One of the lessons of dodgeball is that even a team down to its last man can stage a victorious comeback. That gives hope to a sport whose popularity has dwindled in the last few years.
In its prime, the National Amateur Dodgeball Association's Winter Adult Dodgeball Championships would draw nearly 100 teams to the Schaumburg Park District's Sport Center, says Mike Wold, athletic supervisor for the park district, which sponsors the dodgeball association. Saturday's tournament in Schaumburg drew just a dozen teams, playing for a trophy, pride and fun.
"But it's coming back up in popularity," promises Glen Spejcher, 25, of Bloomingdale, who serves as an unofficial ambassador for the sport he began playing in 2004. "I've been traveling to tournaments all over -- Toronto, Los Angeles, Las Vegas."
As the Midwest coordinator for a new group called the Elite Dodgeball Invitational, Spejcher helped organize a woman's tournament last month. He says most suburban players already are focused on the Detroit Cup, a tournament on March 8 that draws 60 of the top dodgeball teams to Michigan.
The 2004 movie "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story," starring Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller increased interest in the nontraditional sport, but it also mocked the game, Spejcher says.
"The movie is funny, but it sets back dodgeball," says Spejcher, who makes his living working for a company that provides background checks.
In addition to providing great aerobic exercise, dodgeball builds a community, says Spejcher, who has played with many of the people on the teams in Saturday's tournament. Spejcher says he plays the game two or three times a week at the Trinity Child Care Center in Roselle, at Christ Community Church in St. Charles and at the Western Springs Park District.
"We are more like a family," he says of the men and women who play dodgeball. "You have to play to understand. It's almost like a religion. You meet incredible people and incredible players."
For more information about dodgeball, visit the association's website at dodgeballusa.com or contact Spejcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.