Athletes forming new Winnipeg dodgeball league

The Winnipeg Rec League’s Never Nudes line up before the start of a match at Our Lady of Victory School. THE PROJECTOR/Matt Abra

The Winnipeg Rec League’s Never Nudes line up before the start of a match at Our Lady of Victory School. THE PROJECTOR/Matt Abra

This isn’t your seventh grade gym class.

For years, the Winnipeg Rec League (WRL) has been the only option for local recreational and competitive dodgeball players, but that’s about to change. In the next few months, at least one new dodgeball league will launch in the city with the goal of promoting the sport and developing players’ skills.

“Dodgeball is ready to shake off the reputation that it is a fad sport,” said Mat Klachefsky, the newly appointed Manitoba representative for the Canadian Dodgeball Association (CDA).

This past March, Klachefsky captained The Manitoba Triumph, a provincial dodgeball team that travelled to Barrie, Ont. to compete in the National Dodgeball Festival. Klachefsky said the CDA hopes to organize similar provincial tournaments across the country. Winners of these tournaments would compete in Canadian championships every March, with the winner representing Canada at the World Dodgeball Championships in August.

Klachefsky said he thinks Manitoba is ready to compete for the top prize, and new leagues are the first step toward going for gold.

Klachefsky was planning to launch the new Winnipeg Dodgeball League in January 2016 , but then heard about another emerging league, Dodgeball Winnipeg.

Stacy Huen, organizer of Dodgeball Winnipeg, said he thinks a collaboration would achieve the ultimate dodgeball goal.

“The last thing I want to do is compete with people who are trying to accomplish the same thing,” he said.

Huen and Klachefsky are now collaborating to try and create a larger, inclusive league by introducing international dodgeball rules to Winnipeg.

For example, the WRL uses eight-inch diameter balls, which Huen said are hard to throw unless you have “giant hands.”

Huen and Klachefsky want to implement rules similar to those of the World Dodgeball Federation (WDBF). The WDBF, for instance, allows players to hold balls for as long as they wish while the WRL has a 10-second rule. The WDBF allows a player to hold as many balls as they want at a given time, while the WRL allows a player to hold one.

And while these may seem like small technicalities, Klachefsky said WDBF rules completely change the dynamic of the game into a more strategy-based system.

“It’s like baseball before it became so clinical, a scrappy sport that is just in the midst of figuring itself out,” he said. “Winnipeg is ready to take the sport a little more seriously with rules that allow for this sort of experimentation and team play. A new league is the only way to do it.”

Other players agree. Some said they’re frustrated with the WRL for neglecting player growth and development.

“I just want to be a part of a league where they care about your growth and the sport’s growth in general,” said Guylaine San Filipo, a member of The Manitoba Triumph.

The first of these new player-focused leagues is the Dodgeball Winnipeg Draft Leagues, which will start on

Nov. 1. Players can register at and participants will be assigned a team before the season starts. The league will keep track of stats and will dissolve all teams and re-distribute players based on performance after each season. The Draft League will play at the Norberry-Glenlee Community Centre.

“I want to be a part of the new league because this is the only league that gives you the chance to grow as a dodgeball player,” San Filipo said.