Balls of fury lit up the sky Wednesday night.
As a part of Stella Hall’s pride week, RAs Zack Lanham and Kiersten Mebane hosted a dodgeball tournament at the sports court beginning at 9 p.m.
Teams of five, six and 12 battled each other at the event, which lasted about 90 minutes and ended with a free-for-all with around 16 students on each team.
Fellow Stella RA Anthony Harper, a junior forensic accounting major and football player, was one of the players in the very first game. He said he likes dodgeball because it is a “throwback sport.”
“Ya know, a lot of people played it in middle school and everything, and so, like, nearly everybody loved it,” Harper said. “I figured it would be something that all the residents would love and just have fun enjoying.”
Harper said the idea behind pride week was “community.”
“Stella is about the community, it helps and it builds, and I know the semester is a little dry at the beginning, so we wanted to come out with something that kind of got everybody out their room,” Harper said. “I thought it would be a good idea to just come on out and have pride in the building that you stay in. That can increase your pride in Wesleyan overall.”
Before the battle began, Joyce Pedigo, a sophomore double majoring in both business management and business administration, received a surprise for her 20th birthday.
Several students lined up in the middle of the court with their backs turned. When Pedigo came out to the court, the students turned around and yelled, “Happy Birthday!” while holding up paper signs spelling out the sentiment.
She was awestruck for a moment before turning away with her face covered, hiding a blush.
“When I went out and saw the surprise I was overwhelmed with happiness, I have met some great people here and after last night I realized that,” Pedigo wrote in an email. “It made me feel loved and I am truly blessed to have people that would do that for me. It was even crazier that there were people there who I hadn’t spoken to that much, yet they were willing to help with the surprise my friends came up with. I can say that it officially made me understand why I came Wesleyan and how great the people here are.”
About 20 students had arrived for the event.
Lanham placed all the dodgeballs on the half court line; he and Mebane stood in the court’s middle circle.
“If you hit faces, you’re out for the night,” he said.
This never happened.
Lanham went over the rules. Getting hit or catching a throw got someone out, and catching a throw could also bring someone back in, he said.
The first game was five-on-five; all the players were men. Each player lined up against the fence, ready to charge at the rubber balls nearby.
“When I say go, you run for the ball,” Lanham said. “Go.”
Both teams charged toward the balls and then retreated. The balls flew everywhere and eventually one team was left with only two players, while the other had four. The first game was over in four minutes.
The second game began quickly enough.
“Winner stay on,” Lanham said, and while a few players returned, for the most part new people came on for both teams.
This time two female players, Mebane and Chalon Anderson, a junior mass communication major who was also on the dodgeball team last semester, joined one team.
The second game lasted a minute or two longer than the first, and Mebane made some very acrobatic dodges, evading the throws of at least two people at the same time.
But the second game ended as the first had, with one team eventually dominating the other.
The games changed with more people showing up. The games became six-on-six; Mebane and Anderson played quite a bit, and at one point there were 40 people attending.
At 10:07 p.m., Lanham announced the event would be over soon.
“Y’all got thirty minutes left, do y’all still want teams or everybody out here?” he yelled.
The crowd, which by then had dwindled back down to 20 people, yelled, “Everybody out here!”
The next game was 12-on-12, and was even more hectic.
Lanham announced the final game at 10:19 p.m. He decided to make it a free-for-all. Now there were 15 or 16 people on each team, and utter chaos erupted.
Mebane and Lanham collected the balls and left at 10:30 p.m.
Cameron Bennett, a Stella resident who is a part of the Black Student Association and a Student Life ambassador, said Wesleyan should have more events like the tournament.
“This is a great time, I feel as though we should do more events like this because it gets people like the football players to come out and be social with people,” said Bennett, a sophomore computer science major.
Bennett said he had a pretty good performance and could see himself playing next year.
“I feel like I could’ve did a lot better, but I feel like I did a pretty decent job,” Bennett said. “Got some people out, caught some balls, so – pretty fun. This is definitely something I want [to be] implemented next year. Bring it up to the RAs, the future RAs or the hall director [next] year. Definitely going to want to get this started again.”
Stella resident Sylvester Rodriguez, a freshman biology major who is a part of Tri Beta and Ram Squad, said the event was fun and could see himself participating again.
“I definitely see myself playing it next year, and year after that because it was a fun event and I’m looking forward to being more involved,” Rodriguez said.
Harper, Bennett, and Rodriguez all agree that the event was successful, even though there is room for improvement.
Harper suggested a more organized competition.
“Really, just more forward planning, because it’s always easy for us to, ya know, just come out here and just bring some balls out and say, ‘Hey, these are the rules, let’s go,’” Harper said. “But like, to have an actual plan, a bracket – who play who – just more planning on that end, some more ideas on how to switch it up. I think that could make it better.”