A League of Our Own – Anna Moellenbeck

Dodgettes Navigating a New League

With the 2022 semester in full swing, one thing can be said for certain about the college dodgeball atmosphere: we are amidst an entirely new league. After practices came to an abrupt end almost two years ago, college dodgeball returned last fall, and with it came an exciting season of close matches, upsets, rookies, and of course, dodgettes (Shout-out to Akron University’s female players for coining the new term). 

This article continues to highlight dodgettes across the league: December 2021 graduates, pre-COVID veterans, and new recruits. Stay tuned to hear how they made their name in the league and what they are looking forward to this year; in other words, dodgettes navigating a new league.

Biography:
Anna Moellenbeck
Senior at Miami University
Double Major International Studies and Political Science
Besides being a part of Miami’s dodgeball team, I’m in a social sorority and work as a tour guide. I love traveling, whether it’s going abroad or taking a spontaneous road trip with my roomies.

Pre-NCDA:
I had never really played dodgeball before Miami! Only the occasional gym class and trampoline park games. I played softball for about twelve years as a catcher before college. Having to react quickly and think on your feet in that position certainly prepared me for dodgeball.

Initial Involvement:
Dodgeball has been the best part of being at Miami for me, yet it was totally unplanned. During my first full week of college freshman year, my friends and I were running late to a free class at our rec center when we passed through the club sport’s fair. I quickly signed up for the first booth I saw, club dodgeball. I came to my first practice and loved it. There were two other junior girls on the team at the time, Ellie Wallace and Megan Warner, and they immediately took me under their wings. The older members became like older brothers to me, and my fellow freshman class became my college friend group.

First Tournament:
My first tournament was actually held at home! I remember being extremely nervous. I had great examples on Miami’s team who showed me what real dodgeballers are like, but seeing a whole gym full of them was super intimidating.

Upcoming Tournaments:
I’m super excited for this spring. It’s my last semester on the team, so I’m excited to put everything out there and play my hardest. I’m looking forward to hosting our home tournament and having our new team experience a home tournament with all their friends to cheer them on.

Changing Team Dynamics:
Our team probably took one of the biggest hits as a result of COVID. There were only three returners who had ever played in a tournament. However, I’m really pumped about the team we have. They’re working super hard and loving dodgeball just as much as I do.

Role Models:
I feel like there’s so many people I’ve looked up to over the years. Like I mentioned before, Megan Warner was my biggest role model. She taught me how to catch using my whole body instead of just my arms. She also taught me to own being a woman dodgeballer – that I was just as strong, smart, and talented as any man out there. She showed me to focus on my own strengths to match the talents of others. I don’t think she ever received the amount of credit that she deserved – not only was Megan extremely talented and brave on the court, but she was an important leader on Miami’s team for years. I’m forever thankful for her leadership!

Being a Dodgette:
Being a female dodgeball player comes with its challenges. Since my freshman year, Miami’s always had an extremely talented and competitive roster. I knew almost immediately the amount of dedication and work I’d need to put in to make tournament rosters, get playing time, and simply match the skill and knowledge of my other players. When I put that dedication and work in, I saw myself getting better and better. Yet, in tournaments, I saw myself getting looked over. I was passed over for male players who wouldn’t attend practices and would still be put in even if they were playing terribly throughout the game. I saw every other male rookie be put in, but not myself and the only other woman on the team. Even if we were clearly going to win a game, I would still sit on the sidelines. It was insanely frustrating. I didn’t even receive the chance to prove my place on the team. So, I talked with my captains and shared my frustrations. They were very understanding and willing to listen. I received more playing time, and with every outing I proved that I was an integral part of the team.

You don’t have to be a good thrower to be a good dodgeball player. I’m confident in my ability to catch anyone in the league, be a leader, and have enough on-court awareness to change the outcomes of games. I hope other women dodgeball players understand this, and I wish the league would give more attention to the talent of female dodgeballers who excel in skills other than throwing.

If you had to compare your play style to an animal, what would it be and why?
That is such a fun question. I would have to say an armadillo. Whenever I catch a dodgeball, I eat it up with my whole body. I usually fall (very dramatically) backwards and form myself into a ball around the caught-dodgeball, kind of like an armadillo does. I’m also not that fast, and I don’t think armadillos are either.

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