Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood
Remember playing dodgeball in grade school? Remember choosing sides and teammates and how everyone clamored after the kid with the rocket arm?
Then we stood around like Middle East negotiators and laid out the ground rules for the game. "OK, no head shots and no going after feet."
And off we went. Red rubber balls were fired back and forth as we ran, jumped and ducked for our dear lives. If you were the last one left on your team you felt proud that you had survived and at the same time you felt hunted as your opponents zeroed in.
Ah, yes, those days of yester-year seem so far away.
At the Brainerd Family YMCA, those days are coming back with the start of an adult dodgeball league this winter.
If you play
What: Adult dodgeball league
When: 6:30-9:30 p.m. Fridays
Start date: Jan. 28 through April 8
Where: Brainerd Family YMCA
Age divisions: Women's open, men's 18-29, men's 30 and up and individuals
Fee: $50 (team), $15 (non-member individual), $10 (member individual)
"I really think that dodgeball is a game of strategy. I don't think you have to have the fastest player or the guy who can throw the hardest."
"What I'm hearing in the industry is that there's a renewed interest by adults in the games they played when they were kids," YMCA program director Chris Fastner said. "I think everyone has memories of playing dodgeball as kids.
"It's also something new and different. People have been playing in volleyball and basketball leagues around here forever so now dodgeball is a new twist on the league concept."
Dodgeball has seen a recent surge in popularity due in large part to the 2004 movie, "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story," starring Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller. But, unlike the movie, you won't have to dodge a wrench to play at the YMCA.
The league will consist of three divisions, women's open, men's 18-29 and men's 30 and over with eight players per team. Team registration runs through Tuesday.
The league will kick off Friday and run through April 8 with games running from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Individuals interested in playing are also welcomed to register.
Games are seven minutes long and are a best two of three series. A winner is decided when all members of a team are out or when time runs out and the team with the most players remaining wins.
While fun will be on the minds of all participants, dodgeball could actually serve as a way to relieve stress after a hectic work week. What's a better stress reliever than throwing a ball at someone at close range?
"I'm sure there are people viewing the sport as a way to relieve stress," Fastner said. "We all need fun things to do and breaks from our stressful days. One of the pluses is that people can do this and only be away from the family for an hour."
Pure recreation fun from the days back on the playground is what drew Brainerd resident Wade Haapajoki to sign up for the league.
"We had some great games back in school," Haapajoki said. "It's an old-new game and the movie kind of adds some excitement. It also gives me a chance to do something with my friends."
Haapajoki also looks at dodgeball as a sport that's not based on who can throw a ball the hardest. Instead, team strategy will play a big part in who wins and loses.
Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood
"I really think that dodgeball is a game of strategy," said Haapajoki. "I don't think you have to have the fastest player or the guy who can throw the hardest. You need to have guys that can catch and block as well as throw. It'll be important to have smart guys as well as strong and fast guys."
Fastner admits the dodgeball league is one big experiment and whether or not it will become a fixture at the YMCA is anyone's guess. But getting people into the YMCA for a fun activity is a small reward.
"If you look at the history of the Y there are fads and sports that come and go," Fastner said. "Back in the '70s racquetball was a huge sport on the rise. Now some places are turning their racquetball courts into weight rooms.
"Does dodgeball have the staying power of volleyball or basketball? I don't know. But we'll do it a few times and if people have fun, great."
And, after all, having a little fun in our lives helps keep us young. Just as long as there are no head shots.
TROY GUNDERSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5865.
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