Get ready to dodge!

Vincent Ball

By Vincent Ball, Brantford Expositor


Nick Semlitsch was pumped.

The Pauline Johnson Collegiate student was taking part in this week's inaugural dodgeball tournament for special education students, which was held at the Colborne Street high school.

"That was a lot of fun," Semlitsch said following his first game. "I like the running and dodging the most.

"But it was fun to be throwing the balls, too.

The tournament attracted about 50 students from high schools across the Grand Erie District School Board.

Organized by PJ special education teacher Susan Kowalski and educational assistant Jerry Blue, the tournament offered students a day of competition, fun and fellowship. A trophy was created for the event.

"We wanted to do something that would allow these students to play on a sports team," said Kowalsky. "Playing on school teams is a big part of the high school experience but it's something a lot of these kids would never have the chance to do.

"This tournament gives them that opportunity."

Kowalsky and Blue said they hope to make the tournament an annual event, attracting even more students.

"We've done pretty well this year," Kowalsky said.

"We have schools from across the board participating, including Waterford District, Hagersville Secondary, Cayuga Secondary, Pauline Johnson Collegiate and North Park Collegiate."

Organizers adapted the game to ensure all students could participate and called it "gauntlet dodgeball."

"Some of the students have Down syndrome, some have autism, some use wheelchairs and some have learning or behavioural disorders," said Kowalsky.

So, instead of standing on opposite sides of the gym and throwing balls at each other to knock players out of the game, teams had to run from one end of the gym to the other while opposing players threw small soft foam balls from the sidelines.

Once a player was hit by a ball, he or she had to sit down.

Each run down the floor is worth a point and the team with the most points wins the match.

Student volunteers from PJ helped by officiating matches and keeping score.

Blue said students were looking forward to the tournament.

"They've been talking about it all week and they're really excited," he said.

"They're getting a chance to do what a lot of other kids get to do in high school - play on a team."

Brantford Expositor 2017 ©