In the second part of our coverage of the NDL’s World Dodgeball Championship from last month, I sat down with former CMU dodgeballer and NCDA alum Mike McCarthy. Mike was one of the six dodgeballers that comprised an all-star team of current and formers players. He recounted his experience from that weekend and explained what it was like to play NDL dodgeball.
TD: Alright first off, tell me how you guys came about putting together this all star team for the tournament.
MM: Well it all started with Felix Perrone who decided to set up the team. Then from there people were brought up at random of who should join the team. I was actually the final addition so I had no say in who was chosen or how.
TD: The great McCarthy chosen last for once. Had you had any prior experience playing with or against any of your tourney teammates?
MM: I actually only had the pleasure of playing against Dan and Felix. All the other kids were too young. Also Camden came up to Michigan to play in the $20,000 tournament in Detroit with me and a few other NCDA players.
TD: Now, I’m not too familiar with the other players that were on the team besides Felix, Dan, Camden, and yourself. Would you mind introducing them and the school that they represent?
MM: Brett Rice and Evan Bemus are both great players from Western Kentucky University. Evan is a predominately a blocker where as Brett is a great catcher who I’m told has developed a great throw in the last year.
TD: Tell me some of the trip details: tournament dates, venues, hotel/motel lodging.
MM: The hotel was amazing. The nice part was we used Felix’s parents time share. Full bedroom, full bathroom, full kitchen, and five pools. The tournament was a one day tournament on Saturday. There were 5 different divisions for rubber. No blocking, regular dodgeball, coed, women’s, and a stinger division. The pools were set up based on who you wanted to play. There was no way of picking them other than that. Bracket play or tournament play was set up by drawing your position or seed out of a hat and then places in the bracket. So pool play was essentially meaningless in playing you in.
TD: Felix provided a detailed recap of the tournament and mentioned some unusual catching and blocking rules. What did you think of them?
MM: Being a firm believer that the NCDA is the best form of dodgeball, I was not fond of the rules the NDL has in place. Various rules seem completely made up and others make it 10x harder on referees. The boys and I sat down and tried to think of rules that the NCDA has that do not make sense or make it difficult for refs to make a call and we could not come up with any unlike the NDL where there are a handful of unusual rules.
TD: Yes, I definitely see how the ricochet rules can make it tough for the referees to keep up. Another ongoing point of discussion is the NCDA being one of the few leagues that allows for the ball to be gripped/pinched. Was this at all limiting for a team full of NCDA players at this tournament?
MM: It definitely changes your approach to the game. Many NCDA players lose 10-20mph on their ball when there is no gripping/pinching. That means it becomes more about accuracy and then flat out speed. The nice part about the group we went with is that even without gripping we were able to put a ton of speed on the ball with great accuracy.
TD: Your past experience in baseball must’ve helped greatly with that adjustment. Overall, how did the team fair in the tournament?
MM: We honestly didn’t do as well as we expected. The NDL is more of a run and gun league, anything can happen. The NCDA has strategy, countering, blocking, shadowing, there is a lot to the game. We tried to take our strategy and implement it into the NDL. That didn’t go according to plan. The nice part was we watched the best NDL team there and took their play style and used it against them which worked excellent. I think if we had more experience we would have done extremely well.
TD: If the tournament were to take place again next week and you were picking a team, would you stick with the same guys or would you want to change things up with some new players? If so, who?
MM: I would not even think twice about going with the same guys. Felix, Dan, Camden, Evan, and Brett are some of the nicest, most genuine guys you will find. Not saying there aren’t 100 other people I would want to take but the experience I had with the boys that went is something I will never forget!
TD: In my opinion, you and a few others have been models for how past NCDA players can still stay active in the dodgeball community once their playing days in college are over. Is it your plan to play in as many tournaments, such as this one, as you can?
MM: I have been playing dodgeball since I was about 4. I’ve got video proof of that. So I will definitely be playing as much dodgeball as I can. What I really want to do more than play is to promote the NCDA and our style of play. I want to help this league to grow and become the most predominate form of dodgeball in the country.
TD: You are truly an ambassador for Central Michigan, the NCDA, and the sport as a whole. I thank you for taking the time out to speak with me.
MM: Thank Troy. I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to talk about my experience.