Several heads ducked in unison as the projectile sailed over them.
Thud! Thud! Thud!
Three more rubber balls slammed against the back wall in rapid succession.
Those audience members with bad memories from middle school PE classes probably questioned the sanity of the 15 young men standing on the court at some point during the evening.
The white and red clad combatants had scrambled for loose balls, rocketed throws at their opponents and dropped to the floor when dodging was no longer an option.
Although the motivation to play a childrens’ game in college escaped some members of the crowd at Butler County High School, players on the Western dodgeball team never lacked inspiration for their annual game against UK..
It wasn’t the prospect of campus-wide renown or the allure of playing in games that would be featured on ESPN.
Each player that stood on the court that night to risk pain and humiliation did so because of a passion for the eloquence and simplicity of dodgeball.
Any doubts of such devotion were erased when Felix Perrone fell to the floor during the game’s first point clutching his left ankle.
Perrone hobbled off the court and slid down his sock to reveal a sprained ankle that had already swelled to the size of a golf ball.
But instead of heading for the locker room, he waited for his team to win the first game before dragging his swollen ankle onto the court for the second point.
“A bad ankle wouldn’t stop me from playing this game,” Perrone said.
Teammate Ben Sobczyk battled elbow soreness to be on the court during the rematch of Kentucky’s two prominent dodgeball programs.
“I just took it out on our opponent,” Sobczyk said.
Devotion wasn’t the only motivation other injured Western players had in their clash against the Wildcats.
The “Battle of the Bluegrass” was a fundraiser for BCHS’ after-prom program and an opportunity to share dodgeball with young students.
Daniel Williams called the game “the highlight of Western’s season.”
“It feels great to give back to the community,” Williams said.
As he stood among a gaggle of third graders prior to the match, Williams beamed as he watched the kids pelt their classmates with brightly colored foam balls.
“The look on their faces made it all worth it,” he said.