A True Underdog Story? 

Dodgeball league is aimed at Memphis.

Dodgeball, the gym-class activity turned adult-intramural pastime, is headed to Memphis, so watch out.

Starting January 17th, the Raymond Skinner Center will host the Memphis Dodgeball League's inaugural season. The brainchild of Kevin Olsen, the league features 20 teams that will battle through a 10-week round robin to determine seeding for the Tournament of Champions. The winners of that tournament, held over two weeks at the end of the season, earn the honor of holding the soon-to-be-prestigious Dodgeball Cup.

"I've been wanting to set up a dodgeball league for about a year and a half," says Olsen. "Everybody has at least one dodgeball story and most of them end with, 'Man, that game was awesome.' Why do we have to stop playing because we're adults? I think a mortgage and car payments are every reason we should play. It's therapeutic."

Evidently, other people share his opinion. The very first day Olsen advertised the upcoming league on Craigslist.org, he received over 70 responses.

"It's a great game no matter how you play it," he says. "Memphis Dodgeball is geared for people like me -- those who were always in the last two or three to be picked for anything in elementary school or junior high. We've grown up, and things have changed, and this gives us the opportunity to relive our youth.

"Every time I would get pegged in the face with one of those red rubber kickballs, I would think, Just wait, I'll get you eventually. And now I can."

League fees are $500 for a team of 10. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Skinner Center's recreational programs for physically and mentally disabled youth. Additional monies go to league operations.

"When I started this, I wanted it to expand exponentially. The goal was 20 teams the first season. Then the summer season would be 30 to 40 teams spread between two divisions," Olsen explains. "My goal is to be able to lease or purchase my own Midtown or downtown warehouse to convert for exclusive dodgeball use."

Even though the league is currently for adults, Olsen eventually wants to start a youth league, as well.

"I believe dodgeball is banned in the city and county schools," he says, citing safety issues. "There's something incredibly cathartic about dodgeball. I think teenagers need it as a safe, controlled way to act out aggression."

Olsen has already contacted similar organizations in Horn Lake, Baton Rouge, and Nashville for some friendly cross-league competition. He looks forward to battling the Nashville contingent in particular:

"I've already called them out, and we're going to prove that the dodgeball capital of Tennessee is on the Mississippi."

For more info on Memphis Dodgeball, go to Memphisdodgeball.com


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