Natasha O’Reilly used to be a sideshow performer doing fire spinning, among other things. She started playing dodgeball when one of her friends asked her to sub for his team.
“There was a lot more energy that you have to put into it that I really enjoyed. So I ended up joining his team with a bunch of sideshow performers and circus folk, and we started on a team through Winnipeg Rec League,” O’Reilly says. “And that’s pretty much how the obsession started.”
She’s currently playing on a few teams in the Dodgeball Winnipeg league. She plays on Aeon Flux, which is a women’s gold team, and a provincial team called Strike 1919.
O’Reilly says one of her favourite memories of playing dodgeball was when she was with her team Strike 1919 in Halifax for a Team Canada tryout in 2016.
“Being with a group of women who were just as passionate as I was for the sport, just being with them and being able to experience playing at a national level with them, I think is my favourite memory and my favourite moments,” she says.
O’Reilly says she was surprised to be nominated as the favourite local athlete, because a lot of people don’t consider dodgeball to be a sport.
“I was really shocked and surprised and at the same time humbled, because I have a community of people that are behind me and think of me as an athlete, and that’s phenomenal. Especially for women,” she says.
“A lot of women in our league feel that they’re not good enough. So for myself, I’m the type of person who’s trying to recognize the sport (and) at the same time encouraging more women to play,” O’Reilly added. “And this is a stepping stone for sure in achieving that. And I’m hoping to inspire a few players to become athletes and have us recognized as a sport.”