KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Heads up! Hundreds of student-athletes from across the country will take aim and evade projectiles as Western Michigan University hosts the National Collegiate Dodgeball Association (NCDA) Nationals Saturday and Sunday, April 9-10, at the Student Recreation Center on campus.
"Western being selected to host is an amazing opportunity for our club to grow and become more recognized by the students," says Western's team captain Peter Broe, a mathematics doctoral student from Ganges, Michigan, who started the University's Dodgeball Club in fall 2017.
"To go from a baby club with four members to a competitive club that is able to host this tournament in (such a short) time—in spite of a pandemic—speaks to our club's resiliency and dedication to growth."
The tournament will feature round-robin matches on Saturday to determine bracket play on Sunday. Matches begin at 9 a.m. each day. Admission is free for Western students and $5 for a weekend wristband for the public. A complete schedule is available on the NCDA's Twitter page.
More than a Game
Winning is a goal in any sport, and Western's Dodgeball Club spends hours each week dipping, diving and dodging rubber balls flung across an athletic court to perfect technique. But that's not the only reason many team members compete.
"Dodgeball has been a welcomed break from studies and often a terrific stress reliever," Broe says. "The club is made up of a lot of talented, friendly people, and often the better parts of the day are when you run into a fellow member on campus."
The team benefits from the strategic skills of its members cultivated across a variety of majors, from engineering to aviation to anthropology.
"While most people have a very oversimplified idea of what dodgeball is, there is a lot of strategy that goes into the game," says Broe. "I have seen less physically talented teams be competitive with powerhouses because they had solid strategy."
"As a club sport, getting better is definitely a priority, but if you aren't having fun, then it's not worth it," adds Josh VanSlambrouck, a chemical engineering student from Macomb, Michigan.
The club continues to build its roster and is always looking to add members. Anyone interested is encouraged to send an email.
"Our team is a bunch of goofballs. We love the game and we have so much fun playing at practice. Everyone is very welcoming and open to accepting and teaching our new players," Broe says, adding it's the dodgeball community that hooked him to the sport. He's made friends for life traveling the country to play the game. "If you can conquer your fear of a rubber ball flying at you at high speeds, we are a club that looks to build up and better all of our members."
"It doesn't matter who you are; the game lets you come together and just have fun," adds Payton Gagliardi, an anthropology student from Lake Zurich, Illinois.
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