Kristin Costa knows that young adults can find it difficult to make time for charity work.
The chair of the seventh annual United Way’s GenNext Dodgeball Tournament said an event like this one, which was held on Saturday at the Lowery’s Sports Dome, is a great way to change that.
“The organizing committee is all based in the 18 to 39 age demographic, people who might normally think philanthropically at this stage of their lives but it’s a great way for them to get involved and raise money while still having a good enough time,” Costa said.
This year’s tournament drew 25 registered teams, with each squad required to have a minimum of eight members. Teams represented various local groups, unions and businesses.
With an entry fee of $1,000 per team, the amount of money they raise adds up quickly. The United Way said $31,000 was raised.
Ben Daniar is a teacher with the Lakehead District School Board and was a member of the squad representing the Ontario Secondary Schools Teacher’s Federation.
Participating builds camaraderie within the union while enjoying having fun and supporting a worthwhile cause, he said.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to give back to the community,” Daniar said.
“An organization that helps out in the community like that, we’re happy to be a part of it whenever we can.”
The six courts on the field at the Sports Dome were busy throughout the day with the round robin portion beginning in the morning followed by the playoff rounds later in the afternoon.
Each match was a best-of-five series of games, with six members starting on the court for each side. A player could be eliminated by getting hit, throwing a caught ball or stepping out of bounds. A game would end after all players on one team were eliminated or after a time limit with the team having the most remaining players getting credit for the victory.
The teachers' group started off strong by winning their first two games but dropped one against a past champion.
In addition to bragging rights, trophies were up for grabs for the winners. The Winmar Warriors claimed their fourth team crown.
In the middle was one of the most popular parts, the last individual standing competition where all players are grouped into one game in a survival contest.
According to Daniar, the key is to try to blend in and remain invisible.
“It’s just pandemonium,” he said. “I hide behind everybody and come out at the last moment and hope I haven’t gotten hit yet.”
United Way Thunder Bay board president Jules Tupker has served as a referee during the first seven years of the tournament and enjoys the intensity of the action.
He also gets a kick of watching how worn down the participants get by the end of the day.
“The atmosphere is amazing seeing all these young people running around out here having a great time,” Tupker said.
“Coming out at the start they think they’re in great shape and they can do this but by the end of the afternoon they’re all walking wounded and pretty sore after a lot of exercise.”
That’s definitely something Daniar can relate to.
“As I progress I just get sore. I’m getting old now,” he said with a laugh. “My arm hurts and we’re getting tired.”
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