March 7, 2009
by Canadian Architect
A student tradition that’s been around since 1977 will take over the south grounds of the University of Manitoba Faculty of Architecture all day tomorrow as the architects, interior designers and urban planners of the future gnash, gnarl and slide their way through an ice-covered trench surrounded by 10- to 15-foot walls of snow.
Ditchball was created more than three decades ago by a group of restless architecture students waiting at the side of a road near Hecla Island. Today, ditchball is a perennial student favourite. Aside from being a unique venue for late-term stress relief, the object of ditchball is for student teams to negotiate a large, heavy, homemade, multi-sided ball called a rhombicuboctahedron up to a “catcher” waiting at each end of the trench. Other than protective equipment and a few technical stipulations, there are no rules in ditchball.
“We take no prisoners,” explains senior stick and ditchball enthusiast Shawn Stankewich. “Ditchball is more than just a tradition 30-odd years in the making. It’s more than a chance to set aside the work and stress and beat the snot out of each other in an icy ditch. You don’t truly know the feeling of being in the Faculty of Architecture until you are slammed headfirst into an ice wall by a master’s student twice your size. Yes, it is more than just a game for us. Ditchball, in all of its bloodthirsty glory, is a way of life.”
Stankewich will be competing in the tournament as a member of Team Middle-Sized Man.
Ditchball will be declared officially open by the running-of-the-students through the Faculty of Engineering, tomorrow, March 6, 2009 at about 9:00 am. The ditchball tournament will begin shortly after on the snow mound on the south grounds of the Faculty of Architecture, J.A. Russell Building on Dafoe Road. The finals are to be held late in the day, sometime after 4:00 pm.