Open environment, relaxed competition define DePaul Dodgeball Club


Xavier Ortega

Casey Crowe, a sophomore computer engineer and computer science major, throws a rubber dodgeball during a scrimmage at the Ray-Meyer Fitness Center in Lincoln Park.

Eye contact, elevated heartbeats, a dribble of sweat dripping down their faces. Then, an avalanche of rubber balls rains down on the Dodgeball Club as the game begins.

DePaul’s Dodgeball Club meets every Monday and Thursday night to play with friends and have fun. The organization has no commitment policy, so students can drop by whenever they have time. You don’t have to know anything about dodgeball to come and play; the members will teach you what you need to know.

“I haven’t played dodgeball since grade school; it’s fun,” DePaul freshman Michael Milano said. “It brings back memories of being a kid.”

Milano joined the club after seeing its booth at the Involvement Fair back in September. He only has time to go on Mondays but has made a lot of friends in his short time there. The current president of the club, Joel Luciano, remembers joining back in his freshman year.

“I used to come once a week and it was just a good way to de-stress, but the more I came, the more involved I would become,” Luciano said. “I came from Puerto Rico, so having this dodgeball family was a really big thing for going through this journey.”

The club makes sure the atmosphere remains friendly and fun. However, the members are known to get serious when the game gets down to the last few survivors.

“I will literally throw hard enough that I hurt my arm,” DePaul student Gavin Swardz said.

Swardz is the safety officer for the club. He is in charge of making sure serious hits, especially headshots, are cared for. Some members have a history of concussions, and those students are especially looked after. Safety is a top priority for the club.

“If you get hit in the head, I’m pretty much like, ‘Hi, how are you doing, do you know what year it is,’ that kind of thing,” Swardz said.

Headshots are a big deal on the court. When someone gets hit in the head, the game halts. The safety officer steps in if needed, but the most important part is the player who threw the ball must hug or somehow apologize to the person who was hit to promote good sportsmanship. 

“That way there’s no bad blood between players,” Dodgeball Club Treasurer Casey Crowe said. “Like, ‘Oh, he specifically tried to hit me in the head, I’m pissed, I’m gonna try to hit him in the head back,’ and then there’s fighting and feuding.”

The members of the eBoard understand that this is a club, not a professional team. They don’t want members injured or feuding; they want everyone having a good time. To further emphasize the fun of the game, they are more lax with some of the rules. This mentality changes when the team travels for tournaments.

DePaul’s Dodgeball Club is part of the National Collegiate Dodgeball Association. This is the governing body of dodgeball organizations within North America. The NCDA divides colleges, typically by region, for tournaments and has a standard set of rules that are followed at these tournaments.

“We add emphasis to the terms we teach at tournaments because people can actually see them in action and it helps,” Luciano said.

The Dodgeball Club headed to their first tournament of this year on Nov. 16. They competed at University of Wisconsin-Platteville along with Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville and University of Nebraska-Lincoln. They played one game against each of the teams.

“We just have fun at practice, but a lot of universities are super serious about this sport,” Luciano said. “They have their own techniques and have no mercy.”

The number of tournaments the club attends in a year depends on participation, budget and distance to the tournament. If someone wants to get involved in that tournament life, they just have to tell the eBoard.

“There are no requirements for who can attend,” Luciano said. “If you’re interested, you can come.”

In addition to traveling, DePaul’s Dodgeball Club also has the opportunity to host tournaments. There is normally a tournament in May as well as one over St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

“A lot of universities come and hang out, participate, then usually the St. Patty’s day parade is happening so, after dodgeball, we all go,” Luciano said.

These types of events help members form bonds. There’s nothing like a little competition to get the people going. The club lasts all year, so members are able to form tight bonds with each other for the entire year.

“Dodgeball is a very inclusive club,” Luciano said. “We are our own little family, like our little community.” 

As the movie “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” taught us: If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.