Crunching the Numbers

The young man sits at his computer as the iridescent glow of the screen washes over his face and the anxious look adorning it.

His palms are sweaty and his gaze darts back and forth across the screen in search of an answer.

The stares of those seated around him are threatening to burn holes in his skull.

His brain is urging him to act but the right selection continues to slip through his thoughts like a wet noodle.

Alex Soukup is already off the boards, I knew he’d be the first one taken.

I’m really leaning toward either Andy Johnson or Miles Potter. Either one would be a great choice, but their stats make it hard to pick one over the other!

Or maybe I go with a dark horse like Jack Young?

Gahhhhh, why does this have to be so difficult?!

That poor soul you just read about? It’s me.

But not the real me.

This is a hypothetical Josh who exists in a world where college dodgeball has soared past football and basketball to become America’s most beloved collegiate game.

In this alternate reality, it’s the same time of year we’re currently enjoying. School’s out for the summer and dodgeballers across the country are enjoying a relaxing off-season.

So why is the hypothetical me analyzing the dodgeball prowess of some of the game’s best players?

Because I’m playing fantasy dodgeball, of course!

(Those sounds you hear are the chuckles of all the skeptics and pessimists who’re thinking, “Oh great, here we go again…”)

Betcha that was the same reaction fantasy football would’ve gotten back in the days when the ball looked more like a watermelon.

I know it requires a big leap to even consider fantasy dodgeball at this point in our sport’s history.

But this is my column and I make the rules. So there.

The idea for a column about the very distant possibility of fantasy dodgeball hit me in the week leading to my league’s fantasy football draft.

I was looking at the list of players and their projected stats and started thinking to myself, “How cool would it be if these were the faces of college dodgeball players staring back at me?”

How proud would I feel knowing that dodgeball enthusiasts across the nation were pouring over the vital facts and figures of their favorite players in the weeks leading up to the season?

Let me answer that question for you: stupendously.

But when I started thinking about it some more, I realized my dream scenario was missing the basic foundation of fantasy sports: viable statistics.

After all, fantasy sports wouldn’t exist without stats.

That would be like a car without tires: it might look good but it isn’t going anywhere.

It was when I hit this snag that the hamster really started turning in his wheel.

A possible stat would dance through my head like a graceful ballerina only to disappear like a supermodel’s waistline for one reason or another.

Too inconsequential. Too hard to calculate. Whoops, wrong sport!

I focused my brainstorming by reviewing the stats available to fantasy football players.

Then it hit me like a GVSU fireball to the face (minus the brain damage).

Fantasy football stats are designed to evaluate how much of an asset a player would be for your team.

Dodgeball stats should do the same thing – if you were considering adding a player to your team (real of fantasy), what kind of impact would they have?

Turns out clearing this mental hurdle was the equivalent of drilling a hole in the middle of a dam – the ideas starting coming so fast I had to write them all down so I wouldn’t forget any.

Which brings me to the big reveal.

After haphazard consideration and not-so-thorough analysis, I present the first generation of college dodgeball statistics!

STAT #1: Throws

We’ll start out with an obvious one. Players with good hands might be more valuable, but dodgeballers who sport rocket arms are undoubtedly the rock stars of our game. Seeing how many times a guy throws the ball during the game measures his aggressiveness and his overall arm strength. The dodgeball equivalent of shot attempts in basketball, this stat measures the number of times a player has thrown during the season. Since throwing more increases your likelihood of getting someone out, you would typically assume the more throws the better. But a high number of throws can also be a negative if you’ve amassed a large total in stats number 4 and 5, which we’ll get to in a second.

STAT #2: Kills

If this stat sounds scary, it’s because it is, especially if you’re facing GVSU. I would consider the total number of kills a player has to be a “money stat.” It’s like the number of touchdowns a quarterback throws in football. It’s a stat that’s clear cut and indisputable. If a QB throws 45 touchdowns, he’s a good quarterback. If a dodgeball player racks up 60 kills in a season, he’s a good player. That being said, it’s also important to consider stat number 3 when discussing kills.

