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2019's winning dodgeball team, the Ball Hawks, displays the championship belt. [Photo courtesy BEACON Afterschool]

The eighth annual BEACON Afterschool Dodgeball Tournament is a chance for community groups to get active, get silly, be competitive and have fun. It’s also an opportunity to learn about a local nonprofit that provides critical services to Moab families.

The BEACON Afterschool program offers a variety of clubs and activities for kids to keep them supervised and engaged after school hours.

“That’s a big part of the tournament also.... ‘friend-raising’ the program,” said Lindsey Bartosh, family outreach coordinator for BEACON.

Community members who don’t have children in the school system might not think often about the program or know what its mission is, but the dodgeball tournament can familiarize them with the program and the staff, and possibly inspire them to contribute.

Bartosh said aside from having fun and raising money, the tournament helps build relationships with local businesses and nonprofits.

“A lot of the clubs that we offer during the school day are actually run by companies in town,” said Bartosh, listing bike shops and climbing guides. “The kids get to do a lot of really neat opportunities that way, that our staff wouldn’t be able to provide.”

She continued, “It’s another way for businesses and organizations in town to help out without just being like, ‘Here’s a hundred dollars.’ You can offer something a little different. And we rely pretty heavily on that.”

Community groups also appreciate the event.

“It’s a good team-building activity to kind of get to know each other,” said Jessica Manderfield, program director for local nonprofit Community Rebuilds. The organization hosts two groups of interns for two semesters of sustainable home-building each year, and this year’s spring interns arrive on Jan. 31, about a week before the tournament.

Manderfield said she emailed the incoming volunteers to check for interest, and got enough takers to sign up two teams. Office staff will play alongside the new interns.

“It’s good, too, to have it mixed in with the office,” said Manderfield. “It’s a good way to start getting to know them.”

Team costumes are encouraged. Manderfield said that on the day Community Rebuilds office staff signed up for the event, they were combating the winter blues with casual wear at the office.

“It was one of the first bigger inversions that we had, so we all were at the office in Hawaiian shirts that day. So one of our teams is going to be in Hawaiin shirts,” she said.

The other team will be ninja-themed—wearing black, with the option of bright accessories.

“They can be like stealthy ninjas, but if they want to throw in a pop of color, they can,” said Manderfield.

Each team can have six to ten members but must include at least one youth in the eighth grade or younger. Bartosh said if a team doesn’t have a young member, that BEACON will connect teams with a kid in the program.

As of this writing, seven teams have signed up for the event. Bartosh said she anticipates more groups signing up—the tournament usually hosts 15 to 20 teams. The winners will receive a prize donated by Moab Watersports & Gear Rentals: free stand-up paddleboard rentals for the whole team.

Prizes will also be awarded for best costumes and for sportsmanship. Raffle tickets, available ahead of the event, are another way to snag some swag.

“We have a lot of really neat donated items,” said Bartosh.

For example, Barlow Adventures contacted BEACON to offer a free Jeep rental as a prize.

In addition to the stand-up paddle board rentals, the winning team gets the honor of having their names added to the championship belt, a handcrafted tradition that is kept behind the sales counter at Moab Gear Trader (300 S. Main St.). Moab Gear Trader is a sponsor of the dodgeball tournament.