GVSU club dodgeball seeks fourth straight title

Andy Smith

Winning three consecutive national championships is a tough enough feat in any sport. The Grand Valley State dodgeball club has completed the three-peat, and, in the 2015 season, are looking to venture into untouched territory with a fourth straight national title.

The Lakers graduated a number of key players last year, but they won’t make excuses for coming up short this season. GVSU knows its ceiling and how to get there. The cupboard is in the process of being restocked, but the Lakers have begun to see improvement in a still-young season.

“In the sport of dodgeball, as a team and as an individual, it all starts with confidence. I think that may have been an area where as a unit were lacking at the start of the year,” said club captain Kevin Bailey. “We had more rookies in the starting lineup (for the beginning of the season) than ever before, so the experience and confidence was not there. As the season goes on, and I have already noticed it in the first month of the season, our players are going to become more confident.”

GVSU, which suffered just one defeat last season, is off to an uncharacteristically slow start in 2015 with a 4-3 record. A mediocre number in the win column is not something the Lakers are used to, but they’re confident in their abilities to get back on track.

“We have several All-American players on our team, and yet the rookies have the talent and skill to go head-to-head with them at practice now. I’ve been hit in the head multiple times by a rookie player at practice, and I have to say it is a good feeling because it shows how much they have improved already,” Bailey said. “GVSU has been known in the past for being great at developing talent, and that won’t change this year.”

The Lakers have built sustained success thanks to a well-oiled system and confidence in their rapid play on the court. Talent and schemes only go so far, however, and GVSU has built its three-rung dynasty largely thanks to dedication and commitment to the club sport.

“We play a lot different style of play than most of the teams that we play,” said club president Logan Rohloff. “We try to get the perfect strategy going first, we play at a way quicker pace than most of the teams that we play, we practice very hard and take it more seriously than a lot of the teams and that has contributed to our three straight national championships.”

GVSU practices three nights a week, practices which are mainly composed of intersquad scrimmages. With the new athletes, the experienced players will go over the rules and basics of the sport before diving into play. If anything seems amiss, the older players will halt play to explain and teach to their young talent.

“The best way to develop your players is to just play,” Rohloff said.

While GVSU did lose a number of talented players following the 2014-15 campaign, a number still remained. Bailey is a third-year returning captain, and was also named MVP at last year’s nationals. Austin Moxley and Aaron Terenzi also bring back experience and skill for the Lakers.

The Lakers will be back in action on Oct. 27, as they host a seven-team event.