STAT #3: Kill Percentage

In basketball, great shooters can really help their team when they’re shooting a good percentage. But when they go cold, their erratic shooting can really hurt their team’s chances. Kill percentage is a mirror image of shooting percentage, taking the total number of kills and dividing it by the total number of throws to tell you what percentage of a player’s throws actually knocked an opponent out of the game. Having never gathered dodgeball statistics, I can’t say for certain what the kill percentage would be for the league’s best throwers. But I would imagine it being along the same lines as some of the NBA’s most prolific scorers, meaning a percentage somewhere between 40-50% would put you among the league’s elite. This stat’s also important because it measures a player’s efficiency when throwing. A high percentage means that player is picking his spots and not making wasted throws. And considering the tournament format of most dodgeball competitions, preserving one’s arm strength can never be undervalued.

STAT #4: Throws Caught

This is a very damaging stat for the sheer fact that it hurts a team more than any other performance measure. The total number of throws a player makes that the opposition catches indicates several things about that player. The first is that the player is likely undisciplined in his throwing habits. Since a huge part of earning kills lies in throwing strategy, a high number of throws caught likely means a player is making long, lazy throws or is simply challenging players who are adept at catching. Either way, this also shows a lack of dodgeball knowledge that will likely translate into other statistical categories.

STAT #5: Caught Percentage

The inverse of kill percentage, this stat measures the number of throws caught divided by the number of throws. This would be an embarrassing stat if it got above a normal percentage. A good comparison would be a player with a low free throwing shooting percentage in the NBA. As much as that stat’s a warning sign for NBA teams, this stat should also raise a red flag in dodgeball circles. Not only does it consequently decrease a player’s kill percentage (and his kills), it also contributes to another forthcoming stat that players should be keen to avoid.

STAT #6: Blocks

While it’s probably one of the least glamorous dodgeball stats, the total number of blocks a player accumulates would have a large scoring impact in my fantasy dodgeball realm. I mentioned it in an another piece, but answer me this: if Player A gets 5 kills in a game and blocks made by Player B keep 10 of his teammates in the game, which player is more valuable to his team? You could make a solid case for either argument. To further augment the importance of blocking in dodgeball, consider this comparison: in football, whether an offense is running or passing the ball, what is one thing that offense must do if it wants to succeed either way? That’s right, it must block. Making blocks for retreating players keeps your throwers in a game. In many ways, it’s the equivalent of an assist in basketball since you’re setting a teammate up to do something after your effort. A high number of blocks can also correlate to a higher number of kills considering players who charge forward to throw are often attacked before their attempt.

STAT #7: Catches

Catching is the single most important thing a player can do in a dodgeball game. It’s a simple truth that’s kept a team like OSU at the top of the league every year. For that reason, catches would earn huge points in fantasy dodgeball. It would also be a stat that contributed heavily to a player’s overall skill level. Fans might look at kills, but fellow players will look at catches. The number of rebounds a basketball player has per game is a great comparison for this stat. Like catching, rebounding is tough and doesn’t always draw the reaction from the crowd that a sick dunk might. But teams love players that step up and rebound, and if you look at the stats, teams that win the rebound battle often win the game. A focus on catching might translate to fewer kills. But I wouldn’t be surprised if that kind of team-first mentality didn’t translate into a higher number of blocks and a lower number of our next stat.

STAT #8: Outs

You can’t help your team if you’re on the sideline. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. However, it does take some thinking to realize the impact that a high number of outs has on almost every other stat on this list. Whether it’s by getting hit, throwing a caught ball or stepping out of bounds, a player’s total outs is a huge detriment to his overall effectiveness. It’s the same for players with a high number of fouls in basketball. Outs once again suggest a lack of discipline that doesn’t bode well for a player or his team. Players with high caught percentages will obviously have high out totals, as will players who play on teams without prolific blockers. In fantasy dodgeball, this would be the primary warning flag when drafting a player. If he gets out a lot, he’s not going to carry much value.

STAT #9: Out Percentage

This is the cousin of the kill and caught percentages. Out percentage takes the total number of points that concluded with a player being out divided by the total number of points they played. It basically tells you how likely it is that a player will be on the court when a point concludes. For example, if Player A has an out percentage of 23, then there’s a 77% chance he’ll be on the court when a point concludes. It’s a great measure of a player’s resilience and their grasp of dodgeball’s important skills. After all, being on the court at the end of a point is basically a game of survival. If a player has a low out percentage, it means they’re adept at blending in with their surroundings or they block, catch and kill better than their opponent. If it’s the latter, then a low out percentage can typically be considered a good gauge of player effectiveness.

STAT #10: Ball Grabs

Its name might draw a laugh, but this is an underrated stat in college dodgeball. Teams like GVSU have proven that ball control is essential for victory. Control the balls and you can dictate the tempo of the game. Teams that dictate the tempo of the game usually win. It’s a logical progression that starts with a good opening rush. In order to come back from the rush with a majority of the balls, you need fast players. A ball grab is awarded when a player comes away from a rush with a ball. This stat helps to quantify and reward speed, a quality that often goes unnoticed during competition. Consider it dodgeball’s version of the stolen base. In baseball, speedy baserunners can put you in a position to win. Same goes with our game.

STATS #11, 12, 13: Kills, Blocks, and Catches Per Game

It’s always important to have a “per game” stat thrown in to reward players who perform consistently over several games. Looking at the total number of kills, blocks and catches only tells half the story. Since fantasy dodgeball occurs only after the league has set schedules for every team, per game discrepancies aren’t a factor. Per game stats also help interested parties know roughly what they can expect from a certain player. If you’re the captain of a team and looking to start a guy who can get you 10 blocks per game, all you do is look at his BPG. Per game stats will also help determine league leaders in each major category.

That concludes my initial list of dodgeball stats.

Does your head hurt now? Mine too.

But choke down some Tylenol and bear with me. We’re almost finished.

I’m very aware that fantasy dodgeball is on a horizon many years in the future. In fact, fantasy sports might not even be around by the time this becomes a possibility.

Regardless of that fact, this college dodgeballer thinks it’s about time our beloved game got a statistical facelift.

The stats I’ve outlined are relevant, original, and best of all, easy to calculate.

At the very least, I say we try it out with bigger programs like GVSU or SVSU and see how they work.

Like any improvement, I’m sure there will be tweaks and upgrades that need to be made.

Once the wrinkles are ironed out, I think we’ll all be amazed at how long we went without stats.

Besides, how fun would it be to whisper to your teammate in a crowded elevator, “You’re just jealous because I’ve got five more kills than you.”

That’s what I thought.

WKU Rallies Late

Story by: M. Blake Harrison

“Our players couldn’t help but feed off the fan energy,” Josh Raymer said gratefully in reference to the crowd at Western’s home opener against UK.

It was that energy which propelled Western to a 1-0 start in its third year of competitive dodgeball.

Western, who played host to just its second-ever home game Sunday afternoon, was welcomed by upwards of 150 fans at the Preston Health & Activities Center on main campus.

The raucous crowd looked on as the Toppers took a commanding 1-0 lead to start the contest.

With the lead, Western zeroed in on their second point as UK lost men rapidly.

Finally down to one opponent, Western sophomore Luke “The Sideline Assassin” Gilliam nailed UK’s final hope to tie the match at one apiece.

With a commanding 2-0 lead, Raymer, who serves as the Hilltoppers’ head coach, chose to sub in some younger players for the third point, which they lost.

“We really just lost track of our game plan after awhile,” Raymer said. “Our level of play wasn’t as strong.”

UK won the fourth point to knot the game at 2-2 by the end of regulation.

The fact that the Toppers finished the half up 2-1 and tied 2-2 at the end of regulation highlighted the impact of Gilliam’s play early in the first half.

“It looks a lot better now than it did at the time,” Gilliam said after the match. “Little points like that can make all the difference.”

With 10 minutes of overtime to decide the outcome of the match, Western’s cheering section rose to the occasion.

With chants of “Let’s go Western,” and “T-O-P-S, TOPS, TOPS, TOPS” in the background, the home team prevailed.

WKU eliminated their final opponent with time to spare, sending a message to future foes:  Don’t mess with the Tops in Preston.

Freshman fan Joshua Amos summed up the crowd’s mentality, “With the fans behind them, I knew they could pull it off.”

The Noob Report

Story by: Kris Wright

Starting a new dodgeball club at your school may be the hardest part of dodgeball as a whole. Really. Because you have no club, then you have no team, and if you have no team, you can’t play, and that’s where the fun is.

Working on starting my second team, I have learned the do’s and don’ts of this process and how to keep a team running. Here are just a few things to remember when trying to start your club.

1. Advertise
By advertise I don’t mean go buy an ad in the school paper, I mean print out flyers and post them EVERYWHERE around your campus. Put them in every floor of every building and dorm, anywhere people will be so they can see that you’ve made a club.

2. Recruit
Not only do you need flyers, but you must also talk to anyone interested. Make announcements before or after class, in the student center and anywhere there is a large group. But make sure you’re professional about it or no one will take you seriously. Also, talk with athletes that play sports that aren’t in season, like basketball players in the fall or football players in the winter, and make the argument that dodgeball is a great way to stay active in their offseason.

3. Be Professional
When dealing with your school’s campus life and starting your club, don’t just “get around to it whenever.” Schedule meetings, check up on your club’s status and make sure you know everything there is to know to get your club started and off the ground. When going to meetings, don’t go in your hoodie and sweats. Instead, try a polo and jeans. Looking the part could make all the difference, and if your campus life director thinks that you don’t look or act the part, they may not approve your club, which means no dodgeball for you.

4. Fundraise
My final point is that you must fundraise in order to get anywhere with your team, especially if club fees and dues don’t cut it. If you need to fundraise, you have two good choices to raise money for your team. You can either really fundraise by going door to door selling candy or pizza kits or you can sell advertising space. Find any local businesses that regularly sponsor other college activities and start there by selling space on a science board or just plain poster board. This usually works better if you can get some home games, but brainstorm some other ideas that will entice businesses to advertise with you.

Starting your club is probably the hardest and most time consuming part of the dodgeball process, but stick with it and you’ll have a club that’s playing games in a matter of no time.

Six questions with AJP’s Hosts

Wondering just who Jazzy’s put at the helm of the NCDA’s beloved Average Joes Podcast? Let’s find out. What follows are six questions designed to introduce our new hosts in a way that only college dodgeball could pull off. What also follows? Utter hilarity.

1. What aspect of college dodgeball was most surprising to you when you first got involved with the game?

Alex: How serious the game was. I was expecting a whole lot of goofing off and no real organization. I was impressed by the degree of planning and organization involved.
Zac: Definitely the intensity. I never thought the level of competitiveness would be as high as it is.

2. What are you hoping to bring to Average Joes’ Podcast that will help make the show the greatest podcast in history?

Alex: I hope to keep the show informative and entertaining. I think humor is the best way to broadcast news so that’s what I’ll shoot for.
Zac: Besides my awesome good looks and sexual voice, nothing. I kid. I would have to say my insight into a game that has long befuddled critics, skeptics, and scholars alike. College Dodgeball is a peculiar game, and I am a peculiar man.

3. Which would you rather see during a dodgeball game: a sick headshot or a sick shot to the groin? If you were playing, which would you rather have happen to you?

Alex: Hmm… Groin shots are classic but a head shot can leave a more visible mark. I would have to say groin shot only because of the possibility that crying or vomiting could occur.
Zac: Groin. Way funnier. Every guy hates to admit that a shot to the business is hilarious, but no man wants to take one… so I would take a doming before a groin shot.

4. When the podcast finally hits the big time and we’re raking in the millions, what’s your plan of action for all that dough? Are you splurging on a mansion and nice cars? Buying your own sports franchise? How do you spend the money?

Alex: Two words… Playboy Mansion.
Zac: Probably savvy investing, and a decent ride. Nice penthouse in Nashville too, I would think.

5. What’s your most embarrassing moment?

Alex: Walking into a girls bathroom in a movie theatre. Made it all the way to the stalls before I realized I was surrounded by chicks. So I just made a confused face and said “Nope she’s not in here” and left very quickly.

6. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Alex: Two words… Hugh Hefner.

7.  Let’s pretend you’re a big time sports announcer now. What sport would you be covering and what would be your signature catchphrase? Explain your choices.

Zac: I would love to be covering professional eating. I wouldn’t need a specific catchphrase, because let’s face it, the double entrendres you can create at a wiener eating contest are endless.

8. You’re a big roller coaster fan. Describe the ultimate fantasy coaster that you would build with all your money from the podcast. Give us a name, location, specific details and it’s reputation among coaster enthusiasts.

Zac: Diamondback, but taller, faster, and with more air. And much more adjacent to my couch. The name would have to be something bitchin’ that they couldn’t call a theme park ride because its too violent or awesome… you know, like, THE MURDERATOR, or SKELETALDEATH. Basically, just find some arbitrary heavy metal band and name it after them.

The Rebirth of a Podcast

I’m a perfectly content 21-year old going into my last year of college.

Thus far, I’ve spent my summer lounging in my parents’ basement in my boxers watching Sportscenter and occasionally finding time for some menial online work.

