Mindie Dodson's usual opponents are barbells and sociology textbooks. But later this month, she will face off against a team of gladiators American Gladiators, that is.
Dodson, a Tulsa, Okla., senior at Kansas University, will compete against the gladiators in the last stop of their national tour, Nov. 19 at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan.
"American Gladiators" is a nationally syndicated television program. During each show, two male and two female contestants compete for points in events that pit them against the show's "gladiators" a team of muscular, athletic foes with such exotic monikers as Gold, Zap and Ice.
Dodson is excited but a little nervous because she has no way to train for some of the events.
"You don't get a lot of preparation for this," she said. "It's not like a competitive sport, when you practice and then compete. With this, you're just thrown into it and expected to perform."
AMONG THE competition's six events:
Powerball A cross between wrestling and basketball. The contenders try to throw balls into containers guarded by the gladiators.
The Joust Contender and gladiator, standing on separate platforms, try to knock each other off with seven-foot-long pugel sticks.
Dodson thinks she'll fare well in those two events.
"We'll see," she said. "I'm going up against some big girls. But I'll definitely have lots of adrenaline and aggression going."
But Dodson is no weakling herself. At the Kansas State Bodybuilding Championships on Oct. 5 in Wichita, she took third in the women's heavyweight division.
Dodson, who is triple-majoring in communication studies, criminal delinquency studies and sociology, normally trains six days a week at Junkyard's Jym & Nautilus Center, 535 Gateway Dr.
"AND NOW that I'm going to be on the show, I record it all the time," she said. "I'm religious about it."
She was chosen to compete on the program after trying out last month in Manhattan.
"I'm still in shock that I made it," she said. "I was kind of ready to back out, but my friends said, `No, you have to do this.'"
Dodson is hoping plenty of friends and supporters will show up in Manhattan to cheer her on against her opponent, who is a student at Kansas State University.
The contest will be televised at a later date, she said. American Gladiators will choose the top 10 men and women from the 21-city tour and give them a chance to win $50,000 at a final competition in April in Atlantic City, N.J.