Beyond the Opening Rush: Retirement is NOT an Option

Posted on April 22, 2015 at 10:44 pm |


After more than ten seasons of playing, dodgeball still surprises me.

It’s probably more accurate to say I still discover surprises about myself through playing dodgeball.

It happened to me last night. My whole team was out and there were five tier 1 players across from me, many of whom I knew or have played against. Normally, I wouldn’t have the confidence to take them down one on one, let alone five together (Granted, I could just be really bad at showdowns). So you can imagine how utterly bizarre and surreal it was for me that with balls on both sides, I somehow managed to pick them off, one after another, and ended up winning the match. I was so excited I probably screamed louder than my teammates.

Needless to say, it felt great, and it was a first for me, winning singlehandedly like that. Throughout that last part of the game, I fully expected to get hit out by one of their hard­hitters, or get caught out by their experienced “played-­since-­season­1” players.

It wasn’t till after the game though, when Matt Creamer, an old teammate playing on the opposing team that night, came to congratulate me. He told me my throw’s gotten a lot stronger, and gave me some advice on using that to my advantage. I was genuinely surprised. Really? My throw “packed heat”? I couldn’t wrap my head around that. I have no upper body strength – I can’t do one single chin-­up to save my life. I don’t play any other sports that builds muscles in my arms. When I warm up and throw the ball against the wall, the smack it makes sounds as loud to me now as my throw sounded back in season 12. So it was gratifying to hear firsthand from a good player (and one I respect a lot) that my throw has improved.

Maybe it’s because the games go by so quickly, and one night rolls into another, but personally, I’ve never noticed any distinct improvements in my power or speed. Now and then I notice my accuracy might be a little better, but depending on the gym, how squishy the balls were, what I ate for lunch that day, most of the time I couldn’t tell if I was just lucky or my aim was really on.

I’ve heard many players say they can “retire” once they win their championship. To be honest, I did feel a sense of relief too when I won my first. But I  can’t see myself retiring. I’ve come to realize that with dodgeball, as with many things in life, it’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey. I love this game. I wouldn’t want to give it up unless I get to a point where I’m physically unable to play, or I move to another city, or my friends who don’t play dodgeball sit me down for an intervention (I’ve been doing pretty well on balancing my family and social life with dodgeball these days, though sadly it’s called for cutting down to two nights a week). I look forward to each night I do play, every game I get to sub, the new people I get to meet, and the awesome teammates I get to connect with each week.

There’s always room for improvement, regardless of how long you’ve played or been playing. Many of us are still playing for that elusive championship, the fabled double­catch, or coming out on the winning side as the lone wolf against an entire team. I’ve also seen a lot of new rising stars: younger players who step up with new strategies and gameplay, and there’s still so much to learn every dodgeball night. ­After all, this concept applies to pretty much every sport. My old badminton coach is over 85 now, but he’ll still outwit and outplay a lot of younger energetic players. As I’ve always believed, an old dodger can still learn new tricks.

Playoffs are great, but truth be told, I love the regular season more, and I wouldn’t give up those weekly games, and in turn being a part of such a terrific community, for much else in the world.

Now, if only I can throw a decent curveball…

~ Michelle

P.S. Thanks to Joanne Wong for calling me out in front of the whole gym on not having written a post in a while. It gave me the motivation to get blogging again. As far as I know, you’re my #1 Fangirl (and possible my only one)!

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