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Dodgeball bounces back

Dodgeball is one of DU's most popular club sports. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Sports are usually about throwing a ball to others — a fastball to the catcher, a pass to a receiver. But then one day, someone, perhaps having a bad day, thought about throwing a ball at someone.

And there you have it: dodgeball, a game where players do their level best to nail other humans with a ball.

Dodgeball has been around since at least 1910 and undoubtedly has been a steady source of anxiety for many prepubescent grade-schoolers in physical education classes.

Nevertheless, the sport is (excuse the pun) a hit at the University of Denver judging by all the students who show up at Gates Field House each week to flex their best hurls and dodges.

Brad Logar, the sports program manager for DU’s Division of Athletics and Recreation who helped get the sport started at DU three years ago, says about 400 students a year play dodgeball.

“It’s definitely one of the more popular sports,” Logar says.

But why?

Logar has three guesses: One, it doesn’t require experience. Two, the movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story that debuted in 2004 likely helped boost interest. And three, people remember it. “Most people know about dodgeball from junior high or high school,” Logar says. “They may have fond, or not so fond memories of it, but they do remember it.”

Mitchell “Gonzo” Gonzales, a freshman hospitality major who plays for 2007 intramural champ Phi Kappa Sigma, remembers it and likes it, even though he got hit so hard square in the face that his glasses broke in a match last fall.

“I’ve always liked it since I was a kid,” Gonzales says. “It’s exciting.”

His formula for success: “Focus on dodging. Anyone can throw, but dodging is the key.”

Games last three minutes and start with a maximum of six players on each team gathered in the middle of a basketball court. Squishy yellow Nerf-like balls about the size of cantaloupes (and much softer than the rock-hard red rubber balls most people remember) are placed at both ends of the gym. Teams rush to grab the balls and start firing at each other. The team with the most players left standing wins.

Tim Hook, a senior international business major and student referee, says he’s never seen blood, “only a few bruised egos.”

“It’s mostly just students looking to have a good time and get in a break from studies,” Logar says.

Junior marketing and sociology major Dani Yarwood and senior management major Lindsay Thompson fit that description and have been dodgeballing for nearly two years.

“It’s just a really fun way to spend time with friends,” Thompson says.

“It’s not like anything else I’ve done,” adds Yarwood, who’s played several sports. “It’s just a lot of fun.”

With accolades like that, the sport’s future looks strong. You can certainly count Gonzales in. “I think I’ll play all four years I’m here.”


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