Oozeball: where mud meets muscle

Denise Watt

Denise Watt

It was wet. It was dirty. It was everything I’d hoped it would be.

I can’t believe I waited five years to do this.

Somehow, during my time at SDSU, I had skipped over a spring ritual that doesn’t get any messier.

For the first time last weekend, I put an end to the trend. I took the plunge – or several – into the world of Oozeball.

For 19 years, the lure of mud volleyball has driven students outdoors to take part in the event sponsored by Staters for State.

“It’s fun to see people that are really muddy and having fun, pushing their friends in,” said coordinator Scott Schramm.

This year, 31 teams participated – a higher number than usual, according to organizers.

Schramm credits “the Facebook effect” with the increase. An Oozeball group helped draw people to the event, he said.

I didn’t need much convincing. As a reporter, I had the rare opportunity to work and play at the same time. I couldn’t wait.

After I arrived at the Hansen Hall lot on Saturday, met my team members and duct-taped my shoes to my ankles, I took a look at our competition. Team apparel ranged from ragged to ridiculous. While some wore faded t-shirts and shorts, others coordinated outfits.

Jessica Scheid, team captain for The Dirty Backdoors, wore a pink hat, black tights and a pair of wings.

“We’re big into costume parties,” said Scheid, a junior and first-time Oozeballer. “So we just thought we’d be scandalous – intimidation factor. We’ll just be giving it our all in a funny way.”

Others seemed to take the game more seriously. Just a few feet away, another team practiced in the sand volleyball court. I asked Ben Gietzen, a freshman member of The Natural Disaster, about his team’s approach.

“Just hit the ball over the net is the strategy,” Gietzen said. “If we can do that more than the other team, I think we’ll win.”

Strategy? My team, The Nads, decided not to worry about it. Instead, we fueled up on Diet Coke and waited for our team name to be called.

After a rousing cheer of “Go Nads,” we took the court.

Our first game proved disastrous, as we suffered a crushing 15-3 loss. The game wasn’t without highlights, though, as I celebrated my first Oozeball dive. With spectacular effect, I hit the ball well out of bounds.

Playing mud volleyball proved harder than I thought. I shouldn’t have been surprised. I struggle playing volleyball on a regular court. The feeling of being weighed down by thick, wet clay only added to the challenge.

After our first game, The Nads decided strategy might not be a bad idea. We decided to communicate and no matter what, completely cover ourselves in mud, win or lose.

To our surprise, we claimed narrow victory in our next game, 16-14, and in our third, 17-15.

#1.883444:3423634818.jpg:IMG_0208.jpg:Players return a volley in a game during the Oozeball tournament on April 22.: