Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Nothing says cathartic year-end review like a trip back to the motherland.
The last 5 days lounging on the beaches of Acapulco were rough. And now the gentle din of Mexico City at 3 am is set to lull me to sleep.
Where ever any of you might be, enjoy your time and pass on some love.
I am twenty-five now. The players whose pictures I anxiously looked up on the internet as a senior in high school are now almost all retired from competitive play, as old or older than my parents. I remember lurking in web sites for tips on the elusive layout or staring at a picture from 93 Worlds in Madison, a Godiva player with disc firmly in hand beginning to drag her toes in full extension trying to stay in bounds.
Now some of my own college teammates are married, some have moved away or stopped playing altogether, a few even have children. We are all getting older and uglier.
Well, not all of us. Not my high school kids, or any of the other juniors players around the country. They’re not done being ugly and awkward their first time. Hanging out with the kids before practice and speaking to my other coach friends around the country I get the feeling if you didn’t tie their arms down and tape their mouths shut they’d constantly be picking their noses and quoting Screech Powers. It doesn’t take long away from high school to forget you were the one dressing like a psychedelic painting and dancing ensemble in The Music Man.
Ah, those were the good years, when you think back on them. You were socially bent and acted like you had Turret’s and there was no where for you to go but up. You were ugly and couldn’t coordinate two consecutive steps but every day showed improvement.
We get progressively more beautiful as we play in college and begin to define ourselves as players, as teammates, as friends – as people. The 3rd and 4th years of eligibility are our best – we blend our high school purity and college experience with chip-on-the-shoulder determination like distinguished chefs. We beat down the rookies and bust ass to be as good as the veterans, feeling like we’re so close to understanding, to unlocking the secrets of the sport and being great. We’re yet too stupid and green to realize we’re not that good. By the time our fifth year comes, we’re Sweet Guy, running the team our way and pulling rank on the young’ns because that’s the best way to do it, dammit, and from there our descent is swift.
But the glow we emit from our few beautiful years is blinding and enthralling – we continue circling the game like moths by the porch light hoping to touch that beauty, to lose your thought for an instant during a layout and get it all back, if only for a moment.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Sack Lunch had a poor season this year, incredibly disappointing considering how, last year, they established themselves in Regionals as the third team from the southwest. Their captains probably pissed themselves a little when, after 2004 Nationals, it became clear the Southwest had three bids to this year's Nationals in the open division.
So it must have been terribly disappointing when, as the season progressed, their best player and emotional leader went down with an ACL tear on Naperville's shitty fields, their analogous women's team qualified for natties, and they barely showed up to play in the game to go, having almost lost in the prior round to an upstart Monster squad fueled by Will Arnold.
That being said, it's to both our advantages that this community be able to support two high-level men's teams, and I want to help. Therefore, in the spirit of camaraderie, I would like to propose a challenge to the members of Sack Lunch: Team vs. Team Paintball, Terrordome style. One man leaves type shit, with the losers buying the winners dinner afterwards, or maybe picking up the tab.
There must be, of course, some safety rules put in place so no one gets killed. I'm not worried about my teammates, but there is at least one person on Sack who would kill any number of us if given the chance. I'm not going to mention his name here, but will say only this duder would go so far as to get wasted at his company's holiday party and attempt to make out with teammates of mine on the dance floor in a effort to have us lower our guard. Not fooled. So, here are some ground rules:
- No ammunition may be brought in. All paintballs must be purchased at the chosen Paintball arena. Again, for safety. Nothing against 95% of Sack, but I'm going to take precautions to make sure I don't become the next Brandon Lee.
- Bayonets are banned.
- While the capturing of prisoners is encouraged, not at the expense of the Geneva convention. For the sake of this competition, all captured peoples are prisoners of war and not enemy combatants.
- Sack can't whine when they inevitably lose.
This is something that, if successful, could be duplicated nationwide. What better way to bring out intersquad camaraderie than through seeing Mike Grant emptying his gun into Chase's face mask? Who on Pike or Potomac wants a shot at Hinkle? However we as a nation proceed with this bonding opportunity, we must be mindful of the boundaries we create, lest we devolve like the Stanford Prison Experiment and Misha Horowitz stumbles upon Testosterone Man sodomizing Jeff Graham in the woods with the barrel of his Smart Parts Ion, trying to discover the location of Twisted Metal's base.
You. You look in the mirror and see average. You have insecurities. You feel awkward at times in social situations. You feel especially awkward if those situations include no one who plays disc. You are not the most good looking person on the block. And, when you are hooking up with someone, you are not always the most good looking person in your bed.
But. You are sick at Ultimate. You are a good player. You are known by other teams. You are good at Ultimate. And because of this, you can date people you normally couldn't date. People who are attracted to you because your skills with the disc make you so. You are desirable within Ultimate, coveted even, the name that gets dropped on your team or in your city or region or at nationals. They are hooking up with you because you are you in Ultimate.
You, in turn, are attracted to them in bed with you because they are sick at Ultimate. They are a good player. They are known by other teams. You are hooking up with them because they are who they are in Ultimate.
