by Paul Nielsen
MATTHEWS – Patches O’Houlihan was not in the house Jan. 23 but his iconic five rules from the movie “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” were on full display at Butler High School.
Dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge was the name of the game at the Butler High School Dream Team’s annual Dodge Out Distracted Driving Dodgeball Tournament. Six teams – Captain Crunch and the Cereal Killers, The Heems, Team Cream, The Tickles Wickles, Ninth/10th Board, The Bullies and Old But Can Still Ball – competed for school bragging rights before an amused crowd of participants, students and faculty and staff.
Team Cream were crowned champions after beating the Old But Can Still Ball team in double overtime in the championship game. The runner-ups were a team made up of faculty and staff members while Team Cream was an athletic looking group of Bulldogs.
But in the end, the reason for the annual tournament was to raise awareness of distracted driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nine people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured every day in this country by distracted driving. Distracted driving occurs when doing something that takes your attention away from the road.
Dream Team member Sarah Ward was one the tournament organizers and she said the tournament is popular with students. The tourney was scheduled to be played last week but the winter storm pushed the event back a week and several teams that had signed up to compete were not able to do so Tuesday.
“This is a tradition at Butler,” Ward said. “It’s just fun and to promote awareness of distracted driving to students. It happens right after exams and it is a good way to let some steam off. People are really into it.”
Distracted driving is just one of the missions of the Butler Dream Team, which is a select group of senior scholar athletes or other students involved in an extracurricular activity that are committed to being drug, alcohol, tobacco and violence free while upholding moral excellence.
“All the Dream Team members are heavily involved in one after school activity,” Ward said. “It used to be just sports, but now it can be band, theater or some other activity, too. We have several events throughout the year like this one where we promote healthy living. No drugs, no alcohol, no tobacco, no distracted driving, no bullying and violence. It takes time, but it is a lot of fun.”
Only a select number of seniors are picked to be Butler Dream Team members each school year and the selection process in intense. Applicants must fill out an extensive application and then go through several interviews with faculty members and current Butler Dream Team members. New members are selected at the end of their junior year. This year’s Butler Dream Team has 11 members.
“It’s a tough application process that is really stressful,” Ward said. “You have to have a teacher recommendation and then a coach or advisor recommendation. If you get through the application process you go through an interview process that is really stressful.”
And what type of questions are asked of applicants?
“I can’t disclose that because we have to interview applicants for next year,” Ward said with a laugh. “We want to see if you can think on the spot.”
Dream Team advisor Natasha Deese said she is proud of the dedication that the former and current Dream Team members have shown over the years.
“The dodgeball tournament is just one way that Butler’s Dream Team invites students to have fun while educating them on topics such as distracted driving,” Deese said. “The mission of Dream Team has been most influential because of the team’s genuine concern for others. From a photo booth, door decorating contest, car sweep, and guest speaker to in-class presentations, the team constantly looks for opportunities to encourage others to think twice about their decisions. Our lives are far too valuable to take such a gamble.”