ARLINGTON — Bring up dodgeball to the average person and you’ll probably end up reliving memories circa elementary school or talking about the Ben Stiller movie.
But be careful bringing up that movie to serious dodgeball enthusiasts like Jered Fowler. He wants none of it.
Fowler takes the sport seriously and considers his team’s performance in the Rock and Roll Dodgeball Tournament at the Soccer First indoor soccer arena a rare tune-up opportunity. After the Scuttlebutt brewery team he captained won the competitive Schoolyard Bullies bracket, Fowler said he and several of his teammates plan to travel to Las Vegas to compete in the Dodgeball World Championship next month.
“All of us are ex-college athletes playing to stay in shape. Guys come in and out,” he said, adding of his strategy, “It takes communication, focus and teamwork.”
While the July 12 tournament, hosted by 1380 AM ESPN Radio, also boasted a Just For Fun league, teams vying for that title found it nearly as cutthroat as the Bullies’ bracket. Although the tournament was in its first year, you wouldn’t know it from some of the built-in rivalries the brackets boasted. The Bronx Bombers — clad, naturally, in Yankees attire — battled in the same division as a team sponsored by Papi’s, an Everett pizzaria with a visible Boston bias.
Neither team with a baseball bend made the recreational division final though. Chico’s and Boeing fought it out in the final, with the engineers ultimately running out of steam.
Fowler’s team powered past the Oompa Loompas in the competitive championship, with three men still standing in the end.
Experienced dodgeball teams likely adjusted their strategy through the tournament. While competitive dodgeball is usually associated with the standard-issue traditional phy ed rubber ball, Rock and Roll Dodgeball featured plush balls that were much easier to throw and harder to catch.
ESPN radio personality Jeff “The Fish” Aaron, who organized the tournament and fronted a team, said he was inspired to form the dodgeball tournament to bring in more athletes than the softball tournaments of past years. Sixteen teams showed up to play.
“Dodgeball seemed like the kind of game everyone knows how to play,” Aaron said. “Plus, it’s 21-over so we could get that weekend warrior type.”
Along with bragging rights, winners took home concert tickets to the Gorge Amphitheater.