Much like the articles for The Players’ Tribune where current and former players compile a list of the best people they’ve ever gone against, it seemed like an appropriate time to make a spot where people can list the best players they’ve ever gone against.
For me there are a few layers to the criteria in my list: do they have a good arm, are they a good catcher, blocker, do they have a knack for being one of the last people in a match, and how frustrating is it to go up against them? I’m also trying to base my list against people who I’ve had direct interaction with while on the court. So if I played someone, but we stayed on the opposite side of the court most of the time from each other I may exclude their name. Former teammates were also excluded since I technically played against them.
I’m sure several people will have an opportunity to read this, and I implore all of you to include your list in the comments if given a chance. Especially Jon Shaw and Wes Peters, I know you two guys read practically everything on this site.
Honorable Mention: Spencer Jardine (SVSU), Drew Greenawalt (UK), Alex Swedowski (UWP)
5. Colin O’Brien (MSU) – O’Brien is one of the best catchers I’ve ever seen play. As many members of my team found out the hard way, you have to have an absolute howitzer of an arm if you’re going to throw at him one-on-one and get him out. What also makes Colin frustrating to play against is his ability to burn throws and reset the shot clock. He doesn’t have over the top throwing ability, but it doesn’t really matter, because his ability to catch makes it a much more daunting task to try and counter his burn throws. Last thing you want to do against someone like Colin is realize he tricked you into making a throw that he wants.
4. Joey Cardella (JMU) – Joey in my opinion has catching ability somewhat comparable to that of O’Brien. The reason he made a higher spot in my list is that I went up against him on a much more frequent basis and I think he had a lot of fun tormenting me on the court. Whenever I thought I had a chance to get Joey out he’d always drop straight to the ground and make a crazy snag that would drive me up the wall. Taking height into account, I’m willing to bet that Joey is the fastest player I’ve gone against in terms of going from standing straight up, to being down on the ground for a catch. Not to mention, he’s got pretty sneaky arm talent as well, and if you forget about that he’ll make you pay for it.
3. …… sigh………….. Wes Peters (CMU/MSU) – What more can be said about Wes that we haven’t already said a thousand times before. The man is just good. He’s also a really good guy off the court, which makes losing to him all the more infuriating. If someone’s going to beat me so bad on the court I don’t want to be happy about getting a beer with him after. The only reason Wes isn’t my number one is because I went against his teams very sparingly during my time in the league.
2. Cam Fullmer (Kent) – One time during Kent’s summer dodgeball Cam him me in the face twice within a split second of each other. ‘Nuff said.
1. Brent Gromer (JMU) – Going against Brent is anything but fun. I’m also saying this knowing that I took several shots to the face at hands. I’ve talked at length about Brent’s talent and abilities before, but for those who don’t remember, or may not have gotten a chance to play against him, he had one of the best all-around games I’ve seen. His arm talent was on the same level as many of the league’s best throwers and, unlike many of the league’s best throwers, he had solid catching ability as well. What made Brent so difficult to play against though was his ability to go from joking around with his teammates to immediately switching to a high level of intensity when the situation required it. A lot of his teams would wipe the floor with mine, so he usually got to lay back and pick off people when and where he wanted to, but in matches against better competition I’ve seen him ratchet up energy on the court that I’ve rarely seen paralleled by anyone else.
NCDA Staff Top 5
Kevin Bailey (GVSU Alum)
*disclaimer: Kevin’s are in no particular order except for his #1 pick.
• Joey Cardella (JMU) – Really had trouble figuring out how to pick for the last spot, but I will give the nod to Joey. Our team always game planned specifically for him when we played JMU. He was an ubelievable catcher. Arguably the most dangers JMU player, during JMU’s best years, Cardella one of the toughest players I ever went up against.
• Felix Perrone (WKU) – This guy was not on the most talented team, but was still able to keep WKU in some ball games. Dynamic both as a thrower and a catcher, Felix was a true all-around player. And rumor has it he beat SVSU in a 9-1 one time… impressive.
