Hello Fellow Dodgeballers and Debaucher-ers!
DePaul lady dodgeballers here.
We’ve recently been made aware of a NCDA-related twitter account called “Dodgestitutes” with the description as follows, “Dodging balls and stalking players since 2013.” We are sure that some of you are already familiar with this account as it has been active for around a month now (we’re a little slow on the draw here, okay?). While this account claims to be all in good fun, unfortunately it is not fun for everyone who is associated with the account, whether they ask to be or not. It’s our personal impression that by labelling the ladies of the NCDA as groupies, stalkers, hoes, and most prominently prostitutes, this account belittles our impact and role as athletes and equal players in the NCDA.
Appreciated or not, dodgeball is a coed sport. It’s been that way since the founding of the NCDA (hell, it has been that way since the founding of middle school gym class) because anybody with arms can throw a ball. Male or female, we’re all adults playing a kids sport. We just can’t fathom why anybody would go out of their way to make it difficult for someone to feel included and appreciated. There is nothing worse than being told you’re too weak, stupid, or slutty to do something that you truly enjoy, especially when you know that you’re none of those things. The dodgeball court is a place to play your heart out, take risks, and get goofy. It is NOT a mandatory proving ground. When it comes down to it, dodgeball should be the same amazing experience for everyone, no matter their home state, jersey color, bicep diameter, race, or gender. Although we have never experienced the pain of a powershot to exposed testicals, the feeling of getting hit in the face by a dodgeball is universal.
The fact of the matter is, once the phrase “3…2…1…DODGEBALL!” is spoken, everyone on the court is there for the same reason- to compete in a sport that we all love. As players, we practice year-round, travel hundreds of miles to tournaments, put up with crappy hotel rooms, and suffer countless bruises, black eyes, and busted shoulders all in the name of dodgeball. Off the court, our teammates become our best friends, our housemates, and our second families. Gender should never be a barrier that keeps you from doing what you love and what we love is dodgeball.
This article is not about calling people out. It’s not about showing hate for other teams or even specific players. It’s about helping you all to understand what being an equal member of the NCDA means to us and why a few joking tweets or words muttered on the sidelines are still powerful and destructive of the respect we work hard (and play hard) to achieve.
In case this hasn’t been enough to get our point across, we’d like to include some of our lady(and honorary lady) teammate’s thoughts on what dodgeball means to them- whether you take the time to read through them or don’t. However, hopefully our words have enough constructive power to overcome the damage done by words of those who think differently than us.
Kate “Kateniss” Wittkowski #37
“As a first year player, as well as a first year student at DePaul, I have nothing but a positive attitude towards my fellow teammates and the game of dodgeball. I have always felt that I’ve been treated with the same amount of respect as anyone else out on the court… I have always been given my fair share of chances to throw at our opponents and play my part every time I step on the court. Because of my extremely positive experiences at DePaul, I find it difficult to fathom why any other team would treat female players with such little worth. They deserve to their chance to throw, catch, and get hit in the face like the rest of us.”
Annette “Wiggles” David #33
“I am not only a female dodgeball player but I am also a transfer. Imagine trying to fit into a place where you’re not only considered the weakest link but you’re also the crazy new chick that is wiggling on the floor that no one knows. Yes, it was challenging at first… But maybe only the first day because dodgeball at DePaul has been one of the most accepting and awesome “group” (scratch that) “family” that I have been a part of. The main men on our team work with us. Most of all, I have fun. I don’t approve of any prejudices in this game. Especially with the raw talent our men and women display on our team. We are forever undefeated.
I am Wiggles #33 and I approve this message.”
Abigail “Frankie/Blanket/ABBBKKKK” Bokun #71
“After being on the team for a year, this much I know: No one is perfect when they first join. When I was just starting out, for a while, I thought that I was being pushed to play harder because I was a girl so my male teammates expected more out of me….But now I realize that I was getting the same treatment as anyone else who was new to the team. We at DePaul Dodgeball want our players to improve and break out of their shells and learn something new about themselves on the court, no matter their gender.
