Jason Wiese | Culture Editor
March 11, 2016, 1:30 p.m.
Demolition Ball is a sport that may sound like an odd choice for a Christian-based campus organization to arrange an event around. But given the fact that the game is the most popular attraction at Adrenaline Zone in St. Charles, its premise caught the eye of Lindenwood University’s chapter of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, who invited students to a special game of the unique sport on the evening of Thursday, March 3.
Demolition Ball combines elements of hockey, football, polo, basketball and bumper cars. Also known as “Whirly Ball” at other facilities before Adrenaline Zone adopted it as its centerpiece activity, it involves two teams of five that drive their bumper cars around the oval-shaped court while using large, plastic “scoops” to shoot a wiffle ball through a circular goal at the opposing team’s end.
“I thought, ‘This would be great for InterVarsity to participate in, so, why not do it?’” said Tianna Greenhill, the organizer of the event, recalling her first witness of Demolition Ball. IVCF is a nationwide college campus ministry that promotes faith-based education through group Bible studies.
“We do a lot of events at the beginning of the year to meet students and most of the activities and Bible studies that we do are all by students,” said Maria Rolland who assists LU’s IVCF chapter with activities.
Rolland said that the Fellowship will often have discussions of the Bible with students who do not identify as Christian or even religious.
“We do Bible studies that we call ‘Groups Investigating God’,” she said. “The idea is that students can feel open to be honest about their questions… Usually, with those groups, only one or two people in the group is a Christian and the rest of the people are non-Christians, and we study the actual scripture and ask questions, make observations and discuss it together and then we apply it. So it’s not like a canned study that’s like, ‘Here, this is what you need to believe.’ It’s like, ‘Let’s look at the Bible and see what it says we should believe.’”
The open Demolition Ball was organized with the purpose to socialize with students outside of IVCF and of other cultures and beliefs. Some attendees, including chapter President Basil Onyia, had participated in the sport before, but for those who were unfamiliar to it, it was a blast of competitive energy.
Adrenaline Zone manager Drew Gard said that the game is more fun and more challenging than a rookie might perceive.
“We get a lot of folks that, when they first get here,… they’re apprehensive,” Gard said. “They’re kind of, like, ‘Eh, this looks dinky.’ But those are usually the ones we can’t get off the court at the end.”
In its 16 years in business at its St. Charles location, the independently owned and operated facility has made a point to entertain local adrenaline junkies with activities such as Laser Tag, an interactive heist simulation and an arcade room. Demolition Ball, however, still tops the list of its go-to attractions. Though it is advised that people only 12 years or older should be allowed to participate, Gard said that the sport is “not a particularly dangerous game.”
“It’s important that you keep your seatbelt on in case you are running into the other team or the wall or anything else. That’s honestly the main thing,” he said. “And then the other is just to make sure you’re following the safety rules that we put forth in the beginning. We have everyone watch our instructional video that tells them how the play the game, but also how to remain safe and have a good time so that they’re not just whacking each other with the scoops or anything of that nature.”
On the night of IVCF’s private game of Demolition Ball, the organization was joined at Adrenaline Zone by a modest group of Lindenwood students whose curiosity was sparked by the object of the game as well as the chance to, as Greenhill anticipated, “take their mind off of school for a bit and have fun.”
The only evidence of which team, designated by red and yellow cars, won each round was on the scoreboard. The competitive nature of the sport was mostly evident in the actions of the individual players, including impromptu battle cries and an eagerness to crash into opposing team members as a method of defense and without a shred of derision visible on the crash victims’ faces.
“I think they enjoyed just the competition of playing against each other and being together, having fun together,” Rolland said about the group’s experience. “That’s always a big part of community, you know? It’s not just, ‘Oh, we’re going to sit and study the Bible together,’ but, we’re friends, we’re family and that’s a lot of what our group is like. It’s like a family.”
The Fellowship enjoyed Demolition Ball as a means to build relationships without focusing on victory. This also appears to be its driving force, something it and the Fellowship have in common.