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It's ball vs. ball in BubbleBowl

WORTHINGTON -- The Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Super Bowl are over with, clearing room for a new, bouncier kind of bowl. On March 3 in Worthington and Windom, the Southwest Crisis Center (SWCC) will host the first-ever BubbleBowl. The friendly cont...

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Kari Voss-Drost (left) and Mary Barron of the Southwest Crisis Center test out the bubble balls. (Karl Evers-Hillstrom / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON - The Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Super Bowl are over with, clearing room for a new, bouncier kind of bowl.

On March 3 in Worthington and Windom, the Southwest Crisis Center (SWCC) will host the first-ever BubbleBowl.

The friendly contest - in which teams of four will compete in various events while inside giant, inflatable spheres - is both a fun event for the area and a crucial fundraiser for the SWCC.

Funds donated by competing teams will go toward toward Project Stepping Stones, a SWCC initiative to purchase and renovate a building in Worthington that would provide a stable place for adults and children escaping violence, sexual assault and sex trafficking.

SWCC currently does not have its own local shelter available for victims, and typically pays for hotel rooms for its clients.

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“We find we need transitional housing, for people who just need a safe place to stay and a good night’s sleep for a short period of time while they rebuild their lives,” said Allan Bakke, SWCC regional navigator. “It’s a serious need for us right now.”

A local shelter allows victims to stay close to their jobs, family and friends. SWCC had been looking into a building in Cottonwood County, but found that Worthington made the most sense for a central location, as it is right in the middle of the nonprofit’s five-county area and contains the largest share of SWCC clients.

Bakke envisions an approximately 10-unit building with fully decked-out apartments. The building could be built or renovated - he wants to break ground by the end of the year.

BubbleBowl teams can pick one of four sessions to participate in. The first hour kicks off at 9 a.m. at the Worthington Area YMCA; a second wave of teams will compete at 10:30 a.m. After an award ceremony at the YMCA, the competition will move to the Windom BARC Center, where games will take place from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. and 3 to 4 p.m.

The competition be made up of four unique games. In “Person-in-the-Middle,” participants will attempt to navigate past a SWCC referee without getting knocked down. “Last Person Standing” is a free-for-all in which the winner is the last person to not be knocked down. In the “BubbleBall 500,” teams will try to catch Nerf balls in the holes on top of their bubble balls. In “GOOOOOAAAAALLLLL,”  players will be tasked with scoring goals against SWCC goalkeepers.

All of this will be done while wearing the large bubble balls, which strap on with a safety harness.

SWCC Executive Director Sara Wahl got the idea from a competitive league in Marshall that runs its own bubble ball events. SWCC employees have already learned what it’s like to get knocked down in the ball - it’s pain- and injury-free, so anyone over 5 feet tall is encouraged to participate in the event.

The SWCC wants to make the BubbleBowl an annual event. One day, Bakke wants to host a tournament of champions, consisting of past bowl winners. But for now, the focus is on the inaugural event.

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“It’ll be a ball,” Bakke said.

Teams are urged to donate on the day of the event. The suggested donation per team is $200, but teams can compete no matter how much they raise. Teams can donate their own money or find sponsors to reach a total amount.

Participants should email with their team members and the time slot in which they want to compete. On the day of the event, teams should bring their donation forms, which list the donation sources.

For more information and registration forms, visit http://www.mnswcc.org/bubblebowl-i.html .

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