Stafford PTO, Southern Regional Dodgeball Tournaments a Big Hit in the Community
It’s safe to say Kathy Redling’s squad wasn’t made up of a bunch of average Joes. In fact, Redling had a stacked team of pretty darned good athletes, so it’s no wonder Tenacious D won the fourth annual Stafford Township School District PTO Dodgeball Tournament inside Southern Regional High School’s 11/12 gymnasium.
“We’re more of a basketball team, rather than a dodgeball team,” the Stafford Intermediate School physical education teacher said a short time after her seven-woman crew knocked off the 80s Ladies in the Competitive Bracket’s winner-take-all match of the double-elimination tourney on March 9. “Only one player on our team, Liz Adams, isn’t a basketball player or coach. And, yeah ... we had some athletes out there.”
Now, that’s an understatement. Besides Redling and Adams, Tenacious D was made up of Cynthia Brown and Dottie Koempel, both of whom were big-time hoops players in their heyday, as well as Jenna Lombardo, Jackie Berry and Amanda Feldman – all former three-sport standouts when they were in high school during the mid- and later-2000s.
Still, even though it blew through the winner’s bracket with four straight victories, Tenacious D had to go an extra game in the championship round after captain Jenny Ulbricht’s 80s Ladies, made up of Hope Scherlin, Kristin Ducker, Kelly Reese, Kelsey Schmidt and Brooke Lesniakowski, managed to score victory in the first of a possible two-match final.
“Reese could throw pretty good, and she did a great job of catching balls on us,” Redling said. “In the first game, she caught two balls on us to win. But in the second game, we didn’t throw at her until she was the last one out there. The strategy was to throw low and get the rest of them out first, then have enough players on the floor to pepper her.”
In the semifinals, Tenacious D sent the 80s Ladies into the loser bracket, where Ulbricht’s crew had to regroup against Mommas Who Knock You Out, which lost its first-round contest against Ocean Acres All-Stars I and had to win three straight to reach the loser-bracket final.
Captained by Natalie Finley, Mommas Who Knock You Out also consisted of Nadine Burgess, Jeanine Golderer, Tracey Gallacher, Jen Martin, Merideth O’Donnell and Erika Leming, and they scored a rematch victory over Ocean Acres I in the loser-bracket semifinal to meet the 80s Ladies.
In the men’s division, the X-treme Bracket, Team Shore Fire Grille also needed to win the second of the two-match championship round, turning away the Monstars to win the championship. The Shore Fire squad was led by captain Tim Kohlheim; behind him were Nick Tampone, Chris Laba, Todd Kaiser, Matt Matey, Joe Leonard, Delio Countinho and Drew Krupinski.
Shore Fire’s road to the championship round started with a victory over T.G.I. Friday’s, followed by a quarterfinals win against Don’t Stop Ballieving and a semifinals triumph over Shore Good Dough Balls, which lost to the Monstars in the loser-bracket final.
Meanwhile, the Monstars – consisting of captain Tommy Ariemma, Julian Perreria, Jesse King, Mark Bussel, Jett Matano and Steve Fernandez – lost their first-round contest against the Manahawkin Police before ripping off five straight victories to reach the loser-bracket final, where they ousted the Dough Balls, captained by Mick Committee.
The tournament is an annual fundraiser to help the Stafford PTO raise money so it can sponsor various student programs within the district. The turnout was a standing-room-only crowd that numbered well into the hundreds. The Competitive Bracket fielded nine teams, while the X-treme Bracket featured 15 teams.
“This is a great community event, and it’s really nice to see so many teams from throughout the community show up in support of the PTO – not just school-district teams, but a bunch of others from restaurants and public services as well,” Redling said. “And it was even better to see so many students and teachers here supporting their favorite teams. The PTO did a great job of promoting the tournament, and I think that made a big difference this year.”
A day earlier, on March 8, the Southern Regional High School Class of 2020 was the beneficiary of the funds raised during the 11th annual Spring Dodgeball Tournament – a student-only event won by the Goon Squad, which came out of the loser bracket and won two championship-round games against the Dodge Rangers for the 2017 crown.
“We had a tough game against them earlier in the tournament,” said Maxwell Maffie, who played alongside captain Nolan Watson, Mark Valeriani, Anthony Cipriani, Jackson Donahower and McKenna Ferraro. “We played them in the quarterfinals, and we were up in numbers. But we made some bad throws and they caught them, and we ended up in the loser’s bracket.”
After getting dumped by the Dodge Rangers, who then bounced The Depazcis during the winner-bracket semis to reach the final round, the Goon Squad had to win three more contests to get to the championship. The Goons first ousted the Nelson Mandodgers before scoring the win over Dodge Dynasty in the loser-bracket semifinal. In the loser-bracket final, Goon Squad pasted The Depazcis.
“We were like the guy silently standing in the back of the room, waiting to go in for the kill,” Maffie said. “We just weren’t going to lose at that point. We figured out the way to win, and we just picked off team by team right through the championship.”
When the Goon Squad met the Rangers – made up of captain Tatiyana Ford, Trevor Gouveia, James Berson, Joe Ciccone, Ronnie Henefer and Cole Markley – for the second time, the Rangers had no answers as the fireballers of the Goon Squad methodically picked off their opponents not once, but twice, and quite quickly.
It was the third straight time the core of the crew, Watson, Maffie and Cipriani, were in a dodgeball tourney championship together.
“It was our time to win,” Watson said. “We just had to get that championship for each other. This team had good chemistry. We all eat lunch together every day.”
— David Biggy