The Trio Tryouts is a yearly tradition of The King’s Academy in which all dodgeball student-athletes go into teams of three into a playoff tournament to win the Trio Trophy (really only for bragging rights). The only real factors which coaches look at in these games are individual performance, team chemistry, and skillset of each player. No matter how far you get in the playoff bracket, players are ranked fairly. Though most of the time, the further you get in the tournament, the more coaches get a better look at you as a player. Mr. Juggernaut knows how to pick the cream out of the crop though.
With the Trio Tryouts, teams are called by the fixture times. Some players look with optimism, some with a fire in their expression, and some looking like they regret their life choices. It was different however for Team 13: Teddy, Marcus, and Veronica. It was finally time to shut down the Stingray and the chokehold he had on the dodgeball team roster. In a sense, they were holding on to their own pride, same as Raymond. The match is now determined on whose pride and conviction is stronger than the other.
“Hey guys?” Teddy asked, “Have you ever played chess?”
“A few times.” Marcus said.
“Nope, never.” Veronica said.
A smirk filled Teddy’s face, as the other pair looked with fear on what their friend was planning. But as long as it didn’t involve potentially blinding yourself like the Ted-Man did less than 30 minutes ago, they were done with whatever they had to say.
“With this, I got the perfect strategy to beat our foes.”
Meanwhile, behind the top of the gym bleachers, there were windows seeming to lead to a room no one could see. The windows are super tinted to make sure even the greatest eye couldn’t see anything. There appear multiple individuals, all dressed in business or casual professional attire. There a voice rings out.
“It’s finally time for the tryouts to commence. I realize this may seem a bit weary for your first time but I trust you this is common. Ready to see the next generation firsthand?
Voices ring out in the room, looking to ask the unknown man some questions. Fortunately the room is soundproof, otherwise the tryout teams would hear all that clearly.
Returning to Teddy and crew, he starts explaining his strategy to the two.
“Teamwork is key of course. I’ll always emphasize that. However, regarding what I said about chess, following the 3 most important chess principles are key to victory as a team. Principles of Development, Centre-control, and King-safety.”
The two already confused continue to look bewildered. Centre-control, King-safety, what’s this have to do with a physical game? Is he being for real?
“Oh, I’m being very serious. Having no mental game is like cooking with no seasoning, very bland and it always feels like you are missing something.”
“Can you please explain it to me like I’m five? This feels very overwhelming.” Marcus sighing.
Veronica sighs as well, agreeing with Marcus’s statement. “Yeah, please dumb it down.”
“Fine,” Teddy begins to point at the current tryout game playing. He then points at a player with silver hair with the face complexion of a model. He also points with an additional finger at another player on the same team as the other. That player with blonde hair wrapped into a bun to not get in the way during the match. “Watch those two from Team 12 carefully.”
The match then resumes from a quick timeout. Team 12 is beating Team 20 with max efficiency as of this current time. With 1 of their players out and one them only with one chance left, the situation is dire. The other girl has two chances left. The crowd is honestly in shock at much of a sweep this has been. Team 12 hasn’t been hit once yet. Once.
“I’m not done yet!” A Team 20 player yells out.
As the whistle is blown, the Team 20 player and her teammate quickly gather up the balls in the center. Well unlucky them I would say, but they were too late. The silver-haired kid quickly gathered up all three balls. Team 12 had the advantage. With quick succession, they take out completely. With that, that's a game to remember. Well, not if you are Team 20. The crowd erupts in glory at the amazing showing from Team 12.
“Impressive!” One kid shouts.
“They are on a different level!” Another shouts.
The way they played, they looked at the very least college-ready. Definitely a team to look out for in the future.
“The silver-haired one, Taigen Takahashi, the number one youth player in Japan’s rankings. They call him the Silver Shadow because of his quickness. Move here from Sapporo to Dallas to continue his pursuit in the sport of dodgeball. Already has attention from the Japan Olympic Team.” stated Teddy.
“Oh yeah, he’s in my math class. He doesn’t talk often and he’s pretty reserved. But the girls in that class love that side of him.” Veronica added on.
“And the other one I pointed, called the Duchess of the United Kingdom, Amelia Bailey. Junior World Champion and everyone I heard who’s met her says she’s a hot-head on and off the court. Don’t wanna spark her flames.”
“Overall, I think I understand what you are trying to say about the principals. They use development by making better game IQ decisions by just ending the game as soon as possible than taking it easy despite their advantage. Centre-control by grabbing the dodgeballs in the middle, basically controlling the middle, pushing the opposition to their end like controlling the center squares in chess to make attack opportunities. Finally, King-Safety by protecting the important piece on the team, Amelia. Taigen and the other guy were in the front, just like pawn and other pieces would in a game of chess. If we apply this, we can have a better advantage.” Marcus was right. Teddy wanted to emphasize that thinking of chess is the same as playing a sport.
