Airmen get aggressive at Mildenhall dodgeball tourney
RAF MILDENHALL — Picture this: You’re a student at your old elementary school again and playing dodgeball in the gym. It’s just you and one opponent left on the court. You dig a tight grasp into a ball and heave it. Smack! The ball beans the opponent and you’re the winner.
Those longing for similar childhood experiences gathered at the Hardstand Fitness Center at RAF Mildenhall for a friendly but fierce dodgeball tournament on April 7. Unfortunately, ESPN 8 or “The Ocho” (a spoof from the movie “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story”) did not telecast the tournament, but a few spectators — mainly from the other teams — witnessed the competition.
Four teams representing RAF Mildenhall units faced each other in a three-match series. A team of junior enlisted airmen from the 100th Security Forces Squadron outlasted the squadron’s noncommissioned officer team and the 100th Communications Squadron to grab the championship.
After the tournament, a confident player on the junior-enlisted squad said his team took care of whomever stood in their way.
“They were a little slow, but they gave it their all,” Senior Airman Oscar Rivera jokingly said about the NCO team from 100th Security Forces.
Rivera, 22, from Bronx, N.Y., thanked his teammates for signing him up for the tourney. “If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here,” he said.
When asked what his plans are now after winning the championship, Rivera said with a smile, “I’m going back to my room to cook a nice dinner and brag to all my friends back home.”
Coordinating the tourney was Staff Sgt. Clay Gatzke, a fitness specialist with the 100th Services Squadron.
“It builds morale [and] forces people to work together,” he said.
Besides allowing airmen to blow off some steam in this semi-aggressive sport, Gatzke said that the fitness center rotates a variety of tournament events throughout the year.
“We haven’t had a dodgeball tournament in awhile, [so] we wanted to mix it up a bit,” he said.
The fourth team in the tournament was the 100th Operations Support Squadron.