“Three, two, one, dodgeball!” Those words began each round of the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) Dodgeball Tournament on Sunday, April 8. Participants flashed back to elementary school, middle school and high school gym class while playing the familiar game for a good cause. 

Puja Thapa / Business Manager

Puja Thapa / Business Manager

According to the Special Programs Coordinator for BBBS of New Hampshire and Liaison for the college Karen Brook, the club has been around for 10 years and the Dodgeball Tournament is an annual event that’s been happening for many of those years. “People always ask me when it’s going to be,” said Brook. “There’s an expectation to hold this every year.” Each player was charged $5, and Brook said that it depends on the year, but the event tends to fundraise about $100 each year for Big Brothers Big Sisters, which might go to specific events or the general funds for the organization so they can support the programs for Bigs and Littles. 

First-year volunteering with BBBS Isabella Nunziata said that she has helped out with a few BBBS events this year, including game events in the Night Owl Cafe and Madison Street Lounge and a Halloween event in the L.P. Young Student Center Atrium. Nunziata said she has enjoyed her time with BBBS. “I like working with kids,” said Nunziata. “I like to work with events that promote creativity.”

Four teams of five players competed in the tournament, which was held in the Spaulding Gym Recreational Courts from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.. While the competition was intense, players and spectators could be heard cheering and laughing almost constantly. 

The rules were simple; if you get hit before the ball hits the ground or if the ball you threw gets caught then you’re out but if one of your teammates catches the ball before it hits the ground then you can come back in. The teams played several practice rounds so they could warm-up and get a feel for the other teams before the competition began around 2 p.m.. When the participants weren’t on the court they were cheering on the other players, talking with those who came to support them, or fueling up for the next round with clementines, apples, pretzels, power bars and water provided by BBBS. 

The first round of the tournament was the team named Hot Mess Express against representatives of the women’s ice hockey team. The Hot Mess Express was a group of friends who were making an appearance after one of their team members, Jake Kondrat, participated in the event last year. The group of five Keene State College students decided to test their athletic skills in hopes of winning the grand prize: a $25 gift card to Domino’s for each team member. After facing off against each other in the first and third rounds of the tournament, the Hot Mess Express won both and would move on to the championship round. 

Although they were knocked out, the members of the women’s ice hockey team stuck around to watch the rest of the competition. One of the team members, Maggie McNamara, said that although they didn’t win, they still enjoyed participating. “We’re very competitive, but we had a lot of fun,” McNamara said.  

The second pairing, Team Two and representatives of Next Level Church (NLC) in Keene, squared up against each other for the second and fourth rounds. The members of NLC were the winners of those rounds and went on to play against the Hot Mess Express. 

The championship consisted of three rounds between the two reigning teams. After the first two rounds the score was tied 1-1 with the third round about to determine who would be walking away with the glory. The crowd of spectators along the wall of the court grew silent as the 10 players readied themselves to scramble for the six brightly-colored foam balls which rested in a line between the two opposing sides. After a fierce few minutes, filled with cheering, chanting and laughter on all sides, the NLC members came out victorious. 

The team said that they had heard about the event through Liz Reis, who is a parishioner at NLC and works with Karen Brook as the Community-Based Program Coordinator. Although they won the big, championship prize of $125 worth of Domino’s gift cards, Jeremy Martineau and Matt Garrow said that wasn’t the reason why they came out to participate in the event and they even plan on giving the gift cards to the church. Martineau said he joined because he wanted to “come out to have fun and do something for a good cause.”

Abbygail Vasas can be contacted at avasas@kscequinox.com

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