MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - -- When you think of the greatest sports teams of all time, everyone seems to have their own opinion. As the only team to ever finish the regular season undefeated, many people would consider the 1972 Miami Dolphins to be the best team in the history of the National Football League. Leading his team to a record 72 wins and 10 losses, some people would regard Michael Jordan and 1996 Chicago Bulls as the best team in the history of the National Basketball Association. But after the events of Feb. 22, no man or woman can deny that the “Don Vito” squad is truly the greatest Camp Lejeune Dodgeball team of all-time.
By running the gauntlet and going 6-0, “Don Vito” beat out 17 other teams to capture the championship of the first Single Marine Program Dodgeball Tournament held aboard Camp Lejeune.
“Sometimes instead of running or lifting weights for PT, we’d play dodgeball,” said “Don Vito” captain, Cpl. Joshua A. Brown, an artillery cannoneer with Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. “So as soon as we heard about the tournament, we were like ‘Where do we sign up?’”
The tournament, which was held at the French Creek Fitness Center, was sponsored by the Single Marine Program. Established in 1995, the purpose of the program is to provide a forum in which Marines can identify quality of life ideas and issues and recommend solutions. Once a month, SMP members meet to discuss what types of activities and events they’d like to participate in.
“The Marines have been asking for this since day one,” said Sgt. Juan S. Vargas, the Camp Lejeune SMP President. “The response was so big that the tournament was completely full a whole two weeks before the registration deadline.”
In honor of its elementary school origins, each team of seven people had to play by “old school” rules. The tournament was double elimination until the last team was left standing. Each match was 10 minutes long with a running clock, and players could be eliminated by either getting hit with a ball or by catching their opponents’ throws.
“Going into the tournament, we already had our strategy planned out,” said Brown. “The guys who could catch played defense, and the guys with strong arms played offense. As long as we played smart, we knew we had a good chance of winning.”
When all was said and done, “Don Vito” proved to be too much for the rest of the teams to handle. “Don’s Chicken Nuggets,” “Spicy Meatballs,” “The Taxidermists”; they all fell by the wayside.
“This victory wasn’t just for ‘Don Vito’, it was for all of Alpha Battery,” said Brown. “It was a total team effort.”
“Don Vito” will get the opportunity to defend their title at the next SMP Dodgeball tournament, scheduled for this April at Goettge Fieldhouse.
“This upcoming tournament is going to be five times bigger than the last one,” said Vargas. “Any teams from Camp Lejeune, New River or Cherry Point who think you’ve got game, bring it on.”
For more information on the Camp Lejeune Single Marine program, including how to participate, e-mail Sgt. Vargas at email@example.com