Dodgeball 101

Owais has found fitness, fun and community through dodgeball. He sits down with a few of his teammates to talk about how they've connected through the game.



YouAlberta is written by students for students.

Owais (he/him) is a third-year mechanical engineering major in the Faculty of Engineering, born and raised in the Sultanate of Oman (close to Dubai). With a taste for adventure, his future plans include exploring South America and Antarctica, but for now, you can find Owais enjoying a good Tom Clancy book while sipping on his favourite Tim’s coffee. His favourite place on campus is on the eighth floor of DICE to soak in the panoramic views of downtown and the river valley, along with enjoying the lively atmosphere of hanging out with fellow engineering students.

Walk into the David Tuckey Gym at Lister Centre, and you can often find that the entrance is so packed that you can not even see inside the gym. You can hear music and thunderous cheering for whichever teams are playing. A famous quote over at Lister is “Dodgeball is everything to everyone.” This lively atmosphere is really uplifting and playing dodgeball has certainly grown on me – so much so that I volunteer to help ref the games almost every week.

Dodgeball has a very rich culture at the U of A. We broke the Guinness Book of World Records in 2010 for the largest dodgeball game played, with 1,189 participants, and once again in 2012, with 4,789 participants. In September 2022, we attempted to break the world record again with over 6,500 participants but, alas, failed at our attempt. The Students’ Union also organizes the annual dodgeball Campus Cup, which sees over 1,000 participants every year competing across several different leagues. U of A is also home to the second-largest dodgeball league in North America, known as the Lister Dodgeball League.  It is no surprise that dodgeball is a fond memory for most students at the U of A.

When I started playing dodgeball last year, I was very reluctant to play a game that I had seen played by small children in movies. However, with some reservations, I signed up, seeing it as an opportunity to make new friends and relieve some stress. I still vividly remember my first-ever game. Our team had about 10 players compared to about 20 on the other side. Safe to say, we lost the game 5-0, but the game made me realize that I wanted to continue playing this new sport.

As the semester progressed, our team consistently lost all the games we played and was at the bottom of the scoreboard. Our first win came towards the end of the fall semester, when we managed to scrape a heroic 3-2 win against another team! When our team won the match, the entire gym erupted in loud cheers, as we were considered the ultimate underdogs. 

In the next semester, our team finally got our act together, and we started to win most of our matches, going as far as qualifying for the semi-finals. Our team’s progress from the bottom of the table to being one of the best teams is a story of sheer perseverance and dedication, along with finally learning to play as a team. This experience is in sharp contrast to this year when we won most of our matches – yet both opposite experiences have left a lasting impact on me.

Q&A with fellow team members

I spoke with Howe and Mehrshad, my fellow teammates for both this year and last.

How did you learn about dodgeball for the first time, and how did you start playing?

Mehrshad: The first time I heard about dodgeball was pretty much on my first day at Lister. Our floor coordinator briefly went over the game and the rules. The first time I played dodgeball was during BaseCamp when they had a dodgeball drop-in event for Schäffer Hall. After a quick introduction and meeting the liaison's team, I played my first classic dodgeball game and found it to be fun. I decided to play as a shagger in my first game and have been a shagger ever since.

Howe: I heard about the Lister Dodgeball League when I was first doing my research on which university to pick, and honestly, it was a deal breaker for me. In a new province with no friends or family, a sport that I already loved to play was the perfect opportunity for me to get out of my comfort zone and meet new people. I played my first game of dodgeball in Lister in the Schäffer drop-in during BaseCamp, and then connected with my liaison to start playing regular season LDL. Dodgeball moments were some of my favourite first-year memories, and I’m making a ton of them this year as well.

How has dodgeball helped you make new friendships and connections?

Howe: When you live in Schäffer, the private washrooms allow people to stay in their room and easily ignore social floor events. On the other hand, all of Lister has dodgeball, and the Tuckey gym being so accessible (being in the building) helps bring people together, especially in an inclusive, competitive sport. I got to know peoples' names and met friends that we can continue to get to know through dodgeball. There’s that energy of being on a team wearing a jersey and playing to win with a bunch of other students that is hard to replicate. 

Mehrshad: My floor got paired up with 8 Schäffer, and 8 Schäffer was an upper-year floor. I had the opportunity to meet a few upper-years and ask them questions about university and classes. In drop-ins, you get to meet people from different floors and towers. Everyone shares the same passion for dodgeball, and it's a great convo starter. Dodgeball is a fun way to meet new people and make new friends.

What did you enjoy the most about dodgeball?

Howe: Well, the corny answer would be that I enjoyed making friends and trying our best to win, even though our team rarely won at the beginning of the year. The other answer was getting a crazy doctor kill off the wall in playoffs, which was spectacular. I think every game was an amazing memory, especially watching my team absolutely not work together and somehow manage to pull off a win many weeks in a row, leading to becoming a bit of an underdog team. 

Mehrshad:  The best thing about dodgeball was the people. Playing with your floormates and rooting for your tower gives you a sense of community. There are upper-years who can never get enough of dodgeball, so they come back every year and make a Campus Cup team with their friends; mostly the people they met in their first year or their floormates.

What advice would you give fellow students considering playing dodgeball on campus? 

Howe: Definitely play dodgeball. There’s a door open for you to become active, meet people and have fun every week, and it’s only barred by a 50-dollar fee and a waiver. That is a miracle, and you only live once, so you might as well make the most of it with the people living around you for these short 8 months. Life is too precious to waste, so make the most of the time you have now. But an important tip: don’t forget about school because falling behind ruins everything. Dodgeball is everything to everyone, but if you’re suffering from school, you won’t be able to enjoy dodgeball as much as you think you would.

Mehrshad: University can be stressful from time to time, and it can be hard to stay active sometimes. Dodgeball is a great way to keep active and de-stress, even if it's as little as once a week. It makes a big difference. If you’re considering joining your floor dodgeball team or you haven’t played dodgeball since kindergarten, my advice to you is to try it out. You get to meet new people from all over the country if not all over the world, as well as people who are doing different majors with different experiences, and it’s just a great way to stay active during your studies. University is all about gaining new experiences.

Even if you do not live in Lister residence, there are several ways to get involved with dodgeball. The first one is the East Campus Dodgeball League, which is open to most students. Another way to get involved is to sign up for tournaments being held by both the Lister Dodgeball League and the Students’ Union. Dodgeball has been one of my favourite memories of both residence and university so far, and I will continue to have horrible throws but make fond memories along with it.