Dodgeball delivers, for a cause

From PE class to the big screen, dodgeball is a popular sport that brings in crowds.

Norwich University’s physical education class made the decision to plan a dodgeball tournament to raise money for the American Heart Association. The event took place on March 2nd on campus, in the Shapiro Fieldhouse.

According to organizers, the tournament not only was fun but raised $260 for the association and offered an educational experience.

“(The tournament) gives our physical education class, Organization & Management of Physical Education and Athletic Programs, an opportunity to plan and facilitate a fundraising event,” said Tom Roberge, a physical education professor. “It also raises money for a good cause, as everyone has been affected or will be affected by heart disease.”

Roberge explained that in past years they did a “Hoops for Heart” fundraiser to earn the money. After learning that Norwich is “one of only two colleges and universities in the east region that does an American Heart Association fundraising event,” this made him want to continue fundraising, this time with a new event.

“Hoops for Heart wasn’t as exciting as dodgeball,” said Chelsea Weeden, a senior athletic training major from Colchester, Vt. “More college students get way more excited playing in a dodgeball tournament versus a basketball tournament. Plus you can play dodgeball anywhere.”

For those not familiar with it, dodgeball is a sport that pits teams of opposing players throwing balls at one another. It’s a contest of elimination: The last player to avoid being hit is the winner.

Weeden, a student of the PE class that is hosting the event, was excited to be hosting the event, not only for the money it could raise, but also for the fun her fellow student body could have participating.

“There are two winning teams. One will be for the actual tournament and the other will be a contest for the best team costumes.”

Costumes will be similar to the ones from the comedy Dodgeball, starring comedy actor Vince Vaughn, but the options could be less comical and more theatrical, such as a team dressed as characters from the movie The Avengers.

“The class then thought a change of scenery may attract more people. Last year many of the teams dressed in costume, some emulating the teams from the movie, Dodgeball,” Roberge said.

The prizes are not half bad either, Roberge said. “So far we have some great prizes for the winners that include movie tickets, gift certificates to the UMall and pizzas from Depot Square.”

As for the technical side of this event, according to Roberge, a referee was on site during each game to make sure the games are fair. “While staying on your team’s half of the court you try and hit people on the other team with the dodgeballs. If you get hit you go out. If you catch the ball thrown at you, the thrower is out and you can bring a teammate back in the game. First team to knock out the other team’s five players wins. I believe our class has decided to allow head shots this year.”

The rules of dodgeball vary in different settings, but they have been around for centuries.

According to “Go Mammoth,” an English sports web site, dodgeball was originally played in Africa over 200 years ago. However, instead of the fun game it is today, dodgeball could be a game of death. Instead of using soft rubber balls, the game was played with large rocks or putrefied matter, and it was also used as an intense workout for the tribes.

The games at this event were not be played with rocks, of course. Roberge explained that they used the “old-school, rubber kick balls.” The weight distribution will be much better than using the foam-filled balls often used in elementary school gym classes.

There are great health benefits to dodgeball; according to Livestrong.com, players get aerobic exercise from the running, and work on agility and balance and hand-eye coordination. Those perks alone were enough to draw students looking to be in shape for spring and have a good time doing it, out on the court.

As for the crowd’s entertainment, Bruce Mackey, 23, a junior physical education major from West Point, Ga., did the announcing for the event. An animated football player, he is well known for his ability to imitate voices and make the play by plays of the game hilarious.

With teams of five, paying $25 a team is not a huge price to put on fun: “One hundred percent of the money will go to the American Heart Association,” Weeden said.

Having raised $260, Weeden and the rest of the class proved that fundraising can be both successful and fun.

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