• Niko Nodal (DePaul) – I have had the pleasure to play against Niko both in the NCDA and in Elite Dodgeball. he is just an extremely gifted athlete. I think God made him specifically for dodgeball. DePaul players often get overlooked, but Niko was one of the best in the league during his career.
• Eric Paul (MSU) – Eric was a severely underrated player at MSU. He had a great combination of throw power and catching skills. If/when there is an NCDA Hall of Fame, Colin O’Brien will be the first MSU player to get the nod due to what he was able to accomplish throughout his career, but Eric Paul should not be a name that we all forget. He is one of the Spartans’ all-time greats.
1. Cam Fullmer (Kent) – No particular order, besides him. Cam was the most talented dodgeball player I faced in the NCDA. Incredible arm strength (both lefty and righty). He was just a natural. Had great dodgeball instincts. I was always cautious when he was on the court.
Hunter Ford (VCU)
5.Jon Shaw (TU) – The biggest reason I have Jon on this list is because he is one of the most respected leaders in the league, and for good reason. Jon has a good arm and can make accurate throws, and he is also a very good catcher who is willing to sell-out in order to make a big play. But the best part of his game doesn’t come from flat out ability, it comes from the leadership skills he has on the court. Anyone who has played against Towson knows how much he matters from a strategy/leadership perspective, and I have tried to model myself on the court after him.
4. Wes Peters (CMU/MSU) – The first time I faced/saw Wes play personally was my Freshman year at Nationals. My team at the time wasn’t very good, so it was usually pretty easy to come across kills and catches at practice. So when we got to Nationals it was pretty intimidating to have to play against what was then the #2 team in the country. Even amongst what was a great team, he stood out to me when we played and when I had the chance to watch. His catching ability is hard to match. This became even more evident when I played against him the following year at Towson’s MVEC when he was now on MSU. He basically summed up his weekend perfectly by tweeting how easy it was to catch a bunch of solo throws from teams that didn’t know him barely, my teammates included. He would be higher on this list, but he needs to step his Twitter game up a bit.
3. Rohan Mittal (UMD) – Say what you want about his attitude and drama off the court, but this guy was a stud. He looked the part standing at probably 6’3″ and a solid 200 pounds, and he played like that kid in little league who just grew quicker than all the other kids. Maryland relied on this guy to make a lot of big throws and he delivered on many occasions. He was the leader of a Maryland team when they were in their prime who could have a big influence at any point in a game.
2. Kyle Foster (SVSU) – Infamous nut shots aside, everyone knows how good Kyle was. He had a good arm, great catching ability, and a good demeanor off the court. SVSU smoked us when we played against them and he was a big part of that. Kyle was willing to put his body on the line any chance he could in order to make a catch, which speaks a lot about the kind of team player he was.
1.Doug Schilling (JMU) – I’m just mad I still have another year to play against him. There are tough outs in this league, and then there’s Doug Schilling. Last year at the MVEC, he single-handily took down MSU’s overtime team in one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen. The southpaw has a literal rocket for an arm which is almost impossible to catch (I got super lucky one time which is the only reason I say almost). Besides that, he can catch almost anything that comes his way. While playing against him on the court is as frustrating as it gets, he is actually a really nice guy off the court. I look forward to more opportunities against him and JMU, and even more so reading his blogs about how bad the Eagles are (Redskins fan over here).
5. Kevin Bailey (GVSU) – One of the most elusive players I’ve ever played against with decent arm.
4. Mike McCarthy (CMU/ Sienna Heights) – Great arm and great catcher
3. Pat Fisher (CMU) – One of the best arms the NCDA has ever seen and incredible blocking
2. Eric Sweet (CMU) – Nasty left arm and solid catcher
1. Bryce Corrion (CMU) – Best overall player all time
Anonymous Alumni Submission
5. Han Chitti (DAV/GVSU)– Was the captain of the JV team at Grand Valley where he led them to a 5-0 record, not easy to do. He then started a team at Davenport University. He is easily one of the most fierce players I have ever gone against.
