NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — At some point in our lives we’ve all played dodgeball. Or at least seen the movie.
But did you know there’s a World Cup of Dodgeball? The captain of Team USA is a New Yorker.
Rob Immel is the focus of this week’s Snapshot New York with CBS2’s Steve Overmyer.
Visualizing yourself in Madison Square Garden is a dream of any athlete, even in the sport of dodgeball.
“Dodgeball is fast-paced. It’s fun. It’s competitive. It’s all over the place. It’s a real sport. It’s not just a gimmicky, wear-Spandex-type movie thing,” Immel said.
The 2018 Dodgeball World Cup is currently underway.
Just like in the movie, “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story,” which came out in 2004 and stars Ben Stiller, the top teams from around the world have made their way to the mecca of sports.
Immel is a physical education teacher in Ballston Spa, New York.
The rules are basically the same as what you played in school: Get hit, get caught, you’re out.
Overmyer peppered Immel with a bunch of questions about dodgeball and how it fits in today’s sports-crazed America.
“What do you think an audience that doesn’t know much about dodgeball would appreciate most about it?” he asked.
“I think the athleticism,” Immel replied. “You’re having multiple dodgeballs thrown at you. and you have to be up in the air, down on the ground before those balls come to you.”
Far from the childhood game, at this level you need agility, strength and precision. A professional in this sport no longer faces ridicule. They’ve dodged it.
The official dodgeball is a lot different from the ones we used in school.
It does have a rubber bladder, but the consistency is very similar to a volleyball. So it’s hard when it hits you, but it also has a cloth exterior, which makes it difficult to catch.
Immel confirmed that dodgeballs can be thrown up to 60 mph.
“Oh for sure, you’ll see it, you’ll hear it,” he said. “And you feel it.”
“I think maybe that’s why I move so quickly. I wanna get the heck outta the way,” he added.
The World Dodgeball Association includes 62 countries. Team USA has made it through pool play and has advanced to the final eight.
In the dodgeball world there are elite perennial champions, like Malaysia, which is known for hard throwers and is ranked No. 2 in the world.
“(They are) very tough,” said Immel. “They were here in New York I think eight days prior to this tournament, practicing, getting used to the time change and things like that. They’re ready.”
“It’s a ton of pressure, especially being in America, in New York,” he added.
There are five balls and five players each. When all five players are eliminated, you earn 2 points. The match is 30 minutes long, so they’ll play about 15 games.
Team USA started off with a flurry, winning three straight games for a 6-0 lead. But Malaysia’s pressure in the final seconds ultimately did-in the Americans.
“We were executing and it was working,” Immel said. “You know what, I’m upset we lost. But at the end of the day, like I said, we left it all on the floor.”
Interest in the sport may have been sparked by a 14-year-old movie, but it has continued to grow because of these ambassadors
“A 36-year-old teacher that just travels around the world throwing balls at other people,” said Immel.
“I have a dodgeball for a heart,” he added. “I’m a dodgeball guy”
Recently, the International Sports Federation officially recognized dodgeball as a sport, which means it’s up for consideration as an Olympic sport.