National Dodgeball Association Tournament Preview: Washington, D.C.

The NCDA’s partner organization (the National Dodgeball Association) will be holding an east coast event this Saturday in Washington, D.C.

Below, is a preview of that tournament prepared by University of Maryland Coach, and DMV Grizzlies player: Zach Fernald.

DMV Grizzlies

The Grizzlies are a primarily Virginia and Maryland based team making their NDA debut on 6/17. This team features former All-East Coast players like Shawn Sullivan, Zane Durbin, Zach Fernald, and Daniel Fernald. All of these players have played with the Grizzlies in various forms of dodgeball since graduating college and are fired up to make their return to the pinch court as a unit. While those names may be well known in NCDA circles, there are a few key players who are returning to the court for the first time since their last NCDA event in 2020. They also have several players without any large court pinch experience. 

Final word: This is a talented team, they will look for their core to lead the way early on while those new or returning to this style of dodgeball get up to speed. 

Baltimore Blue Crabs

The Baltimore Blue Crabs are composed entirely of current and former UMD players. Headlined by captain Connor Engel, this is a very young and athletic squad. Engel’s experience and the knowledge of UMD assistant coach Michael Cho will help guide this team against unfamiliar opponents. They are looking to use this NDA season to prepare for their upcoming NCDA season this fall and will learn and grow immensely with each game they play. 

Final word: While missing firepower from star player Adam Butz, this team has practiced together all year and their team chemistry will far exceed any of the others in attendance. They also will require very little time to adjust to large court pinch since that is all they know. Don’t be surprised when you see them beat teams that appear better on paper. 

DC Snails

The DC Snails are a newly formed team of longtime DC area dodgeball veterans. While they bring no NCDA experience to the table, they have several players with a decade or more of dodgeball experience. They are led by captain Eric Cleaver and DC dodgeball mainstay Peter Cho. Steve Head brings an athletic skill set and a crafty throw to this team as well. 

Final word: This team as more years of dodgeball experience than some other teams have years alive. Some played pinch dodgeball back in the elite days, but this group is mainly no-sting players now. It will be interesting to see how this group of wily vets fares against current and former NCDA competition. 

Virginia Venom

The Virginia Venom are another Virginia based team, this time composed mostly of VCU alumni. Headlined by famous names in the NCDA world like Hunter Ford and Zach Parise, this team will catch the unfamiliar off guard. The remainder of the team brings elite catching ability from Matt Bosco and all around playmaking ability from RJ Morgan. It will be interesting to see how their formerly retired players fare in their return to the sport. 

Final word: This team is experienced, and while lacking overall arm power that has never been an issue for VCU squads of the past. Their biggest weakness will be that most of their players haven’t played in years, so they may start the day rough but they will improve substantially every match. 

Baltimore Precision

The Baltimore Precision are the only team on this list without a core of NCDA alumni. That may lead some to believe this is not a strong pinch team, and those people would be sorely mistaken. This team has a storied past and are headlined by explosive playmakers in Akil Antoine and Marcus ‘Heat Flare’ Morgan. While new to large court pinch, they are both impossible to hit and will adapt quickly to this new style. The remainder of their teams brings many years of experience, powerful arms, and plenty of dodgeball IQ. They will be joined by free agents Jostein Sagnes and Alex Costello. 

Final word: Almost certainly the most experienced dodgeball players in the group, but also the least experienced in large court pinch dodgeball. They should adapt quickly to this new style with the help of Towson alum Tim Wells and their two free agents. 

Midwest Mutiny

At just 19 years old, Nick Kemer has already emerged as a standout for Midwest Mutiny.

The Midwest Mutiny brings the most 2023 NCDA accolades to the table. With All-Americans Ryan Ginsberg and Terence Checkett, as well as women’s All-American Kathryn Mays and ROTY Nick Kemer, this is a team that has to be considered one of the favorites at this event. All of their players are experienced NCDA players and will come out of the gates firing against teams that lack experience in this style. 

Final word: This is a young team with arms and athleticism to spare. They will look to apply constant pressure and catch slower teams in the neutral zone, and have to consider this event a win or bust. 

Cleveland Chaos

The Cleveland Chaos is an aptly named group. Lead by Kent State coach Austin Byler, this team will thrive when the game gets sloppy. They bring lots of catching to the table as well as solid arms in Matt Barnett and Khacy Evans. They have a balance of young NCDA players in their second or third year of play and longtime vets with anywhere from 5-10 years of experience under their belts. 

Final word: “There’s a whole lotta dogs on this team” – Khacy Evans. Another team that will catch some teams off guard if they are underestimated, they will certainly give more talented teams a run for their money. 

Richmond Protagonists

Another team led by VCU alums, this group has been playing dodgeball regularly for a long time. While they do not travel often for tournaments they certainly have plenty of court time. They haven’t played large court pinch since college (or at all), so they will draw on the experience of their captain TJ (last name redacted)  and free agent pickup Cloud Tapia-Manon (PSU) as they adapt to the NDA. 

Final word: Admittedly not much is known about this team. However, if they can recapture the catching and scrappy underdog mentality VCU is known for they will have a stronger showing than some might think. 

Final Standings Predictions:

  1. Mutiny 
  2. Grizzlies
  3. Precision
  4. Venom
  5. Blue Crabs
  6. Protagonists 
  7. Chaos
  8. Snails

Author: Kevin Bailey

Current NCDA Chief of Content. Former Captain for Grand Valley State University (#4).

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