Not to mention I get to stay up until 4 am every night and wake up at the crack of noon without ever having to worry about missing classes.

That being said, why am I secretly not dreading the return of school as much as I should right now?

I almost feel traitorous to my age demographic for looking forward to September just the teeniest, tiniest bit.

One reason: I’m an overachieving loser who longs for the return of a set schedule and the rigors of homework to prove to myself I still have some self-worth.

That’s a possibility. Not likely, but possible.

Here’s a more likely reason: I’m scheming.

The focus of my nefarious plans shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me semi-well.

Standing on the precipice of what could be my final year on a college dodgeball team, I want to go out with a bang.

I’ve already made a mild impact with revamping the league’s website and image, as well as founding a team at Western, but I still have a couple more tricks up my sleeve.

My quest to raise college dodgeball to the same level of national prominence enjoyed by football and basketball is like an all-consuming fire.

Or, in the immortal words of my hero Ron Burgundy, “… one great passion that lives deep within my loins like a flaming golden hawk.”

Maybe it was my complete boredom during the dog days of summer, but I felt compelled to share my thoughts and plans with the rest of college dodgeball nation.

The main way I want to help this league expand is something I’ve actually been working on for quite some time.

It’s always been my firm belief that a great way for this young league to grow is through the use of media, particularly the forms of the media that college students can relate to.

But I’m talking about more than the typical “Attend our first home game!” events on Facebook and posting sick headshots on our YouTube channel.

Don’t misunderstand me, those are awesome ways to grow the league and have thus far been very successful at doing just that.

But I’m thinking about something a little different. Something with a little more depth.

What exactly is this brainchild I’ve become borderline obsessed over?

The funny part is that most of you reading this column have already experienced it firsthand in six sporadic episodes spanning the course of last season.

That’s right…I’m talking about Average Joes’ Podcast. The official podcast of the NCDA. A place where everyone seems to get real, freaky naughty.

(Those last two lines are from our intro for those of you scratching your head)

When I first started AJP, I envisioned it as a bi-monthly program that would break down upcoming matches, recap games already played and dissect the game’s biggest issues.

Needless to say, hosting changes, technological restrictions and being a college student in general quickly destroyed my little plan.

Besides that, I always fancied myself a “behind-the-scenes” type guy. It never suited me being out in front of the camera, or in this case, a microphone.

After recording the sixth and final episode a couple months ago, I was torn.

I wanted the show to continue very badly. But I didn’t want it to continue in its current state.

We needed almost a complete overhaul if I was going to be happy with the finished product every time we recorded an episode.

So what did I do?

I got to work.

My first goal was to find hosts who could really capture and maintain the audience’s attention while simultaneously combining wit and actual dodgeball knowledge.

Something akin to the dynamic teaming of Al Michaels (the talent) and Cris Collinsworth (the knowledge) would be perfect.

I had already locked up my good buddy Alex Heichelbech as “the knowledge” after he returned this summer from a semester spent in the Land of the Rising Sun.

His love for the game of dodgeball combined with his command of the microphone made him the perfect fit for this job.

Now, I just needed the talent to make my dream combo complete.

For months, I racked my brain, trying to think of someone who could bring authentic broadcasting talent to our little production.

Then, driving to Lexington one weekend (I always do my best thinking when I’m driving!), it hit me.

A few months earlier, our team had hosted its first ever home game against Miami University.

To make the occasion more entertaining for fans, one of our players had invited his broadcasting buddy to do some announcing for us.

His name was Zac Newton, and as soon as he started broadcasting from behind that cheap microphone we’d provided, I knew WKU Dodgeball had found its voice.

In fact, the game was such a blowout that I look back and consider Zac’s announcing to be the highlight of the whole affair.

After mentally kicking myself for not thinking of Zac earlier, I shot him a Facebook message with the details of my proposition.

Let’s just say it didn’t take long for him to respond with an ecstatic “Yes, please!”

I think it’s also say to safe that I’m giddy about the prospect of having Alex and Zac woo our tiny listening audience twice a month this season.

After that major hurdle, the rest of the overhaul was a walk in the park.

New logo? Check.

Updated intro, outro and transitions? Check, check, check.

Updated hardware and online hosting capabilities to help bring a better quality show to our dedicated listeners? Checks all around.

Heck, I even made myself a shirt to celebrate the rebirth of my beloved podcast.

And come August, I’m confident AJP’s fanbase will be celebrating right along with me.

