Welcome to the first of hopefully many articles in our new Team Spotlight series. This is where we take the time to talk to teams around the league and give them a chance to highlight some of their successes, planned events, and any other topics of interest. For this week, we have selected the University of Kentucky. I had the pleasure of interviewing their current President, Zach Parise, to get some insight on everything UK Dodgeball.
Hunter Ford: So first things first, you guys currently rank as the #4 team in the country with a 10-3-2 record. What do you think has been a big part of that success?
Zach Parise: A big part of our success has been our team chemistry. We returned basically the entire team from last year, and have gained some great freshmen. The team just flows together on and off the court. Most of us know each other’s movements without having to think twice.
HF: Everyone knows about players such as yourself, Brandon Engelman, and Colin Hiatt, but are there any players who have gone under the radar for your team this year who you believe make a big impact on your team?
ZP: Now I don’t want to give away too many of our secrets. Definitely assistant captain Ricardo Menchaca and Mario Siliceo are two playmakers along with freshmen Antonio Taylor and Keiman Jefferson to name just a few of our many talented players.
HF: So obviously Nationals is a big deal, and your team has the pleasure of hosting it this year. What do you think people are going to enjoy the most about coming to Kentucky for this end of the year tournament?
ZP: We believe this years Nationals could be one of the largest to date. Outside of the competition, I think everyone will enjoy the bar scene, and the local attractions like Keeneland race track.
HF: Aside from Nationals, what are your other tournament plans over the course of the next semester?
ZP: We are working on final details for the annual UK Invite at the moment. On top of that, we are hoping to attend WKU’s tournament, and potentially get out to the East Coast to play.
HF: Backtracking a bit, what were your team’s expectations going into this season and do you think you’ve achieved most of them thus far?
ZP: We had extremely high expectations going into this year. We knew we were returning a majority of our team from last year’s Nationals when we turned some heads. I think we have achieved a lot compared to recent years, but there’s still a lot more to prove throughout the rest of this season. I can speak for the entire team when I say we are hungry to keep winning.
HF: Are there any teams specifically you are interested in playing against?
ZP: I wouldn’t necessarily say there are any teams specifically. We would like to play some more East Coast and Michigan teams. I’ve talked to Towson’s captain and I know they have wanted to play us since that intense OT match at Nationals 2016. That being said, I would really enjoy playing against some of the teams that have beaten us earlier this year.
Dating back to October 15th, the Wildcats are currently riding a 7 game win streak which includes wins over VCU, Akron, Miami (OH), BGSU, OSU, and Ohio. They also picked up a big signature win over MSU in September at the Buckeye Invite which plays a big part in their #4 ranking in the country. UK’s last appearance in the National Championship came in 2012, but they are making a strong case this season for a potential return to that spot. Right now, they will be happy riding their current streak of success, but I know for a fact they are not complacent with where they are.
If your team is interested in getting featured in our Team Spotlight series, feel free to message me directly, or contact us through our league email: firstname.lastname@example.org