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Ottawa hopefuls competing for spot on national dodgeball team

The organization behind Team Canada wants to elevate dodgeball beyond gym class.

Ambitious dodgeball players competed inside Omer Deslauriers Public High School on Sunday. The tournament will decide which players continue to nationals in Halifax.

Haley Ritchie / Metro Order this photo

Ambitious dodgeball players competed inside Omer Deslauriers Public High School on Sunday. The tournament will decide which players continue to nationals in Halifax.

Dodgeball hopefuls from Ottawa spent Sunday competing for a spot on the national team.

“Many people are familiar with dodgeball the game but not dodgeball the sport,” said Victor Gravili, head coach of the women's and men's national team.

“For a lot of people they play dodgeball in high school or elementary school, and the journey ends there. We’re educating people that there is a higher level,” he said. “We’re taking a page from ultimate frisbee, and we’re proud of the growth. The sport is growing in numbers."

Last year Canada took home men's gold medal and women's silver at the World Dodgeball Federation 2016 World Championships.

The basics of the sport are probably familiar to you if you played dodgeball in gym class.

Two teams — with six players each — try to knock each other out by hurling balls at each other across a median line. If an opposing player catches a ball, they also have a chance to eliminate the person who threw it.

In other sports, like basketball, there’s only one ball in play. In dodgeball, there are six, meaning the action can come from anywhere.

“With six balls on the court, there’s six centres of action,” said Lynn Kirkpatrick, who was at the tryouts on Sunday. “A point can be scored anywhere at any time. It makes it a very complex sport in that you need to be aware of the entire court all the time. Everyone can have the glory — everyone on the court is a threat.”

“You’re always on the defensive and always on the offensive,” she said. “That’s what I like about it.”

Kirkpatrick is from Ottawa and wrestled in high school before attending Carleton University, where she played a casual game of dodgeball. She eventually met her husband while playing, and they now run Ottawa’s local dodgeball league.

Last year Kirkpatrick represented Canada at the world championship in Melbourne, Australia.

The winning teams from Sunday’s tournament will advance to the national competition in Halifax, where the final members of Team Canada will be chosen. The world championships have been around for six years and this year will take place in Toronto.

Kirkpatrick hopes the Toronto championship will raise the profile of the sport and get more people attending her Thursday night Dodgeball Ottawa drop-in sessions.

As for balancing the sport with a full-time job as a public servant, Kirkpatrick said it’s not hard to balance work with your passion.

“I play a lot of dodgeball regardless,” she said. “It becomes my social life. I have a huge amount of community, I’m friends with the people I play with. It doesn’t feel like work.”

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