Friday, October 16, 2015
The ultimate community is pretty cool. At tournaments, I regularly meet new people and rekindle long-lost friendships from teams and years past. While names sometimes escape me, the familiar faces and shared experiences do not. It's one of my favorite parts of ultimate - mingling with teammates and friends from cities long removed when we meet on the cross-roads of the triple crown tour, fun tournaments or just plain summer/winter league.
Wednesday, January 07, 2015
I regard myself as perpetually lucky. Starting with #13, I consider myself superstitious to a fault. In any competition, I believe I will win. I've always thought this way.
So on my birthday this year, I decided to sneak in a lift. I usually do my best not to make a big deal out of special occasions - shying away from attention. But as I swiped my card into the fitness center, the 19 year old attendant, who rarely ever looks up, suddenly snarks, "Happy Birthday."
It caught me by surprise, as I had know idea my information was even visible before the gate sprang open. I smiled and mumbled "Thanks," feeling bashful like he caught me doing something wrong. Immediately I had a bad feeling. I tried to shake it off and went HAM on my routine, crushing my last sets of hang cleans at 190x5 and 200x5, with half the gym watching. I grabbed some beer with a buddy and headed home, only to realize something was wrong. My foot kinda hurt. Nothing serious, just a very small ache, exactly where I had broken my foot 3x before. This had me in a tussle for about a week, before I was able to regain confidence in the 4 inch drywall screw holding my 5th metatarsal in place.
But that was only the half of the problem. As my foot discomfort faded, I realized I had a more urgent problem in my hand. Injuries accrue every season, but my middle finger wasn't feeling right. From a dull ache to a shooting pain, the discomfort was increasing with my workload. I started icing on the way to work, but found it much more difficult to ice while typing. Soon, I couldn't throw a flick without pain. Suddenly, everything I had worked so hard to gain was gone. It was like starting over - nothing tangible to show despite all the work. I finally realized that my game was entirely dependent on my big throws. I was lost in the world. Frustration and disappointment overwhelmed me in the coming weeks. I couldn't contribute in my normal capacity. Suddenly, I was mortal.
It made me realize that I had to change and adapt if I wanted to factor in down the stretch. I became a game manager instead of a franchise quarterback. So, I made strides in other departments, like cutting deep and fighting for resets just to throw the swing pass. I turned up my defensive pressure, locked down on my man and stopped poaching entirely. Ironside struggled to convert breaks in semifinals of Nationals against Sockeye and we lost on universe point. I played hard that game, but couldn't make any difference.
When the off-season began, I focused on leg strength and hand rest. I took roughly 7 months off before slowly increased my throwing regimen. The cause of this injury? Trying to throw 80 yard hammers on the turf with my college kids. For some reason, I wanted 80 yards in all every capacity - flick, backhand, hammer. If memory serves me, I maxed out at 72 yards in the moment of injury, partially tearing the collateral ligament of my right middle finger.
Despite the disappointing finish to the season, I learned that I needed to develop other parts of my game if I wanted to become a complete player.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Almost everyday after work, I grab my wireless headphones and begin my trek to the gym. Up the hill, I blast my best pump-up songs and explode through my lifting sessions with bass-pounding enthusiasm. Then, I made the mistake of wearing them during a murderball throwing session in a moderate rain and ever since, the volume "up" button has stopped working. To my horror, I realized that once I volumed "down" -- there was no going back up. For weeks, my workouts dragged, especially when I needed Lil Wayne's Beast Mode the most. But today, as I was contemplating how much weight to add to the bar, a miracle occurred.
My headphones sprang back to life, volume increasing a notch every second as the beat took hold of me. It was a sign from above -- better put on the big plates. I had no excuse anymore, I had to go hard. With the bass reverberating through my soul, I stared into the mirror - readying myself for action. I have a tried-and-true habit of imagining a rival competitor, just before the moment of truth. Without fail, my instincts kick in and adrenaline surges - this is the person who wants a piece of me. This is the person who wants to take me down and beat me to the punch. As I open my eyes and snap back to reality, the emotional response has taken hold and is screaming KILLMODE. Half the battle is done, as my body is now primed for athletic explosion. The reps and sets merge into sweat and grunts, my best effort, all thanks to my wireless headphones.
But as the years wear on -- this rival competitor morphs from opponent season to season -- from the most important game to the individual match-up. I've literally been training against the mental image of my strongest competition since elementary school. It comes naturally to me - especially when I'm weary of the task/lift before me and need some motivation. Just the thought of losing to Brodie pushed my dead lift over 385.
Suddenly, I knew who I was imaging as my rival competitor. It was Stubbs - someone I see in practice, at workouts, in the gym, all the time for the last four years. I wasn't imagining Sockeye, Chain Lightning, Revolver or Doublewide - I was imaging Ironside's offense as my competition - because for the majority of the season -- those are the players I'm battling day-in-day-out.
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
From Dan Heijmen ('03-'07, Callahan '07). He wanted me to pass this along to the CUT world at large.
Hodag Love to Cutboys everywhere.
The real grieving, the kind when you realize time refuses to stop and the world in all its capriciousness demands to keep going, hasn't even begun yet. Having grieved like this before, I know this, and the thought now is sickening.
I'm trying to just hold on to little pieces, going through some motions, looking for the appropriately sized frame. I sent the Hodags an email last year shortly after the New Year, and I'm not sure why but I'm compelled right now to share it with you it its entirety. I'm gonna ask that the current Dags read or re-read it, and you're free to read as well.
Also, the next post I put up momentarily is a letter from Dan Heijmen, former Hodag captain and '07 Callahan winner. He too is mourning.