Illumina Dodgeball Week Recap

most photos courtesy of ILMN’s awesome photographers

What a way to start off the summer! To celebrate the opening of the new sports arena, work decided to throw the first ever dodgeball tournament. 16 teams, 11 people each, each team hand drafted and headed by a VP or senior VP. Dodgeball mania caught fire across the campus. A single elimination tournament starting on monday with the first round best out of 3, the playoffs best of 5, with the winner having a chance to take on Illumina’s senior management in an winner takes all on Friday at a company happy hour.

Each day more and more people came out to check out the games at lunch and everybody was treated to quite a hilarious sight. The costumes and dance intros provided the humor but once the whistle blew the competition really picked up. Our team name was “Barnyard Dogs” , named after our captain S.Barnard and well, here were our costumes…

To clarify, that ain’t me and the costumes were decided by the captains, and when your captain is a VP in the company it’s wise to sometimes just follow along. With a face mask we could barely breath through, and absolutely could not see through  (let alone dodge a ball), it was pretty evident early on we were not going to be in it to win it.

Now I haven’t seen Dodgeball starring Ben Stiller, but I hear the rules of the tournament were the same as the ones in the movie. Each team started with 6 players on the court (at least 1 girl). If you caught an opponent’s ball, the opponent who threw it was out and you get to bring in a guy off the bench.

Actually, funny side story here. The last time I got slightly competitive at dodgeball I got a concussion and temporary amnesia. I forgot some pretty important facts. That happened a good 6 years ago but I swear my memory’s steadily deteriorated ever since.

Back to the present.

Match 1 (best of 3): Someone recorded it on their iPhone here. It was incredible, down 3 people to 1 in the pivotal and deciding 3rd game, our team had 2 miracle catches that resulted in a mano a mano duel with me and the senior VP of development. After getting knocked out early in game 1, I got a chance to redeem myself by hitting the SVP square in the chest to squeak by a game 3 victory.

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Playoffs (best of 5): Our team did not have great throwers but everyone on our team could catch which we found out to be the golden strategy. Catching a ball is a 2 person swing because the other team loses a player and you gain a player. Somehow we blew through our next opponent in 3 straight games which set up a duel with my boss’ boss’ boss’ team. Fun times.

In the semi-finals we played the big, bad, neon color coordinated Hit’n Run team. In a best of 5 games, again it came down to a elimination game 5 to determine the outcome. Boundaries came to our aid as the other team continually shot themselves in the foot by stepping over the lines, thereby disqualifying themselves. In each round we were heavy underdogs (fitting with our team name and costume), but here we were, miraculously heading to the finals!

Finals: Exhilarating…company happy hour and almost the entire company’s out here to watch the finale. Palms are sweaty and nerves get the better of me. After putting on the one piece spandex suit I trudge out of the bathroom, only to realize I gotta go pee! Perhaps that’s TMI but man it took forever to get off.

I don’t really remember what happened in the finals except that it again it was a total team effort. Timely catches and a few lucky bounces here and there and before we knew it we were up 2-1. In the final frame our catching again saved us. Who’d have thought…underdogs to champs.

Illuminati: The opportunity everyone in the company was aiming for. A chance to peg our SVP’s and CEO. We couldn’t believe when our CEO came out in a Captain America costume and gave an impassioned speech about Illumina’s best having to step in to save the sanctity of dodgeball from the “evil” (and newly minted) champions.

Apparently they hadn’t been watching us too closely, cause as exhausted as we were after throwing out our arms for 2 best of 5 series earlier that day, we gave them a doggone whooping! DeMarco’s 1 vs 4 comeback to beat the executives was a highlight to remember.

Before the first game, I got tired of waiting for the senior execs to finish scheming so I grabbed a ball and pegged a SVP in the behind. That makes it 4 SVP’s I’ve tagged over the course of the tournament. If my team and I receive pink slips on Monday…it was well worth it!

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