I’ve been making maps. As a national organization we have an obligation to think beyond state lines because these boundaries don’t prevent teams from traveling across them. Our organization is based on travel to specific points for the purpose of playing dodgeball. Dodgeball centers may exist for other Leagues, but it really is different for the NCDA.
Just like in this article from the New York Times, there are corridors of teams which facilitate and focus matches played over any given season. Certain Member Teams function as regional terminals for events, anchoring a corridor by being able to lend their facilities to host collegiate dodgeball. This is a mix of chance and gumption. Since 2005, we’ve grown from team-to-team matchups to an organized multi-team events, though the tournament model has been nurtured from the start.
For example, since hosting the Michigan Dodgeball Cup in 2005, MSU has developed as an early regional hub. This is true not only for it’s neighboring schools within the state of Michigan, but MSU is a proven bridge for schools outside the state. Historically, schools west of the Great Lakes are able to connect and play with nearby Ohio teams at the Spartan Invite, MSU playing the anchor.
How do we use the geography of North America to expand our list of member teams? How can a school become a regional center for these competition corridors?
3 thoughts on “Thinking on Competition Groups”
To me (and this honestly goes without saying) the Midwest/Great Lakes is saturated with teams, which makes sense since that is where the league originated. This provides an added benefit for these schools because, besides more overall experience from years in the league, having a closer/tight knit region allows for more games, and games against more diverse teams. For proof of this, let’s establish BGSU as the “center” of the Midwest/Great Lakes teams, and Towson as the “center” of the East Coast Teams. Let’s say that a 4 hour one way trip is considered reasonable driving time to go compete in a tournament. Within a 4 hour radius of BGSU, there are 10 schools: OSU, OU, Akron, CMU, MSU, SVSU, GVSU, BW. Within a 4 hour radius of Towson, there are 5 schools: UMD, VCU, JMU, UVA, PSU.
This shows where most of league lies, which you can easily tell from the map, but it also brings up the point that the Midwest/Great Lakes teams have the best advantage of playing in more tournaments. This is beneficial in terms of rankings because of more competition, more overall experience, and a chance to see many different styles/types of teams before Nationals. This also helps alleviate a sense of “boredom” because they are not subject to playing the same schools continuously, where as on the East Coast, essentially after one tournament you’ve played almost all the teams you’re likely to play during a season.
The best solution seems to be expanding in two particular areas, closing the gap between Michigan/Ohio and Virginia/Maryland, and expansion southward. The West Virginia area seems like a great fit to open up some teams. Schools like WVU and Marshall, which are large in size and probably do not lack talent, provide a perfect intermediary between the East Coast and the Midwest/Great Lakes. They are also closer to schools like WKU, UK and newcomers Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh (don’t worry guys I didn’t forget about you).
In terms of expanding southward, the ideal direction appears to be down the East Coast, considering three potential newcomers are the University of North Georgia, Georgia Southern University, and the University of Florida. Expanding to schools in the SEC/ACC such as South Carolina, North Carolina, Duke, and Clemson, provides a good intermediary group between what will become the southern East Coast teams and the “northern” East Coast teams in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
These are just a few possibilities, however, any teams added to the league is of major importance, no matter the geographical location.
Plus, I like the idea of going down south and getting a tan on after a tournament B)
Ya, whatever new teams we get playing dodgeball on the collegiate level will be great, no matter the geography. But looking at the maps over the past few months, I’m trying to see what’s valuable to lend our active attention to. We haven’t done a in depth recruitment arc, but the idea of getting a regional “capitol” to host regular events over the year is any incredibly interesting strategy.
We can’t grow if there aren’t teams to play dodgeball nearby, and to be healthy we need a bunch of pit stops on the road network connecting existing schools with upcoming organizations. We need to be more open.