game…that’s because I had already walked off with 20 seconds left in the game into a side hallway and had my own Herb Brooks “Miracle” moment. The emotional relief of EVERYTHING, the planning, being Captain, every person you knew including family, and your school PRESIDENT watching your team all just came pouring out. I lost it right then and there, 6 years of hard work and dedication finally paid off at the PERFECT moment. It’s definitely one of the sweetest feelings I have ever had, and that’s including graduating Basic Training. And to be able to lead such an amazing group of men and women…40 years from now I will still remember every single one of those faces. I am grateful for every person who had a hand in making that year so amazing.

– Side note, I have never told anyone about what’s in the end of the article. Ever. Hell, I’ve never really been able to put into words that weekend. Thank you for interviewing me….brought up a lot of good memories Troy!

TD: It’s been my genuine pleasure. Now, I spoke with MSU captain Mike Van Ermen and he has explained to me how it’s championship or bust from here on out for them. With the league continuing to expand, the competition will continue to get even more fierce. What non-Michigan school has the best chance of ending the state of Michigan’s championship streak this season?

SJ: For the longest time, I would of said the state of Kentucky would of produced the next Championship team to upset the Michigan streak. WKU, or Kentucky were always my dark horses at Nationals in the past. That all changed when James Madison walked into Saginaw and put the world on notice with their victory over Michigan State day 1 of Nationals in 2012. A lot of people forget this too, they took the National Runner ups in Kentucky to a 3-1 thriller that year as well. Just a win away from the Championship. There isn’t a single 1st year team that can, or probably ever will be able to claim that. Then they go and beat GVSU IN THEIR SECOND YEAR. It took SVSU 5 years to do that! Had they milked their first game vs GV and saved everything they had at Nationals this year, we could be talking about JMU being the defending champs this summer. Don’t get me wrong the National Title will ALWAYS come out of the Murder Mitten, but I wouldn’t be shocked if JMU walked away with the title this year. I would watch out for Kentucky this year obviously, but JMU is my non-Michigan favorite for sure.

TD: You read my mind on JMU. They also are my dark horse to take it all this year. Personally, I was amazed by their performance against GVSU on Day 1 of Nationals this past season. I helped referee that game. Although it wasn’t the most entertaining game, you still have to admire the way that JMU kept GVSU’s heels pinned against the back line to win that game. I don’t think many of us have seen them dominated in that fashion before.

SJ: Also, I forgot to mention this. Granted the roster we took to JMU was depleted as ****. But JMU in their second year took the defending National Champs in SVSU to OVERTIME. Even if it was on their home court, it was the first time I played a non-Michigan team and went “Holy **** they could win it all.” And their Nationals game vs GVSU on day 1 was one of the biggest upsets I have ever witnessed in dodgeball.

TD: Are there any plans for the team to do some traveling to tournaments outside of Michigan? Maybe a rematch with JMU at the BEAST peaks some interest.

SJ: I’m not to familiar with the schedule, I do know going to the Chicago Open is a HUGE priority. We did after all forfeit a game with DePaul at Nationals this year and risk a top seed so we could play everyone we could and have as much fun as possible with you guys. After getting yelled at during the Captains’ Meeting, I will just quote Olaf Sanderson from the Mighty Duck’s 2 and say “Well worth it!!!” Would SV ever do that 2 years ago? No! But I like to think DePaul realizes we are a fun capable team (haha). Plus, who doesn’t wanna spend a weekend in Chi Town anyways you know!? Besides that I think MSU’s invite is a huge want, SV is looking to play more games this year since teams in the past have been so reluctant to play them. I hope they can get more games in this year now that they are rebuilding. SVSU is definitely a team to have on your schedule this year! I hope Torrie gets a lot of emails this semester, if you haven’t played in front of a SVSU home crowd…..YOU HAVEN’T LIVED!!!!!!

TD: Be sure to let Mario and Brian know that you guys want in for the CDO early and I hope we’ll see you guys at the Open. DePaul is very much looking to travel more too so I would definitely encourage a matchup between the two teams at Saginaw at some point during the season.

SJ: I will tell Max to send an email, put a good word in for us for the CDO! And I will for sure get Torrie to set up a 3 way game so you guys get a bang for your buck! If I don’t see DePaul in Saginaw before I die….I will DIE AGAIN!

TD: You got it. I will see you later on this season my friend.

SJ: Thank you for the interview Troy. It meant a lot to be honest…. Take care, I hope to have you guys in Saginaw this semester and see SVSU in Chi town in March!

One thought on “2013-2014 Season Preview: Saginaw Valley State University”

  1. It was my pleasure to help you plan Nationals, Spencer. But you’re right; I’m retired from dodgeball and happy to be so.

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