Dodgeball Heart Disease Tournament raises funds for the American Heart Association


Cassie Wade


Dodgeball players of all ages took to the court to raise funds for the American Heart Association (AHA) during the second annual Dodgeball Heart Disease Tournament on Friday, Feb. 8. 

The tournament, hosted by the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) and University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), was held in UNO’s Health and Kinesiology building. 

Rachel Larson, AHA corporate events director, said the tournament was open to students, faculty and community members. 

“We want different members of the community, we want survivors, we want people who have been affected by heart disease to join in the tournament,” Larson said.

The tournament kicked off with volunteers scouting out the top teams during the first two rounds of pool play to create brackets. Once the official tournament started, games were single elimination. 

Competitive and recreational divisions provided teams with options on how they wanted to play, Larson said.

UNMC student Ian Lagerstrom was one of the dodgeball players who joined a team with friends for fun.

Photo by Maria Nevada/the Gateway

“We just finished one of our blocks at UNMC, and it was kind of like a fun Friday night thing to do,” Lagerstrom said. “I’m not a super competitive person tonight. Other times I might be, but I’m just here to have some fun.” 

Julia Shanks, who works in the cardiac research lab at UNMC, was a first time dodgeball player and signed up to play with her department members.

“We’re definitely here for the fun and in support of the cause,” Shanks said. “We’re quietly confident, and we’ve got a good mix of people, a good mix of sport backgrounds.”

Sponsors, including Enterprise, Inc., Chick-fil-A and Toppers, provided food and prizes for the event. 

Larson said the event would not be possible without the help of community partners and volunteers.

“It takes a long time to get something like this off the ground because it’s more grassroots, but we just want to keep making it bigger and better,” Larson said. “It really is a community-focused event, and we hope that it continues to grow.”