What a season. After a Covid-shortened 2019-20 and the lost season of 2020-21, College Dodgeball was back with a vengeance in 2021-22. New faces popped up on teams across the country, and new stars emerged. Congratulations the the following 12 players for being selected as 2022 1st Team All-Americans:
National Player of the Year: Evan Eschenburg
JAMES MADISON UNIVERSITY
This is Eschenburg’s fourth time making the All-American list, and this time he capped it off with a National Player of the Year selection. There was nowhere else for him to go but up in what has been one of the most decorated college dodgeball careers of all time. To steal (slightly) from Friday Night Lights (the movie), he can throw, catch, block, run, fill the Gatorade cooler, walk the dog, and paint your back porch all in one match. Eschenburg helped lead JMU to some massive victories this season including an upset victory over #1 Cincinnati on Saturday of Nationals, and brought his team within an overtime period of making the title game. Whatever you want to say about the kid, you can’t say he wasn’t always the best player on the court in any given game. Congrats to Mr. Eschenburg on being this season’s College Dodgeball MVP.
2) Jack Girling
MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
If you’ve faced (or even heard of) Michigan State this year, then you are all too familiar with the Spartans’ left corner anchor and his insanely accurate crosses. Girling burst onto the scene early in MSU’s first tournament, notching 11 kills and 2 catches in the first HALF of the Spartan’s first game of the year, and has just never taken his foot off of the gas since. His left-handed throw is one of the most accurate throws in the country no matter the distance, and rarely seems to waver. Girling capitalizes on even the smallest openings of a block and sends even the most experienced catchers walking to the out line staring at their hands. Couple that with an innate ability to snag clutch catches and a strong vocal presence, you really have the embodiment of what it means to be an All-American. Girling ended this season red hot, and if he continues this level of play you can fully expect him to be a Player of the Year front-runner for Michigan State in the 2022-23 NCDA season.
3) Ben Smart
GRAND VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY
Ben Smart is no stranger to this league or All-American accolades. The former National Player of the Year battled injuries in the 2nd half of the season, keeping him out of the Michigan Dodgeball Cup. Smart was still able to make a big enough impact to finish 3rd in All-American voting. If you have seen Smart on the court, you know that he can do it all: throw with power, throw with accuracy, catch, and block. He has all the tools and is a big reason why GVSU found itself back on top at season’s end. His clutch catches late in games and transition play are second to none. Being the best overall player on the best team makes Ben an easy All-American selection. Ben returns next season for the Lakers and will look to reclaim his spot at the top in 2023.
4) Josh Hill
GRAND VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY
What a season for Josh Hill. Grand Valley proved once again they are the class of the league, but those who watched understood that they were a different team when Hill was on the court. Hill somehow throws harder now than he did before having shoulder surgery, and the accuracy has remained impressive. Hill is one of the best transition players in the NCDA and was perfect in the corner executing Grand Valley’s game plan. The veteran’s confidence was through the roof this season, and down the stretch that confidence seemed to rub off on his teammates as he helped lead GVSU back to their first title since his freshman year back in 2018. Hill’s play at Nationals alone was enough to put him on this list, but he was a consistent threat for the Lakers all season long.
5) Cory Heitmann
UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI
If there is one word that best describes Cory Heitmann, it would be fearless. You should expect no less from someone who’s been a soccer goalie since he was 4. Given Heitmann’s soccer background, it’s no surprise he became one of the most dangerous players in the NCDA. Whether he’s running you down in transition or commanding the base line, Heitmann can do it all. He has a quick and nasty 12-6 curveball throw that makes him a menace in transition, is quick on his feet, able to block any throw with ease, and puts his body on the line to dodge and/or catch anything that comes his way. Heitmann’s athleticism, fearlessness, and tenacity is unrivaled in our league. This is his first time on the All-American list and it is much deserved as he led UC to their first Ohio Dodgeball Cup and first Final Four appearance in program history.
6) Barry Butler III
MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
Entering the 2021-22 NCDA season after earning Rookie of the Year in 2020, Barry Butler III looked to make himself a household name across the league. Boasting one of the strongest arms in the country, Butler’s flashy middle presence for the Spartans gave his teammates a formula for success. There are very few people that do a better job in transition offense than Butler. Besides his terrifying throw, Butler is dynamic in his movements and comes up with big catches in transition. If someone wants to surpass Butler, they’re going to have to outwork him for it. His unmatched dedication to continuing to grow will only propel him further in the NCDA to be a potential great within the game. With the chemistry that Girling and Butler III have built at MSU, look for those two to be atop next season’s All-American list.
