Dodgeballers get down, dirty to gather funds for missions

Marty White, senior in LAS, pours syrup over the members of Team Stromeyer and Big Bad Mahaney before the championship round of the Dirty Dodgeball tournament on Friday afternoon. Erica Magda

Johnny Chiang

Marty White, senior in LAS, pours syrup over the members of Team Stromeyer and Big Bad Mahaney before the championship round of the Dirty Dodgeball tournament on Friday afternoon. Erica Magda

By Jim Vorel

At the count of three, teams rush forward to claim their dodgeballs. Their goosebumps are the product of a mixture of excitement and cold temperatures, as fall temperatures sank again during the weekend. Returning to the back court with their dodgeballs, teams dip the foam projectiles into buckets of tomato paste before heading to the midline and letting them fly. Squishy splats let the players know that their ball has found its mark, and someone’s shirt on the opposing front is now stained with a round, crimson splotch.

This past Sunday, New Life Volunteering Society hosted its first annual Dirty Dodgeball fundraiser. The event raised funds for the group, which plans trips to foreign medical missions and sends volunteers abroad.

The fundraiser took place in the form of a double elimination, five-person team dodgeball tournament. All courts contained buckets of sticky, unpleasant condiments for team members to dunk their balls in before throwing. The balls used were foam, wrapped in tape to give them some heft. The foam also allowed the condiments to soak into the balls, so as to better explode when striking an opponent.

The condiments used included ketchup, mustard, chocolate pudding and tomato paste. For the final round, contestants dunked their hands and their dodgeballs into gooey maple syrup.

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    The event cost each team of five competitors a $75 registration fee, but the price came with a free Chipotle burrito and event T-shirt for all participating.

    “It was a good cause, so we don’t feel bad about paying the registration fee,” said Joanna King, junior in LAS and a member of the exceedingly yellow team “Dodging Ducks.” “Plus they’re feeding us and giving us a free T-shirt and everything. Now if only we knew how to play dodgeball.”

    King and her Dodging Ducks compatriots faced the disadvantage of having three team members who had never played dodgeball before. The three women, including King herself, are all international students from the United Kingdom.

    “We never learned to play dodgeball in school,” said team member Terianne Doubtfire, a study abroad student in LAS, when she was asked about her team’s chances in the tournament. “We’re going to get eaten alive.”

    Doubtfire was ultimately proven correct, as the Dodging Ducks, in their matching yellow shirts, were swept out of the competition, losing both of their matches without ever knocking out a single player from the opposite team. Even their secret weapon, the yellow plastic ponchos that they had concealed until the start of the match, did not prevent them from being covered in mustard and chocolate pudding.

    Still, onlookers found their display inspiring.

    “I think they were excellent,” said Ann Hamrick, mother of team member Ashleigh Hamrick, sophomore in Engineering, as she watched the match. “Sure they didn’t knock anybody out, but I think they showed a lot of spirit, a lot of heart out there. At least they had fun.”

    The Dodging Ducks’ team mascot, a tiny Cairn Terrier named Hannah (of course wearing a yellow bandana) also seemed to enjoy the effort put forth by the women, doing her best to join them and presumably eat the condiments.

    Pratik Pandya, the president of New Life Volunteering Society and one of the organizers of the event, was pleased by the turnout and stressed the importance of the organization’s work.

    He said that this year, the group will be traveling abroad to Peru to do hands-on clinical work. Pre-medical students will get to work with doctors in treating patients, and other students will help with other important duties.

    “In Costa Rica last year I got to shadow the doctors and learned a great deal,” Pandya said. “You can make a difference in people’s lives on a medical mission like this.”

    The championship match of the tournament came down to two battle-weary competitors, but in the end, only team “Big Bad Mahaney” was left standing. Their prize was custom-made first place dodgeball trophies. The runners up, “Team Stromeyer”, also received AM/FM radios donated by Follett’s Bookstore.

    Pratik Pandya said that he hoped future versions of dirty dodgeball would have even more competitors than the 12 teams that registered for this year’s competition.

    New Life Volunteering Society is also planning a November fundraising competition called the “Dance Marathon.”

    For more information on the organization’s events and activities, consult its Web site at http://www.nlvsuiuc.org/index2.htm.