Dodgeball tournament draws a big crowd

A packed gym with balls bouncing, people cheering and sneakers squeaking -- no, there wasn't a basketball game at Central Valley High School last Saturday. It was the Ceres Old School Dodgeball Tournament.

Dodgeball is a game that has been growing increasingly popular since the movie "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story" came out in the summer of 2004.

The Ceres Youth Commission has had the idea of hosting a dodgeball tournament "floating around for a couple years," according to Kevin Fliflet, president of the CYC. But the tournament finally came to be this year. It was for people of all ages -- with an Elementary bracket for students in fourth through seventh grades, a Teen bracket for 8th- through 11th-graders and an Adult bracket open to high school seniors and older. The tournament was meant "to try to get the citizens of Ceres involved in the community," said Fliflet, and teams from all over the Central Valley participated. The proceeds will go toward funding other community events through the CYC and possibly even toward scholarships for graduating seniors.

Christian Martinez, a competitor in the Adult bracket and a senior from Central Valley High School, said he first heard about the tournament as "it spread like wildfire though our school and sounded like fun!"

Martinez believes that the sport and tournament are popular because "dodgeball is fun and easy to play, but also brutal."

East Union High School junior Chelsea Cochran, who came all the way from Manteca, was interested in the tournament because of her friends' interest and the opportunity to "dress up" for the uniform contest involved.

Participants were excited about the tournament and many held practices to be prepared for it. Some players even had their own strategies that they believed were crucial in playing dodgeball.

Cameron Moscozo, another senior at Central Valley High School, believes "catching, throwing, and dodging" are the skills needed for the game, while his fellow teammate Christian Martinez said "quickness and power along with working as a team are key."

Madison Andermahr, a junior from Sierra High School in Manteca, had her own strategy -- "hiding in the corner and giving surprise attacks," she said.

The tournament was clearly a success, as the Central Valley gym was packed with players and spectators. The teams -- 36 in all -- seemed to have fun competing with one another in a friendly but intense manner. The CYC goal of hosting this tournament annually seems to be well within reach. Andermahr gave the tournament rave reviews and said that it has inspired her to try to "host one in my town."

Cathleen Cardoza is a junior at Hughson High School and a

member of The Bee's Teens in the Newsroom program.