As the famous saying goes, “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.” And while no five-time winning, gold medal Olympian has notably offered up that advice (think Patches O’Houlihan, instead), lines of Dodgeball-inspired team spirit were no doubt running through Zoggers’ heads when signing up for the sport this past fall, just one of the events headed by the co-ed sports league, ZogSportsDC.
The newbie intramural league caters to young professionals, ranging from their twenties to early forties. At tournaments, teachers, bankers, and every other kind of professional get together for one uniting factor—to play some healthy competitive team sports. This past fall (the league’s inaugural season), ZogSportsDC offered touch football and dodgeball to its registrants. For the winter season, volleyball will also be offered, along with football and dodgeball. Plans are in the works for more sports as enrollment increases.
Zoggers can register as individuals or groups, and they can compete on a four different competition levels: extremely casual, casual, "sorta" players, and players. So even if you were the last kid picked for teams in high school gym class, there’s no reason to fret—join the extremely casual level and you’ll be surrounded by other athletically challenged peers.
Colby Farber, an associate at The Aspen Institute and also the captain of her dodgeball team, Orange Crush, moved to D.C. this past summer and first heard of ZogSportsDC from the internet. “It's always refreshing to meet people of all ages and backgrounds," Farber said, "but can be hard to do outside of the workplace."
Farber said the program gives adults a great place to act like kids and build new relationships. “Where else could a group of recent college grads throw balls at lawyers and dads," she said, "and then go out to a bar to laugh it off afterwards?”
If you’re wondering what sets ZogSports apart from other sports leagues, well, there’s a variety of factors. First, the sports league encourages social awareness by way of its charity focus. At the beginning of each season, ZogSports teams select a charity to play for, and teams are encouraged to cheer on their charity during the coin toss at each game. At the end of the season, the top teams get to walk away with a donation for their worthy cause.
“It's always good to give of yourself, whether through volunteering or donations. Hell, even though most of us complain about our troubles, there are people out there that struggle through life every day and could honestly use whatever help they can get,” said Anthony DiCarlo, Parent Liaison Specialist with the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA). This fall, DiCarlo signed up as an individual player for dodgeball and plans to return for both dodgeball and volleyball in the winter.
Second, the organization pairs with local bars to host group happy hours for teams looking to kick back and socialize after a day’s game. “After playing some intense dodgeball, you were able to get to actually meet people and get to learn about everyone’s back story," said DiCarlo. "Believe it or not, it's hard to hear about where someone is from or where they work when you are pelting them with a dodgeball. I can honestly say that I have met many interesting people as a result of happy hours.”
Finally, the sports league isn’t just focused on the likes of beer-chugging and dodgeball-ing (though, clearly, these are two very important factors.) It’s also focused on friendship-ping and networking. Christina A. D'Amico, of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the IRS, was laid off from Wall Street in 2008 and understands the power of networking firsthand. She ventured down to D.C. in hopes of landing a job with the new administration (she eventually did) and found herself participating in dodgeball as a way to meet new people.
“That is how I ended up working here in D.C. -networking. I kind of think you are always networking, always willing to meet new people and share what you have learned along the way. I especially like when I meet someone who is looking to talk to someone in a certain field or area, and I know someone I can introduce them to,” said D'Amico. Also throwing in his two cents, General Manager Rob Nowell added, “You never know – that girl that torched you for three touchdowns may also hold the networking key to your next job opportunity.”
D'Amico also points out that past the social aspect of the league, dodgeball can be all sorts of a serious workout: “I thought there wasn't going to be much skill involved, but clearly I thought wrong. There was some serious competition,” she said. “Maybe I need to go back and watch the movie for some skills. But it got the heart pumping and the legs moving, was a boat load of fun and a workout too!”
Even if you’re not the swiftest of players, who isn’t up for a little team camaraderie and social activism? And for all of you fierce dodgeball hurlers out there, keep in mind that your skillset could be put to good, charitable use. That opposing teammate that you just knocked down with your god-like aim? Well, you could have just won your team a donation to that homeless shelter down the street. So with your competitive blood pumping, go ahead and sign up, suit up and then grab a ball—wrenches, of course, not included.
For more information on sports and sign up dates this season, visit: http://www.zogsports.org/dc/default.aspx