Dodgeball tournament fun “mayhem”

Theresa Yuha armed herself with a rubber ball and fast-moving feet for a special Battle of Alberta.

Paul Bonanni of the Green Team of Edmonton winds up and takes aim in the Battle of Alberta dodgeball event at Hunting Hills High School on Saturday.

Paul Bonanni of the Green Team of Edmonton winds up and takes aim in the Battle of Alberta dodgeball event at Hunting Hills High School on Saturday.

Theresa Yuha armed herself with a rubber ball and fast-moving feet for a special Battle of Alberta.

The Olds College recruiter took part in the sixth annual dodgeball match between Calgary and Edmonton held at Red Deer’s Hunting Hills High School on Saturday. She ran for balls, threw and dodged balls, and sometimes got smacked by them.

“You use muscles that you didn’t even know you had,” said Yuha, smiling.

She helped assemble players from the Red Deer and Didsbury area and then they formed a team for Calgary. After all, most of them live closer to Calgary than Edmonton, she said.

Twenty teams — 10 representing Calgary and 10 for Edmonton — and 200-some competitors took part in the battle for provincial domination.

Paul Laking of the Edmonton Sport and Social Club said the game does make people think back to their childhood when they played the game in elementary school.

Now, people largely in their 20s and 30s are having fun with this team sport.

Red Deer’s tournament called upon players to dress up as their favourite superhero so some were wearing capes and sporting names like “Captain America” on their shirts.

Natalie Wall of Edmonton was invited to play dodgeball by her brother’s friend. The provincial government employee is now hooked, playing three times a week with co-ed teams and a women’s team.

“It’s fun, fast-paced and a good social thing,” Wall said.

And since it’s not a game that people play all the way through school and beyond, most are starting at the entry-level, she added.

“Some teams go out and joke around — and that’s awesome,” said Wall. “But then you start being like, ‘yeah! I just caught that big beefy guy’s really good throw.’”

The game involves six players on each side of the gym, with three 22-cm playground rubber balls lined up in the middle. The players then rush towards the center line simultaneously to try and grab a dodgeball and throw or roll it backwards to their teammates.

“It’s basically mayhem from there,” said Laking, 24.

The game’s objective is to try and hit the team out — either by striking the player with the ball or catching the opponent’s ball.

When the ball is caught, a member of your own team comes back on the court and the person who threw the ball is eliminated.

Each game lasts 30 minutes.

“Head shots are not allowed. . . so the best way is to throw it low so it’s difficult for them to catch it,” said Laking.

Strategizing with teammates on making the best throw also helps.

Injuries tend to involve fingers because players are constantly trying to catch the ball.

“It’s like a dodgeball culture where everyone loves playing and we all get together outside (the game),” Laking said. “Even if someone gets an injury on their hand, they’re all ready to come back once they’re healed.”

Last week, more than 2,000 University of Alberta students, staff and alumni set a Guiness World Record for most players in a single dodgeball game with over 1,000 balls.

The university has a strong league of dodgeball players, Laking said.

Calgary and Edmonton Sport and Social Clubs also have leagues that people can participate in.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com