Growth, intensity of dodgeball on display at nationals in Charlottetown
'What we're showing today is that it's a legitimate sport'
If you ever doubted dodgeball is a legitimate sport, there are 300 players in Charlottetown this week out to prove you wrong.
They've come from all over Canada — 36 of the top men's and women's teams in the country — all battling at UPEI's Chi-Wan Young Sports Centre for a national championship.
"Most people when they think about dodgeball, they think about that time they played dodgeball in grade school, where you got beamed off the head," said Matt Lawrence, Dodgeball P.E.I.'s president.
'It's a legitimate sport'
"What we're showing today is that it's a legitimate sport. It's a competitive sport. It isn't just about throwing a ball. It's about pressure, sometimes measuring your odds, and gambling with certain moments."
Lawrence said since he helped form Dodgeball P.E.I. a few years ago, he's been working to earn the right to host the 2019 nationals and to put the sport on display for Islanders.
"For us to bring in this big tournament here, means the world to me. It's what I've been striving for ever since I started organizing dodgeball," Lawrence said.
This is the fourth time Dodgeball Canada has held a national championship but the first where all 10 provinces are represented.
"That's crucial. It's a real testament to the growth of our sport. And to have that kind of representation here is phenomenal," said Victor Gravili, Team Canada's head coach.
'It gets a little anxiety-ridden'
Gravili and scouts from every province are on the Island as well, watching all the players closely.
They're on the hunt for 18 men and 18 women to train with Team Canada this summer. From there, a roster will be selected to head to the world championship in Mexico in the fall.
"I want the footwork of a tennis player, the grit of a rugby player, the explosiveness of a running back, and the throw of a quality pitcher," said Gravili of that he's looking for in a national-caliber player.
"As soon as you see them one of them with their clipboards, it gets a little anxiety ridden," said Tayler Yuel, a member of Manitoba's women's A team, who takes the gamer seriously.
"Ninety-five per cent of the people are here because they love this sport, and we want to play and represent Canada."
'Our best national event yet'
Lawrence said his tournament committee and more than 30 volunteers are helping to run the five courts set up at the university gym, which will be busy through till the finals on Sunday.
"I'm really happy to see it all come together smoothly," said Lawrence.
"This by far is our best national event yet," added Gravili. "The bar keeps getting set every year. Already we're a couple hours in and I think Dodgeball P.E.I. has smashed that record so far. It's great to see."