After months of dodging the coronavirus via staying indoors, the kids let loose with some dodgeball.
By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
With kids having been cooped up all summer due to the lockdowns, and most gym classes either being jumping-jacks in front of a laptop screen or socially-distanced walking around a schoolyard, kids have a lot of pent up energy and aggression. So, last Friday afternoon, the Westwood Recreation Department figured what better way to work through these issues than with some dodgeball?
There were a couple variations of the game being played on the basketball court at Morrison Park. First, there was an every-person-for-themselves style game, wherein participants were allowed to take six steps before throwing the ball at someone, until only two people remained. At that point, steps were unlimited and it became a two person chase.
There was also the classic variation, with two teams on both sides. The first round was played with the classic "if someone catches a ball, you’re back in" rule, though that turned into Joe, a program director from the Recreation Department, issuing challenges ranging from trivia like “what’s 5+4+3+2+1?”, and “who is Elsa’s sister?”, to physical challenges such as “touch every corner of the basketball court” to “do ten burpees” instead, when not enough catches were being made. One girl was asked to do the “YMCA,” and in an era where kids learn three new Tik-Tok dances a day, didn’t know this wedding reception relic.
As for the games themselves, balancing the teams was a bit of an issue. One older girl was fiercely competitive, and was good enough that at the end, it came down to her by herself against a team of about four smaller kids. She was too good to be eliminated, and they were standing too far away from her to be hit. To move the game along, Joe called a phantom “over the line” violation, and she lost the game; she was upset at the obvious fabrication.
“I’ll go to my grave saying she was over the line,” Joe argued when confronted. “There’s no instant replay here.”
Joe noted that there are many programs other than dodgeball this fall, but the recreation department has had to adjust them because of COVID-19.
“We’ve got some programs we felt we could offer this fall. We're going ahead and making sure we follow the necessary precautions and are doing everything in a controlled manner. We’re keeping the class sizes small and making sure everyone’s following all the safety protocols the state requires. I feel like we’re able to do some cool things, like playing dodgeball right now, as long as we keep it to ten kids per instructor for any of these courses. We’ve got a lot of fun offerings. I want to say we have upwards of forty programs on dry land, not even counting the aquatic programs.”
For dodgeball, every kid needed to wear a mask while playing, which Joe noted was part of many restrictions they had, including “Masks, doing a health screen prior to class starting, and making sure we don’t go above ten kids per instructor."
Every family had signed up to play, so it's not like anyone didn't know what they were getting into. We'll see what the Recreation Department holds next, but it's hard to imagine kids will enjoy it as much as they did the dodgeball, which came at the perfect time after a largely lost summer.