GV set to hold first Laker Dodgeball Invitational

A member of the GVSU dodgeball team during a practice on Tuesday

Nicole Lamson

A member of the GVSU dodgeball team during a practice on Tuesday

Kevin VanAntwerpen

The Laker Dodgeball Club hopes to draw a crowd of Grand Valley State University students to its first Laker Dodgeball Invite set to take place in the south gym of the GVSU Fieldhouse Sunday.

And to explain why students should attend the Laker Dodgeball Invite, GVSU team captain Jim Stokes pointed to the club motto: “headshots guaranteed.”

“In this kind of dodgeball, anything goes,” Stokes said. “You can hit them in the feet, body, head – it’s all legal. That means it’s going to be a lot more intense and exciting. It makes for a fast paced, aggressive game.”

Dodgeball at GVSU has become a spectator sport. Stokes recalls a game during his freshman year in which about 1,200 people attended. While the club has not been able to draw a number that large lately, Stokes estimated the final home game of last season drew between 150 and 200 people. At the invite, the club members hope to return to its roots.

“We kind of deviated from advertising ourselves as a club,” Stokes said. “We stopped trying to be super big because we got used to winning. We didn’t feel like we had to put our names out there. We just always won. Now that the other teams are starting to match us, we want to get our name out there again.”

While Stokes said he doubts the event will draw crowds as large as his freshman year, he said he’s optimistic that the club’s heavy promotional efforts will draw a few hundred people.

“We’ve really pulled out all the stops on this,” he said. “We have people camped in Kirkhof, selling t-shirts and passing out flyers to raise awareness. When the weather was nice, we had plans to chalk the sidewalks with advertisements. We’ve even invited some fraternities that we’ve helped with fundraisers, so hopefully they’ll bring their crews, and we’ll have a good turnout.”

Currently, the Lakers are scheduled only to face Central Michigan University’s dodgeball club at 12:30 p.m., though they extended invitations to many other schools both in and out of state. However, many schools are located an hour and a half or further away.

“It’s hard to get teams to show up to a tournament [at Grand Valley] because it’s not in a particularly central location,” said senior Greg Trippiedi. “The other reason is that we’ve been so good for so long, most teams would rather not travel out here to play us. They’d rather we come to them.”

Regardless of whether or not other teams arrive, Stokes said the match between Central Michigan and the Lakers will be “the best match of the day.” The two teams have gone head-to-head in two matches already this season, with Central Michigan beating GVSU in a Jan. 19 game 4-2 and the Lakers scoring a victory at Feb. 12’s Michigan Dodgeball Cup by a score of 2-1.

“We definitely hope [it will become a yearly event],” said senior Jeff Olsen. “We always try to get home games, and we always like to bring other teams to Grand Valley.”

The event starts at 12:30 p.m., when the Chippewas and Lakers will face-off. If only GVSU and Central Michigan attend, GVSU’s junior varsity team is scheduled to compete in a second match against Central Michigan later in the afternoon.

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