From the Sunday April 4th Edition of The Poughkeepsie Journal comes a profile of the Hudson Valley’s newest hit gay sports icons…the Chilly Willies dodgeball team. Way to go, guys! If you’re interested in joining the fun, drop the guys a line.
It’s not free climbing, auto racing — not anything remotely involving life and limb.
Who can forget dodgeball in school? Certainly not the members of Chilly Willies.
They’re one of six teams in Fishkill All Sport’s new Thursday night adult dodgeball league.
Fun is the common goal, but some players are also driven by the simple desire for a do-over.
Referring to himself and some other not particularly athletically blessed players, Chilly Willies founder/captain J. Dewey of Hopewell Junction said, “We want to have a chance as adults to revisit gym class and to conquer those bad gym-class memories.”
Six people per team start each contest. A match lasts 20 minutes and can conceivably consist of one or multiple games.
Athleticism is important, but so is strategy.
“If we spot a star player, we’ll try to get him out first. We can sort of gang up on him and eliminate him,” said Dewey, 36, who when not trying to drill an opponent (below the head, of course), works in charity fund raising and public relations.
Teammate Bob Brink, 45, of Hopewell, a fine wines manager in Poughkeepsie, figures he last played dodgeball around 1972.
Brink equates the adrenaline rush of pegging someone to that of a volleyball kill shot.
Chilly Willies — whose name is derived from their sponsor and post-match destination, Beacon’s Chill Wine Bar — is a pretty laid back 10-man team of friends and friends of friends.
“If we win, we win. If not, we’ve had a good number of laughs in the process,” said Poughkeepsie’s Brian Kelly, 36, marketing manager for the Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union.
“The first week we lost all our games and we were the happiest group of guys,” said Beacon’s Christopher Emerson, 30, store manager at the Poughkeepsie Galleria’s Things Remembered.
“Other teams were playing three or four games (in 20 minutes). I think we got in 10 games. It was out, out, out,” he said.
“I’ve bent down to pick up a ball and I suddenly turn around and the whole team is gone, and I’m like, ‘What happened?’ ” Kelly said, laughing.
Emerson characterized some opponents as “firing cannons,” recalling a ball hitting the wall behind his team so hard it caromed back to the other side.
“As a fifth-grader, the ball was not flying as fast as it is now,” he said.
Much can happen quickly.
“There was one time I kind of felt I had a Matrix moment,” Kelly said. “I was trying to jump around and dodge three balls at once. I was not successful.”
“I had a ball thrown at me,” Emerson said. “I caught it and another hit my hand. It went up into the curtain. I charged into the curtain and caught it. Two seconds later after that, I got nailed. It’s a good balance. Your head can’t get too big.”
Wappingers resident and Chester police officer Rich Eckert, 37, said, “I quickly realized I need to be back to the gym. I didn’t realize how much fun and how much exertion it was. After the matches, I feel like I’m 50.”
Chilly Willies entered Week Three (Week One consisted of scrimmages) with games, but no actual matches won.
Still, they see themselves on the rise.
“I think we’ve shown definite improvement,” Dewey said. “We’ll be ecstatic unless we finish dead last. It’s been way more fun than I thought. Even while losing, we’re still having fun.”