Intramural battleship debuts with a splash

By Austin Miller

Five groups of SIU students took to canoes in the Edward J. Shea Natatorium at the Student Recreation Center marking the first time intramural sports battleship was a university event.

The goal was to sink two opposing boats. Competitors could not contact other teams’ boats or equipment, and not empty water from their own boat.

With that in mind, teams braved the crystal clear water and lingering smell of chlorine for aquatic supremacy.


Three teams competed at once, with the winner staying in the pool and the losers alternating with the non-competing teams. The first team to earn four wins was crowned the champion.

Heading into the fifth matchup of the day, the Firebola Naval Club, a group of Brazilian students, needed one win to become inaugural battleship champions.

With “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes playing in the natatorium, Firebola unleashed bucket after bucket of water to defeat its final foe. The men recorded their final assault with GoPro cameras. One member, Guilherme Cavalli, a junior from Pato Branco, Brazil studying mechanical engineering, had his camera strapped to his chest.

Even though this event has never been played at SIU, Fabio Fagundes, a senior from Sao Paolo, Brazil studying food engineering, said the team had developed strategies coming into battle.

“We tried to use the walls to protect our back and just use the front to attack,” Fagundes said.

Aside from the positioning strategy, teams also had to create an efficient attack and ration their energy.

Luan Alves, a senior from Curitiba, Brazil studying medicine, said the group created roles to maximize its firepower.


The men on each corner would be the attackers, launching buckets of water into the enemy boats. The two men in the middle would attempt to block incoming water with foam shields, and keep the boat balanced, so they don’t sink themselves. After each match, they would alternate positions to avoid exhaustion.

“I am so tired right now,” Fagundes said after the final match.

Alves, the team’s captain, said his shoulders were feeling the burn after throwing buckets of water for nearly two hours.

Tulio Lima, a senior from Curitiba, Brazil studying technology, said other teams talked with them before competing to form an alliance against the remaining group.

To prevent a pro-wrestling style two versus one handicap match, Lima said event staff told him to cut the ties of that partnership.

“It was working,” he said with a laugh. “Because we tried to work with them against the other team that had already won the first game, who was really good.”

DJ Purnell, a graduate assistant for competitive sports from Chicago, was one of the staff members helping oversee the event.

“Usually, a great day for us is if teams are safe and they can have fun and it looks like that’s what they did,” Purnell said. “People came to me and said ‘Hey, are you gonna do another one?’ so when you get people who want to do it again and come back, that’s a sign for us that it went well.”

Purnell said battleship will likely return to the intramural calendar, which he hopes will bring more students to play.

“Most aren’t exactly sure what [battleship] is. They’re mostly just curious,” he said. “The more consistently we have it, more people will be glad to join.”

The team’s name carries over from the member’s intramural soccer team, which also won a championship this semester.

The word “Firebola” is inspired by Fireball Whisky. They took the brand and gave it a Brazilian twist, with the suffix “bola,” Portugeuse for ball.

“Now we have to hang out and celebrate with some Fireball,” Fagundes said, as his teammates laughed in agreement.

Austin Miller can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AMiller_DE