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Volleyball gains ground

July 24, 2005|By PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Full body mud baths were served at no cost Saturday to players in the fifth annual Citi MUDD Volleyball Tournament at Citicorp's campus north of Hagerstown.

About 500 people playing on 36 teams, mostly from Washington County, fell, sloshed and volleyed muddy volleyballs at the tournament, which benefits Community Free Clinic in Hagerstown.

Clinic Executive Director Robin Roberson said each player was asked to collect sponsorships and each team paid an entry fee, amounting to an anticipated $20,000 to $25,000 in money to treat uninsured patients.

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"This is the largest tournament ever," she said.

"Dirty Dozen" team member Tracy McNamee was caked head to toe with mud after finishing a game.

She said it wasn't because she was diving for balls. "That's my brother pushing me down," she said with a smile as mud dripped from her arms.

McNamee said she won "more laughing points" than points for her team.

"I feel like I've had a facial if that makes any difference," she said with a laugh.

Players served balls from behind a mud filled pit, filled with players thrashing and grabbing at their teammates, who only occasionally helped keep them from falling down.

While some seemed to try hard not to get too dirty, others ensured their teammates didn't make it out of the pit clean. Playful wrestling matches and mud slinging fights broke out every few minutes as slop slung from the pits toward the spectators.

"I think we've done more playing in the mud than playing volleyball," said Gina Raynor, 23, a member of Michelle's restaurant's team. "It took half the morning for us to play decently."

Raynor, who was also caked with mud, said she had to have help from her teammates getting pulled out of sinkholes. She pointed to the duct tape on her sneakers, which kept her shoes from getting sucked in.

"It's dirty in there," Caleb Coble, 24, also a member of Michelle's team, joked as he examined his duct taped sneakers.

He said the more duct tape, the better the chances are your feet won't get caught in the mud.

Nick Stevens, 25, a member of the "Red, White and Blue Balls," said his team is "the dirtiest as far as mud, but we're clean as far as playing."

His teammates gathered in the beer tent. Each member was decorated and smudged with mud except for one, Beth Gearhart, who said she needed to clean off after each match.

"We may look like that afterward," she said, pointing to her friends, some of whom only had their eyes cleared from the dirt. But she said she needs to "maintain" herself.

Jomya Dixon said she kept busy trying to maintain a clear view through her glasses.

"They've been cleaned off probably about 30 times," she said.

A Community Free Clinic medical assistant, Dixon, 32, said she was happy so many people turned out to help.

"This is just amazing. It's just amazing to see," she said. "I can't believe the turnout. Everyone's having a good time and I've only seen one person limp off the court."

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