Virtual Reality as an Actuality

Ask any college player, and they’ll tell you that the great game of dodgeball can really take a physical toll on its participants over the course of a season.

Busted lips, twisted ankles, shoulder tendonitis — almost everyone can attest to the aches and pains this game can dish out from time to time.

In my personal opinion, one of the more underappreciated side effects of our favorite game is the damage done to the poor fingers on your throwing hand.

Thank God we only play this game while we’re in college or our hands would wind up looking like those of an offensive lineman in the NFL.

But as much as we moan and complain about finger pain brought on by the grippy, we’re perfectly happy to burn our fingers out enjoying another favorite pastime of college students: video games.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve probably blown off a test or paper to save the world on Halo 3 or duke it out with your buddies on the latest version of Madden.

Speaking of Madden, it’s still amazing to me that the NFL’s marquee simulation is popular enough not only to have its own TV show (Madden Nation), but also its own holiday (albeit one created by advertisers).

I’m convinced that Madden and the NFL have gone hand-in-hand in helping push one another to the top of their respective entertainment heaps.

Which brings me to the topic of this What If installment.

I know it’s the summer, but if you could all please flip your imagination from “Off” to “On,” I want to take you into a world where college dodgeball has finally hit the big-time.

A world where college dodgeball finally has its own video game.

If the above line would be the realization of a longtime dream that you’ve had, you’re not alone.

When I’m not considering the chilling ramifications of a world without the grippy throw, I’ve often devoted hours thinking about the possibility of a college dodgeball video game.

While I’ll spare you the full details, I want to draw your attention to some of the highlights of this exciting alternate reality.

First off, just imagine the impact of a full-fledged video game would have on our up and coming league.

I’m not talking about some kid in his basement putting together a Flash game with stick figures for him and his buddies to enjoy on the Internet.

I’m talking about the royal treatment from a premier video game company like EA Sports, complete with the same fanfare and promotion a new Madden release would see.

Consider for a minute how many millions of people have either seen, heard of or played Madden at some point during their life.

Let’s just say for argument’s sake that half of all Americans meet one of the criteria from the above sentence, meaning close to 150 million people would not look dumbfounded if you brought up Madden in a conversation.

Think about that. 150 million people. That’s mind-boggling. I’d be shocked if 150 people at our university knew that the dodgeball team existed.

Now picture those millions of people coming home from the store and popping NCDA Dodgeball 2010 into their videogame console, eager to see if Grand Valley is still the highest rated team in all the land.

We’d be bona fide celebrities.

Furthermore, the league’s revenue would be off the charts and the media coverage we received would be insane.

Any player besides me fancy tuning in to SportsCenter every morning to check up on their competition and watch a Top 10 that included a sick collection of headshots?

I think every college player across the nation just muttered, “Yes, please” in unison.

As for the game itself, my inner geek has definitely had fun imagining exactly how a college dodgeball simulation would work.

It would truly be a game different from anything we’ve ever played before.

Like I said, I could spend the next 1,000 words laying out the specifics of how I think the game should work, but I think a basic rundown will suffice.

Sticking with the golden standard for sports videogames, I could see controlling a college dodgeball player being very similar to controlling the quarterback on Madden.

Want to make a throw? Picture a pitching meter similar to those found on baseball video games — fill up a quarter of the bar to throw a lollipop or fill it all the way up to unleash a hellacious fastball.

Switching between your blockers, catchers and throwers would be a simple as switching between players on an NBA videogame.

Want to beat the other team to half court on the opening rush? Better tap the turbo button before the ref yells “Go” to get that extra burst of speed.

Use a simple flick of the controller stick to bring the ball up and block when you’re being targeted by the other team, just like how you’d raise your gloves to your face during a boxing match on Fight Night Round 4.

Switch over to the captain of your squad and pull up the in-game menu to call out plays for either offense or defense.

And if you time it up perfectly, hold down the trigger to enter slow motion and annihilate a competitor’s face with a devastating headshot, complete with the knockout physics seen in the aforementioned boxing game.

Are you drooling yet?

Seriously, tell me one other game that could seamlessly combine familiar elements from other sports games like NCDA Dodgeball 2010 would?

It wouldn’t just be the best of both worlds. It would be the best of several worlds.

We all cherish the chaotic and frantic atmosphere of a college dodgeball game.

