Dodge ball has come out of grade school gymnasiums and found a place in the world of alternative sports.Every Monday, a group of Valley area adults convene in an open gym in the Tempe YMCA on Southern and Elliott, and proceed to pulverize each other in a game of speed, agility and arm strength.
Five balls are placed in the center of the gym, effectively splitting the floor in half as the boundary for the teams.
The center ball is reserved for the first player to grab it while the two balls on either side are reserved two per team.
The object of the game is to eliminate the players on the other team by pegging them with a ball.
Once pegged, a player must stand off to the side. Should one of their teammates catch a ball thrown by the opposition, they can re-enter the game one at a time in the order they were eliminated.
In addition, a rule added to this particular game is that should a player make a shot in the basketball hoop over the opposing team’s side, all of their eliminated teammates may re-enter the fray.
With more than a year of seasoning, Israel Bentley and his fiancee Jasmine Hobeheidar are veterans of the open gym dodge ball circuit.
He said he started “playing because it was offered for free” by his job, and since then he has started his own team Ninja Please.
Jasmine said she had started playing dodge ball at the behest of Israel and she thought it was stupid. But then when she started playing, she actually “really liked it.”
On the court, with the soon-to-be newly weds was the man who will be performing the ceremony, soon-to-be ordained minister Skot William Phillips II, a dodge ball novice playing for the first time “since fifth grade, since P. E.”
The games organizer Sam Pewitt has been running dodge ball games in the Valley for more than five years. It’s something he brought with him from Washington.
“There wasn’t anything in the Valley for dodge ball . so I decided to start it up because nobody else had,” he said.
Pewitt has plans to expand open gym dodgeball into Thursday nights as well.