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Students, teachers face off in dodgeball
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It's not every day that an eighth-grader gets the chance to peg his science teacher with a big white ball; although, he might imagine it on a daily basis.

But that's the scenario 11 faculty members at Chestatee Middle School arranged Tuesday afternoon in the form of a student versus faculty dodgeball game. Nearly 250 Chestatee Middle School students filled the school gym stands to watch the competition between 60 student players and Team Ocho, the Chestatee Middle School faculty team comprised of math, science and English teachers.

Frank Barroquiero, eighth-grade physical science teacher and team captain for Team Ocho, said he joined 10 other male Chestatee Middle faculty members in a Gainesville Parks and Recreation dodgeball team in early December. The 11 teachers promptly designed burnt orange and blue uniforms with matching sweat bands that declared them a unified Team Ocho.

"We tried to get the ugliest color combination possible," said Adam Koskovich, Team Ocho member and eighth-grade math and science teacher.

But with dodgeball season just around the corner, Team Ocho remained the sole team in the Gainesville Parks and Recreation dodgeball league. Barroquiero said he then began joking with his teammates about Team Ocho facing off against Chestatee Middle School students in a fundraiser game to benefit the school.

"The more we talked and laughed about it at lunch, the better of an idea it seemed to let students hit their teachers with a dodgeball," Koskovich said.

Koskovich said members of Team Ocho whipped Chestatee Middle School students into a dodgeball frenzy in the days leading up to the big fundraiser game by prodding students to attend the game in morning announcements.

Team Ocho's ploy worked, and 245 students, representing more than a quarter of the student body, attended the pizza tailgate and dodgeball game that charged $6 for admission. The game raised nearly $1,500 for the school's general fund, and will be used to support after-school programs, teacher technology or tutoring sessions for students as they prepare for state tests, Koskovich said.

As eight members of Team Ocho stood in uniform among orange cones on the hardwood gym floor, Chestatee Middle School Assistant Prinicipal Lewis Shirley presided over the 21-game match, and drew students names' from a lottery to invite them down from the stands to participate in the game.

"It was kind of scary out there," said Patty Lawson, an eighth-grader at Chestatee Middle School who played dodgeball against her father, Glen Lawson, who is an eighth-grade science teacher at Chestatee Middle. "My strategy was to give the ball to my friends that could throw them hard and aim," she said.

Although students were coached by Chestatee Middle School math teacher Jill Mull, Team Ocho had two team practices under their belt, and dominated over each sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade team. That is, until one particularly athletic eighth-grader was called to the floor.

"It was all good till my name got pulled out of the basket," said Chestatee Middle School eighth-grader Dean Ewing.

Team Ocho plucked off each of Ewing's seven team members, and he soon found himself alone with the dodgeball, facing five of his teachers.

"I knew inside that I had it," Ewing said. And he did. One by one, he nailed each blue and burnt orange-clad teacher, until he reigned supreme on the dodgeball floor to the celebration of his 244 fellow students.

"It was fair because we're young and athletic and they're old and out of shape," Ewing added.

Shirley said the school has held similar student versus faculty basketball game fundraisers, but the dodgeball game fundraiser Tuesday was the first at Chestatee Middle, and the best attended student versus faculty game, he said.

Barroquiero said it was Shirley who suggested Team Ocho hold the dodgeball game as a fundraiser, and Shirley said he was supportive of the interactive play between teachers and students.

"It kind of allows students to view teachers as human beings, because I think a lot of students think we don't ever have any fun," Shirley said. "You would think the kids had the most fun, but there's no doubt in my mind the teachers had the most fun."

Barroquiero said he would like to hold more dodgeball games at the school.

"It brought the school together, and it was all in good fun," Koskovich agreed. "We'll talk about a rematch later on. It'll be like ‘Rocky II.'"