Often I reminisce on a certain time, involving dodgeball, during the spring semester of my freshman year that I will never forget.
At the time, I was an intent to the Fishers of Men — a relatively recent one. Until my intentship, I had lived a relatively peaceful, nonconfrontational life at Franciscan University.
All of that was about to change on the night of Feb. 9, 2020.
My coordinator and big, Christopher Mancini, approached the Fishers with a short-notice suggestion. He asked if we would like to enter the household dodgeball tournament.
My immediate reaction, and undoubtedly the reaction of my brothers, was “ugh.” That was the last thing we wanted to do on a peaceful Sunday night.
To me, the challenge of facing down these other households seemed to be an insurmountable one. How could little ol’ me stand up against those other male households, I asked myself.
I was 5 feet, 3 inches tall and 110 pounds — and still am, but that’s not important. Some of those Prodigal Sons could’ve probably picked me up and snapped me in half.
Reluctantly, I volunteered to represent the Fishers alongside a handful of my brothers. We grouped up and marched over to Finnegan Fieldhouse, our fate uncertain.
Here’s my point in all of this: household dodgeball is fun, and you should do it. You, the reader, likely have some apprehensions, some of which are legitimate; however, my following anecdote may cause you to reconsider, hopefully.
We arrived at the fieldhouse, the older brothers with a confident stride and the younger ones shuffling their feet hesitantly. Stepping onto Kuzma Court was like being led into the Roman Colosseum with stands full of spectators screaming for blood.
There were crowds of guys, some in sleeveless shirts, prowling around the courts like packs of vultures. Immediately, I saw some poor sod in the stands get nailed in the face with a rogue dodgeball before slumping over. My stomach turned, and I began to fear for my life.
I was shaken out of my shell-shocked daze by my brother, Andrew Kurt. He gathered my teammates into a huddle and began to speak. What follows is a dramatic recreation of his speech.
“We might not be the strongest,” Kurt said, “but we have heart. Who cares what anyone says about us — we’re the Fishers of Men. We’re going to go out there, and we’re going to win!”
Fired up and yelling, my teammates took to the court, lining up across from the opposing household. The Fishers stared them down, our eyes aflame and our hearts even more so. Just then the whistle blew, and I sprinted toward the dodgeballs at the half-court line.
I reached the dodgeball a split-second before the man in front of me did. Grabbing the ball tightly, I felt myself being physically dragged across the floor and over the half-court line by the man who was clutching the same dodgeball.
Apparently, I was so light that the other guy was able to yank me across the line, causing me to commit a foul and leading to my immediate ejection from the game.
In case that wasn’t an actual rule, the guy hit me with the ball anyway. Crestfallen, I walked to the sidelines and watched my teammates.
It was a bloodbath. Most of my brothers had been eliminated within the first few seconds like me. Kurt put up a fight, but his tenacity made him a target, which led to his eventual elimination.
One can view the article “Fieldhouse roars as households compete for dodgeball glory” by Cecilia Engbert on the Troubadour’s website. Attached to the article is a snapshot capturing the Fishers’ untimely defeat.
On the left of the image are four of my brothers, all of them eliminated. From left to right are Gerard Pepin, Joshua Janda, Kurt and Mancini. In the image, Janda and Mancini watch dejectedly as then-freshman, now-junior Benjamin Hooper, wearing the “CHEF NINO” jersey, fights in our team’s last stand.
Hooper was our last brother left on the court. At one point, he did a jumping split over an incoming projectile; unfortunately, his efforts would not prove enough, as he hurt his wrist from a fall and was eliminated.
The loss was devastating, but we shook ourselves off and proceeded to our next match. I attempted a new strategy: rather than running for the ball, I stayed back in order to catch one.
Unfortunately, catching a dodgeball is not so easy when one also cares about shielding his only pair of wireframe glasses from being shattered.
So, what was so great about this seemingly traumatizing experience, you may ask? The Fishers may have experienced two embarrassingly horrible losses, but we emerged with something greater than a trophy: brotherhood tested by fire.