The Northwestern State dodgeball team was established in 2008 and it has been a part of the National Collegiate Dodgeball Association (NCDA) in 2010.
Although it is only a club sport, the team members take their craft seriously.
“In practice, it can get intense, however it’s not so bad,” NSU dodgeball president Victoria Smith said. “But when we compete in Nationals every year, then it is very, very intense.”
Smith has been a member of NSU dodgeball since 2009 and has enjoyed the game ever since. However, it had its humble beginnings.
“I’ve always been involved in athletics,” Smith said. “However, I thought I wasn’t going to have time [for other teams] because I was in scholars’ class and didn’t think I was going to have time to commit to it. But, I heard about dodgeball from my friend and she said, ‘Why don’t you come out and play?’ So I went to a Sunday practice and it was fun and something I really wanted to get into.”
Dodgeball is a sport that requires great reflexes. On the competitive level, everyone has to watch out as well---including the bench.
“Even standing in the sidelines, you have to be really careful if there’s a ball that comes flying at your face, especially when there’s players that can throw a ball 80-plus miles an hour,” Smith said. “It can get hectic and can be a lot of confusion if you don’t know what to look for. It is balls flying everywhere. If you’re not careful, you can get knocked out. There are a lot of concussions that can be had.”
NSU had a few problems however.
Outside of the national tournament, the Demons rarely play games due their financial state. To combat this, NSU holds fundraisers for those trips.
“We start fundraising in August and we fundraise as much as we can until Nationals,” Smith said. “We can get financial support because we are a club sport of the school and they cover 70 percent of our trip for us, but the rest comes from funding. You have to fundraise all year, especially for hotels, travel, and vans. We do bake sales, raffle tickets and plate lunches. We do anything to keep the team together, anything that we can afford.”
Also, team members have to find ways to juggle the sport, class and even possible jobs.
“It is actually very difficult,” Smith said. “I’m lucky I have an awesome secretary, vice president and treasurer. We all get together and we work out the schedules with the team. We’ll sit down and ask everyone and we try to at least do one. It’s really challenging especially with jobs.”
The NCDA was established in 2005 and is home to 25 colleges. Only four schools have won a national title, including defending champion Grand Valley State. The Lakers are perennially one of the toughest teams in the NCDA, having won five national championships.
As the league grows, the dodgeball community is a tight knit one that frequently talks with each other. This has helped out the Demons, who finally have another team in the southern United States to confide in---the University of North Texas.
“Yeah, we do [keep in touch with other teams], Smith said. “There’s a page on Facebook and we’re friends with the other heads. We come up with ideas and different competitions. There’s a team at the University of North Texas that we try and talk to in order to get them more involved.”
With this, there is hope that the program can become bigger and better.