Victoria trio to defend gold medal at world dodgeball championships

Victoria trio to defend gold medal at world dodgeball championships
CHEK

Three professional dodgeball players from Victoria will defend their championship title in Austria next month at the world championships.

Two years after securing Canada’s first-ever gold, a trio from Victoria is heading back onto the courts to defend it at the world dodgeball championships.

Riel Leaf, her brother Zion, and his partner Molly Peletier were among several members of Canada’s Mixed Foam team which secured its first gold medal in 2022, defeating Malaysia.

“I didn’t enjoy the sport at first, I’ll admit because it was more aggressive than I had wanted,” said Peletier.

Nearly a decade ago, Peletier started playing the sport through an invitation to a recreational league from a friend. Having only played some rugby, she admits that it was difficult at first since she never played an overhand sport.

Now, she throws dodgeballs at 100 km/h.

“Once you get to know the community you kinda start to understand the skill, the strategy, and the endurance of it, it just gets so much more exciting,” said Peletier.

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Through some parental influence, Riel and Zion started playing around the same time eight years ago.

“It was actually our mom that got [Zion] into it,” said Riel Leaf.

After years of playing in their Victoria league through the organization Metroball, the trio were eventually scouted onto the national team. Practicing at least three times a week for their provincial league, plus fulfilling their national team commitments every few weekends across the country.

“It’s a long time playing, learning the strategy and like learning technique…I got into the Team Canada program because I wanted to get better,” said Zion.

Twenty-four teams will be in Austria beginning Aug. 11, including the United States, Australia, and Malaysia, which are teams the trio say are some of the best.

“It’s become such a real sport versus the high school game that people know,” said Riel.

Many think of the sport from memories in high school gym class or when the late Rip Torn’s character in the 2004 film Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story taught the world the five D’s of the game: Dodge, Duck, Dip, Duck, and Dodge.

But the game is a lot different than how they might remember and they want the public to see that it’s not just about who can throw the hardest.

“Most people’s understanding comes from high school, elementary school, the movie. What we’re really trying to do as well is shift that focus,” said Peletier.

“It’s a six-ball sport. There’s six players on each team, there’s six balls being thrown at a time, there’s so much to focus on,” said Riel.

“It’s very strategic in every play, even when balls are flying, everybody knows why it’s happening. It’s not like you run up there and throw whenever you want, the team needs to move together and move back together,” said Zion.

ON THE LINE

Earning a second title doesn’t just mean another gold for Team Canada. To them, it also means showing younger players how accessible and competitive the sport is.

The three athletes are being featured in a documentary On The Line, which follows their journey to the world championships and puts a spotlight on the sport. Hoping one day the sport is featured in the Olympics.

“Just continuing to grow the sport, get younger players started, I’d say even get more women involved,” said Peletier.

In preparation, the three players performed at the Canadian National Championships with their Victoria-based team, Hyper, in Richmond.

The siblings and Peletier have also set up fundraising pages to help cover the costs of travel to the world championships.

The schedule for the tournament has not been released yet, but more information can be found here.

Oli HerreraOli Herrera

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