It has now been four weeks since I stated playing dodgeball. The first week was nice. I'm glad we started with that team because the two teams we played after them would have certainly convinced me never to go back if that's what it would be like. I'm quite certain that both these teams were made up entirely of professional pitchers looking for something to do in the off season. I came home both weeks with bruises and possible internal injuries; I could not feel my liver or my spleen.
I've realized in the last few weeks why I've never been an "athlete." It's not because I don't enjoy the activity, because I really like breaking a sweat and the sense of camaraderie I have with my teammates. What I don't like is the idea that I could get hurt. I was watching the boys play basketball last weekend and Twin A jammed three fingers on the ball. His hand swelled up to twice its size and I thought "how is that fun?" Or how in football the whole point is to run into each other as hard as you can. Or how in lacrosse, a good portion on the game is people hitting you with a stick. Seriously, how is that fun?
My strategy for playing dodgeball, for the most part, is to stand in the back jumping around with my hands up to make it look like I'm ready for anything. But really I'm hiding behind my teammates. Occasionally, if it seems safe, I'll pick up a ball and throw it. The problem being that I'm not very good at throwing and the balls leaving my hand tend to travel in slow motion. Giving players on the other team plenty of time to throw they ball they have, plot my ball's trajectory, stand under it, and wait for it to fall in their hands, causing me to be out.
My non-aggressive strategy means that sometimes I'm the last person left on my team. Sometimes I run out of people to shield me and there are blood-thirsty people on the other team pitching projectiles at me all over the place. Which leads me to the game we played last Wednesday.
This team was so much nicer than the last two we played. Their aim was sometimes a little off as it's not ok to take head shots, but for the most part, the balls they threw weren't causing any discoloration of my skin and the level of intensity wasn't so extremely high. Every game has to be played in a maximum of five minutes. We'd never actually taken that long to play a game before but it happened a couple of time in this last match. And one of those times, I was the only person left on my side, the last other person getting out at four minutes and twenty seconds. All I had to do was last forty seconds and the game would go into sudden death (which means the rest of my team comes back on and I can go back to jumping around in the background).
By thirty seconds, both of their players have taken a shot at me and my lack of wanting to get hurt makes me a pretty good dodger, so I'm still in. I can hear my team chattering in the background and as I lean down to pick up a ball, I hear someone say: "Just dodge; you don't need to get them out."
But now there's a huge problem. (29,28,27) Because I now have a ball in my hand and the rules say I have to get rid of it within ten seconds. And I can't just drop it, it has to go over the centre line. (26,25,24) But we all know if I throw it, they'll catch it so the idea is to throw it as low as possible but not actually at someone. (23,22,21).
So I throw it! And, in slow motion, cause that's how I throw, (20,19,18) it lands six inches short of the centre line. With 15 seconds left until sudden death, I have just lost the game.
What was nice was that all five of my teammates was sure to high five me and giggle as they walked by me to set themselves up for the next game. And in that next game, the one time I picked up a ball to throw it, the whole gym erupted in cheers when I got it over the centre line. So supportive and sweet. You know they are thrilled to have me as part of their team.