Ozanam dodgeball continues to grow

Patrick Maloney stood on the sidelines, his arms folded across his chest and his eyes focused intently on the championship game. He quietly observed as students pegged balls at each other and the crowd simultaneously roared. Maloney appeared not to be rooting for any team in particular, just watching as his hard work and dedication unfolded right before him.

“We were able to raise a good amount of money for our social justice mission,” Maloney said. “I think we did pretty well.”

Maloney, an Ozanam Scholar and senior, was the lead planner of this year’s Ozanam Scholar Dodgeball Tournament. Hours of meetings, talking to sponsors, organizing and encouraging people to participate finally culminated on Saturday.

The all day 4th annual event was held in Taffner Field House and hosted by The Ozanam Scholars and primary sponsors, Muscle Milk and Feengo.

“The tournament, itself, is a great amount of fun,” Pablo Sanchez, a member of the winning Dodgeball team and a Senior Ozanam Scholar, said. “But, all the proceeds being donated to causes of social justice all over the world make it that much more enjoyable and fulfilling.”

The Ozanam Scholars program at St. John’s is less than 10 years old and consists of about 80 students dedicated to service. Throughout the year, they put on various events to fund their international and domestic projects. This year, entry to the tournament cost $25 per team. The total amount of money raised is still being calculated.

“We are supposed to bring systematic change so a lot of service we do is long term,” Elizabeth Jaskolski, freshman Ozanam Scholar, said.  “A lot of Ozanam’s have set up service sites internationally throughout the world.”

The team, “Beastie Balls,” claimed this year’s winning title; battling right up until the last ball was thrown. “Since the first tournament, I have entered a team with deep hopes of coming out champions, so winning this year meant a lot to me and my teammates,” Sanchez said. “All but one of us is a graduating senior and participating in the annual Ozanam Dodgeball Tournament has become a tradition for us since our freshman year.”

Maloney is also graduating this spring, but still has a propelling vision for the future of the tournament. He hopes more of the St. John’s D1 Athletic Teams will participate next year.

“The soccer team actually called us and was like pleading with us to push the tournament back a day,” he said. “Which  unfortunately wasn’t possible. But, they were really distraught that they had to miss it.”

Maloney has many other visions and goals for the tournament and is confident his predecessors will be able to fulfill them.

“Specifically, a vision we have is one day we can get it to a point when we have to make it a two day tournament,” he said. “Where we could have the final four at Carnesecca and make it more of a spectator event.”

Jaskolski agrees and hopes the tournament becomes better known on campus. “They always say they want it to be as big as Relay for Life one day,” she said. ”Which I could totally see happening.”

Maloney met Muscle Milk when he came across them on campus last year. They exchanged contact information and began seriously meeting back in October. Sponsorship plays a crucial role in the success of the tournament.

“Having Muscle Milk as a sponsor really helped and we were able to help them get a lot of exposure. Their logo was on St. John’s Central for like, two weeks,” Maloney said.  “Feengo.com is awesome. They helped us out a lot. They are definitely the best business people could partner with for an on-campus event.”

According to the event press release, other sponsors for the tournament included local businesses from the St. John’s area such as: Aquista Trattoria, Regina’s, Zucca Buca, Hair Express Barber Shop & Salon, Eyeconic Visions and King of Cleaners. Maloney and all of the Ozanam’s seem to reiterate a common theme: not only is the tournament fun, but all the money goes to great causes.

“Originally, it was a small little tournament apart of Peace Week with Campus Ministry that we ran and it kept growing every year,” Maloney said. “Hopefully, we can continue that.”