Success of MSU Dodgeball Club comes from veteran leadership, camaraderie
There are five D’s of dodgeball, according to the legendary Patches O’Houlihan: Dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge.
The club’s success is evident since its founding in 2003, with achievements like a national championship in 2013, seven Final Four appearances and reaching the National Quarterfinals six seasons in a row.
The year 2013 was when captain Lucas Salinas decided to join the team after a friend on his floor joined first.
“I like getting out here being competitive, letting off some steam,” Salinas, a chemical engineering senior, said. “I’m in class all day, and then you come out here for two hours, four hours a week … and get to meet new people.”
Assistant captain Wes Peters said he was a “gym class hero” in high school and was a big fan of “Dodgeball Fridays” in his gym class.
“I was always going to join club dodgeball, as soon as I knew it existed,” Peters, a graduate student, said. “I just love the sport.”
This is also Peters seventh year playing collegiate dodgeball, first playing at Central Michigan University, where he was a captain for three years with one of MSU Dodgeball Club’s biggest rivals.
“For me, it’s mixed feelings because Central’s my team where I kind of grew up in college,” Peters said. “At first it was definitely weird as hell, but now I’m just used to it. A lot more smack talk than one normally would from the other side.”
Along with Central Michigan, Grand Valley State University, Saginaw Valley State University and James Madison University serve as the team’s main rivals.
President Daniel Kobina Ofori-Dankwa said the reason MSU and JMU are rivals in dodgeball is because of the growing tensions between the two teams.
Salinas said the Michigan region is where competitive college dodgeball grew up and could be considered where the majority of the powerhouse teams reside.
“You could say the Michigan teams are way better than the other regions as a whole, and then JMU was coming up and giving us good competition, so we became really good rivals with them,” Salinas said.
To keep up with the competition, keeping skills up to par is necessary and previously playing a ball sport can help.
“A lot of these guys didn’t even play baseball, but it definitely helps,” Salinas, who played catcher in high school, said. “There are a lot guys who did play baseball, and you see it, they kind of pick up quicker or they can be better quicker, but anybody can pick up the game.”
Urban and regional planning senior Hunter Whitehill said what keeps him playing is the people.
He came to MSU as a junior transfer student last year and found friends by joining the club.
“A lot people might have hard times meeting a friend and sometimes joining a club sport, even if it’s something a little more competitive or not competitive, it’s a good way to make friends and expand your horizons,” Whitehill said. “It doesn’t matter if you can throw a ball or not, we’re just all trying to get better, and the more people that show up, the more ability we have to progress as a team.”