While the spring scrimmage was the headline-grabbing event over the weekend, a lesser known club sport accomplished big things. The Michigan State Dodgeball team won the 2023 National Collegiate Dodgeball Assocation Championship in Athens, Ohio, on April 16.
While I did not catch the game live, I was able to find the stream.
Now this isn’t your run of the mill elementary school-style dodgeball game. Sure, the concept is the same with the basic rules and the jail area, but there’s a team zone, neutral zone, attack zone, shot clocks, and more thrills than I would have ever imagined. Teams try to win as many games (each win worth one point) in 2-25 minute halves.
Here’s a recap of each game played in the championship.
Michigan State looked to attack early, but Grand Valley took an early advantage knocking out DQ McClean and Barry Butler III early (this is like losing AJ Hoggard and Jaden Akins to foul trouble in the first half). Six minutes in, Grand Valley had a 9-6 advantage over MSU but that’s where the tide turned.
An unbelievable catch by captain Jack Girling cut the Lakers’ advantage to just one. The Spartans’ senior leader Josh Kramer took out all-star Ben Smart to even out game, six per side. After trading throws, GVSU took out Kramer and nearly took out Girling to take a huge advantage, but officials say the ball that hit Girling out touched the ground and the Spartans caught a huge break.
After a missed catch by McClean, things looked grim for Michigan State. Things looked to get worse after a ball thrown by Girling was ruled a catch by Tyler Peach. After a discussion by officials at center court, the call was determined that Peach bobbled the catch and hit the ground, ruling that Peach was out. Huge call for the Spartans but they were still down 6-3 with 12:12 to play. Back-to-back-to-back drops by GVSU gave the Spartans the momentum and the tie.
After a lull in action, the Spartans went with an aggressive strategy and sent rookie sensation Zachary VanVleet to the other side, creating a 3-1 attack on Grand Valley’s best remaining player. However, during the transition, VanVleet was tagged with a cross-court throw and gave the Lakers the 3-2 edge.
A controversial catch call by Grand Valley (it looked like the ball may have touched the ground) made it 3-1, and it was a full-on Laker attack from there.
Grand Valley 1, Michigan State 0
With 3:57 left in the first half, the officials decided to add that to the second half and go immediately into half time. What a sport.