ST. ALBANS — Dodge. Duck. Dip. Dive. Dodge.
The five D’s of dodgeball will reign at Collin Perley Sports & Fitness Center on Sunday as the Franklin-Grand Isle United Way Dodgeball Tournament runs for its second year. As of late in the week, 19 teams made up of six to eight people were signed up to play, wear costumes, and win prizes as part of the community organization’s fundraiser.
In the run-up to this year’s tournament, several of the teams got their dodgeball on in the past two weeks to practice their moves. One team even had a strategy plan, and as a symbol of their enthusiasm, a wrench.
This team, the Northwestern Counseling & Support Services “Duck & Dodgers,” made up of eight NCSS staff, are playing in the tournament for their first time. “We have a few people that have played dodgeball in school,” said Heather Wilson, team captain. “Some of us have never played.”
But, she added, that doesn’t mean the team isn’t prepared. “I can quote the Dodgeball movie from time to time,” Wilson said.
The team, which came together last Friday to practice in “Jim’s Gym” – the warehouse in the 5 Lemnah Drive building owned by Jimmy Warner – had a written strategy, matching t-shirts, sweatbands, the official National Dodgeball League rules, and a whole lot of excitement. Two missing team members were represented by vacuum cleaners wearing team t-shirts.
“We’re going to clean up the competition,” said Wilson.
Duck & Dodgers players also brought every ball conceivable to their practice – yoga ball, beach ball, a Tupperware Shape-O Toy shape sorter, kettlebell weight, Nerf football – to be ready for whatever comes flying at their faces.
The team’s coaching staff member, NCSS Director of Community Relations Joe Halko, who claims he would “be out in two seconds,” said he plans on reciting inspirational Dodgeball movie quotes to encourage his team.
“We expect to bring the fun to the tournament – the comic relief,” said Wilson.
Duck & Dodgers, of course, is not the only team prepping for Sunday’s competition. Vermont Precision Tools teams “Avengers” and “Daredevils” took to the Collins Perley courts on Tuesday to throw around a few balls, getting in some practice dips and dives.
Team “Pipe Layers,” with members who work at Swanton Elementary School, ReSOURCE non-profit, and for the state, had a practice last Sunday at Franklin Town Hall.
Chad Spooner, Pipe Layers’ team captain and Ward 6 City Council member, said the team got about an hour and a half session in, and had a great time.
“We haven’t played dodgeball since grade school,” Spooner said in a recent interview. “We’re looking forward to Sunday.”
Spooner added that part of the reason the group could play was thanks to the $200 sponsorship of the team’s entry fee through Chevalier’s Fire Protection of St. Albans.
Every team’s entry fee goes towards the local United Way, which then distributes the funds to organizations in need within its two-county area. Last year, the tournament raised $4,000 from 18 teams, according to United Way event committee chair Becky Manahan, and the goal for Sunday is $5,000.
“It was quite popular last year,” Manahan said by phone Friday. “We encourage spectators to come and watch.”
The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. There will be a morning session and an afternoon session of games, and the top four teams will play in the championship round beginning at 4 p.m.. They will compete for the dodgeball tournament trophy, and for glory.
Unlike movie character Peter La Fleur’s famous sudden death match move, no team members will be expected to blindfold themselves in the final round.