Team Awesome returned to the National Dodgeball League’s Dodgeball World Championships for their 3rd year as a full team. It was an exciting trip well worth the time and effort that went into it. 2013 marked the 10-year anniversary of the DWC and many changes were made in light of this milestone. A trampoline division was added, the format changed to double elimination and two no-blocking divisions were added. Over the course of 4 days, hundreds of games were played, thousands of balls were thrown and dozens of medals were awarded. Here’s how our visit panned out.
The Trip Out
A few of us left the weekend prior but most of the team was set to arrive on Wednesday, August 7. Unfortunately, Megan, Ed and Ryan ran into some heavy delays and did not get in until 2am PST on the 8th. The lesson we all learned that day is to never fly JetBlue. $90 bag fees, staff that does not show up in time for their shifts, cramped seats and poor service don’t make up for those cheap ticket prices. Sam and I, however flew US Airways (and left our houses at 5am in the morning) for a few bucks more and our trip went without a hitch. For those of us who arrived early, we spent much of the day at the pool and enjoyed the Vegas sun. Before the tournament, we hit the strip, took advantage of some happy hour specials and met up with the commissioner and his lovely wife. Fortunately, we had some time to relax before the marathon of dodgeball began.
Thursday night, August 8 marked the start of the 2013 DWC with the trampoline division. This event was held at the new Sky Zone location in Las Vegas. The facility was fantastic, with a catwalk for spectators that passed by all 4 courts and wrapped around one of them. The courts were bigger (fortunately) than the courts back home in Oaks, PA, both long and wide. The games were played with 8.5″ rubber NDL balls and instead of Sky Zone shoes (like in Oaks), players wore socks with a rough texture on the bottom for superior grip. Most of us preferred them to the Sky Zone shoes. The most important rule of the game was no blocking, and this provided to be a challenge as just about all tournaments on the east coast allow blocking. Teams competing came from New York, Sacramento, San Diego and Canada. In round robin, we were looking pretty good, but in the play-offs we had some trouble and the team cohesion just wasn’t there. We did place 3rd and we had a great time. This night marked the first Vegas experience for Ryan and Sam.
Day two was foam Friday, featuring women’s, co-ed no blocking, co-ed and open foam divisions. Team Awesome played in the latter of the two and helped referee matches earlier on in the day. Our co-ed team consisted of Matt, Drew, Frankie, myself, Sam, Megan and Sara, a friend from LA who played with us last year. Our open line-up was Matt, Drew, Ryan, Ed, Frankie and myself. There were plenty of teams in the foam divisions, including 3 teams from Boston, Washington, Rise, Doom, DC Dominion and a young team Crysis from Sacramento. In co-ed eliminations, Awesome was sent to the loser’s bracket early by Doom, who overtook us in a 3-2 best of 5 match-up. In response, we fought our way to the semi-finals and played Doom again, this time overtaking them 2-0 in a best of 3. From there, we advanced to the finals to play Rise. It was a great match with nothing but close games but after taking the series to the 5th game, Rise won overall with 3 wins out of 5.
Open foam was the last division of the day but before the division began, the Last Dodgeballer Standing competition took place. Teams were split up so that no team was together on one side. Many players took to the front lines while others cowered in the back. After the numbers dwindled and the courts shrank, only Megan and myself remained in the fray. When it was down to about the top 10, I was eliminated by the commissioner himself as he caught a ball I threw that hit another player on his side. Megan hung in there and made it down to the final 3 and she and another player hit each other at the same time, leaving Boston’s Kate Kerrins as the sole survivor and the winner of the 2013 LDS award.
Open foam was even more intense than the co-ed division and eliminations began against the young guns of Crysis. After winning that match and advancing past Boston, we had to face Doom yet again before advancing to the finals. It was an epic match with a lot of fast-paced game play. The final game came down to Ryan in a one-on-one and he sealed it with some great dodges and a solid catch. From there, it was deja-vu, with Team Awesome and Rise once again competing for first place. In the end, Rise took the title with 3 wins to 1. It was a good match and at least we took home 2 medals!
Rubber Saturday was next and included no blocking, co-ed, open rubber and stinger divisions. Awesome played in co-ed and stinger and we saw many of the familiar faces from the day before. New teams included a team from North Carolina and a team of NCDA players. In co-ed, we played against Boston, Doom, DC, Upstate Empire, Gummi Bears and Rise. On our roster, was Matt, Drew, Ed, Frankie, Megan, Sara and myself. We were knocked down to the loser’s bracket early by Doom but fought hard to stay in the race. We met up with Boston next and advanced 2-0 and had to play a very seasoned rubber team, the Upstate Empire, who had defeated us 2-0 in the finals of the East Coast Championships open rubber finals just last June. Awesome was firing on all cylinders and made sure every throw was made together and on point. We advanced 2-0 and moved on to the loser’s bracket finals, where we met up with Rise. Despite a few hiccups, it was a close game and we lost to Rise by 1 match. Rise then went on to win the co-ed rubber division against Doom.
Stinger was one of the bigger divisions, as well as the most intense. This division has the most adrenaline, as no one wants to get hit by those deadly 5″ rubber balls! Our team included Matt, Drew, Frankie, Ed, Sam, myself and Glenn Tibay, a creepy friend of ours from LA. Eliminations started out once again with our friends from Crysis. We moved on to play DC and then Doom from there, who overtook us 3-2. The last game of the series was starting out in our favor but a cross court shot from our opponents took out three of us and left one of our players alone. We then played against Rise in the loser’s bracket and lost 1-2. Rise ended up overcoming Doom and won two best of 5 series in the finals to take home yet another 1st place medal.
Unfortunately, Sam and I could not stay for pro day but Team Awesome and the Philly Justice had a great day. Megan became the 2nd professional female dodgeball player and the youngest player to be accepted into the NDL’s pro league. She played alongside the Justice with Matt, Drew, Ed, Andrew Fox and Anthony Jennings. The results have not yet been posted but with 5 players on the Justice and 6 on all other teams, I’ll just say a few upsets were had that day. I am looking forward to the photos being posted as it looks like it was a fun day.
This year was the best DWC experience we had so far and all the games were very organized. It was great to see familiar faces yet again and it was also exciting to see new teams show up for the tournament. The double elimination format was a great addition in our eyes and we are looking forward to the new NDL foam balls being brought in for next year.
We placed 2nd twice and 3rd three times, so it was a good showing for the team. We are also proud of our three high school players, Sam, Ryan and Megan who made some big contributions to our success and are only at the beginning of their careers. Goodbye, Vegas. Until next year!