Their Day on Court

The NASH Dodgeball Tournament is on after several turbulent months of planning.

Seniors+Kate+Stamper+and+Nicholas+Palermo+collected+each+team%27s+payment+after+they+signed+up+for+the+tournament+online.

photo by Kristen Kinzler

Seniors Kate Stamper and Nicholas Palermo collected each team’s payment after they signed up for the tournament online.

Kristen Kinzler, Co-Editor-in-Chief

When school was cancelled for what was supposed to be two weeks last spring, current senior Dom Gralia was in the middle of planning his appearance in NASH’s annual Project Water Dodgeball tournament. He had his group of best friends and some pizza money, and he was ready to dodge, duck, and dive his way to the championship.

Then COVID hit, and Gralia lost most of his hope of playing in the tournament his junior or senior year– until Project Water recently announced that, barring some safety guidelines and modifications, the infamous tournament will be held on June 1st. 

“I was honestly surprised when I heard rumors that there may be a tournament,” Gralia said. “When it was official, my friends and I rallied our team together for one last go.”

The decision to host the tournament was just as abrupt for some of Project Water’s directors. 

“Normally, we start planning in September or October, and we didn’t even get the green light for a tournament until around February this year,” senior team director Kate Stamper said. “The condensed timeline has been somewhat stressful to plan, but the whole team has been working really hard to make sure that we meet our deadlines so that the tournament can go on.”

Once the directors got permission to host the event, they quickly tried to make up for lost time.

“They only gave us a month to plan everything,” senior logistics director John Catanzaro said. “The registration process had to be sped up to get the t-shirt orders out in time, and the scheduling for the actual tournament has to be done much faster than usual.”

Registration was open at the beginning of April, and the response proved that, even in the midst of an uncertain year, students wanted to play dodgeball.  A total of 64 teams are registered.

“Our number of teams is lower than in years past, but we still have a bigger turn out than we were expecting, so I am very excited that we will still be able to go all out to plan a big tournament,” Stamper said.

Like everything else this year, the tournament will look different, but the directors are trying to provide as much of a normal experience as possible.

For as stressful as planning the whole event is, seeing the games and everyone having fun is exciting, and it is so gratifying to see all the hard work put into the tournament end well.”

— Kate Stamper, team director

“In past years, the dodgeball tournament was held in the gym. This year, we decided to have it on the tennis courts. This way everyone will be able to spread out more outside. We are also having food trucks in the parking lot instead of pizza,” senior media director Sydney Frencho explained.

The tournament will consist of a championship bracket based on the teams’ individual records.

“We’ll have some ‘regular season’ games that’ll determine your team’s standings,” Catanzaro said. “If your team does well in those first games, then you’ll get into the elimination bracket, which determines the champion.”

The tournament aims to support Project Water’s mission of providing clean water and other resources to villages in developing countries.

“Our work is actually saving people’s lives. Building new hospitals, schools, and water sources across Africa are all extremely impactful for people living in extreme poverty,” Catanzaro said.People get very competitive about dodgeball, but you got to remember that this is all for a good cause.”

Even before the dodgeball tournament was approved this year, Project Water was organizing events to combat the water crisis around the world.

“We’ve partnered with many organizations such as Heart for Uganda and World Vision to build wells and support other clean water initiatives in Africa,” Stamper added. “This year, we helped furnish a school in Sierra Leone with EduNations.”

Stamper finds that witnessing how the tournament unfolds is just as rewarding as supporting the project’s mission.

“For as stressful as planning the whole event is, seeing the games and everyone having fun is exciting, and it is so gratifying to see all the hard work put into the tournament end well,” she said.

For students like Gralia, all of the hard work, safety restrictions, and modifications will be worth it come June.

“I’m excited. It’s nice to have one pre-pandemic event come back in a somewhat normal capacity,” he said. “The tournament is like a light at the end of the tunnel.”