I have gotten headshots. I have blocked a ball headed for my face and yelled out a battle cry at my opponent. I have killed my targets with kindness and smiled and laughed with the people I play with…I haven’t felt as though these experiences are gender-specific. With the exception of our lovely ‘hit the girl!’ chant. It’s true, you should hit the girl, so she can block it and give it back to you tenfold. If I ever feel disrespected, I won’t hesitate to bring it up, and I think it’s important that girls from all dodgeball teams feel safe and comfortable doing the same.”
Kayla Lynch #23
“Yea I’m a girl. Yea I play dodgeball. I may not be as good as you, but I try my damn hardest during games. Please do not degrade or disrespect me for doing the exact same thing you are doing- playing dodgeball. I shouldn’t have to tell you to treat me like an equal because it shouldn’t be something you need to be taught. “Hit the girl! Hit the girl!” I’m another player isn’t that the point of the game? I’m here to play dodgeball with my team.”
Klaire “Killer” Randall #00
“HIT THE GIRL!!! For the love of god, hit the girl in the motherfucking face. Use every ounce of muscle in your body. Throw your 80 mph fastball at her from five feet away. But don’t be surprised when the girl hits you right back, and don’t you dare do push ups when she gets you out fair and square. Pick up your purse and walk off the court with respect and humility. Then, when you get back in, hit the girl again. Because that’s all she wants, to play as an equal and experience the same things as everyone else on her team.”
Rebecca “Becky” Seemann #9
“Let me start by saying how fortunate that I have been these past four years. I have been able to play dodgeball with such wonderful and supportive teammates here at DePaul. I believe that DePaul Dodgeball stands for dedication, equality, and, most of all, fun!
Being a part of a Co-Ed league is very important to me. I love playing with both talented men and women. We all know that dodgeball is a diverse and unique sport, and I want to encourage teams to strengthen their Co-Ed spirit. I believe that each team on the NCDA should do their best to make dodgeball a welcoming environment for people of all genders. It is clear that, though women are technically allowed to play in the NCDA, they are rarely represented in numbers. I am not trying to blame anyone by saying they do not let women play, but I do want to encourage teams to recruit women.
As a league, let us all try to welcome anyone and everyone who is determined, or even curious to try out our sport. If we want dodgeball to become even more popular and successful, we should do our best to accept all those who have it in their hearts to be a part of our sport.”
Rachel “Caliente” Joyce #12
“Although my dodgeball career started with DePaul and the NCDA, it has continued and I have been playing for going on 4 years. With the countless teams I have played on and against, gender has never been much of a topic of discussion. Dodgeball, whether it’s with DePaul or the community of Chicago dodgeballers, is played for the love of the sport. It is not another sport to say that women can’t play on the same team as the guys. Sure, some guys throw harder than us, but dodgeball isn’t all about who has the fastest, hardest throw. We ladies can throw, catch, dodge, and play just as hard and passionately as any man on the court. We are not there to gawk at the men on ours or opposing teams because, let’s be frank, you guys really aren’t that good looking (haha). We are on that court to play our hardest at the sport we love.”
Brian “House Party/Bvan” Van Meter #91
“DePaul Dodgeball prides itself at creating one big, badass, strange family of different people. We have an amazing community of shy people, loud people, nerds, jocks, grunge punks, music students, accounting students, Ziggy (whatever the hell he is). It doesn’t matter who you are, you’re welcome with us and you will find a place. This is also true when it comes to having girls on the team. When the time to make a roster for trips comes around, we take people who want to be competitive, yes, but also people who are dedicated and just downright fun to be around. To be honest, 10 years after we graduate, we aren’t going to remember the score in a college dodgeball match, we are going to tell stories about the great times we had: the silly/stupid/hilarious things we have done, the people we were with, and the debauchery and shenanigans that we all got in. We are going to value our experiences with our friends, not the outcomes of a match. Leaving girls out of our roster when we travel would just be down right stupid. We bring people who want to play and have a ridiculously good time. Their gender has absolutely zero impact on that decision. Even with gender in mind, girls are just as fantastic to bring with us as any player. They definitely play with as much, if not more, spunk and gusto than a lot of players do in general.”
To the men who treat us with the respect that we have deserved since day one, thank you for putting the “D” in Dodgeball.
DePaul Lady Dodgeballers