Dodgeball All-Stars

In the championship round of the sixth annual Student Activities Board (SAB) Dodgeball Tournament, Matt Whalen ’16 hurled a ball at James Wolfe ’17, knocking Wolfe and his team, “The Average Hojoes,” out of the finals. Whalen’s throw sealed the second consecutive title for his team, “The Slumdodge Millionaires.”

The final was a rematch of last year’s semifinal matchup between “The Slumdodge Millionaires” and the “The Average Hojoes,” in which “The Slumdodge Millionaires” also prevailed.

Ananda Kao ’18, a returner on “The Slumdodge Millionaires,” said, “After winning the tournament last year, we knew we could do it again. Before every game, we would remind each other that we had never lost a game of dodgeball before, and this game wasn’t going to be the first.”

At the helm of the “The Average Hojoes” both last and this year was Eliot Zaeder ’17, a veteran of the sport. Zaeder said, “This year we did very well. We proved that we are a powerful force on the court by making it to the finals. Our team truly has turned some heads.”

Teams will once again evaluate their rosters in preparation for next year’s competition.

Editor’s Note: James Wolfe is a Photo Editor for The Phillipian.

Luke Bitler ’17

Hailing from New York, N.Y., Luke Bitler ’17 helped guide “The Crew” to a semifinal finish at the sixth annual SAB Dodgeball Tournament last weekend. The team ended up falling to “The Average Hojoes.”

Bitler said, “We came in thinking anything could happen. We could have gotten out first round, but everyone was determined to win. We surprised ourselves the first round and surprised ourselves again. We had good team chemistry, so no one was really mad at each other or frustrated when things weren’t going well. We came in wanting to show off what ‘The Crew’ could do.”

Despite facing tough opposition, Bitler rose to the occasion and contributed piercing throws in critical situations. Gabe Blanchard ’16, one of Bitler’s teammates, said, “We played well as a team, and Luke was willing to dig deep even against adversity.”

Bitler cited the “no-look throw,” his signature move in which he faked the direction of his ball, as another major component of his overall success.

“It’s when you look someone off right here and throw to someone over there,” said Bitler. “That seemed to get the most people out.”

Kristina Haghdan ’17

Kristina Haghdan ’17, an Andover Softball pitcher and outfielder in the dodgeball off-season, utilized her throwing prowess to propel the “Gunga’s Blue Balls” to the tournament semifinals.

On the softball diamond, Haghdan strikes out batters with her windmill windup motion and blindingly fast toss,and outperforms her opponents with throws from deep centerfield all the way to home plate.

Because of her experience in softball, Haghdan had no problem ruthlessly eliminating opponents. She employed a simple approach to the game.

“I just made sure I was focusing on my opponents and where they were standing. I made sure I wasn’t in a very noticeable spot until the end, because you can’t really hide then. I just zero in on someone and take them down, rather than looking at the team as a whole,” Haghdan said.

Hagdan served as the lone Upper on a team that entered the SAB Dodgeball Tournament with championship aspirations, as it captured the victory in 2014. After falling to an underclassmen team in the 2015 tournament, “Gunga’s Blue Balls,” with Haghdan at its helm this year, amended last year’s embarrassing loss with a Final Four appearance.

Gordon Coulter ’16

A three-year member of “The Big Heads,” Gordon Coulter ’16 had made back-to-back dodgeball finals appearances heading into the 2016 tournament. Arguably the heart and soul of dodgeball dynasty “The Big Heads” as the longest tenured team member along with Payton Jancsy ’16, Coulter maintained his stellar play in this past weekend’s tournament. Coulter led his team to the quarterfinals, where it ultimately fell to “The Average Hojoes.”

Jancsy, Captain of “The Big Heads,” had high praise for Coulter in their final year competing in the annual tournament.

“Gordon is the epitome of what it means to be a Big Head,” said Jancy. “He makes up for his lack of skill, throwing strength and conditioning with his heart and effort. He is one of those players that you love to have on your team, but hate playing against… It has been an honor playing with a player of such caliber.”

A master of intimidation, Coulter never stood still on the court and was constantly moving about in an attempt to get into his opponents’ heads. Coach Sam Bird ’18 said, “He strikes fear into the other team, which is really what dodgeball is all about.”

Pitted against James Wolfe ’17 and Brandon Barros ’17 of “The Average Hojoes” in a final showdown, Coulter could not best the talented duo and fell despite a valiant effort.

Ale Macaya ’18

With Ale Macaya ’18 at its helm, “The Las Vegas Police Department” fell in the very first round of the SAB Dodgeball Tournament. While Macaya relied on her teammates to do most of the heavy lifting, she emerged as her team’s spiritual leader, contributing to the team’s morale with her unrelenting enthusiasm and energy.

She said, “I tried throwing a couple times, but they never really hit anyone so I just sort of tried not to get hit by any balls. When I realized the people I had relied on to get the others out had been hit, I kind of had a mini heart attack and realized that I needed to actually try to get some throws. I think I got one guy out.”

Teammate Will Raphael ’18 said, “Ale provided a charisma that was very helpful throughout the game. She really kept the team going spiritually.”

Under Macaya’s leadership, “The Las Vegas Police Department” undertook a rigorous training program for the tournament.

She said, “We watched dodgeball highlights, and we also listened to really loud trap music. [During the game], we tried to flex our butts to get as low as possible.”

