It’s the soccer team against the baseball team, the debate team against the teachers and everyone in between. Uniforms range from screen-printed jerseys to T-shirts donning team names in black sharpie, all to give students reason to stick around after school for a little longer than usual each year. On Wednesday, the madness commenced once again.
The Homecoming dodgeball game began more than five years ago and the original tournaments had only 15 to 20 teams for the first couple years. This year’s tournament saw nearly 60 teams vying for the chance to play in the final game in front of more than 2,000 students Friday.
“Seeing the uniforms and how much they get into it is really great, and the chance to play in the tournament on Friday is big. There is no bigger prize than bragging rights,” said Matt Faker, teacher and Leadership class advisor at Spanish Springs.
Faker said his Leadership class took the helm on this project and he simply let the students manage the entirety of the event. Senior leadership class organizers Dani Vogel and Jennie Wilson said managing the largest turnout in school history is largely due to the event becoming more known in a new school.
“It’s starting to become a tradition for everyone and because we are a newer school in the area, it usually takes a couple of years to make these kinds of traditions,” Vogel said. “We had to make two courts this year to allow more teams to play at one time.”
“Uniforms aren’t really required but everyone makes them to be fun and to kind of go crazy with their hair and shirts and everything,” Wilson said.
As dozens of students surrounded each of the courts in preliminary rounds, teams of six battled to the last person standing. As the rounds of eight and four began, the tournament took center court and the intensity of the teams, and the surrounding fans, began to heighten.
When the cheering ended and all but two teams remained, Killer Balls and MSR walked away with a date to determine the winner. MSR, short for Mongolian Swamp Rats, is no stranger to the final match of this tournament.
The team is coming off back-to-back championships in the tournament after finishing in second place three years ago. The team is composed of Cougar athletes, from the baseball and football teams, and are considered front-runners of the event every year by organizers and teachers. The team operates under the “aim low” strategy and joked that they would possibly forego the baseball team if there was a dodgeball team.
Killer Balls, composed of female Cougar athletes from the softball team, pose a threat to MSR and is in their second appearance in the finals. Killer Balls survived several close games on their way to finals and will look to unseat the reigning champions today.
Tammy Hart, assistant principal at Spanish Springs High, oversees activities and clubs and said the dodgeball tournament provides a mirror image of the growth the school has seen in terms of school spirit.
“Over the last three or four years we have been working really hard to improve school spirit to get kids involved and so that kids can have that sense of belonging,” Hart said, adding that sometimes there is not much to do out in the valley where the students live. “It’s so wonderful when we have our staff, who does not get paid and volunteer their time, getting the kids jazzed to see their instructors not only watching but participating. It makes for a very cohesive atmosphere here at Spanish Springs High School.”
During the Homecoming week activities and decorating, Hart said she has been so thrilled to see more students helping decorate and that destructive measures to destroy the decorations have not been made, which she saw in other schools. She said the students’ involvement in activities such as dodgeball can be attributed to that.
“There is a sense of pride here amongst the students and a camaraderie among the athletes and the academia kids, and there’s an influx of a sense of community,” she said. “It’s nice to see the leadership kids at the school want to be involved and want to help everybody have fun.”