Dodgeball tournament signs up record 30 teams

KAPA‘A — The rules of the game are simple. There are six players on each side. The game shall be played on a rectangular field at least 50 feet long and 30 feet wide, divided into two sides.

The ball will be an 8.25-inch rubber-coated foam ball.

Stay within the boundaries.

Get an opposing player out by either hitting them with a live ball, or catching one thrown at you.

Dodgeball was a childhood game for a long time, but as of late, has become quite the sport to play. Popularized by part-time Kaua‘i resident Ben Stiller in his 2004 movie “Dodgeball: The Story of an Underdog,” the kids at the All Saints’ Episcopal Church decided to use a grant they received from the county for a dodgeball tournament.

Two years ago, the church received one of the county’s anti-drug grants and decided to use it for a fun activity.

“It was supposed to start off as something small,” said tournament co-coordinator Sybil Nishioka. “The kids from our Sunday School wanted to do something fun and dodgeball came up. It was going to be something fun and we decided to open it up to the whole community.”

In 2006, they launched the inaugural Annual Fun and Fellowship Dodgeball Tournament, which featured 12 teams and 75 to 80 players. Now in its third year, they received a grant from the Slogget Trust and local businesses and the field has grown to 30 teams and at least 200 players.

“I think the word spread because it’s really different from other sports,” Nishioka said. “Anyone can play and anyone can win.”

They will feature teams from all sides of the islands — the Westside, Kalaheo and the North Shore.

Cody Bonilla, a member of last year’s championship team and “Best Uniform” winners, Skadagas, got his team back for a second time around.

“My classmates and I graduated in 2005 and we were all home (from college) for the summer and I saw the sign for the dodgeball tournament and told them about,” Bonilla said. “We thought it would be fun, so we signed up.”

Many of the youth and younger keiki teams take advantage of the open gym practices during the week. But Nishioka said most of the Masters division teams practice on their own.

In the case of the Skadagas (slang for bumps, bruises and cuts), they didn’t practice at all last year and haven’t really got together this year either.

“Between all of us, we all played baseball, football and basketball so we’re pretty athletic. We just go out there,” Bonilla said.

Keoni Kelekoma, 17, will be playing in his third dodgeball tournament at All Saints’. He and the members of Da Three One Crew first competed in the high school divisions but have moved up to the Co-Ed Masters division this year.

“I wanted to sign up again because I found out my co-workers at the county’s Summer Fun program formed a team, so this was the perfect opportunity to challenge them,” Kelekoma said.

Kelekoma and crew take advantage of the gym space for open practice but also schedule private practices. He has two major strategies: “Pick your spot and catch whatever you can.”

Because of the increase in amount of participants, the largest division — the Masters — has been split into Co-Ed and Kane (all men) divisions. The rest of the divisions are Keiki 8 and Under and 10 and Under, Youth 13 and Under and 17 and Under. Due to an overwhelming response, as of press time, there was a waiting list for the 13 and Under and Masters divisions.

This year’s tournament will be starting with the Keiki division at 10 a.m., followed by the Youth and Masters divisions from noon to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The award ceremonies, recognizing the Sportsmanship, Best Effort, Best Uniform teams, will be immediately after the tournament.

For more information, or to see if there is still time to sign up a team, call 828-1593.

• Lanaly Cabalo, sports editor, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or lcabalo@kauaipubco.com

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