Monday, March 30, 2009

On the virtues of dodge ball

Yesterday the kids were jumping on the tramp while Eric and Chad tried to hit them with the ball. They called it dodge ball, and it was in a form. Laine was in tears off and on for most of this time. I told her she just had to get up and if she needed to keep crying about it she needed to go inside. Many of my tulip shoots were crushed. Remember how great it was to play dodge ball in elementary school?

We called it zone dodge. I remember watching at first, watching because in the grade ahead of me there were 4 boys who reached their near mature man growth by 6th grade. They were giants, one of them looked particularly gorilla-like and I had a crush on the red-haired one. They all threw the ball with such ferocity and it took guts braver than mine to join that game at recess. But when it was just our grade I loved playing. Not that I was very good. I could run around and dodge the ball but I was a coward when it came to catching it. So I'd jump around the court and then try my best to get someone out from the side when I was out.

The champions in our grade were Campbell Styles and Vincent -- the tallest boys in our grade, Patrick O'leary-- who didn't think enough to be afraid of the ball so he was really good at catching it, Tuhn Min Thran -- he had this crazy yell that he would do right before he launched the ball, Ryan Walker -- he was strong, nimble and fast, and Berengere Robertson -- Bebe for short. Bebe was this spry girl who had to wear dresses every day, dresses with lace that were cut in a circle, the kind that girls love to spin in. I can still vividly picture her catching the ball because she would catch the ball and it would force her backwards so she would jump and catch and land nimbly with a loud taunting cry and her dress would float down around her then she'd launch the ball with glee and usually would knock the person off their feet.

I loved zone dodge and it scared me to death. I don't remember bleeding from the game but I remember seeing lots of bloody elbows, Patrick wearing his striped green and blue shirt, jeans and white sneakers, dusting his elbows off and walking to the end of the zone when he got knocked over by a ball. By that time in life recess time was too valuable to spend seeing the nurse for a bandaid.

And now it is an outlawed game. At least not allowed at recess at the schools around here. That's too bad, what a great way to get out frustrations. Tuhn Min didn't speak English very well. I'm sure it felt so good to get out and just throw the ball at people as hard as he could, all of us stupids who didn't understand his native tongue. And I don't remember fights breaking out about the game, it was all the ball's fault. Yes, egos were bruised, but wasn't it a great feeling to catch the ball? Or if you were the one to get the best person out? Didn't you feel like you were the best on the playground, just for a minute?

My son plays Prison Ball after scouts. And from what I understand, it is an every-man-for-himself version of dodge ball. I'm so glad he plays. He's probably going to get knocked on his head and will come home bleeding one night, but right now he's that nimble little guy, running around, trying not to get hit by one of the bigger boys. He comes home sweaty and exhausted and he loves it.

Long live dodge ball.


Shannon said...

Paige, you have an absolutely amazing memory!

My dodge ball memory - gently tagging friends (and letting them return the favor) so that we could sit on the sidelines and talk. I'm such a wimp. :)

mindy said...

Very fun to read. (great writing and description)
I wish I had a memory like yours. I do remember being good at four square but I probably avoided joining any dodge ball games. I was a little bit of a sissy back then.

Lark said...

I have similar memories of zone dodge - but not that clear! I can't believe you remember all of those guys names!
And I can't believe it is outlawed at Ridge's school! Why can't they just let kids play anymore? Sad.

Pamela said...

Dodge ball was brutal when I was in grade school---but oh so fun! Thanks for bringing back good memories!

Kathi said...

Campbell, Vincent, Patrick! Can totally see those guys in my minds eye! Funny!

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