Cornerstone goes gaga for dodgeballPublished 10:07am Friday, November 2, 2012
The wooden structure sitting in the parking lot outside Cornerstone Church gets more than a few curious glances. It’s understandable, considering few people in Austin are familiar with the sport of gagaball.
“It’s basically Israeli dodgeball,” said Pastor Corey Goetz.
The game, which operates in a closed ring with rules that resemble a mashup of dodgeball and volleyball, is the latest addition to the church’s youth activities. Members of the church built their court in September out of plywood, and have used it regularly since.
At the start of the game, the ball bounces in the middle of the court. From then on, it’s live, and the players are on their own. Whoever gets touched by the ball anywhere but their hands is out, even if the ball ricochets off another player or the wall. Throwing isn’t allowed, but players can hit the ball with an open hand or closed fist, much like in volleyball. The last player standing wins.
Youth Pastor Dave Skahen said the rules aren’t as slated in older children’s favor as are those of typical dodgeball.
“With normal dodgeball, the big kids just dominated,” he said. “It kind of levels the playing field.”
While the sport is still catching on in the U.S., none who try it walk away disappointed, Skahen said.
As few as two players can start a game, but there’s no definitive upper limit for how many can join in. The most Skahen has seen play a single game was 60-70 people. The rules don’t change with that many players, so long as it’s possible to “cram them in like sardines.”
The court mostly gets use on Wednesday evenings, when youth are there, or after children’s church programs, Goetz said. Two such courts were built at a district campground in Alexandria, and it gave Cornerstone the idea to construct one of its own. When winter comes and it’s too cold to have the court in the parking lot, Cornerstone members can disassemble it and store it indoors.