Lifted from Aleks Bomis’ [MSU Alum] Facebook
I’m smiling ear to ear about dodgeball this week. I’m smiling because the best run tournament in College Dodgeball’s seven years of existence took place this past weekend.
And I didn’t have a damn thing to do with it.
I’ve always been pretty concerned about where the organization was headed, what it was working towards. I invested a lot of time in it. It and the people who comprise it will forever be a part of me. The leadership and development that went on in the first few years got me accepted into a Top 20 MBA program and Top 100 law school. I’m proud of that and always will be. Dodgeball is on my resume, and I will unabashedly tell interviewers where it’s at and how it got started. Operations, recruitment, administration, marketing – it sounds silly (and it is), but when you add up the manpower and the revenue required to operate the National Tournament (think of all the hotel money), that’s a major accomplishment that most young people don’t have. The group means a lot to me.
I guess that’s probably why I was less than happy with the way things seemed to be headed in the NCDA last year. Things got more competitive and tense, abuse of officials led to officials not caring led to abuse of officials, the concept of winning seemed to outpace the concept of playing this ridiculous game developed by sadistic gym teachers… maybe it’s that I’m from Michigan where the more determined teams and players are, I don’t know. In any case, it eventually came to a head and I thought, “To hell with it. If this is how it’s going to be, I’m out.” That’s when a nice thing happened: the NCDA moved on without much disruption. From rules administration to tournament operations to keeping the peace or anything else, there’s not one thing where I am or would be indispensable. In the early days there weren’t many people committed to the idea of making this crazy idea work. Most of it fell to me. Not that I minded it – heck, it was more to add to my resume. Now there are schools from all over the country and plenty of people each year who have both the skill set and the desire to keep this going. College Dodgeball has reached critical mass. No situation exists today where I’d think “Oh, I need to handle that.” And if you’re not needed, well, you’re probably not wanted either. Maybe the saying “familiarity breeds contempt” has some truth to it. You either die the hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. Hey, could’ve been worse – I might’ve been forced out like Mubarak in Egypt.
I’ll cut the maudlin and just line up a few thoughts I wish I had the time or forethought to say to people when I see them in person.
Let’s take the big one first: To the teams that think I hate them – I don’t. Sure, you may have a couple current or former players I don’t or didn’t care for, but nine times out of ten a negative remark about them was immediately followed with “I don’t get it, the rest of ’em seem like nice guys.” Same applies in reverse, people can dislike me and like Team MSU in general. It always comes down to people.
I’ve never tried to screw a team over as an official. I’ll go a step further with that: I don’t think any official has ever intentionally tried to fix a dodgeball game played between grown men and women. Have I ever made remarks to the contrary? Darn straight. The majority of people reading this have as well, however, so don’t act surprised that The Old Man shoots his mouth off like everybody else. Doesn’t it make it right, and for that I apologize.
Sometimes you (I) need to just shut up and let others try things instead of going “No no, I know better, do it this way.” For example, there might be a skills competition or an all-star game or something else that makes this whole idea better.
Last, and certainly not least, the leadership you all collectively show is phenomenal. That’s the one concept I have difficulty trying to explain to outsiders – that college kids will put time, effort, and thought into how to better organize the activity of striking each other with vulcanized rubber. There are many sport club leagues in existence. Few have as solid a base as the NCDA. None are wholly student-operated.
As for where this takes me from here, I dunno. I’d like to put together an alumni production team to shoot and commentate games in Michigan and maybe Ohio. That’s one area where I do have a leg up on most of the NCDA – being an MSU Athletics cameraman for three years has its benefits beyond the field pass. Eh, we’ll see what happens next year. The facilities have gotten progressively better each year, and a brand new Ryder Center ought to be a great tournament site in 2012.
Now if someone can just start a team at the University of Michigan I could die happy…
Reply, 13 April 2011
Greg Trippiedi [GVSU]
I was kind of where Bomis was a year ago, didn’t know where the NCDA was headed and didn’t know whether the Michigan teams would be able to turn over their rosters entirely and remain competitive. GVSU’s club is about 40% of the size of when I first got there, but the sheer size of the club and the fan base has proven to the only thing unsustainable about it. What we accomplished this year was a complete turnover of the old guard to a new team built almost entirely of Juniors, Sophomores, and Freshman. There’s no doubt in my mind that if GVSU played zero seniors next season (and our three or four best players will probably be seniors), they would still be first or second in the state of Michigan, and that means we’ve done our job to turn the program over away from players who won the four championships. To bring home the hardware in a transitional year would have been great, but we still exceeded all of our own expectations, except that one.
The work that Josh and Felix (and everyone, really) have done down at WKU has made all the difference. The first time they ever played us (Oct. 2007, @UK), Felix was still in high school, and their club was two months old and we were at the very peak of our dominance as a program. It was hard to imagine after that game what they would do with that program, but really, the NCDA was pretty close to becoming a regional thing instead of a national one, and I have to credit Western Kentucky exclusively for changing that course. If this years nationals is the point at which we look back at non-Michigan teams starting their run of becoming title contenders, so much the better. Kentucky looks like it can become a college dodgeball hotbed. UofL isn’t good right now, but they have a much better chance of becoming good with WKU and UK around them to play against.
If someday, Kentucky and Michigan are two regions where all the teams are really good, then the NCDA can matter on a national level. For any team east of the Mississippi River, a quality opponent would never be more than a few hours away. A lot has changed in a year, and it’s pretty much all been very promising.