7) Dylan Greer
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
If you’ve come this far and you still don’t recognize the name Dylan Greer, then honestly the NCDA isn’t for you. In his final season, Greer earned the title as 2022 Ohio Region Player of the Year, and he comes in at number 7 on the All-American 1st Team. Like many other players on this list, Greer can do it all. He is agile on the court in a way that tires out opponents. He can jump and dodge team throws by putting his whole body (and trust) behind an 8.5-inch ball. He can throw with precision and strength that makes you want to go for the catch but leaves you heading for the out line every single time. He will push an entire team to their back line with pump fakes, and will snag catches from the strongest throwers in the league. Greer has consistently performed with unwavering energy. What others may not always see on the courts though, is Dylan’s passion for the sport itself. He has spent countless hours brainstorming ways to expand and improve the league. He has offered his place as a home-base for team dinners, strategizing, and socializing. But most importantly, he gets to know every individual on OSU’s roster in a personal way and makes an effort to help them develop the love he has for dodgeball. Dylan embodies what it means to be an All-American player. He is a voice for this league, and it’s safe to say he will continue to prioritize the goals of the dodgeball community.
8) Tyler Peach
GRAND VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY
Being the captain of the National Champions is a good start to finding yourself on the All-American list, but Tyler Peach did much more than that this year. Peach showcased a lethal throw that was hard and accurate, and when an injury kept him from being able to do that, he decided to be a phenomenal catcher. There is nothing Peach can’t do on the court to help his team, and you never see this guy rattled. Peach is one of the most calm, cool, and collected players in any given situation, and it showed many times this year when his survivability and catching were keeping GVSU in points. Look for him to be in the NPOY conversation next year, although a couple of his teammates might have something to say about that.
9) Drew Funk
JAMES MADISON UNIVERSITY
While his teammate above certainly got plenty of glory, Drew Funk was also able to shine on a talent-laden Final Four finishing team. While serving as Captain and President of JMU, Funk was able to lead the club to its first Final Four appearance since 2015. His all around play style was able to give East Coast opponents fits all season as he proved to be one of the most difficult players to get out on the court. The combination of his skills and leadership helped bring JMU back to a position atop the league. An all-around player that left a strong legacy, Funk will no doubt be remembered fondly amongst other JMU legends.
10) Jake Friedman
Jake Friedman was a member of the 2019 National Championship Towson Tigers team. While he was just a freshman on that team, he was able to have moments that showed the potential of a future All-American. This season, he was able to bring that all together and be a consistent presence on what was otherwise an up and down season for Towson. Often commanding his team at the front of the pack, Friedman was able to display high levels of maturity as a leader for the team and remained in control even through tight games during the season. His court awareness and IQ played a large part in his success over the course of his career, and that’s what landed him on the All-American list.
11) Colby Chohrach
UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA
Colby Chohrach earns his spot at #11 on the All-American 1st-Team after bursting on the scene this season. Perhaps he entered your radar with his “corn and protein, baby” quote, or maybe he made his name known to you when you watched Nebraska step into the limelight at Nationals. Chohrach has a keen court awareness that allows him to snipe at unsuspecting opponents and look for counters in transition. He is a top thrower on any court and led UNL through multiple close points against opponents – often cheered on from the sideline with support from other Midway Region players. As a junior on Nebraska’s team, Chohrach has another season to bring UNL to the Final Four and establish himself as a two-time All American and Cornhusker legend. Look out for Chohrach and red-hot Nebraska heading into 2022-23.
12) Caleb Arnold
The prodigal son returns! Almost 7 years after founding the dodgeball club at Ohio University, Caleb Arnold has returned to the sport to rightfully earn himself the final spot on the All-American Team. Arnold is a fearless leader on and off the court, and his veteran presence has been instrumental to the revamping of Ohio Dodgeball. Whether he is sniping you with his signature snake-eyed sidearm or making the most acrobatic catch you’ve ever seen, Arnold is an absolute force on the court. There are few, if any, names throughout the NCDA that would be a better last man alive on the court than Ohio’s veteran leader, Caleb Arnold.
The above writeups were prepared by various members of the NCDA Content Team