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Welcome Week 2010 saw nearly 2,000 UC Irvine students ringing in the new school year with a record-breaking dodgeball game. It took 600 balls and a couple hours out of a Wednesday to pump up students for the oncoming school year. This year, ASUCI hopes that 5,000 Anteaters will turn out to up the ante.

The event will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 21 at the ARC fields. Special shuttles from Mesa Court and Campus Village will transport students starting at 12:45 p.m. During registration, which begins at 1 p.m., students will have the opportunity to peruse a club fair, buy food to support student organizations and get their face painted for an extra dash of school spirit. UCI alumna and YouTube sensation Jennifer Chung will also be performing before the game as well as the UCI Spirit Squad.

If the game and the glory itself isn’t enough incentive, ASUCI is also offering the first 4,000 students free UCI Dodgeball shirts, a raffle for a quarter worth of free parking for VDC, Norte and Camino residents, three chances for a $500 FlexDine giftcard good at all UCI Dining locations, and a quarter of free textbooks to one lucky Anteater.

Last year’s record-breaking feat saw the downfall of Canada’s University of Alberta, who held the record with 1,198 players. U of A didn’t take their defeat lying down and responded with yet another world record set at 2,012 participants this past February. On May 1, the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York State set the record at 2,136 participants only to be bested by the U.S. Air Force Academy’s 3,623 cadets on May 18th.

UCI is proud to list itself among the contenders fighting for dodgeball fame. Ask any of the 1,745 participants of last year’s game and they’ll tell you – the game was the perfect way to start the year.

“We saw a huge swell of UCI pride and energy – people were excited to be UCI students and we were really proud of that,” said Mark Deppe, Assistant Director of Student Programs. Deppe’s role at ASUCI sees him assisting students by helping them book artists, reserving spaces and equipment and maneuvering through university red-tape to make events such as the dodgeball game to life.

Deppe was on hand for the 2010 game as well, but the impetus of the event was Sam Shaw. As a freshman in 2009, Shaw saw both how big and how disconnected the UCI campus was. Paired with his lifelong desire to break a world record, Shaw started to drum up interest for the biggest dodgeball game ever played by using word of mouth, Facebook events and eventual ASUCI participation.

Even without Shaw’s direct participation, his inspiration has sparked a new UCI tradition and a great way to start the new year.

“The Dodgeball World Record Game is a great way to kick of new school year for both new and returning students.  It promises to be a fun event filled with lots of energy and UCI spirit.  On top of that, with all of the campus and community support we’ve received, we’re really confident that we’re going to smash the world the record again,” Deppe said.

In the words of esteemed, fictional dodgeball coach Peter LaFleur, “I’m here to tell you, you’re perfect just the way you are. But if you feel like losing a few pounds, gettin’ healthier and making some good friends in the process … ” So, Anteaters, here’s your challenge: get out there, break a record and have a great time!

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