Despite Macaya’s best efforts, her team did not make it far in the championship. “The Las Vegas Police Department” will be hungry for success in next year’s tournament.

Akshay Mundra ’18

Akshay Mundra ’18, a member of “The Jamaican Bobsled Team,” established himself as a rising star in the SAB Dodgeball Tournament. Mundra guided his team of Lowers to a victory in a second-round matchup against “Team Skua,” a team consisting entirely of Post-Graduates. Placed in a tough situation, Mundra reacted with a herculean effort, overcoming four PGs despite the imbalanced one-on-four matchup.

Mundra eventually brought the game down to a one-on-one against his Andover Boys Basketball teammate Sam Jefferson ’16. Hurling a ball toward the left shoulder of his opponent, Mundra secured a place in the Quarterfinals for “The Jamaican Bobsled Team.”

Teammate Cam Williams ’18 said, “Some of Akshay’s teammates, [including me], would say that his win in the second round was the greatest moment of their lives.”

Mundra’s tall, lanky stature and enormous hands allowed him to whip balls at his adversaries with great velocity and accuracy, which made him an obvious contender for The Phillipian’s Dodgeball All-Star team. Additionally, his agile footwork made him untouchable and almost impossible to strike with a dodgeball.

Alex Cicca ’18 said, “Akshay really carried our team in the second game. He fed off the crowd’s energy and used it to deliver a victory for the team. He may be a gentle giant off the court, but, on the court, he is like a mailman – always ready to deliver.”

Arthur Paleologos ’17

“The Average Hojoes” is a rising Andover dodgeball dynasty that, in recent years, has developed a tendency for discovering star players such as Eliot Zaeder ’17 and James Wolfe ’17. Head Coach of the “Average Hojoes,” Arthur Paleologos ’17 contributed enormously to his team’s success both by managing his players well and pitching new, innovative dodgeball strategies.

Donning a full suit with a blue and white striped tie, Paleologos’s classiness embodied the team mentality of “The Average Hojoes.”

Paleologos said, “When you walk in [in professional attire], it shows that you’ve come ready to play and that you take the sport of dodgeball seriously.”

To ensure maximum athletic output in every matchup, Paleologos made sure his team was well-hydrated, bringing dozens of Aquafina water bottles to the tournament. With a clipboard in hand, Paleologos also formulated complex strategies and gameplans for the team to employ in the tournament.

Howard Johnson ’17, Captain of the “Average Hojoes,” said, “I liken Arthur Paleologos to a young Erik Spoelstra. Although it hasn’t been his time yet, I think we are looking at [the championship] next year with Arthur at the helm.”

Paleologos said, “It’s been an honor to coach these guys and gals for the last two years since I was hired away from [‘Dirty Wardo and The Boys’].”

Editor’s Note: James Wolfe is a Photo Editor and Howard Johnson is a Sports Editor for The Phillipian.

Reuben Philip ’18

Utilizing a revolutionary dodgeball technique that consisted of remaining completely frozen in place, Reuben Philip ’18 steered his team, “The Jamaican Bobsleds,” to an impressive third-round exit. Despite his inexperience with the sport, Philip played a crucial role in leading his team to glory.

Philip credited his success to his strategy and mental game.

He said, “My strategy was actually to not move, because most of the throws actually tend to be very inaccurate. [That gave] me ample time to rest and regain my energy for the next set of throws. I think that my tactical genius and quick thinking in games helped me stay cool and make the best decision for the team.”

His teammates shared this sentiment, lauding Reuben’s talent. Teammate Alessandro Ciccia ’18 said, “We were able to get two huge wins, led [primarily by] Reuben Philip.”

Although he had never played dodgeball before Andover, Philip loved the experience.

He said, “The sport of dodgeball has definitely had a tremendous impact on my life at Andover. I came to the school not knowing about the sport and developing my raw talent into an above-average dodgeball player.”

In the end, despite Philip’s best efforts, he and “The Jamaican Bobsleds” suffered a crushing loss at the hands of “Gunga’s Blue Balls.”

Natalia Suarez ’17

Natalia Suarez ’17, the namesake of team “No-Ballia” – unofficially deemed “Nabalia Suarez” – nearly guided her dodgeball team to a championship. Dressed in all black garb, “No-Ballia” captured one victory before falling to the eventual champions, “The Slumdodge Millionaires,” in a tight matchup which consisted of some questionable calls and ethics from the winning side.

As a dodgeball recruit, Suarez was targeted specifically for her agility and strong arm. Her overwhelming athletic potency guided her team to an easy first-round victory, during which she eliminated two people. In the second round, “No-Ballia” then faced its biggest challenge of the tournament: last year’s reigning champions, “The Slumdodge Millionaires.” Suarez did not find fault in her team; she instead questioned the integrity of “The Slumdodge Millionaires.”

“We just had so much accumulation of skill that we just went out ready to crush,” said Suarez. “[In] the first game, we had no plan because we knew we were going to win. [For] the second game, the plan was to take out [Joe Okafor ’17] and [Will Humphrey ’16] and [Matt Whalen ’16]. Did our plan work? Yes, except they cheated, so no,” said Suarez. After the heartbreaking defeat, Suarez walked away with her dignity and accepted her team’s results in the tournament. To fall to a team of supposed cheaters was a tough way to be knocked out of this high-stakes competition, said Suarez, but she met the loss with grace and humility.