Dodging past a world record

IRVINE — A sea of gold and blue filled UC Irvine's Bren Events Center Wednesday as students smashed a Guinness World Records mark for the world's largest dodgeball game.

During UCI's Blue & Gold Spirit Rally, 1,745 Anteaters swarmed onto the campus basketball court, decked out in "Antourage" T-shirts and ready to show school pride and break the Guinness record.

The previous record for mass participation in a dodgeball game was set in Alberta, Canada, with 1,198 people firing rubber balls at one another.

By 1 p.m., more than 1,500 students had registered to play in UCI's game.

As the teams separated and faced each other, the emcee playfully told the crowd, "If they're not wearing your color, they are not your friend right now."

The throng of players got the message. Students chucked rubber balls decorated in an array of colors back and forth, competitively aiming to grab the record. As players dropped out or got disqualified, they went to the sidelines and gave support to their teams, blue and gold, as a deejay spun music and kept the crowd excited. Students were divided into two teams during the rally, but regardless of which color they wore, everyone knew they were playing for the same victory.

Sam Shaw, a second-year student, had his eye on breaking the world record since soon after he enrolled.

While sitting in his dorm room, he came up with the idea to organize a mass participation event at UCI. After doing some research at Borders, he decided he could break a record while he was at it.

"I found that dodgeball was the perfect event, so I pursued it," he said.

This summer Shaw teamed up with UCI's student government and members helped him turn his goal into reality.

UCI's student body isn't usually described as spirited, but on Wednesday the Welcome Week event started the new academic year on the right foot.

"I'm excited for the school because they're doing something big," said Vince Wu, a sophomore.

Julie Chiuminatta, a fifth-year, felt simultaneously nostalgic and excited about the enthusiasm.

"I'm feeling the spirit I felt when I was a freshman," she said.

Although Shaw's goal was for UCI to break the record, he also agreed that the origins of his idea had to do with awakening school spirit.

"This is to instill Anteater pride," Shaw said.

When asked if UCI students need to be more spirited, Shaw replied: "Yes, that's part of why I thought of this. I was sort of frightened (back then) …. Where was the pride?"

Randy Lam, a third-year student, played in the game and gave the record-breaking event two thumbs up.

"We need guys like [Sam Shaw] to get more events out here and get everyone together," Lam said.

The event was also an opportunity to draw attention to UCI athletics. The nationally-ranked volleyball team, golf team and men's and women's basketball teams made appearances, answering questions about the upcoming season and giving their support for the day.

UCI's new men's basketball coach, Russell Turner, a former NBA assistant for the Golden State Warriors, introduced himself to the students and let them know his goal: an NCAA tournament bid.

As the dodgeball game came to a close, UCI asked all the players to stay on the court so they could properly tally the numbers. The mood was tense as Guinness World Records adjudicator Kimberly Patrick stepped onto the court.

Then she delivered the good news.

UCI had beaten the world record by 547 participants. If no one competes for the record this year, UCI will be in the books under the title of world's largest dodgeball game.

By The Numbers

Balls: 600

Students who played in dodgeball game: 1,745

Number of students who filled the Bren Events Center: 2,000 (including players and spectators)

Previous Guinness record for number of people playing in a dodgeball game: 1,198

UCI beat record by: 547 players

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