Anyone who’s played the game knows there’s no other sport that requires you to simultaneously play offense and defense, watching for your headshot opportunities while trying your best to avoid ending up on someone’s highlight reel.

Find a company that can successfully translate that manic energy into the virtual world and you’ve got the single coolest video game of all time.

Before we leave, I want you to spare one final thought for a world in which you could come home after a tough loss to your rival school, turn on your console, and pummel that team unmercifully in virtual reality for their success in the real world.

On second thought, let’s not leave yet — I want to make sure I’m the highest rated player on my team.

Dodgeball’s First Moon Landing

When I was in middle school, there was a poster that hung in my homeroom class that read, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

Corny, no doubt, but the message was clear:

Aim as high as you can when making your goals. That way, even if you come up a little bit short, you’ve still accomplished something noteworthy.

A couple months ago, I made a moon shot in one of my columns.

I titled it “Virtual Reality as an Actuality” and spent the next 1,100 words talking about the possibility of a college dodgeball video game.

I talked about everything, including the implications of such a game on our sport and how such a game might play on today’s consoles.

It was a total fantasy, but like the poster in that classroom, my message was clear:

I want a college dodgeball video game.

Well, we haven’t made it to the moon (yet), but I’m thrilled to announce that it appears the league has landed among the stars.

Back on Sept. 1, I received an email from Morgan Haro, a marketing associate from Hudson Entertainment.

I hadn’t heard of Hudson before, but upon further reading, I found out they’re a video game publisher whose latest release, Deca Sports 2, will be released for Nintendo Wii on Sept. 29.

What does Deca Sports 2 have to do with the NCDA?

Well, for the first time on a modern console, dodgeball will be featured on a video game.

No, you didn’t misread that last line.

Dodgeballers can finally shelve their copy of Super Dodge Ball on the NES because there’s a new virtual counterpart in town.

Deca Sports 2, a Wii Sports-esque compilation game, won’t feature the incarnation of dodgeball we’re using to playing in the NCDA, but that’s not the point.

Morgan wasn’t emailing us to sell his company’s new game.

And instead of telling you what he did say, I’ll just let Morgan speak by sharing the last two paragraphs of his email:

“The reason for my email is to spark discussion on a potential partnership between Hudson and NCDA. The Deca Sports series is known for bringing sports that may not have a strong awareness in North America. Last year, we partnered with the United States Curling Association, the Canadian Curling Association and the Association of Volleyball Professionals, and were able to provide Wiis and copies of the game to all of their events to provide a new form of entertainment at the respective events and at the same time, raise the interest level of the sport at hand with an audience that may not have been interested. Needless to say, everyone came away with a big smile on their face!

I’d like to discuss how cross-promoting and integrating our product can attract more attention and add more well-rounded entertainment at your events and raise the awareness of the NCDA. The idea is to have zero financial transactions here so don’t worry, I’m not after your pocketbooks to have some sort of sponsorship. Just a strong cross-promotion with the foundation being the sport at hand and how it’s featured in the game and in real life. I’m open to discussing ideas, but would welcome the opportunity to introduce DECA SPORTS 2 further.”

Did your jaw just hit the floor? I know mine did the first time I read this.

I talked to Morgan about a week later, and just in case you’re confused, here’s the basic game plan we’re looking at with this potential partnership:

1. Morgan and his guys want to come to our big events throughout the season with big screen TVs, Nintendo Wiis and copies of Deca Sports 2.

2. Once they arrive, they’ll get everything set up and have the game playable for anyone who want to come check it out during the event.

3. For this season, I suggested three events they should attend: the GVSU-SVSU game, the Battle of the Bluegrass between WKU and UK, and Nationals.

4. Here’s the best part: in exchange for allowing something that will likely increase the attendance and entertainment value of our events, the NCDA gets a link on Hudson’s website and a mention in their newsletter.

If everything goes according to plan, it’s my hope that we’ll notice an immediate increase in both visibility and credibility for college dodgeball.

But what about a long-term benefit for both parties?

In a perfect world, Hudson would want to make an exclusive dodgeball game after the rave reviews the dodgeball segment of Deca Sports 2 received.

However, instead of simply stretching their version of dodgeball into its own game, they’d want to create something substantial and unique.

Who better to help them the NCDA, the premiere dodgeball association on the planet?

A little collaboration, some motion capture sessions and voila: Hudson Entertainment presents College Dodgeball makes my dream a reality.

I think it’s safe to say we’ve landed on the moon.