Nov. 20, 2008
It was a battle of David and Goliath proportions. A bittersweet tale of the triumph of the human spirit. A sporting event to write home about.
It was Athletics 1 versus CUSERT in the intramural dodgeball semifinal.
“If Hollywood has taught me anything, it’s that we can’t possibly lose,” said Craig Elder, Athletics 1 team member.
CUSERT, made up of members of Carleton’s student emergency response team, was in a three-way tie for first place and Athletics 1 was in third going into the match. Athletics 1 was in an underdog position since they had less spares and two of their key players were injured. Elder had one arm in a tensor bandage from a previous dodgeball incident. The burly and bearded Carlos Funes was limping on one crutch after aggravating his bum knee playing soccer.
The last time Athletics 1 played CUSERT was immediately after members of the emergency response team administered first aid to Funes when he injured his knee. Two Athletics 1 members were taken out of commission in that soccer game, Elder said.
“They were taking Carlos away and we asked ‘Hey, are you guys playing a dodgeball game later? Because you’re playing us,’” Elder said. “If we start losing tonight, could you maybe run to a payphone and call the ERT? Some of them are sure to be on duty.”
On the walk to the game, Elder, Funes and Brian O’Shea debated the wisdom of burning a CUSERT magnet in voodoo effigy for good luck. They decided it would interfere with their status as “the good guys” and potentially move them into the “villains who deserve a comeuppance” category in the balance of the universe.
Instead, they decided to hang their strategy on a number of new plays. These included the Berserker, in which one team member yells gibberish and runs to the line kamikaze-style to distract the other team; the Goliath, in which the tallest team member is attacked; and the Medusa, in which players aim for the ugliest member of the opposing team.
But these strategies were quickly abandoned for the struggle to survive against the disciplined and well-conditioned CUSERT. They were calm and collected as they stared down Athletics 1 with fire in their eyes at the start of the first five-minute match.
“Don’t get hit, don’t go for the catch, just stay alive!” yelled Funes, leaning on his crutch as he played coach from the sidelines, hoping the situation wouldn’t get so dire that he would feel obligated to play.
Athletics 1 won the first match, but things started to go downhill as Stephanie Harding had to take herself out when she was hit on the ear. Both teams held steady with four players each in the game until CUSERT made a catch thrown by Karina Auclair with two seconds left. The third match was another quick loss for Athletics 1 as CUSERT sniped off players one by one, eliminating them all within three minutes.
Match four had to be an Athletics 1 win for them to stay in the game. They held strong for the majority of the match, but were unable to hold their own after a few lost players, eventually leaving the injured Elder alone in a three-on-one. He held strong for 30 to 40 seconds, dodging throws until all the balls were on his side. Once he threw them back and the firepower was against him, he was quickly eliminated.
“We played hard. The other team came out fighting, we expected that. I don’t want to make excuses, but the injuries really held us back. Ultimately, they were just better conditioned, and a couple missed catches really turned the game against our favour,” Elder said.
Their faith in Hollywood endings shattered, Athletics 1 walked, hobbled, and limped towards Mike’s Place for a post-game pint. The pink-clad Renfrew House team who was playing in the next round of the semifinal jogged past them, yelling cheers in unison.
The quest for dodgeball glory continued.