A League of Our Own – Elly Schipfer

Dodgettes Navigating a New League

As the 2022 semester kicks off, 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 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:
Elly Schipfer
Junior at Miami University
Major in Kinesiology, Minor in Nutrition
Outside of dodgeball, I’m super active within our campus’ Catholic student ministry. I love reading, and when I’m home with my family, I love going to CrossFit with them!

Pre-NCDA:
I never played competitive dodgeball in high school, outside of maybe a few fun tournaments, but we used foam balls so it was completely different. I tried a lot of different sports in high school, but my favorite to compete in were volleyball and basketball. Truthfully, it was pretty challenging to decide not to play basketball in college at a varsity level, so dodgeball was not at all on my mind.

Initial Involvement:
I found the dodgeball booth at our mega fair and showed up to a few practices just to prove to my roommates I wasn’t too scared to try it. Once I met the team and started building friendships, I loved it! It was a new competitive outlet for me. My first tournament was honestly pretty anticlimactic; I was a rookie and was on the tentative side, so I only got in a few points that day. But it was still enough to want to keep getting better.

First Memorable Tournament:
A big tournament for both myself and Anna was ODC my freshman year (2020). As a team, things didn’t turn out how we wanted. As an individual though, that was the first tournament where I was consistently able to make catches, and felt like I was actually starting to understand the game. I felt like that was the day that I established my goal of becoming an active catcher for the team. 

In terms of challenges, I think one of my biggest struggles has been not letting myself feel timid. Even in high school, I was always struggling with getting in my own head, and there have been many moments where I’ve had to check myself a little and redirect my mindset. I’m also a huge perfectionist, which is not always ideal in a competition. So not letting myself get down from a dropped catch or off throw has been a work in progress as well. 

Upcoming Tournaments:
I’m looking forward to Nationals because it’s going to be my first experience with that tournament! We were sent home due to COVID my freshman year, so I never actually had the chance to go. Our team lost a lot of seniors last year, so it has definitely been a growing year for us. I’m excited to see all of our rookies gain confidence and step into their roles on the team. It has been really cool to see the different skill sets our players have!

Based on the first semester, there’s definitely a lot of teams that are worthy of making the top four in my opinion. So, I’m going to hold off on making predictions and just see what happens!

Changing Team Dynamics:
We had many seniors last spring, and some students who didn’t return following COVID. So we changed a lot as a team. We basically have a whole new roster, with only a handful of us having any prior tournament experience. I think having a year to grow is normal, though, so I’m optimistic about what could happen in the coming semesters!

Role Models:
We have never had a coach for the team, but I’ve been lucky to play with some really cool athletes. We still practiced last year even though we had no tournaments, so I had a lot of time to learn from Ethan Oilar and Reid Manger. I am a person who always asks questions, so I was lucky that both of them were willing to take the time to explain different concepts to me. I’m also a visual learner, so just having the chance to play with and watch them has been super educational. They both pushed me to be better, and to be completely honest, there were moments where they drove me crazy. Reid’s favorite thing to do was if I threw a reset that fell too short, he would just roll a ball back to me and make me do it again. I definitely appreciated the chance to play with them.

Being a Dodgette:
I love being a dodgeball player! I think as a female, there is definitely a pressure to make yourself stand out. We play a sport with grown men, and as much as I hate to admit it, they biologically have the advantage. But I love a challenge, and it’s been fun to really grow into my role as a catcher and prove that I’m capable of getting the job done for my team. I’ve been last in before. In fact, I was last in at my first tournament, and it taught me how important it is to learn to receive a team throw. One of my favorite things about dodgeball is just getting to share experiences with Anna. We love challenging each other and hyping each other up. It’s been exciting for both of us to see more women signing up for tournaments on our team. Katie Mei is definitely making moves as a freshman and I love it!

If you had to compare your play style to an animal, what would it be and why?
I love this question. I wish I could say something cool like a cheetah, but that is just not accurate haha. I think that when I make a catch, I have a tendency to drop the ball and just hug it with my whole body. So, the first animal that comes to mind is a koala. I feel like they would be good huggers.

I actually asked some teammates what I would be. Reid told me, “Porcupine: keep your distance and don’t look particularly threatening, but when approached you can cause some pain.” (I thought this was hilarious)

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