Playing on extramural dodgeball team like “one big family”
Dodgeball is not a game anymore—it’s a sport.
And an increasingly popular one at George Brown College (GBC.) In The Dialog’s Readers’ Choice Awards, it won not one, but two categories: best intramural and best extramural sport.
To those who love the game, the double win isn’t a surprise.
“It’s actually pretty huge in this city,” said Dennis Quesnel, the coach of GBC’s extramural team, which plays teams from other colleges. “It’s really one big family. And that’s required for this grassroots kind of thing; you need that passion, you need that support to get the structure of the sport going.”
Sarah DeCoste, a fashion student, played on the GBC dodgeball extramural team this year. She was playing ultimate frisbee, and then a friend suggested she try out for dodgeball.
“I knew nothing about dodgeball so I just went and I met a family,” she said.
DeCoste said that dodgeball players have to keep on their toes to play by different rules and strategies depending on the tournament or who they are playing. She said that people who think of dodgeball as a game might be surprised at how complex the strategies and tactics are.
“As a sport it’s a lot more communication and a lot more coordination,” said DeCoste. “When you’re used to playing it as a game it’s mostly freestyle, but when you play it as sport, there’s a lot of communication as a team.”
Dodgeball seems to be following a similar trajectory to ultimate frisbee in going from a game to a legitimate sport. Like ultimate frisbee, many dodgeball tournaments require mixed gender teams. There are three women on the GBC extramural team including their captain, Claire Currie.
But the national dodgeball teams have separate men’s and women’s games, and ultimate frisbee is also having issues with its grassroots gender-mixed teams as the sport moves into the possibility of being in the Olympics. Like many other things with dodgeball as it formalizes, there are some growing pains.
Another issue involves foam versus rubber balls. Foam balls seem to be becoming more popular, and are used by GBC in accordance with Dodgeball Canada’s rules.
Quesnel points out that “rubber can bring back a lot of bad memories” of elementary school games, and foam seems to be an emerging standard.
“They don’t hurt as much, so that helps. You can get hit in the face square on with a foam ball and still play the next round,” he said.
Both Quesnel and DeCoste point out that dodgeball is a serious sport that requires commitment. The extramural team had two practices a week.
“When I mention that I play extramural basketball, they take it more seriously,” DeCoste said. “People need to be aware that it can be a sport and not just a game that they play in high school.”
Quesnel points out that the skills learned in dodgeball can also have value off the court.
“It’s a really important sport that involves teamwork, quick decision making, working under pressure,” he said. “These are things that are related to school and everyday life.”