“What about the other guy with them?” Veronica asked, wondering.
“A straight bum. A nobody. Even if they win the tournament, it’s highly unlikely he’ll even make the practice squad with his performance. He got lucky to not even get hit by a single ball targeted for him.”
Teddy’s words stung for Veronica and Marcus. Even though they were not the target for those barrages of insults, you can’t help but feel for the guppy among the huge sharks that would be devoured if not on the side as them.
“So who’s the King?” Marcus asked.
“Do you have to guess?” Teddy smirked. No use arguing that logic, he seems to be the most important piece to Team 13.
As Taigen headed back to his seat in the bleachers, he caught a quick glance at Teddy, who glanced at him as well. Both could feel the different auras surrounding them. Neither could tell if it was for admiration or for a competitive nature both of them had. The quick glance subsided as quickly as it began.
Suddenly, a notification came to all of Team 13’s phones. The fixture was now on schedule for their match next. It’s time to show the upcoming opponent who’s boss. They look at who they plan to face against and it’s Team 4. Their team consists of 2 boys and 1 girl, just like their team. This might be just the warm up they need.
All three look at each other and realize this is it.
“Alright, pawns! Let’s show up Team 4!”
Marcus and Veronica look with worry in the eyes. Pawns, what did they get into? They both sigh.
“Let’s do it!” Both exclaim.
The stage is set as both teams enter the court and the other players look with disinterest. For most, they assume Team 4 is gonna dominate Team 13. For one, there is a dodgeball player on Team 4 who was on the team roster last year. Second, Marcus has been known as the school’s muscular doormat. You can say many have an impression on him being puny even while he played gridiron last year at the school. And last, even with the skills of Teddy Walker, he has very little experience with a team in dodgeball.
Or so it would seem that way to the crowd. Despite that, the teams look on to watch the “upcoming massacre” that will “befall” Team 13. Just then, the referee approaches Teddy and Team 4’s captain to shake hands.
“I want to see complete fairness. Best of luck to both teams.” said the Referee.
This whistle blows. The match is underway.
“Just like we practiced as a team!!” said the Team 4 captain. Two of the players marched while one stayed back to pick up any rolled balls near her vicinity. However, that was all futile. All the balls were picked up by Veronica, it mirrors the way Taigen picked it up.
“Bravo! Oh Bravo!” Teddy says, clappin at the sight of an impressive display from Veronica. The crowd confused at the antics of Teddy are now starting to truly watch the game. This already had Raymond’s attention due to what Teddy did in the Locker Room. It’s keeping him intriguing on what a man like Teddy Walker could be thinking during his matches.
It’s becoming more than apparent to the audience that Team 13 is a sleeper team to watch out for. The people in the exclusive room behind the windows are looking in awe. One of them wonders who the boy in the back of Team 13’s court is.
“Teddy Walker, one of the new transfer students. Has no prior experience in the sport of dodgeball but has experience in Chess and Table Tennis Tournaments. Normally, this is truly his first dive into this noble sport.”
“Interesting. The League could really use someone like him. His profile is pretty diverse.”
“Indeed. The true definition of a role player. His goal apparently is to win the award of King of The Court.”
“Such a lofty goal.”
“Yes. Then again, we don’t know what these pundits think when deciding who gets these awards.” The man takes a sip out of the water placed on his seat holder.
“This is truly as special of a class as I originally thought.”
This whistle blows as the last contestant of Team 4 is down for the count.
“It’s over! Team 13 is the winner!” the Referee announces.
The crowd is in shock. They really feel like they are out of league with these recent performances. Raymond feels nervous at the thought of facing them. He decided on not rigging the fixtures to face Team 13 first, but maybe he thinks he made a great decision to not to do that.
As Marcus and Veronica start high-fiving and hugging over their amazing performance, Teddy looks over at Team 1, Raymond’s team. His eyes start crunching into eyes of anger and determination, like the eyes of a track and field athlete reaching the end goal while in first place. Meanwhile, Raymond starts sweating bullets on what he just unleashed upon himself. Team 13 heads back to their seats and the matches continue on like usual. Marcus and Veronica are happy to just make it to the next round and continue studying other teams.
However, that’s not enough for Teddy. His ultimate goal at this moment is beat Team 1, to see the smugness leave Raymond once for all. That is his justice and he will see it through to the end!
In the distance, Taigen looks onto Teddy with intrigue.
“This is the first time I’ve seen you with a different expression on your face. Are you interested in the Walker guy?” Amelia asks.
“.....he’s earned my respect……..that’s all…….”
Amelia giggle at Taigen, “Seems like we’ll have some good teammates this season.”
“.............I suppose so.”
With the bar hitting and hitting high for players, things are really heating in the Trio Tryouts! Seems the academy will have to get used to the antics of Teddy Walker!