Students have formed a dodgeball team at the University of Connecticut in preparation for an intramural dodgeball tournament on Oct. 31.
The UConn Student Recreation Center holds a dodgeball tournament each year. After being eliminated from the tournament quickly last year, one team decided to take their preparations more seriously.
Giancarlo Gallicchio, a third-semester geography major, created a team in late August to compete in the tournament. The team, named the Cowboy’s Riders, practices twice a week, and according to Gallicchio, has grown from a few people to about 15 and counting.
“It’s gone beyond a group of friends to a team,” said Gallicchio, who is acting as coach for the team.
The dodgeball tournament is held at the racquetball courts in the Recreation Center. Teams of four to six people will compete in a single elimination bracket. The winner of each round is determined by whoever can win five games first, or whoever wins the most games in 15 minutes.
According to Gallicchio, there were about 25 teams competing last year. Registration for the tournament opens on Monday, and the Cowboy’s Riders will be fielding two teams this year.
Leo Santisi, a third-semester chemical engineering major and one of the team captains, explained why he enjoyed practicing dodgeball with the team.
“We can kind of let out some of the pent-up aggression that our classes might be giving us and put it on the court and put it into something valuable.” Santisi said.
Santisi also said that he liked how friendly the team was, and brought up the fact that the team would often go to dinner together after practices as an example.
Emily Laput, a third-semester marketing and communications major, is the other team captain. She expressed appreciation for the outlet that dodgeball offered.
“I just enjoy how it’s resorting back to your inner child,” Laput said.
Laput also said that one of the best parts of the team was always feeling welcome.
“I just love the group that we’re with,” Laput said. “They’re just good people.”
Aside from having practice games, the team’s dodgeball practices include various drills such as target practice and timed dodging. Gallicchio said that when splitting up the team, they try to play to the strengths of each individual team member.
“We do our best to balance the teams. We want everyone to get as much play time as possible,” Gallicchio said.
Although the Cowboy’s Riders are not official, Gallicchio said that they “definitely want to make it a legitimate club.” He also pointed out that many other colleges have official dodgeball teams or clubs.
“We haven’t explored the avenues too thoroughly yet, but we’re definitely looking to,” Gallicchio said.
The team has six more practices before the tournament. They will have had 18 in total by the tournament, and they plan to continue holding practices on and off through the rest of the year.
“Whether it’s a club sport, whether it’s still intramural, we’re going to do everything we can to keep this going past the tournament. We don’t want people to forget, we don’t want the love of the sport to go away,” Gallicchio said.
According to Gallicchio, they also hope to compete in dodgeball tournaments outside of UConn. They have interactions on Instagram with other dodgeball leagues and Brett Kauble, a Team U.S.A. Dodgeball coach.
“We’re not too familiar yet with the regional dodgeball scene,” Gallicchio said. “It’s far from the most popular sport.”
Gallicchio said that a variety of people show interest in the dodgeball team when they hold practice in the racquetball courts.
“It’s a sport for everybody. That’s the one lesson we’ve really taken away,” Gallicchio said.
Gallicchio also expressed a sense of pride for the way the team has grown since they began.
“For two complete amateur coaches and a bunch of amateur players, I feel very proud of the team,” Gallicchio said.