It might not last. It doesn't matter. You are with them and they are with you. And when you move on, you will be with another. They will be with another. Your others will be great at Ultimate. You will drift off to sleep one night cuddled in their arms, and you will feel good about yourself. Because this is who you are, and this is what you do.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
For some odd reason, I remember the first time I saw Idris Nolan. It was at the 2001 UPA championship game against the Condors, long before I knew who he was or what the fuck was his deal. He simply stood on the sidelines as I approached the game, barking at the players through his lips, caked as they were with a thick coat of white sunblock so that it looked like a fiend had heard there was crack on the field and he desperately wanted someone to get it for him.
So I was surprised, almost alarmed, when that point ended and he marched onto the field and proceeded to take control of the offense for Jam. Because he looks like he's constantly being filmed with a soft lens, with not a straight line to his anatomy, I had figured he was at best a supporting cast member of his team. But it turned out you could look soft as a breast implant and still throw a flick ninety yards.
This year we were done in again by another deceptive player, the Count. Every time I look at him I wonder "how, how?" But he killed us this year at nationals. Just fucking dissected us, like fetal pigs. Man, sometimes you just can't tell by looking at them. Taught me that until a player has proven how big a chump he is, you have to give them due respect.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Not particularly well thrown. Maybe a little short in fact.
I can't remember if it was a forehand or backhand. Ryo threw it.
But I was playing 500 with my brother and he'd been talking smack. I saw it coming, from less than 50 yards away. I knew it was the 100% perfect throw for me. But unlike the story's unfullfilled moment, I went up and felt the soft of the plastic stick to the flesh of my hand. It felt as if I'd have caught it whether I'd closed my hand or not. I came down, smiled at my brother, and proceeded to wag the disc in front of him and yell "Owned!" over his assertions that the next throw was his, and the following ones after that, until we were too tired to jump or I'd had enough.
Sometimes I miss my brother, other times I really miss him.
Props to Murakami.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
I came home tonight freezing from the outside elements. My toes were as Courtney Love's nostrils, numb. So I drew a bath and soaked my feet. While I was there, I saw all the skin accumulated in calluses from the year's season beginning to wear off.
How programmed has my body become to the Ultimate season. I feel like a molting bird, or one of those arctic rabbits that begin to lose all their brown fur as the snow and winter set in. It's been less than six weeks and I'm jonesing for a game.
- Kirk Gibson
- Patagonia sponsorship
- Ring of Fire
- Jolian Dahl
- Emory Luna
- Seidler & Leonardo
- College Central Region
- Colorado Kali
- Stanford Superfly
- Matthew Sewell Inc.
- MSU Burning Couch (short this stock, now)
- Metro East, Great Lakes Regions
- VC sponsorship
Saturday, December 03, 2005
This year, my team had a good season. We battled through some adversity early in the season, overcame a key teammate quitting late in the season without much distraction, and finished better than we have ever done before. We also killed some monkeys that had been hanging on our back for years. As good as all that makes me feel, there is one nagging thing that bothers me about Club season '05: we were eminently forgettable.
Not to say we still didn't hand out some beat-downs. Not to say that our cross-town rival didn't get owned this season with a purpose. Not to say that we as individuals did not improve and work hard for the gains we made this season. We set our goals as high as our individual talents would allow, but faltered when those talents came short of meshing into the team we should have been. Shortly after our elimination at nationals I told a teammate, "We should have changed something sooner in the game and adjusted." His response was quintessential for the person he is. "Yeah, we should have changed something. We should have changed something much earlier, like several months ago."
For all the gains we as players made this year, it's frustrating to have not improved congruently on our skills as teammates. It seems to happen often. There are always stacked teams who threaten here and there and post some great victories, but in the end? Who were they? Did they win the one that really counted?
We sure didn't, we barely showed up. I can tell you about how this was my best season as a player and how we won a sick game against so-and-so at this tough tourney, but so? Whoop-dee fucking do.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
It's hard for me to understand those that quit a team ever, but the ones that slay me are those that quit a team that makes cuts. After cuts.
That is some fucked up shit. It's like you sodomized every one who was cut and afterward blew smoke in their face and told them about your myriad STD's. We had a teammate do that this season, six weeks before the end of the season. Sectionals and regionals were within an hour's driving distance. Apparently the workload became too heavy. I'd buy that except...
Our practice schedule was finalized in April and this was mid-September. I wasn't angry at my teammate for me as much as for those that busted ass and cash to try out for the team and were cut. I reckoned if I was them I'd be pretty mad. My teammate I just sorta felt sorry for because, as great a person as they are, they just didn't get it. Once they got it, but along the way they forgot what it's really about.
Every college team has them. You know them, they're those men and women who every year, as school starts in the fall, come out to play Ultimate as excited as the Olson twins around a coke line. Some are obvious - the fucker who's signed up for everything from a business frat to the glee club, like it's still high school and you're staying after for Spanish Club. But others are unexpected, perhaps even a little heartbreaking - finally an athlete comes into the program and effortlessly picks up everything thrown their way, then suddenly decide they're joining Club Rugby or training for a supermarathon.
Regardless of which type they are, they have one thing in common - you never quite forgave them for quitting. You see them in the spring semester and think of them for the first time in months, then find yourself cursing them for abandoning your obviously superior lifestyle and pitying them because they're missing out on the best thing about college and they don't have a clue.