“3, 2, 1… Dodgeball!”
Ah yes, the game brought to the masses by the cult classic in 2004 that taught us all the five D’s of DodgeBall.
Dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge.
Local dodgeball enthusiasts have Kevin Vo to thank for officially bringing the sport to Surrey.
Just two years ago, Vo founded Surrey’s first and only dodgeball league after he got sick of driving out to Vancouver to play the sport.
On Nov. 28, it was championship time for Surrey Dodgeball League (SDL). The scene was set at Johnston Heights Secondary.
Furrowed brows. Curled lips. Cries of defeat. Cheers of victory.
The bleachers were smaller, there were no announcers giving play-by-play and Chuck Norris wasn’t there to weigh in, but the intensity of the Surrey games matched that of the face-off between Average Joe’s and Globo-Gym in the film finalé.
After all, six tiers of teams were battling it out to be crowned Surrey dodgeball champs.
Every person in that gym came to win.
In the top tier, things got pretty heated.
“These people are psychotic about it,” said Vo, chuckling as balls flew overhead. He struggled to speak over the hollers coming from the court.
He includes himself in that crowd. And, well, he doesn’t have much of a choice, seeing as his team – #Squishgate – took the top spot this year.
As the afternoon progressed, tensions grew and tempers rose.
Purple balls slammed against the walls of the gym with such force you’d think shots had been fired.
Some took in the game from the sidelines with white knuckles and shrieks of excitement.
On the court, others enthusiastically expressed their, err… angst… as they got booted out of the game after a whizzing ball walloped them.
“Your bags are packed boys!” yelled one player.
“Just END her!” screamed another.
“It was the most competitive we’ve ever had,” Vo said after the tourney was over.
“Usually, there’s two or three teams favoured to win. This time around we had like eight teams that could’ve won and we wouldn’t have been surprised. The competition was really close.”
The league has come a long way since its modest beginning just two years ago.
What began with about 20 people dropping in to play casual games of dodgeball in the summer of 2013 has exploded into 64 teams across two nights, four tiers and three gyms.
While SDL mainly drew from Surrey residents in the beginning, people are now joining from Burnaby, Richmond and Coquitlam.
Vo believes it’s picked up so much because it’s good, old-fashioned fun.
“It’s just a co-ed rec sport where you can go out once a week and relive your childhood,” he said.
“The rules are pretty straight forward, too. Because of tiering you don’t have to have grown up playing dodgeball. It’s something you can pick up. It’s for all skill levels and all age groups.”
And it’s just downright fun, he added.
“For an hour and a half, you can let out your steam.”
Amanda Furney, a volunteer with SDL, was in on the playoff action at Johnston Heights.
“There’s huge competition between teams,” said Furney. “For the most part it’s friendly competition. For me, personally, I just like the intensity.”
While regular season can be light and goofy, people bring their “A-game” to the playoffs, she revealed.
“Second place, they really snuck in there. They came out of nowhere and crushed my team,” said Furney.
“It’s definitely fast-paced and high intensity. Balls coming at your from every direction. It can be intimidating.”
One must wonder, do those balls hurt when they hit?
“Obviously face shots can hurt,” she answered, with a chuckle. “Those sometimes sting. But I haven’t cried yet.”
Think you’ve got what it takes? Registration for next season, beginning near the end of January, is already underway.
To start a team all you need is some friends, some spirit and a quirky, eyebrow-raising name.
Oh, and remember, in the infamous words of Patches O’Houlihan, “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.”