By Patricia Sanchez
Saturday’s dodgeball tournament at the West Field House produced more than the screams, grunts and laughter typical of the playground game.
The tournament, organized by a student-run social justice-themed core workshop, was held to raise funds to help repairs in hurricane-ravaged Louisiana.
Candace Yee and Juan Carlo Pascua, who teach the course, along with UC Santa Cruz faculty members, made the decision to help rebuilding efforts in Louisiana.
“Our class came up with the idea [for a dodgeball tournament],” Yee said. The event was held in collaboration with the Follow Your Heart Action Network, a grassroots organization in which volunteers personally deliver donated relief items and funds to Katrina victims.
“Anything the students donate today will go directly to the organization,” Yee said.
Students formed teams of six and paid $18 to enter the competition. Event coordinators also sold snacks and welcomed donations from student spectators. The tournament generated $330, all of which will go directly toward the rebuilding efforts. Instructors were surprised at the success of the event, as 15 teams signed up to play and students filled the stands to watch.
“We’ve only been advertising for a week and weren’t sure we’d get a good turnout,” Yee said. Event coordinators used fliers, ads on Facebook.com, banners, and posted sign-up sheets at campus dining halls to get word out about the tournament.
“I heard about it from walking to my class at Oakes,” Kathleen Bono, spectator and fourth-year student, said. “I wanted to go because I haven’t been to a campus event yet and I thought it would be entertaining.”
Despite some last-minute preparations (students were able to reserve the gym only days before the event), the event was deemed a success.
“I didn’t realize how much publicity we’d get through word-of-mouth,” Yee said.
Team Deathball, a San Jose-based dodgeball team which competes in a San Francisco league, made the trip to Santa Cruz for the tournament.
“We played in a church tournament and I think [the UCSC tournament is] better than playing for a small profit,” Team Deathball member Lauren Malenchek said. Malenchek, who is used to playing in parking lots, enjoyed using the Field House gym.
“I actually think it’s great on a campus like this,” Malenchek said. “We actually get a good facility to play on.” The eight-month-old team took the first round with only five players out of the usual six, and eliminated the 14 teams through a series of 10-minute rounds.
Participants were required to sign a waiver in order to play. With one of Deathball’s brawny members practically knocking off heads, the waiver was more than worthwhile.
“I’ve seen people in underground ball get bloody noses and I’ve had my lip split,” Malenchek said.
As the event coordinator, Pascua had to neutralize several arguments that arose from the intensity of the matches. Aggressive competition added another dimension of entertainment for spectators.
“It was fun, but kind of confusing in the beginning,” Bono said. “The longer I stayed the better the teams got and the rowdier they were.”
While tempers flared, Pascua attempted to put the tournament’s purpose in perspective, and reminded participants that the event was for the sake of charity, not winning.