Winnipeg dodgeball community growing; to host 2018 nationals
Taylor Allen, BEAT REPORTER
Guylaine San Filippo used to dream of one day representing Canada in sports.
She just didn’t think the sport that she would represent her country in would be dodgeball.
In 2016, San Filippo was the first Manitoban to make Canada’s national dodgeball team.
“It honestly was one of the best feelings in the world,” said San Filippo on being named to Team Canada. “It’s still a pretty indescribable feeling.”
San Filippo always enjoyed playing dodgeball in high school but didn’t start playing again until five years after she graduated when she discovered the Winnipeg Rec League (WRL) offered a dodgeball league.
“I made my best friend basically hold my hand and come with me,” says San Filippo. “So I tried it and I fell in love.”
San Filippo quickly made a name for herself in the WRL. In 2014, an opposing team recruited her to join them on a trip to Las Vegas to compete in the Dodgeball World Championship XI. San Filippo and her new teammates ended up winning the tournament.
After the Las Vegas tournament, San Filippo travelled to a tournament in Barrie, Ontario where she met a member of the Canadian dodgeball team. It was her first time hearing of the national team.
“Trying out for the national team was always in the back of my mind after that tournament,” said San Filippo. “I wanted to try out but I didn’t know how to go about doing it.”
It wasn’t until a year later when San Filippo decided to finally give it a shot. She travelled to the national team tryout in Toronto. San Filippo was one of only two people not from Ontario to make the team.
With the lack of funding for dodgeball, San Filippo was forced to train for the 2016 World Dodgeball Championships at home away from her teammates.
But San Filippo joined the rest of her team at the World Dodgeball Championships in Melbourne, Australia this past October. The tournament featured eight teams from all over the world.
“We won silver, which was amazing in itself because the last couple years the Canadian women didn’t win any medals,” says San Filippo. “It was one of the best experiences I’d ever had.”
‘I just want the sport itself to grow.’
The popularity of dodgeball in Winnipeg is exploding. Dodgeball Winnipeg was born in 2015 and in one year, it saw its memberships grow from 64 to 578.
Dodgeball Canada has taken notice, as they awarded Winnipeg the 2018 Canadian National Dodgeball Tournament and tryout.
“I personally think it’s a great thing for Winnipeg for the sport to grow,” said San Filippo.
She thinks hosting teams from all over Canada will be an “eye-opening and awesome” experience for everyone in the Winnipeg dodgeball community.
As excited as San Filippo is for the 2018 nationals, she is currently focused on the 2017 nationals that will be taking place in Halifax, Nova Scotia at the end of April.
Sturgeon Heights Community Centre is hosting the Riel Cup Tournament on Feb. 20 that will also serve as a regional tryout for the national team. A selection committee will be in attendance to scout Winnipeg’s top players.
“I just want the sport itself to grow,” said San Filippo. “I’d love to make Team Canada again and get a gold medal. That would be my ultimate goal.”
San Filippo encourages anyone interested in playing dodgeball to check out a Dodgeball Winnipeg drop-in. Those interested in learning more about drop-ins or getting involved in the dodgeball community can visit dodgeballwinnipeg.com. Information on Winnipeg’s regional tryout is online at dodgeballcanada.org.