Beyond the Opening Rush: “What’s your first time like?”

Posted on October 03, 2014 at 10:52 am |


There’s a magic to dodgeball. I could have had the grossest day: sleep deprivation, demanding boss, cranky customers, traffic jam…then I get to the school gym at 7pm, throw a few balls and get hit by a couple, maybe even make some catches, break a sweat…and I leave feeling like a million dollars, full of energy like there’s nothing in the world that can stop me, high-fiving everyone on my way out.

Have you felt this way too? Dodgeball is what I imagine antidepressants are like – it just inexplicably alters your mood. Maybe it’s the adrenaline, or the uplifting atmosphere, or the infectious camaraderie, but I come home a different person than the one that left, telling whoever happens to be living with me at the moment how I made this great play, or this amazing catch, or brought back my entire team (ok, maybe not so much the last one…but maybe half the team).

Of course, it’s worked the other way too when I happen to have a lousy night, but that’s why teams go to the pub afterwards, right? …right?

Seriously though, reality shifts once you’re on the dodgeball court. Nothing else is going on in your head because there’s really no time or room for you to daydream. As soon as the game starts you have to know where the balls are, where the side lines are, where your opponents are, where your teammates are; who’s throwing, who’s still in, who’s gone out in the opening rush. Those short three, seven, ten minutes you’re just working to stay alive in the game, trying to keep the balls on your side, dodging, throwing, hitting, catching! It’s all a whirl and it doesn’t stop even when you’re out. You’re cheering your teammate on, warning them of cross-court throws, hoping they catch you back in. The frenzy that is dodgeball, this game that demands every ounce of your attention, because if you’re dozing? Wham! And the ref’s calling you out! Nothing but the game matters.

Escapism at its best. A lot of people have said to me that dodgeball “saved” them. It got them away from their monotonous routines and gave them an outlet, a change, a social community. Playing in a structured league has the weird side effect of forcing you to see the same five or six people every week, and if you happen to like them – great! One of my ex-teammates has admitted to me that he gets so moody and withdrawn over the summer without dodgeball, to the point where he’s considering quitting his job and taking off with a backpack with no destination in mind (not that that’s a bad idea, of course). Once September hits though, he’s all happy and cheerful again. Admit it, you’ve been there.

It’s a strange sport, to be sure. People either love it or hate it, and those who love it, are addicted to it. It’s like a bad craving, or an obsession, you just keep coming back for more and more; it only took me two or three seasons before I was playing four nights a week (though it didn’t take long before my body and my friends who didn’t play started complaining and I had to cut back). I wish I could find the words to describe that exhilarating rush after a good night of dodgeball. Feeling like you could take on the world, and just a little pleased knowing that you burnt some calories and fulfilled your exercise quota of the day…or week.

Along the way, I’ve become part of a fantastic community, met amazing people, and made lifelong friends. I’ve had my number of wins, losses, laughs, tears. I’ve discovered much about life, people, and myself – and I share these stories with you this season. My views are mine and do not necessarily reflect that of VDL’s, so if I offend you, we can settle it in a showdown. I hope you enjoy these little reads, so let’s get the ball rolling!

~ Michelle

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