Don't Stop Ball-ieving: A Memoir of the 2016 Panther City Dodgeball Tournament

A few months ago, I was pleasantly surprised to find an email in my inbox that read 'Dodgeball Team.' The Real Estate Council of Greater Fort Worth was hosting their annual Panther City Dodgeball Tournament benefiting Education in Tarrant County, and I couldn't wait to get out there and play! For some, the word 'dodgeball' may bring back memories of joyful times in grade school and hours spent at recess with the iconic inflatable red ball, and childhood friends. Others may not have such fond memories, as one momentary lapse in concentration might have led to a scaring childhood memory and a trip to the nurses office. Nevertheless, confirmation emails came flying in at a rapid pace, and our team had been determined. We were all hoping to rekindle our inner grade-schooler from years ago and get a chance to hang out with one another outside of the office.

After our team was registered, there was a captains meeting to go over the rules and regulations of the tournament. Of the twenty or so people at the meeting, there were maybe two or three captains representing teams who had not competed before, including myself. I figured this would be a very brief meeting, thinking that there couldn't be too many rules for the game other than if you're hit by a ball, you're out. The next 30 minutes were used to discuss a rather lengthy set of rules that I know were not employed in my younger days. Terms such as 'opening rush', 'attack line' and 'field boss' were all explained in detail. Thinking that this might all be a little overkill and that perhaps the actual tournament might be a little more relaxed, I took a quick look around the table at all of the other captains and realized this was no joke. Most had very stern looks upon their face, and were paying close attention to see if any rules had changed from previous years. Granted this was a charitable tournament and the main purpose of the event was to have a good time, it was clear that there was a certain level of competitiveness built up from previous years of play.

When the day of the tournament had finally come, there was an extra sense of excitement throughout the office...more than we regularly experience on a daily basis. We had our team t-shirts, a basic understanding of the rules and elevated levels of enthusiasm for our upcoming venture. As 5:00 drew near, we made our way to the dodgeball fields where we would learn our fate.

Once our team was all accounted for, we began to get our arms loose and get a little stretching in. It turned out that the balls we would be using were smaller and a bit softer than the what we had all remembered from grade school, which made them easier to throw and catch. We were scheduled for a total of four matches, each of which contained up to three games (best two out of three). Six players were on the field per game, with the remaining team members on the perimeter to help retrieve arrant balls that made it out of the field of play. The goal was to have as many players left in play, when the other teams players had all been eliminated. There was a point system that corresponded with the number of games won and players left on the field, but none of us ever fully understood how to calculate. Either way, we were all excited that the time had finally come for some dodgeball action!

Standing on the field and eyeing our first opponents, I think I can speak for everyone that we were all experiencing feelings of anxiousness with a tiny bit of confidence mixed in. Granted none of us had much of any dodgeball experience in recent years, we figured it couldn't be too difficult, right? Each team's first six players straddled the end lines, and once the whistle was blown we made a mad dash to grab the dodgeballs from the center line...the tournament had started!

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Ideally, this would be the time for me to explain how our team was firing on all cylinders and giving our competition all they could handle and more. That we marched on through the tournament, making plays that would make even a seasoned dodgeballer blush. In reality, our teams lack of experience would prove to be our downfall. No amount of enthusiasm could cover up the fact that the majority of us weren't properly conditioned for this type of physical activity. It wouldn't seem that dodgeball would take too much endurance, but we quickly found out otherwise. Not to say that we didn't make a few athletic plays through the night and win a few games, but we would sadly finish well back in the pack.

As the night drew to a close on our inaugural showing in The Panther City Dodgeball Tournament, our team had clearly not performed the way that we had hoped. Only a few of the games ended in our favor, and many of us walked away from the field already feeling certain muscles tightening up that would surely be sore for the coming weeks. Even though we weren't as successful as we had hoped, we all managed to rekindle our inner child for an evening. I know we are all looking forward to next years tournament and hopeful for a better showing.

VLK Dodgeball 2016

  • Bailey Craighead
  • Sarah Gardner
  • Richard Hunt
  • BJ Longoria
  • Bryce McCarthy
  • Matt Mcgowen
  • Angela Mitchell
  • Jaime Pelayo
  • Zack Sprinkle
  • Haley Thurston
  • Josh Wilson