Pilots were not the only ones propelling objects through the air Saturday morning at Hagerstown Regional Airport.
Players bent the metaphorical throttle on dodgeballs, sending them hurling across the field to wallop opposing team members.
“It’s fun to hit people,” player Ian Donnakay said. “Anybody will let you know it’s fun to hit somebody as hard and you can. And the balls are soft enough to where none of us are getting really hurt.”
It was people such as Donnakay, 30, of Greencastle, Pa., who Allegiant Airlines counted on when it unveiled its Dodge High Fares national advertising campaign. Hagerstown Regional Airport Director Phil Ridenour said Allegiant presented the concept to its participating stations. The idea was to offer exceptional travel deals and low airfares while hosting dodgeball tournaments across the country.
“It was optional as to whether you bought into the idea. Hagerstown did buy into it,” Ridenour said. “I thought it was a great idea.”
The tournament was the first in a series of more than 30 planned to take place nationally. The National Dodgeball League is helping facilitate the events.
Ridenour said the campaign is a good way to promote Allegiant’s nonstop flights from Hagerstown to Orlando Sanford International Airport. Many people in the four-state area are unaware of the service, and that parking at the airport is free, he said.
“We need to get the word out so that we use this service,” Ridenour said. “If we don’t use the service, we stand a chance of losing it. And it’s a great service.”
In addition to raising awareness of the airport complex, the event raised money for three local nonprofit organizations — Hagerstown Aviation Museum, REACH Caregivers and Children in Need. Eight teams paid a registration fee of $100, and some groups made additional donations, Ridenour said.
Teams were co-ed and had between six and 10 players.
Donnakay, who goes by the dodge ball name “Anaconda,” played for the Snakes, and he assumed a cobra-striking position each time he said it. The team first got together six years ago to raise money for the Humane Society of Washington County, Donnakay said, and reunited last week to practice and to work out a strategy for the tournament.
“We knew who was going to be starting, we knew who was going to be sitting. We knew that if we lost the first game that we had to get our best people in the second game,” he said.
Their strategy worked well, with the Snakes winning second place out of eight teams.
First place went to Northern Virginia-based semiprofessional team Strombohli. Jessica Bohli, 27, of Manassas, Va., is not the team captain, but the team is her namesake, she said.
“It’s good competition. You could tell a lot of people were here just for fun, for the fundraiser. It’s a charity, so that’s what we are here for,” Bohli said.
Lisa Roberts, 24, of Alexandria, Va., who also plays for Strombohli, is a teacher and especially likes playing in tournaments that benefit children. Roberts said dodgeball tournaments tend to draw an array of players, from the carefree to the competitive.
“A lot of people have played at school or they’ve seen it just recreationally and they don’t realize that it’s a professional sport. So they think, ‘Oh, we’ll just go out and have fun,’” she said. “Then, there are some people that really take it seriously and they really like to ... go really hard at it and get really good.”
A shaved ice vendor and Maugansville Goodwill Volunteer Fire Co. sold concessions.
Allegiant spokeswoman Lindsay Hernquist said she was pleased with response to the first tournament.
“We had a lot of people sign up, we had a lot of spectators and a lot of community involvement,” she said.