Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Dodgeball Fuels Tsunami Relief Effort

Ordinarily, the sight of students hurling objects at school teachers and administrators would include that of another party: the authorities.

However, law enforcement figures were nowhere to be seen at Shawnee Mission North High School on January 14th, when students and faculty squared off in a friendly (depending on which side you speak ask) game of dodgeball. The tournament raised more than $6,000 toward the Red Cross Tsunami Relief Effort in Washington D.C. Student council members chipped in to push the grand total up to $7,000 in donations. Faculty members were impressed with just how quickly student leaders were able to organize a charity event of such magnitude, on the fly, in order to assist the victims families of the tsunamis that hit Southeast Asia in December.

“For them to come up with something like this so quick was amazing,” computer and business teacher and student council faculty advisor Cody Fothergill said. “They knew they had to do something as soon as possible in order to help the relief effort.”

“Time was essential and they passed with flying colors.”

Although the tournament included only four teams, every student was eligible to form a team and be entered into a drawing from which the final competitors were selected. To form a team, students had to raise a minimum of $100. Thirteen teams of six students and an alternate were able to successfully do so. Additional entries were given to teams for every additional $25 raised.

The entrants raised $4,351.04 alone. A crowd of 1,000 fans (who paid $2 each) was on hand to witness the unique, physical competition pitting teacher versus student.

“I was really impressed with just how organized and rule-oriented the game was,” Associate principal Jim McMullen said. “It wasn’t just throwing things at each other, it was a real game out there.”

“Everything exceeded our expectations.”

Rules for the competition were given to players prior to the tournament. Students and faculty co-existed long enough to serve as referees for the matches. Some students implied that last year’s film “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” may or may not have provided the inspiration for the event. While Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller were not present this time around, McMullen sat alongside science teacher Steve Fluty to provide fans with live game commentary (a la ESPN 8, “The Ocho”) over the public address system. The broadcasting duo’s debut was overshadowed by a mesmerizing display of agility, speed, power, and teamwork by their colleagues.

“I’m so glad (the faculty) agreed to do something like this on short notice,” McMullen said. “It’s uncommon to move that quickly on something, but the event was good for everyone involved.”

“I’ m just glad no one got hurt,” Fothergill said. “We won, but I think some egos were bruised on the (student) side.”

The final match pitted a faculty and staff squad (the “Old School Ballas”) against a younger, more athletic student team, featuring several varsity athletes. Surprisingly, the real “seniors” on the floor were able to outwit and defeat their younger opponents. The match left the largely student crowd exhausted, after several cheers and chants failed to rally their classmates to victory. The scheduled best-of-five finals was called after the faculty took their third win in game number four.

Fothergill credits the idea and the execution of the dodgeball tournament to student council President Rachel Schulteis.

“I give the students all the credit for such a fantastic idea, but Rachel really made it all happen,” Fothergill said.

“She was terrific in putting it all together.”

Schulteis, a junior, said her initial hope for the event was to raise a number that approached $4,000. After she returned to school from winter break, she began sacrificing sleep in order to work six hours a night on her computer working to make the fundraiser a reality. Schulteis said the question now isn’t whether or not the students would be willing to participate in future dodgeball tournaments in the future for charitable causes; it’s a matter of the faculty’s desire to put themselves in a compromising position.

“The students would love to see more,” Schulteis said. “It really all depends on what will motivate the faculty to get out and defend their crown.”

In the immortal words of Torrance Shipman: Bring It On.


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