“Dodgeball!” yells the referee. Six Slugs from each side of the West Field House sprint to center court, lunging in hopes of securing a ball off of the floor. Ball in hand or not, each player backpedals and prepares themselves for the five minute battle about to take place.
Coed dodgeball is one of the most popular intramural sports on campus. Sunday night leagues filled up fast this quarter with 13 registered teams. For class of 2013 alumnus Mark Gianino, it provides a weekend escape from the stresses of the real world.
“For a sport that’s as laid back as it is, you get to have a lot of fun and release a lot of aggression, anger and happiness to everyone around you,” Gianino said.
Gianino, along with two friends, alumnus Cameron Bruno and UCSC student Shadin Awad, play on a team of six students every week. Awad said they do their best to win even though they have the minimum amount of players.
“The camaraderie is there more so in some of the other teams because a lot of the other teams are a part of fraternities,” Awad said. “They have a lot more people on their team so they get a lot of cheering, whereas we only have six people.”
The rules are simple. While staying within the boundaries, players must attempt to hit their opponents below the shoulder. If a player catches a ball thrown at them, the thrower is eliminated.
Although the intensity at these intramural games never reaches the level seen in the comedy “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story,” the competition definitely pushes students to exert themselves. Bruno recalled one such incident from last quarter when the game’s intensity resulted in an injury.
“We did a slide to grab the balls off the ground,” Bruno said. “He was barefoot, I was wearing shoes and we just both slid and connected. I broke his toes.”
That incident didn’t stop Bruno from playing again this quarter. Along with the passion for the sport, the hunger for a win is what drives Bruno and Gianino to continue to come back and play even after graduating. They are still out there every Sunday despite the fact their team has yet to chalk up a win together.
“Last season we didn’t win a single game so we named ourselves the Losers this season,” Bruno said while laughing. “We’ve only won by default, so it’s pretty fitting.”
The team lost again as it was forced to forfeit due to a shortage of players this past Sunday. With one game left to play, spirits were certainly up. Gianino realizes intramural dodgeball is something he and his teammates compete in for fun and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
“It’s really easy to get into and it’s worth the effort,” Gianino said. “When I first signed up for this I didn’t really know how it would turn out, but it ended up being much better than we all expected. You don’t have to be athletic to play but it helps. It’s just a fun experience to share with your friends.”