No matter what I write, the pieces that seem to be most popular are those in which I make a total fool of myself. So it’s time to add a new member to the fraternity that includes my tryout with the Woodland girls volleyball team and the Beacon Falls duck scavenger hunt.
I played in a dodgeball tournament Saturday against big, scary heathens seeking a testosterone-fueled, pride-pumping weekend high.
Perhaps some better background would help. The Naugatuck Fire Department hosted its second annual dodgeball tournament on Saturday at Naugatuck High. Something like 20 teams were involved. This was legit.
If you’ve ever seen Dodgeball (as in the movie with Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn) you’re already familiar with what happened Saturday. This tournament had everything except the glass retaining walls, sadomasochist uniforms, and Chuck Norris.
I was recruited by NFD Captain Jim Trzaski’s son, Justin, to play on his six-man team. We were joined by Craig Genz (of duck scavenger hunt shotgun fame), Anthony DelMoro (of Tony’s Takes), Steve Knapik, and Anthony DiMeco.
My brother, Cal, warned me before the tournament that our team would not only fail to win a game, but we would likely be injured and/or humiliated in the process. It sounded like the perfect opportunity to write another column like this.
Dodge These Balls (tee hee) was our name. We completed the identity with white T-shirts and Sharpie ink. I decided to cut off my sleeves and wrap them around my head, striving for the Rambo look. Whatever I was surely going to lack in skill, I was going to make up for it with intimidation — or distraction.
All we knew is that we were guaranteed to play four games, and we probably were not going to win any of them. But when we hit the court to play our practice game against some older men clad in pink for breast cancer awareness, our mentality changed a little.
Things looked bleak from the start. Knapik eliminated himself from the game nearly immediately by stepping out of bounds. I suffered a blow to my heel just after making the first elimination of the day.
But the team pulled through, and we gained an unexpected victory. We knew that we got a good draw, though (no offense to our opponents, who I believe lasted longer than us), and weren’t expecting our momentum to continue into the first round of the tournament.
Somehow, it did, despite Trzaski eliminating himself at the beginning of our game against a team featuring a Justin Bieber lookalike. This was the only game of the day that I finished. Through two games I had yet to be injured, embarrassed, or defeated. This was splendid.
Of course, it was time for everything to come crashing down. We had the unfortunate task of facing the team from The Club fitness center. These men were in great shape and were among those who threw the ball really hard. We were not.
From the get-go, we played four-on-six. Why? Knapik and Genz eliminated themselves no more than five seconds into the game. We might have been awful throughout the day, but we must have led the tournament in self-eliminations.
Quickly, I was the only player remaining against four or five muscular dudes. At this moment, I realized what it must be like for a small rodent to be backed into a corner by a bunch of workboot-clad men wielding anti-rodent devices.
I stood no chance, except I was able to dodge a few balls. I probably should have just run out of bounds, but instead I took one of the small red balls directly to the left knee. I specify the small red ball because it was smaller and redder than the others, meaning it could be thrown with much more force than the large silver balls. Yay.
I ate up the wound like the Brawny man and prepared for our next game. We lost again, this time to the Middletown Fire Department. Genz eliminated himself at the start of the game again. We had no remaining momentum from our 2-0 start.
But alas, our fifth game had us matched up with the team from Beacon Hose Co. No. 1! This was the most important game of the day for us. We knew that this meant Beacon Falls bragging rights. The de facto Beacon Falls Dodgeball Championship was on the line. We could not lose.
We did not lose. Unfortunately, I suffered my worst injury of the day during the opening salvo when I dove to catch a ball very low to the floor. Both elbows hit the deck hard. I caught the ball, but I couldn’t even throw it back. I gave it to someone else and regrouped.
There is no time to regroup in dodgeball. I was eliminated again. But we won. The Beacon Falls Dodgeball Championship is ours, even though my right arm actually still hurt while typing this.
We were promptly dispatched in our final game by the most diverse team in the field, featuring Huge Man One, Huge Man Two, Tattoo Man, and Cool Guy With The Beanie Cap. Knapik was the final one to be eliminated. It was one of the few games in which he did not eliminate himself.
We were spent, but we finished 3-3. That’s a .500 record, and that sure is a proud accomplishment. We didn’t even stick around to see who won the tournament. But I did pick up some other observations throughout the day.
Some people get really mad playing dodgeball. I mean really mad. I wasn’t expecting to hear some of the words I heard at this event. Yikes.
One team named Aiming For The Fat One was not very nice. For the professional wrestling fans out there, those guys would be considered the heels of the gym. They drew boos during almost every game. Arrogant dodgeball players are generally unpopular.
However, Aiming For The Fat One was involved in perhaps the best game of the day against The Club. The Club was facing a one-on-three situation with only Concussion Helmet Man remaining. I’m still not sure how he did it, but he managed to dodge the high-speed projectiles for minutes on end before eliminating each and every one of the bad guys. The gym exploded and Concussion Helmet Man enjoyed a victory lap on his teammates’ shoulders. Awesome.
A similar effort came from Naugatuck High quarterback Zac Mercer when he rallied from a one-on-four deficit to pull out the victory for the Fighting Justin Biebers. Mercer hit the deck repeatedly, just missing being tagged a half-dozen times.
Having shared both of those stories, there might be no more exciting comeback in sports than a shorthanded dodgeball rally. The gym wasn’t even a quarter full and it was loud during both comebacks. Why isn’t there high school dodgeball during the winter sports season? Let’s do it.
Anyway, the best team name of the tournament goes to the guys from Farmertan. And as great as the team name was, the characters in the group were better. The shortest guy on the team was a total sparkplug. Imagine what would happen if a bearded leprechaun, Little Jimmy Dickens, and Mel Gibson in Braveheart combined into one person. That was this awesome man.
But the character of the day had to be the captain of the Middletown Fire Department’s team. He sported a tight, hot pink shirt with spandex and a jock strap on the outside of said spandex. He danced provocatively a number of times and enjoyed a beverage or two — or a handle — in the bleachers. He was more intimidating than me.
But I guess that’s probably not saying much.