Dodgeballers from across the country will be bringing their A-games to the Ryder Center this weekend.
SVSU will host the National Collegiate Dodgeball Association Nationals for the first time Friday and Saturday, April 14-15, welcoming 17 teams from across the nation.
“We’re going to be playing some pretty good dodgeball,” said captain Spencer Jardine, a criminal justice senior. “It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch.”
Every national championship tournament is hosted based on a collective vote, but this year SVSU volunteered.
“The way it works is every team qualifies but then gets pitted against each other,” Spencer said. “I guess you could say it’s kind of like March madness.”
Secondary education senior Ryan Schian said he is most looking forward to playing as a team one last time and showing everyone what SVSU dodgeball is all about.
“We have a lot of seniors on the team who will not be returning next year because they will graduate,” Schian said. “So in a way, this is kind of our last hoorah.”
In the last few years, the dodgeball team has made it close to winning but has not yet succeeded in taking the national championship home. The team has made the final four three of the last four years, losing to Grand Valley in the championship game three seasons ago.
“We want to hold the trophy in front of all of our family and friends to show them that consistent hard work, practice, and dedication pays off,” Schian said. “Overall, I expect headshots, team throws, good blocking, clear communication, quality catching, and wild fans.”
Jardine agreed that this is SVSU’s year to win it all.
“Nothing short of the championship will be acceptable,” Spencer said. “We’re really looking forward to this year, especially because we’re on home court.”
Marketing and management senior Lindsay Maynard said that playing teams from all over the country will be a challenge, but she doesn’t expect unfamiliarity to slow the Cardinals down.
“The first day of pool play will hold some unexpected games because we haven’t played a few of those teams before,” Maynard said. “But we should be set up for a great seed for the final day of the tournament.”
The team has already has several big victories this year, including wins over Michigan State, Central Michigan and Grand Valley all on the same day.
Maynard said that she is most looking forward to the all-star and all-girl game to kick off nationals on Saturday.
“These games will give the different teams time to play together and meet the players,” she said.
Spencer encouraged fans to come out to the game, support the team and create the home-court advantage that the opposing teams have come to expect.
“The entire league knows how spirited our fans are,” Spencer said.
Schian agreed, saying that he is glad to end his college career at home along with fellow seniors Jardine, Maynard, Jason Stein and Max Siler.
“Hands down, SVSU has the best fans for college dodgeball,” Schian said. “Their noise level, chants, and overall excitement during games create such a phenomenal ambiance that the team feeds off of.
“It will be a bitter-sweet experience playing my final games with such wonderful teammates and in front of such spectacular fans.”