> Slide show: Dodging for Dollars dodgeball tournament - June 24, 2017

A blue dodgeball whizzed toward Bellmead Police Chief Lydia Alvarado’s head just as she ducked to miss the impending impact and flung her own red foam dodgeball at the opposing team.

She missed.

But she was then immediately successful in bending and weaving to dodge several more dodgeballs coming her way.

“Why is everyone aiming at me?” Alvarado said as her team, the Throwbocops, taunted and teased their opponents. “Respect your elders.”

Alvarado then asked a player on the opposing team to speak to her, and tried to tie his shoelaces together when he approached.

The second annual Dodging for Dollars Charity Tournament was held Saturday at Midway Middle School, where about a dozen teams of local police officers and firefighters competed against Texas Sports and Social Club teams.

Hewitt Police Chief Jim Devlin said they won’t know how much money they have raised for the 100 Club in the Heart of Texas until Monday. They are hoping to beat the $1,000 they raised for local churches and food pantries at last year’s event, Devlin said.

Devlin’s team, Really, That’s Their Team Name, included police officers, firefighters and family friends.

Waco Police Sgt. Connally Newman said he was taking the bold strategy of relying on intimidating looks to make up for his lack of a game plan and less than stellar dodgeball skills.

Newman played on Devlin’s team last year.

“We did terrible, so terrible,” he said. “But it was fun.”

Members of the 100 Club in the Heart of Texas have been searching for a fundraiser that departs from the typical golf tournament or banquet, executive director Sandy Pechacek said.

“I did not know that this had become such a competitive sport,” Pechacek said between cheers from spectators. “I grew up playing dodgeball. Of course, we grew up playing dodgeball with the rubber balls. When you heard that ‘ping,’ you will never forget that sound for the rest of your life. But I didn’t know after school that it’s still popular.”

> Slide show: Dodging for Dollars dodgeball tournament - June 24, 2017

The local branch of the nonprofit was established in 2012 and raises money to help pay funeral expenses, relieve mortgages or other debt and cover educational expenses for the families of first responders killed or disabled in the line of duty.

“Every year we need to raise enough funds to cover all our firefighters and police officers in McLennan County,” Pechacek said. “It’s not just for paid city employees but for our rural cities that have volunteers as well. It’s not just for police officers. It’s for our (Texas Department of Public Safety) officers. It’s for our certified peace officers. It’s for our jail officers. It’s for our prison guards, anybody that is a certified peace officer.

“If you take away that income in the event of a line-of-duty death, or you take away that income because of a critical injury while they are at work and they can’t return to work because of that, then those families can’t provide. My job is to try to help provide financially for them.”

Pechacek said her husband is an assistant fire chief with the city of Waco, and first responders and their families are, and will always be, near and dear to her heart.

Newman said the teams really get into the games and cheer each other on from the stands. Even in an environment like a dodgeball tournament, members of the various agencies are able to get to know one another better and learn from each other.

On the court though, it’s all about the game.

Devlin said the lightweight dodgeballs tend to curve, making hitting a target more difficult.

The gymnasium echoed with sounds of sneakers gripping the floors and unified groans when a dodgeball makes solid contact with an unsuspecting player.

The Waco Chapter of the Blue Knights Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club was on hand to help raise money for the Heart of Texas 100 Club through a raffle, shirt sales and a concession stand.

Cassie L. Smith has covered county government for the Tribune-Herald since June 2014. She previously worked as a reporter for the Beaumont Enterprise and The Eagle in Bryan-College Station. Smith graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington.

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