Voices of the NCDA: Looking at Diversity On and Off the Court

The following series, Voices of the NCDA: Looking at Diversity On/Off the Court, has been created to give minority members of our organization a chance to be heard and share their experiences.  It allows the rest of the league to hear different perspectives and to highlight the diversity among our members. We will share not only experiences within the NCDA, but off the court as well. The Voices of the NCDA team will be lead by Zachary Rivera (GSU alumni), Leon Rockamore (CSU), and Shadeed Drakeford (VCU alumni). Let’s jump right in and hear their stories. 

Zachary Rivera (GSU)
As the founder and former captain of the Georgia Southern University Club Dodgeball team, I have had the distinct pleasure of seeing the NCDA and the sport of dodgeball as a whole through many different lenses. From the start of my college career back in 2011, I was always looking to be involved in sport at a competitive level, especially since I’d been in competitive sports since I was a kid. Club sports offered so many cool opportunities, but throughout my involvement in different clubs and the opportunity to work for the school’s club sports department, I realized that what I really wanted to do was connect with others in sport. Unfortunately, most sports require some level of skilled background, and then dodgeball called out to me.

The NCDA allowed me to bring a sport to my school which gives anyone and everyone the opportunity to learn something new, grow, and become competitive. It also brings a lot of different people together who may have thought they would not fit into another niche competitive sport. My goal for this series is to give a voice to all those dodgeball players in the NCDA to share their experience of playing the sport of dodgeball from their own diverse perspectives, shine a light on how diverse our league and sport really is, and also address all the ways we can continue to expand and diversify our sport so that everyone and anyone feels welcome to test their mettle out on the dodgeball court.

Leon Rockamore (CSU)
I’ve attended Cleveland State University since Fall 2017 studying engineering. Along with engineering, my interests have always been the STEM field, art, and sports. Growing up I’ve always liked basketball; and one of my favorite sports to play was dodgeball, but I never got to play it often.

Leon is pictured on the left.

My first experience with NCDA dodgeball was when I was at Cleveland State’s rec center and I saw a bunch of people going crazy in the gym. After watching for a few minutes, I figured out they were all playing dodgeball. Then one of the team members invited me to play and I’ve been hooked ever since. I joined the team in Fall 2017 and I love the comradery, competition, and challenges that this sport provides. During my third year, I decided that I want to help the NCDA grow in any way I could. I feel it has great potential to be a complete and mainstream sport while still being as fun and wholesome as I see it today.

Shadeed Drakeford (VCU)
I founded and became the president/captain of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Dodgeball club back in 2011. At the time, I didn’t realize that I became the first black founder within the NCDA so it was a humbling experience to say the least. During this time, I needed a stress reliever from my engineering courses so I figured dodgeball would be the answer to that. What I didn’t realize was that my time within the NCDA would help me get my first two jobs after college due to my leadership positions as well as time management handling different tasks. In a way, I own a lot of my success towards the NCDA and I would like to pay it forward.

After I finished playing collegiate in 2018, I wanted to find ways to add value to the league in a way that has never been done before. So for the 2019-2020 season, I traveled to as many tournaments as possible to do live streaming in order to give a more wholesome perspective of the league as a whole instead of relying solely on the opinions of others in articles. From those experiences, I found myself understanding the league and its players better than I would ever imagined and within the process became a main voice for the league as a whole. I was able to use my unique skills and found my voice on and off the court and now I want to do the same for others. Each of us had our own unique path to play dodgeball and until we understand the differences that each of us had in order to play dodgeball, we will never be able to fully coexist with each other on the court.

Final thoughts
This Voices series is something that we are very excited about. Our audience should look forward to hearing the different stories and perspectives from within our organization.  The goal of Voices is to be informative and gives readers an opportunity to see things in a different way.  The team looks forward to working on this series and hearing from the players throughout the league. 

We would also like to remind everyone that this February we are celebrating Black History Month. To learn more about Black History Month, Click Here.

Author: Zach Rivera

Founder and former Captain of Georgia Southern University Dodgeball (#3).

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