Child’s play turns grueling as teams set dodgeball record

Rob Immel popped the champagne cork, sending a geyser of bubbly into the air at the Washington Avenu

Rob Immel popped the champagne cork, sending a geyser of bubbly into the air at the Washington Avenue Armory.

With a tired but determined smile, he joined Jasen VonGuinness in a hearty drink from their respective bottles Tuesday. After 31 hours, 11 minutes and 13 seconds of dodgeball, the two determined team captains had solidified their mention in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest competition ever.

“We did it,” exclaimed Immel in a raspy voice that couldn’t mask his fatigue.

Immel’s Hometown Dodgeball squared off against VonGuiness’ Albany Dodgeball an estimated 500 times from when they started late Monday morning to when they finally stopped early Tuesday evening. In all, 17 players took to the armory’s court to set the record, one Guinness had grudgingly awarded Immel in December 2008.

Reviewers with Guinness were hesitant to make the first designation because Immel’s team of four

played multiple dodgeball teams.

Guinness had argued that their feat — a marathon that lasted about 24 hours — wasn’t valid because only one of the teams had played the duration of the record attempt.

Not this time.

Immel and VonGuinness studied the 21-page book of rules prior to the event and made sure they followed each one to the letter.

“We dotted all of our I’s and crossed all of our T’s,” said Immel, a physical education teacher at Milton Terrace North Elementary School in Milton.

The marathon featured some great matches between Hometown and Albany. Many of them came down to a one-on-one duel, Immel said.

They broke Immel’s first mark around 10 a.m. Tuesday morning, something that gave the weary players pause to cheer.

But the organizers insisted that they press forward and beyond the 31-hour mark, in part because of Immel’s peculiar aversion to even numbers.

“We should have been done by now,” grumbled Colin Governski of San Diego in a tone that suggested partial jest. “But for no obvious reason … .”

He trailed off and turned his attention to nursing his foot. Purple bruises were forming beneath his toenails and puffy white blisters dotted the pressure points of his feet.

Other players sported a wide variety of friction burns and body bruises after the marathon. At least one player sustained a knee injury.

But those physical ailments were greatly overshadowed by mental fatigue.

The worst came during the pre-dawn hours, when the procession of onlookers ceased and the group of dodgeball players was left to carry on.

Immel’s wife, Sara, and his 2-year-old daughter, Adalynn, were there to see him finish off the record.

His wife, who is pregnant, was proud of his new record but said she was relieved to see the event end.

Immel tried to assure her that his days of marathon dodgeball are over.

“This is it,” he said.

“For this Guinness record, at least,” Governski quickly added.

Categories: Schenectady County

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