Michigan State Students Prove Dodgeball Is Way More than A Kid’s Game

Nov 20, 2019

The club sport is popular at MSU, with students showing off speed and strategy to win.

EAST LANSING, Mich. -  To many, dodgeball is a game children to play in gym class or during recess in elementary school. It’s a game ingrained in pop culture, thanks to the Ben Stiller movie “Dodgeball”, and the fodder for stand-up comedians to joke about their dodgeball failures.

However, to the Michigan State co-ed club dodgeball team, it is as serious of a sport as it gets, with its own set of complex strategies and rules.

The MSU Club dodgeball team.
Credit Jack Waynick

It’s not the clumsy dodgeball of sixth grade, rather, now a high-velocity sport played by skilled adult athletes.

“Dodgeball is a fun sport, in the sense that we all played it as kids growing up and now we’re still playing the same child’s game essentially, but with much more strategy and intensity,” said Jack Hilt, who is a member of the MSU club dodgeball team.

Hilt, a junior criminal justice major, believes playing the game at the college level is the best way to get the full experience.  

“Dodgeball here is a lot different in the sense that you don’t just run up and make a throw, there’s a rotation of who’s going to throw, there’s a shot clock to keep in mind, there are parts of the game that a lot of people don’t understand,” said Hilt.

Hilt stresses that the adult version of competitive dodgeball does not play like the children’s playground version. MSU students come to the club as rookies, thinking they are already experts in dodgeball because of their childhood experiences.

“We’ll have new kids come in and just try to make a bunch of throws right away, but they won’t understand the strategy of the game and things like the shot clock right away and other facets of the game, I think it is hard to understand the sport itself until you learn the actual rules and understand what the game actually is like,” said Hilt.

Dodgeball player Max Antilla.
Credit Jack Waynick

The dodgeball team’s practices look like ones for any other sport. The team runs drills and scrimmages against each other to prepare for games. The practices are held at MSU’s IM Circle, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

And the players treat the practices like games, practicing as hard as they play.

Max Antilla, a junior finance major, said that the club dodgeball team is a very close. He’s been on the team for the past three years.

“We are a pretty tight-knit group, everyone on the team gets along super well, we all hang out together outside of the sport, the bond between us is very strong,” said Antilla.

Antilla discussed what makes a good dodgeball player.

“Having a good arm is important to being a good dodgeball player, a lot of us are former baseball players with good arms which is helpful in dodgeball. Just being a good athlete can really help in being a good dodgeball player,” said Antilla.

Antilla says that dodgeball is very different than what most people think about the sport.

“There’s actually a lot of organization behind dodgeball which I don’t think a lot of people get, it’s not just running around randomly, there’s a lot of skill and practice involved in dodgeball,” said Antilla.

Dodgeball action in practice.
Credit Jack Waynick