Hitting the spot

About the time you reach your third birthday, it stops being acceptable to throw things at other people, as mad as they might make you.

But for many, the urge never quite goes away, especially when annoying bosses, drivers and even our families drive us crazy.

Luckily for them, a little thing called dodgeball is enjoying a comeback in Kitsap County.

“It’s a controlled way for adults to act like kids,“ said Dean Souza, one of dozens of usually well-behaved South Kitsap residents who paid for the privilege of running around Olympic Soccer and Sports Center on Saturday, hurling and dodging yellow balls.

The object of dodgeball is very simple — play until you get rid of all the players on the other team. If you throw the ball and it hits someone, he or she is out. If someone throws the ball at you and you catch it, they’re out.

A staple of physical education classes 20 years ago, dodgeball is usually remembered with either great love or great hate by those who played it, and is considered a bit too barbaric for many playgrounds today.

But Souza, 37, said there’s nothing wrong with beaning people every now and again.

“I think it’s great,” said Souza, who joined his wife Paula and eight others to form the team Poi Dogs. “It’s good, clean fun. And it’s only a ball.”

“It’s a nice way to get your aggressions out, especially around the holidays,” said Lois Stromberg, who organized Saturday’s Turkey Shoot tournament at the indoor Bremerton sports center.

Stromberg said the dodgeball played at her center is a “kindler, gentler” version than the game most remember from the playground. It’s against the rules to hit anyone in the head, she said, and the red, plastic ball is replaced by a smaller, foam ball.

“You don’t mind as much getting hit with it, and you can get a pretty good grip on it,“ she said.

South Kitsap resident Debbie Walsh-Yargus, who played with her children Saturday as the Flaming Pandas, said she has fond memories of playing dodgeball in junior high school, and was more than happy to relive her “tomboy” days.

“It was fun to be able to hit people, especially those you weren’t happy with,” said the 50-year-old, who described herself as a “very-competitive” type who relished each time she pegged a target — which actually proved to be her downfall.

“I was celebrating a hit, and then a man hit me right (in the chest),” she laughed.

While Walsh-Yargus and the Flaming Pandas were knocked out early, Souza and the Poi Dogs battled to the final round.

“We rolled through everybody until the last game,” said Souza, admitting he was disappointed to lose the crown to the Swingers of Bremerton, especially since his wife also came in second when she played in a tournament in August. But the Swingers, he said, just “played smarter.”

“Our team had too much testosterone going, and were concentrating too much on hitting people, rather than catching,“ Souza said. “More people would probably be able to catch a ball rather than hit someone with it.“

For more information on future tournaments, call 479-8388.

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