Photo by Tamie Meck Playing for team Wounded Eagle Warriors, Josh Altman, left, and Jesse Reed compete in a lively game of dodgeball during a tournament at Paonia High School on Dec. 12. The event was part of a fundraising effort by Paonia Middle and High Schools for the national Wounded Warrior Project.Remember dodgeball? That dreaded gym-class sport where the meekest endured a grueling and humiliating selection process, only to get hammered by one of the tough kids. Oh the welts, the shame.
Because of lawsuits and demands by parents and educators to eliminate the game from physical education curriculum, dodgeball, which had been part of PE playtime for decades, fell by the wayside in the late 1990s.
Now, the sport of welts and concussions is gaining popularity. It even has its own special balls, which are squishy and soft, but still pack a punch if heaved hard enough.
The game is popular in college, where schools compete for titles in the National Collegiate Dodgeball Association. There's the World Dodgeball Federation, the World Dodgeball Society, and the National Amateur Dodgeball Association, which touts the sport for its affordability (it requires minimal equipment), teamwork and strategy factors.
"Dodgeball is coming back," said PHS principal, Randall Palmer. "Even the girls like it."
PHS English teacher Kriss Allen recently organized a dodgeball tournament as part of fundraising efforts for the Wounded Warrior Project. "I wanted to do a service project that benefited our soldiers and raised student awareness of the greatness of our country, thanks to those who sacrifice so much, especially during the holiday season," said Allen. "The kids jumped at the chance to play dodgeball to raise money and awareness."
The tournament consisted of six teams, all competing for the trophy — a scale model trebuchet designed by PHS senior, Chelsy Reed.
Their teams adopted themes representing America's strengths: Black ops, Lumberjacks, NYPD Swat, Wounded Eagle Warriors. "Swat Team" and players Braiden Clement, Tyler Jackson, Carson Pipher, Reed, Will Austin, Jorge Quinonez, Taylor Walters and Jason Sturgis won the trophy and the honor of competing against teachers and staff members.
Some rules: no badmouthing, no arguing with judges' calls, and no head shots. Freshman Taylor Carsten, a fast-pitch softball player, was hurling the ball pitcher-style. Carsten said she loves dodgeball. It's competitive, exciting, "And it doesn't hurt, because the balls are just foam."
The tournament was just one of several ways the Paonia schools raised money for the WWP. Kids in grades 7-12 competed in a copper/silver competition. "The goal is to have the most copper (pennies) in their class jar when the two-week competition ends. Kids sabotage other classes' jars by adding cash or silver to offset their penny collection." The seventh-grade class won, raising more than $100 more than any other class.
The junior class was "bombed" with cash and silver the most, since they had collected the most pennies.
Collection cans have been passed at high school wrestling and basketball events, and the Junior Class Moms ran the concession stand during dodgeball, with food donated by the Booster Club.
Allen's English II class read Elie Wiesel's novel, "Night," about surviving the Holocaust. World War II veteran, Norm Shetley, also spoke to students about his experiences.
"We raised $1,638.51 in all, far exceeding our initial expectations," said Allen, giving thanks to the community for its support.
And there is already talk of making this an annual event.