MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- Marines gathered at the station Youth Center March 14 for a combat dodgeball tournament sponsored by the Single Marine Program.
Nine six-man teams competed in the single-elimination tournament for a chance to take their dodgeball skills to Staples Center in Los Angeles for a West Coast regional tournament and free tickets to an Arena Football League game.
“(More than fifty) people enjoyed their evening in an hour,” said Angie Marchman, Single Marine Program events coordinator. “You can’t do much better than that.”
New rules added a twist to the game station Marines have been accustomed to playing.
“This tournament was combat dodgeball,” said Marchman. “It has a Circle of Power, prisoner chambers, check-in points, and we’re a little more lenient on the rules as far as boundaries go. It’s more interesting this way.”
As the action heated up, teams began to drop one-by-one as the competition became too intense.
“My team fell out early,” said Jug Dish dodgeballer Adam Killoran, who was the last man standing for his team before they were eliminated. “I was hoping we could go all the way, but balls were flying everywhere out there and I couldn’t bring my team back.”
Eventually the tournament brackets whittled away the competition until there were only two teams left. The Killers and The War Dogs bested all their foes to arrive in the championship round, which like all other rounds, was determined by who could win two of three matches.
The Killers struck first, with a dominating win over the War Dogs in the first match.
The War Dogs showed their resiliency in the second match when War Dog dodgeballer Joey Cortright utilized the Circle of Power, which brought his already-eliminated teammates back onto the battlefield every time he caught a ball within its limits.
Cortright’s heroics proved enough to win his team the match.
The entire tournament came down to one final match. The Killers jumped to an early advantage, but once again, Cortright’s heroics kept his team in the game.
Eventually, it came to one-on-one standoff between Killers dodgeballer Gabriel Trujillo and War Dogs dodgeballer Eli Prudhomme.
“My teammates were shouting and cheering me on and I knew I couldn’t let them down. It was just me against him,” said Trujillo. “I had been throwing balls low all night, so I decided to throw one high and he couldn’t catch it.”
“I was trying to catch that ball to end the game, but it bounced off of my arm and I couldn’t get to it,” said Prudhomme. “It kills me because I feel like I let my team down.”
While Prudhomme and the War Dogs couldn’t pull out one more victory, they successfully put on a show for all in attendance.
“The final match was awesome,” said Marchman. “The guys busted out some new moves and it was very entertaining.”
The Killers’ poise and teamwork gave them the lift they needed to rise to the top of the tournament. Their desire to defeat military policemen helped, too.
“Going into the last game, I had confidence that we could win it,” said Killers dodgeballer Tony Manuel Jr. “And we beat (military policemen) to do it. That was one of the best parts about it.”
The War Dogs knew that other teams were gunning for them all night. While they were able to eliminate the vast majority of their competition, they fell short of their ultimate goal.
“We’re (representing the Provost Marshal’s Office) and everybody out here wanted us to lose, so we needed to come out on top,” said Prudhomme. “We were planning on making it to L.A. all the way.”
The Killers’ came into the tournament with high expectations and left with the prize.
“We get to go to L.A. We called ourselves ‘The Killers’ because we came to kill our opponents, and we did,” said Manuel. “I thought we had a shot to win it all because we’re all talented. (Trujillo) did an excellent job for us. I think we’ll be competitive in L.A.”
Many of the players were impressed with the quality of the SMP event.
“I’ve never really done anything with SMP,” said Prudhomme. “This was bad. This was awesome. Any dodgeball tournaments in the future, I’m there.”