It’s More Than Just Dodgeball
A wise man once told me, “Dodgeball is 90 percent heart and 10 percent skill.”
It was with those words in mind that I suited up for the First Annual Spring Media Dodgeball Spectacular.
The wise man was wrong. Well, sort of.
Looking down Onward State’s masthead, it’s hard to pick out many pure athletes. Only a few of us played organized sports in high school. We’re bloggers. We were picked last on the recess kickball teams in elementary school. We prefer reading Buzzfeed in our mothers’ basements to the gym. We’d rather sit in Irving’s all day than play pickup basketball.
But the other side of the court was a different story.
According to their website, the Daily Collegian boasts a staff of over 200 people. And boy, did they use them.
The Collegian was stacked. Looking across the line, it was clear who had the advantage. These were the type of people who came into the locker room from high school gym class, knees scraped, drenched in sweat. The type of people who wouldn’t hesitate to throw fists over backyard wiffle ball. The type of people who would have no problem slide-tackling their own mother if it meant winning a soccer game. Clearly, they were caged beasts, and they were out for blood.
We had only 11 players suited up for a 10 man game; the Collegian, more than 40. But I know my staff. Within those 11 players was more heart than any of the other teams combined. And so we went to war.
After making quick work of Valley and Phroth (love you guys), we were defeated by the Collegian’s two teams (yes — they had two teams, and yes — they played themselves at one point). However, with the way the tournament was structured, this still set us up in a best-of-three championship series against the Collegian.
Remember what I said about heart?
The first match of the championship seemed to be a microcosm of the entire tournament up to that point. The Collegian beat us off the start, and we were quickly put on the defensive. After a few intense minutes, the Collegian seemingly had the game wrapped up, with three players remaining in the game for them compared to our one, in the form of photographer Mike Misciagno.
What happened next at Pollock Quad on that fateful afternoon — well — that will stay with everyone who witnessed it for as long as they live.
One versus three. David versus Goliath. Mondale versus Reagan.
With an aura of calmness and a quiet confidence in his movements, Misciagno released the sacred neon green sphere across the court.
Bonk. “Shit.” Then there were two.
The Collegian fired back quickly. Misciagno ducked, patiently approached the line, and launched again.
Smack. “Son of a bitch.” One left.
The Collegian was in complete chaos. It was as if someone told them that
newspapers are unprofitable and that their degrees are worthless the world was about to end.
And so, with the sun peeking out just above Pollock Testing Center and beads of sweat dripping from his determined brow, Misciagno threw the ball one final time.
Pop. “Mother fucker.” The bloggers stormed the court. It was over. Onward State had won game one.
Onward State may have lost the next two games in embarrassing fashion, and subsequently, the championship, but I don’t really remember (and nobody has ever accused me of getting my facts right, anyway). But what I will remember about that day — what we’ll all remember — is the story of Mike Misciagno, and that heart is a virtue that can overcome even the toughest obstacle.
They say that dignity is only a social construct. I would know. After propelling two straight balls over the fence into the quad, taking one in the crotch from former Onward Stater Mike Verbickas, and wearing a long-sleeve t-shirt under my pinnie to hide my capacious man tits, it became very clear that my glory days as a high school athlete are long over. (Although, in my defense, at least I didn’t get hit so hard that I fell backwards on my ass. Hi Anna Orso.)
But at the end of the day, Media Dodgeball isn’t about who wins or who loses. It’s about looking deep within ourselves, to put aside our differences even if only for a couple hours. It’s about coming together as people; people with the same passion for Penn State and the same passion for the news, just with different perspectives on how the news should be gathered and disseminated.
You see, our offices at Innoblue Garage and the James building aren’t that far apart.
And if you think about it, neither are we.