Beyond the Opening Rush: It’s the Exec Life (Part 1)

Posted on October 23, 2015 at 12:02 am |


Every now and then, someone asks me what it’s like to be a VDL exec.

The majority of my execing days took place behind-the-scenes, with the odd seasons when Division Directors came up short and I became a frontline League Operator (the execs that run your gym and make announcements each week), but there’s a few universal truths that go for all the “Dodgeaholics” in the red shirts.

When you put on that red shirt, you automatically become part of this tight-knit community – nay, family – of fifty. Or is it sixty now? Regardless of their roles and experience, all the execs take you in wholeheartedly; everybody is ready to support you, to educate you, to bring you up to speed, to buy you a shot at pub night and welcome you into the group. That being said, my liver’s taken quite the beating since I became an exec, and I’m not sure it’s ever quite recovered.

Initially, it felt like a whirlpool. So much was happening beyond the dodgeball courts – the planning, the logistics, the surprises. Putting on the exec shirt doesn’t just give you a free pass to talk to strangers, it places on you a responsibility where being a dodgeball player comes second to being the face and backbone of the league. Without realizing it, you sign up for so much more: dealing with emergencies, thinking on your feet, stepping in to ref and help out even when you’re not on exec duty that night. Because you’re never truly “off” exec duty.

And that’s just during gym time. Most players aren’t aware of the hard work, time, and effort that the execs backstage put in. Sorting out team fees, putting on skills clinics and pub nights, organizing photoweek, updating schedules and standings…one time when the VDL website crashed, the IT team stayed up all night to get things fixed and running as soon as they could, just because they love you guys SO much. (I like my sleep, so you should be glad I’m the copywriter and not one of the tech guys.)

But, there’s no denying that the exec body works hard and plays  even harder. The HR team and department directors really take care of us, and make sure us volunteers get fed and trained and clothed with multi-coloured VDL shirts, while providing opportunities for us to bond and learn new things. When we take a break, we party like we’re in Vegas: “Whatever happens at [retreat location] stays at [retreat location].” I’ve seen things that can no longer be unseen, and let’s just leave it at that.

I’ve volunteered in a lot of different capacities with different organizations, but few come close to the VDL exec team. This one I’ve gladly stayed on for nearly five years now, and I never want to leave because of the amazing group of passionate people I get to work with. Of course, there have been times when I’ve struggled with the existing (or lack of) leadership/transparency/communication/planning –  but no organization is perfect and I’ll be the first to admit that I have high standards. What I do appreciate with VDL is the openness and respect all the execs have for each other, creating an atmosphere in which I can feel comfortable speaking my mind and airing out my grievances with the related parties to work out any problems.

Ultimately, the execs are what make this league thrive. League ops play a crucial role in ensuring that games are fun and enjoyable for everyone, while the behind-the-scenes crew you never see function as a strong unit to keep VDL running smoothly. They work hard to bring dodgeball to you and the community, making it come alive. So next time you see an exec, even if they aren’t wearing the “Dodgeaholic” shirt, shake their hand, give them a hug, pat them on the back. Maybe, just maybe, you can laugh at the Wednesday jokes too.

…or maybe not. And no, I don’t write those. And I still don’t know who does, but I hope I never find out.

~ Michelle
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