Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dodgeball - On a Cement Wall

The most common form of dodgeball is the kind played in a gymnasium or athletic center of some kind: two teams throwing the ball(s) at each other.

At Horace Mann Elementary school in Ottumwa, that kind of dodgeball was played in gym class pretty often, but there was a different variety played at almost every recess for my 4 years on the "big kids" playground (3rd - 6th grades; Kindergarten - 2nd grade had their own "little kids" playground).

There was an elevated area just outside the west entrance where the bike racks were. You would come out the doors and go down a ramp to get to the playground, and then loop back around to where the lower area met the elevated area -- at this point it was not a gradual ramp, it effectively formed a cement wall about 5-6 feet high (my best estimate after 20 years later). We would line up along that wall for playground dodgeball.

In this variety, only 1 person would be the "thrower." The thrower would stand behind a crack (we couldn't afford a line) about 10 feet away and throw the rubber stinging welt ball as hard as he or she could at a random (or, singled out) victim along the wall; if the victim was struck, he would be out - if the victim caught the ball, he became the new thrower. If dodged successfully, just do another throw. This process would repeat until there was one thrower and one victim, so if struck, the thrower wins the overall game, and if the one last victim along the wall catches it, he becomes the overall winner.

I really don't have a lot of hilarities to share about this topic, but I've never seen it played since then, so I wanted to record the memory. I heard third-hand that a few years after I left elementary school, this activity was banned. I would imagine it had to do with throwing a ball at a child as hard as you can when his head is only a few inches from a cement wall. I GUESS I can see potential for a incident here, though I never remember any major ones -- besides, if it was a "head shot," it didn't count. Can anyone verify this info?

I also remember that we would hurl insults at the thrower to enrage them into making a anger based, easy-to-catch throw. Things like "Mike is a dork!" I also remember a girl named "Eye" (probably not how it was spelled, but that's how it was pronounced) - and the popular insult, "Eye is an Eye Doctor!" - zing!

I also remember that there was a really good thrower named Chad Mason (I think), but he must have moved or something before Jr. High, because I don't remember him after 6th grade.


  1. Absolutely 100 percent true. It was a very painful game. I never recognized the absurdity of it until now... thanks Doug. I remember the Tullers being pretty ruthless at the game too.

  2. (i am actually Chris Knight, i don't know why it says "never was")

  3. Things I can recall... The Tullers, Jeremy Dalby, girls not being particularly great at the game, Avoiding some kind of pipe that was sticking out of the wall. If you weren't man enough to play this just go around the corner to four square. I wish I could remember the names of all of those crazy moves. Highwater? Spinners? :)