The tension in the room was palpable; all eyes in the Case Memorial Cage were trained on the court. As the only remaining player on Gunga’s Blue Balls, Nekele McCall ’14 reared back and fired a bullet of a throw into the shoulder of Gordon Coulter ’16 from The Big Heads, during the 2014 Dodgeball Tournament Championship.
The tournament, which was held by the Student Activities Board last Friday, consisted of a record 28 teams. Set up on two courts in the Cage, games were limited to seven minutes in the first round and ten minutes in the second, and this was the first year that Christopher Capano, Director of Student Activities and organizer of the event, seeded the teams before the tournament. However, throughout the course of the night, both The Big Heads and Team Gunga’s Blue Balls quickly sliced through their opponents, setting up a final showdown.
This year was Team Gunga’s Blue Balls second appearance in the finals, and the team returned to the court with a vengeance—last year, it fell to the upstart, Junior-only Wrenches of Fury. Returning several members from last year’s deep run into the bracket, team Gunga’s Blue Balls had the experience, talent and determination to not let the championship title slip through its fingers.
This year’s Team Gunga’s Blue Balls brought back McCall, DeWitt Burnham ’16, Annie Littlefield ’15, Hannah Burns ’15, Olivia Cabral ’14, Will Young ’14 and Clark Perkins ’14, backed by new additions Sam Block ’14 and Charlie Talcott ’14. The impressive slew of athletic powerhouses represented Andover Varsity Soccer, Baseball, Field Hockey, Lacrosse, Wrestling, Water Polo and Hockey.
Continuity from last year’s team was integral to the team’s success, DeWitt Burnham ’16 noted.
“Well, we got to that step last year [getting to the championship]. We lost to the freshmen, sadly, but we bounced back. We bounced back for sure. We learned a whole lot from that experience, and that helped us come back and win it this year,” said Burnham.
After earning a bye due to last year’s outstanding performance, Gunga’s Blue Balls returned to the court to face another upstart all-Junior team named Wardo and the Boys. This time, however, Gunga’s Blue Balls refused to let any Juniors derail its chances at dodgeball nirvana.
Team Gunga’s Blue Balls cruised through the remaining rounds until it met The Big Heads in a final showcase of talent.
The final matchup started out in chaos, with The Big Heads initially leading the game. Team Gunga’s Blue Balls did not accumulate any balls on its side at the beginning of the game, and as a result, it lost four players almost immediately. Soon, Littlefield, McCall and Perkins were Team Gunga’s Blue Balls only players left, and Perkins almost made a mistake that could have cost the team its championship.
“When it was just me and the girls left, I saw a ball in the middle of the court that I somehow thought I could get. I tried to slide and take a shot with it, and I didn’t really anticipate how far I would slide. And ended up sliding about 30 feet past the line. That one mental error almost dashed what our team had been working towards for the last 365 days since we lost last year,” said Perkins.
When the game finally settled down after Perkins’ miscue, Burnham, a baseball player, gave some well-worded advice to McCall, who ended up making the final throw of the game.
“[When there were just a few players left] I wasn’t scared at all. I knew Nekele and Annie had what it took, and they came through for us. I told Nekele to come in at angles and to throw at angles, so the other team couldn’t see her. She actually got the last person out doing just that, so I’ll take little bit of credit for that,” said Burnham, with a smile.
Team Gunga’s Blue Balls will graduate five Seniors this spring, which means that there will be quite a bit of turnover for next year’s team. However, the Uppers are confident in their core of players that can make another deep championship run next year.