Over 100 Staples High School students spent 3 hours last night dodging the police.
It was hard to tell who had more fun: the kids or the cops.
This group of dodgeball players was going for the win — and the Best Costume award. (Photo/Lily Williams)
The event was the annual “Dodge a Cop” dodgeball tournament. Organized by Staples’ Teen Awareness Group and the Westport Youth Commission, in collaboration with Westport’s Police Department — and held in the dodgeball-friendly fieldhouse — it raises scholarship funds for Chris Lemone’s children. The founder of TAG died 3 years ago, age 49.
Police chief Foti Koskinas (2nd from right) joined in the fun. (Photo/Lily Williams)
Twenty-four teams competed. Each included at least one police officer. Staples staff and community members served as referees.
Staples’ popular resource officer Ed Wooldridge (far left) also joined a team. (Photo/Lily Williams)
Despite an evening of hurling balls at each other, no arrests were reported.
Lefty Pendarakis (center) gathers his team (including a police officer, right) for pre-game strategy. (Photo/Lily Williams)
Hey, girls play dodgeball too! (Photo/Lily Williams)
It wasn’t easy dodging these cops. But it sure was fun. (Photo/Westport Police Department)
Occasionally, Westport kids run from cops. Tonight, they ran toward them.
And threw dodgeballs at their heads.
The cops threw them right back.
In fact, cops and kids were on the same team. They played with and against each other, in the Westport Youth Commission’s annual “Dodge a Cop” event. Staples’ Teen Awareness Group co-sponsored the event.
The dodgeball tournament — held in the Staples fieldhouse — drew over 100 students. They came from every social group: athletes, actors, robotics team members, you name it. The English department had a group of teachers.
Each of the 31 teams had at least 1 police officer. Talk about someone having your back!
It’s not often a kid can whip balls at a cop’s head — and get away with it.
And vice versa.
But last night in the Staples fieldhouse, 100 teenagers and a dozen Westport police officers did just that.
The event was Dodge-a-Cop — the Westport Youth Commission‘s 1st-ever dodgeball tournament. It’s hard to tell who had more fun: the guys (and gals) with guns, or the kids who run from them.
Actually, that was the whole idea: getting police and teenagers to interact somewhere other than at a traffic stop or house party.
A small part of the large "Dodge a Cop" crowd. The police wore tie-dyes.
The Youth Commission — whose 15 teenage and 15 adult members include police officers Ned Batlin and Sereneti Dobson — and Staples’ Teen Awareness Group have been examining ways to help teenagers see cops as human beings who care about kids. And ways to help Westport policemen and women — most of whom do not live in town — see teenagers as more than just stereotypes too.
Police officer Ned Batlin proudly poses with players.
Staples dodgeball players — who came from a broad swath of the student body — formed their own teams. At least one officer joined each team.
The only qualifications to play: an arm. Guts. And $20 per team.
Because Dodge-a-Cop also served as a fundraiser — for the Toys for Tots drive, the Westport Police Department’s annual collection.
It was a great evening. Competitive dodgeball was played. Funds were raised. Pizza was eaten. Cops and kids hung out together. No one got arrested.
And the winners got t-shirts.
Which said: “I Dodged a Cop.”
Four members of the Goons Inc. team (from left): Guerric Vornle von Haagenfels, Jack Dobrich, Thomas Cirillo and Colin Davis.
Police officers Howie Simpson and Eric Woods take time out from their warmup throws.
Isaac Stein is all business before the tournament.
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