Past Our Prime? Not According to the Dodgeball Tournament

by Mr. Steve Trocki
2014 BHS Dodgeball Champion

The 2:05 bell rang. The anxiety of what the next few hours would bring caused a slight sweat above my brow. I met my fellow teammates downstairs and put on the uniform adorned with the exuberant face of Deion Sanders. My teammates – my brothers – were composed of a group of men who had once been what some call “athletes.” Some of us continue to hold on to the dream of being an athlete, some of us have hung up our ambitions and dreams and traded them in for a clipboard and a whistle but we all thought we were Past Our Prime.

As the new boys’ lacrosse coach, I had the obligation to go to a meeting after school which covered everything from chemical health, to sun-block and mosquito repellent. As the meeting went on, my excitement and need to be reunited with my teammates caused my body to fidget and be constantly unsettled. Once the meeting subsided, I ran down in anticipation of what was about to transpire.

As I entered the gymnasium, the loud cheering and bewildered enchantment echoed through an environment which was reminiscent of the scene from Gladiator when Maximus first entered The Colosseum. I quickly found my band of brothers and was informed we had been victorious in our first two battles. Without time to be joyous of the previous victories, it was time for our third bout, my first opportunity to show my skills, or lack thereof.

Mr. Flanagan explains the rules to an eager mass

Mr. Flanagan explains the rules to an eager mass

With my Jordan’s on the back line, and Zubaz pants trembling, the referee blew the whistle to start. Before I could blink the game was over and we had come out victorious once again. I felt I played well, knocking out two or three foes in my first game. But I knew, this was just a just a small victorious, but the war was far from over.

The next couple of games had the same outcome as the ones before it. Each of my brothers had had opportunities where they needed to command the moment, and none of them had failed to do so. Whether it was Mr. Kip, the wily veteran of the bunch, the fearless leader, who singlehandedly won us the game in the idiosyncratic gymnastic room; or it was the ever-constant and continuously strategic Mr. Fox, steadily picking off opponents one by one, we all were critical pieces to an implausible puzzle.

I had underestimated the toll on one’s body in which these sinister games take. My attempt at quenching my unending thirst with one box of Yoo Hoo went unwarranted, and the whispers of the succulent hotdogs spiraled throughout the foyer. I unsuccessfully attempted to attain equilibrium and rejuvenation from the “American chocolate beverage that originated in the 1920’s” (Wikipedia). Was this the end?

Fear not, as the night went on, teams battled but at a cost, some other teams had fallen, and many teams had lost. Mr. O performed a dodge that seemed to be inspired by the legendary character, Johnny Cage, but this masterful move was not enough to bring his team the victory. His loss was shared by many and the Sweet Sixteen quickly turned into the Elite Eight, which in turn transpired to the Final Four. Again as brothers, we became stronger with each victory, the visceral competitive nature of our true selves slowly returning. We just defeated a team of what seemed to be superior athletes, adorned in uniforms which appeared too tight and form fitting for mere mortals, and too awkward for the average young man to endure. Nonetheless, the uniforms were just a hoax, disguising their over achievement, and again, as brothers, we had defeated Goliath, and were headed to the finals.

The final battle was something that we all will tell our children, and our children’s children, about. Homer himself could not have written a more epic storyline for this seemingly poetic battle. The game was back and forth, filled with its ups and downs. In the end, one man from each team was left standing, and from there a legend was born. I believe it was my friend Billy Shakespeare that once said “some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” On this day, we all witnessed greatness, through a quiet mild-mannered Irish boy named Patty, Patty Kinnealy.

Words cannot describe the last moments of the epic battle, and my attempt will not do justice in encapsulating the true undomesticated exhilaration that exuded throughout that gymnasium. The hero, unarmed and back peddling in retreat dodged a spray of ammunition from his opponent, and in what seemed to be millennia, fell back and latched his two hands on the ball thrown by his enemy, which ended the everlasting battle; and had brought his teammates to the promise land. Mounds of people gathered in his splendid victory, and at that time, we, a band of brothers, a tribe of withered wannabes holding on to childhood dreams, had won the 2014 Braintree High Dodgeball Championship.

The previous events had transpired, and had proved to myself, Mr Wakelin, Mr Barese, Mr Kiphinhan, Mr Fox, Mr Daley, and the Mr Kinnealy, that we, were not… Past Our Prime.

2014 Dodgeball Champions

Mr. Trocki is a teacher in the Learning Center and a member of the 2014 Dodgeball Champions – Past Our Prime