We’re just going to say it. There is something that just feels good about pinging a lawyer with a bright red rubber ball.
“I don’t think people necessarily try to hit me harder because I’m a lawyer, I just think they want to hit me to get me out,” says Christopher Donovan, the organizer of this year’s Young Professional of Naples Dodgeball Tournament. But Donovan adds this disclaimer, “There are a lot of lawyers in the group though, since this was originally a Young Lawyers event, so maybe that’s why.”
The tournament, now in its sixth year, is on course to be the biggest yet. Last year more than 200 people on 34 teams came out lob balls at fellow young lawyers, real estate agents, doctors and public relations specialists. This year they’re hoping to have even more.
“The whole tournament benefits the Boys and Girls Club of Collier County (BGCC),” says Donovan, “so the more people we have out here playing, the better.”
When the tournament started, the group actually didn’t use it as a fundraiser. However, as the annual game grew and grew and grew, event organizers realized that the full contact sport could actually be a powerful community fundraiser.
“We started in Fleischmann Park, and then when we outgrew that space, we started looking for a new facility. The Boys and Girls Club offered their space, and our relationship working with them has just been so rewarding that we can’t imaging working with anyone else,” reveals Donovan.
For Jason Kurek, a development associate for the BGCC, allowing the tournament to happen in their gym was an easy decision.
“The Young Professionals of Naples is a great organization that has kindly supported the Boys & Girls Club of Collier County with many of their endeavors,” said Kurek, adding, “we have great appreciation to YP (Young Professionals) and Chris Donovan for contributing a tremendous amount of effort in organizing this fun event.”
For Kurek, it’s not only about raising much-needed funds for the local organization. It’s also about networking with many new, potential supporters for the nonprofit.
“It’s an exciting venue that will introduce many new friends to the Boys & Girls Club of Collier County,” he says.
For Dustin C. Rinaldi, a financial advisor whose day job is definitely of the serious variety, the annual tournament is “easily the most fun event I do all year.”
Rinaldi, who has played for the past three years, is known for organizing teams that show up in rather outlandish outfits. And while he’s organizing a team for this year’s tournament, he won’t tell you what he’s making his teammates wear.
“We swear everyone on the team to secrecy, but I promise it will be great,” he says of his team’s uniforms.
Even event organizer Donovan isn’t privy to the details, but he does go far enough to speculate that some of the costumes will be outlandish.
“Sometimes the team names and the team costumes are a little eyebrow raising, but ultimately part of the objective is to create professional referrals between the young professionals throwing dodgeballs at each other,” says Donovan.
The other part of the objective is to have fun, which — in a room full of lawyers — you’re allowed to do in spades, just as soon as you sign a waiver.
If you go
What: The Sixth Annual Young Professionals of Naples Dodgeball Tournament
When: Saturday, March 24. Tournament begins at 10 a.m., with an after-party to follow at Pelican Larry’s.
Where: The Boys and Girls Club of Collier County, 7500 Davis Blvd., Naples
Details: Cost is $100 per team of 6-8, which includes T-shirts for team members. Registration must be done ahead of time and can be done at www.ypnaples.com.