Ballston Spa Teacher Ready to Compete at UK’s Dodgeball World Cup
BALLSTON SPA – The game you loved as a kid is about to take center stage internationally, and a Ballston Spa Phys Ed teacher is right in the middle of the excitement.
Rob Immel, who has been teaching in the Ballston Spa School District for 11 years, along with three other Capital Region residents (Michelle Radley, Pat Cushing and Brett Granfors) will be members of Team USA, representing our country on a squad that will be venturing over to Manchester, UK for the Dodgeball World Cup on August April 16-17. The inaugural Manchester 2016 World Cup will take place at the England National Basketball Arena (capacity 2,000). Competitive dodgeball is growing in popularity, even gaining support as a potential Olympic sport in the future.
Team USA will face off against teams from Italy, England, Scotland, Malaysia, Sweden, Egypt, and Australia. Each team is composed of 10 men and 10 women. The four locals that earned spots on Team USA were hand picked from a top east coast amateur team, NY EMPIRE. Immel, who is the Captain of NY EMPIRE, enjoyed pointing out that the team always vies for a national crown and set a world dodgeball record for longest marathon play three years ago.
“My students are really excited. They know my history with the game,” said Immel, who teaches grades 9-12 at Ballston Spa High School. “I’ve been involved with the game forever.” Indeed, in addition to logging five years with NY EMPIRE, Immel has ventured to Las Vegas to compete in the National Dodgeball Championships for the past 11 years.
Rob and his wife, Sara, have three children: Adalynn (8), Talon (6), and Reven (2). He, the other members of the local ‘Fantastic Four,’ and other NY EMPIRE players also act locally to promote the sport, running a program called ‘Hometown Dodgeball’ at the Sportsplex of Halfmoon. There is adult open league on Mondays and a youth league on Visit htwww.sportsplexofhalfmoon.com/Leagues/dodgeballleagues/ or call the Sportsplex at 518-383-0991 for more information.
“The game itself is essentially the same that you remember,” Immel explained, “with a few twists.” You eliminate an opponent by throwing a ball and striking them anywhere from head to toe. Your opponent avoids elimination by evading the ball, but they must stay on the court. If your opponent catches your throw, you are out. And it goes fast “In our leagues, games last anywhere from 11 seconds to three minutes,” Rob said.
The World Cup tournament will be staged in two phases. “The first day you play in kind of a round-robin format. Teams feel each other out. Each game starts with six players per side – with five balls. The six are drawn from the roster, each coach trying to get the best matchup and learn about the other teams – generally saving their best players for the best teams.
“The second day, the eight teams are seeded,” he continued, “in a format similar to the Elite Eight in the NCAA basketball tournament.” Eight teams go down to four, to two, and then a champion is crowned.
When you watch an international sporting event, it’s always more exciting to have a player with local or regional roots to cheer for. On the weekend of April 16-17, you’ll have four. Fantastic!