4. Anuj Vyas (MSU) – The Stallion! Easily the most underrated player to ever come out of MSU. His low Kill to Death ratio in my strong opinion is a muse. It is his way of baiting you to throw at him. Great player.
3. Abby Bokum (DePaul) – Best leader I have ever witnessed on the court. She knows how to lead a team to victory. Fierce competitor.
2. Shadeed Drakeford (VCU) – Man has a cannon. He always backs up his smack. Great guy and more than likely the future President of this league.
1. Marteece Pennington (NSULA) – Heart of gold. Knows how to coerce you into throwing at him. Great overall player.
Felix Perrone (WKU Alum)
5. Dylan Fettig (GVSU) – Very intelligent and accurate player. Also level headed on the court, which stands out to me.
4. Kyle Fitzpatrick (Kent) – Powerful arm and decent catcher when it mattered. He helped make Kent what it is.
3. Spencer Jardine (SVSU) – Very effective and infectious player. When he went hot, there was no stopping him and his team followed his intesity
2. Alex Soukup (GVSU) – Maybe because I was a freshman when I first faced him, but he was the most intimidating player I ever came across. Just faceshots all day.
1. Eric Sweet (CMU) – Incredible arm and very accurate.
Colin O’Brien (MSU)
5. Kevin Bailey (GVSU) – Even though he often frustrated me by not letting loose once the game was in hand, he’s still one of the league’s most fearsome players. When his arm was on, it was one of the deadliest in the league. He’s also one of the hardest players to ever get out. His OT performance my freshman year will forever haunt MSU.
4. Alex Acton (MSU) – the last elite NCDA player who didn’t pinch/grip throw and it didn’t even matter, he was that good. He was deadly accurate with great catching skills to match. I’m pretty sure he’s the only person with a positive +/- against me in practice, and it’s not even close he’s so far ahead.
3. Trevor Nordberg (GVSU) – I think he had the highest ceiling out of any GV player I ever played against. When he was on, he was the best player on the court by a landslide. He almost single handily won the 2015 championship against CMU.
2. Wes Hopkins (UK) – the fastest arm the league has ever seen, and it was certainly scary for a new freshman player. He’s also the only player that I’ve ever seen a team protect with four other players, he was that valuable. I wish I could time travel to take him on in his prime with my current skill level. (Also, has the greatest BotM comment section)
1. Eric Paul (MSU) – in his prime, the best overall player I ever played with or against. He was a Top 5 catcher and Top 5 thrower in the league. He definitely made me become a better player, otherwise I would have spent all of practice in the out line.
Honorable mention to both Drew Greenawalt (UK) and Kyle Foster (SVSU) for being the best catchers I’ve played against.
Jacob Leski (CMU)
5. Alex Higbee (UWP)- Not entirely sure if I ever caught him. He gave me a solid black eye my second year in the league. One I will never forget.
4. Michael McCarthy (CMU/Siena) – Founder of CMU’s club. Helped create one of the most prolific teams in the league. Also an amazing competitor.
3. Myles Shepard (SVSU) – I swear he always played like he had just snorted a line of coke. Always moving on the court, even if he didn’t have a ball and was about to get ten balls thrown at him. The most unpredictable player I have ever seen and in hindsight, was fun to play against.
2. Kevin Bailey (GVSU) – Faced him in too many close games not to include him in this list. Stole two National Championships from me. Along with his ugly mug, that is hard to forget.
1. Trevor Nordberg (GVSU) – Made us look like rookies in the 2015 National Championship. Remember him catching me out with one hand. Didn’t even phase him. Blew my damn mind.
Honorable Mention: Drew Greenawalt (UK), Niko Nodal (Depaul), Brent Gromer (JMU), Michael Riley (CMU), Colin O’Brien (MSU)