Dodgin’ Balls, Settin’ Records

Alex Yee | Staff Photographer

Last year, Sam Shaw had a dream to gather as many UCI students as possible for the biggest game of dodgeball ever. Last Wednesday, Sept. 22, that dream became a reality. Nearly 2,000 Anteaters came out to the Bren Events Center for the ASUCI sponsored Blue and Gold Rally, 1,745 of whom ended up participating in the Guinness World Record breaking dodgeball game.

The previous record was held by Canada’s University of Alberta, with 1,198 players decked out in the university’s green and gold colors. Taking a leaf out of U of A’s book, participating students came with faces painted, wearing UCI gear from head to toe.

Upon filtering through the line into the Bren, participants were asked to present student IDs, sign a liability form and choose a team: blue or gold.

Each team option had a corresponding shirt for the spanking new student spirit group, “Antourage.” Students then took their seats on the home side of the arena to await the start of the rally.

The energy started high at first, but diminished drastically when everyone was called to stand on the court, where participants stood for upwards of an hour for the rally itself. Spirit squad routines and dance crew performances were heard but not seen as they performed on the court, making spectators crane their necks and stand on tip-toe. The introduction of coaches, players and teams received a sadly lukewarm reception while students griped about “poor planning.”

But for as poorly planned the Blue and Gold Rally was, the dodgeball game itself certainly delivered. The plan was hatched last year during Shaw’s freshmen year.

“I sort of had an epiphany that UCI had over 20,000 students,” Shaw said. In addition to this impressive number, Shaw was aware of the lack of school spirit that haunted UC Irvine’s reputation. Something had to be done to gather Anteaters together and instill pride, but most importantly, it had to be fun.

“I have always wanted to break a Guinness World Record,” Shaw said. “I wanted to do a mass participation record.”

Shaw started to drum up interest by talking to various clubs and organizations on campus. He didn’t get the ball rolling until the end of last year, when ASUCI got on board. Whispers of the dodgeball game spread when people began talking spring quarter. Facebook was ridden with event invitations, wall posts and comments bearing word of the endeavor.

Nearly a year after Shaw’s epiphany, the game finally came together. The organizers said that registration would be cut off at 2,000 players. Once everyone was on the court, hundreds of students looked on from the stands.

“So many more wished they could play,” said sophomore Kevin McNamara, one of the spectators.

Once teams lined up on either side of the Bren’s court, excitement was back up. Members of the World Dodgeball Society were on hand to officiate and referee the game, standing in the crossfire as hundreds of orange and purple balls flew through the air. “It’s like that scene in 300 with the arrows!” one gold team member shouted right as the first onslaught began.

Once a participant was hit, a ref marked his or her hand and sent them to the far end of the court to have the wristband cut for counting purposes. Though asked to stay on the court to be counted for the record, some still insisted on leaving.

“This was one of the more fun records I’ve had to judge,” Guinness World Records adjudicator Kimberly Patrick announced before declaring UCI’s attempt a success. The Bren erupted in cheers and “zots,” the energy completely making up for the lackluster rally that proceeded.

When asked how Sam Shaw felt now that the game is over, he responded by saying, “Relieved, emotional and ecstatic. It has been a great year of planning and effort. Completely worth it.”

A noble, fictional dodgeball expert once said, “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.” Well, if you can dodge around shaky school spirit and the challenges of organizing a world record breaking event, you can dodge 600 balls.