FORT WAYNE – There was never any dodging of wrenches, Ed Prentiss will tell you. Serendipity, however, is another matter entirely.
On the other end of the phone line, Prentiss takes you back a decade, and, yes, if you’re thinking the National Dodgeball League’s origin story and the movie Dodgeball (really, who could forget the wrench-dodging scene?) are tied to each other, you just scored a bull’s-eye on the evil White Goodman.
There was the infant NDL and, at roughly the same time, the film that took the sport national, a happy collision of circumstance that Prentiss marvels at to this day.
A unique coincidence, says Prentiss, founder and commissioner of the NDL, under whose auspices the Allegiant Dodge High Fares tournament is coming to SportONE Fieldhouse on July 14. I had started a league at the end of 2003 – I was just kind of sketching out ideas, and was starting to put some things together – and while that was going on, I thought I heard something on the radio about a movie coming out.
So he got online. Nothing.
Then I heard it again, and it was real clear this time, and yes, there was a movie coming up, Prentiss goes on. And I got online again and there was an item that Ben Stiller was going to star in a movie about dodgeball
That was interesting timing. We launched just prior to the movie coming out, and I contacted the studio, and we ended up cross-promoting with them out of Minneapolis, our headquarters, for the year.
And the rest, as they say, is dodgeball history.
The movie overwhelmed us, Prentiss says. We were originally starting as a pro league – we’re still doing that – but once the movie came out, people contacted us about how to set up events, leagues, and we sort of became the clearinghouse for dodgeball because no one knew else where to go. Even then, we weren’t built for it yet.
Now they are. Now there’s the Allegiant series – a 30-city amateur tour whose proceeds go to local charities – and a pro National Dodgeball League as well, culminating in the world championships in Las Vegas, four days of dodgeball that attracts teams from the U.S., Canada, Japan, Denmark, New Zealand and Australia.
This year’s event, the 10th, runs Aug. 8-11.
The Fort Wayne Allegiant tournament, meanwhile, will include food and drink specials from Jimmy’s Grill. The winning team gets to designate which charity to send its registration fees.
All teams are co-ed and consist of six to 10 members who must be at least 18 years of age.
They do not, however, have to be particularly athletic in the traditional sense.
It’s a wide variety, Prentiss says. Body types are different. Our players don’t even look physically like you see in other sports.
Like, you think someone who’d played baseball might be good at dodgeball, and sure, a lot of guys who played baseball do wind up playing dodgeball.
But we also get people who played no other sports. There’s a whole other group of people out there who maybe played nothing until they started picking this up.
And it is something you have to pick up. Like every sport, dodgeball has a codified set of rules; among them are the aforementioned team makeup, official court dimensions (60 feet by 30 feet with six regulation 8.5-inch balls) and so on.
Prentiss isn’t sure yet what kind of turnout the tournament in Fort Wayne will get. The entry deadline is Wednesday.
Teams are notorious for waiting until the last minute to register, he says. That’s kind of common for this, especially when it’s not as an annual event. It takes a few more turns to get the motor going.