Looking to offer something new to generate student interest, the Hills??boro High School GAP Culture Club opted to switch from a school dance to a slightly more energized contact activity.
Eight student teams, plus one comprised of faculty members, braved the bombastic battle of the balls in the middle school gym Friday night following the high school?s home basketball games with Smoky Valley.
The student teams were organized by the students themselves with a mixture of grades representing each team. Each team had six to 10 players with at least three girls and three guys per team.
?Several teachers or staff members played on student teams, which really excited the kids,? said Janet Whisenhunt, one of the GAP adult sponsors.
For example, the FFA officers organized ?The Redneck Ball Club? with sponsor Sonya Roberts ordering team shirts and painting a team flag for the parade of teams during the opening ceremony.
The tournament was served by two court-side professionals.
?(English teacher) Bob Woelk was our ESPN 8 play-by-play color commentator, which made a huge difference in the flow of the tournament,? Whisen?hunt said. ?Sports psychiatrist Dr. Ruth Baldner (science teacher) offered her expertise for any player needing emotional support or encouragement.?
The tournament followed a double-elimination format designed and officiated by coach Jeff Haslett and art teacher Dustin Dalke.
?Without them the tournament would not have gone as smoothly as it did,? Whisenhunt said. ?Their involvement made our job easier.?
Whisenhunt said she knew of no injuries during the spirited competition, ?but a few teachers played with such gusto that they took a few hits to the head and some landed on the floor a couple of times trying to catch a ball.
?The kids loved it,? she said.
The tournament concluded with an awards ceremony. The top three teams were The Naries, The Chupagrapa and The Redneck Ball Club.
Other prizes included:
? Team with most spirit: The Redneck Ball Club;
? Dodgeball queen and king: Courtney Weber and Grant Shewey;
? Senior MVP: David Nelson;
? Junior MVP: Nathan Unruh;
? Sophomore MVP: Danae Bina;
? Freshman MVP: Caleb Halsted;
? Teacher MVP: Nathan Hiebert;
? Classiest player: Tena Loe?wen, who played on crutches.
Whisenhunt said the event exceeded the club?s expectations.
?We estimate close to 120 or more kids were either playing or watching the games,? she said. ?In addition to students watching from the stands, parents, kids and school employees were also involved. It was an awesome turnout.?
The event generated a lot of buzz among students.
?The reviews from students as well as staff have been very, very positive immediately after the tournament as well as today (Monday),? Whisenhunt said. ?Facebook messages were crazy over the weekend from everyone.?
In addition to serving as the event sponsors, members of the GAP Culture Club worked as ball girls, took stats, sold water and oversaw the overall organization of the event, which was intended not so much to be a fund?raiser as a community service project, according to Whisenhunt.
?They created and decorated all of the trophies and individual ?dodgeball shoe? awards,? she said of the GAP members. ?We ordered special dodgeball 2012 shirts for ourselves and awarded them to the winning team. Our goal was to have an event other than a dance that would involve more students, and the tournament was just that.?
Whisenhunt said principal Max Heinrichs and activities director Robert Rempel ?were very supportive of us trying something different.?
She added, ?GAP Club cannot thank everyone enough for their enthusiastic support of the tournament.?
GAP (Going Adventurous Places) Culture Club was formed more than 15 years ago with the purpose of providing educational and cultural experiences for young women.
Serving with Whisenhunt as an adult sponsor is Jill Hein. Jenesa Klose, an HHS alum and current Tabor College student, helps as a mentor.