Monday, January 23, 2006

True story. My first five years of life I was a sickly little kid, in and out of the hospital from malnutrition and dehydration or churning myself into panic attacks when I read the news. Far from naturally athletic, I was five feet four inches and 120 pounds as a high school freshman. Writing my name almost required more coordination than I could muster.

I was as intimidating as Kate Moss, with a leper’s charisma. Hence, my biggest and perhaps only assets when I started playing Ultimate were my burning passion for the game and a desire to improve as much as I could. So I got to college, naturally got schooled during the fall season, and when the Midwest set its winter blanket over us, resolved to transform myself into Scrappy Doo. This was the only way I was going to earn playing time without any throws or field sense, and I knew that. What follows is not an outline for those of you on the world’s team, or those juniors players getting hyped, or the college players with acolytes all over their region. This is for those afraid to carry milk money, the short ones, skinny ones, weak ones and slow ones. The tired, huddled masses yearning to be a clip of the day on Ultivillage’s web site, the meek wishing to be an impact player on an elite team.

As Scrappy Doo, you’ll need to do some research first. Go watch the Scooby cartoons with him in them. This will put you in the right mindset to do what must be done. As you watch, you will pick up a few things about Scrappy. He’s fearless, or excellent at pretending he is. He is gung-ho about any plan that involves confronting the problem head-on. He is willing to sacrifice himself and risk injury without thinking twice. And he relishes his role, he’s not trying to be any of the other Mystery Machine dodes, he’s perfectly happy being Scrappy Doo.

After your research, you will be ready to start implementing them in your game immediately. Play defense, because that is all you’ll be able to do with some success. Play defense like the lives of your loved ones depend on your man not touching the disc. Play like this all the time, because your only weapon is intensity. When the disc goes up to your man, lay out. Whether you are close enough to know what he ate for breakfast or whether you’re at a different field site from him, bid for the disc. You have to prove to your teammates, to him, and most importantly to yourself that being a better player is more important than your well-being. Never feel like you’ve improved enough, that’s Sweet Guy territory and to be avoided at all costs. And be happy in your role. Every point you get, be it 4 points per game or 8 points per tournament, take a moment as you step onto the line to think back on how shitty you were a year ago, a tournament ago, a few games ago, and how fucking awesome it is to feel yourself getting better at something you care deeply about.

I’m a little taller and heavier now than I was as a freshman in high school. Also a little faster and a little more athletic. But the player I became exists because the player I was when I didn’t know a force from a foul was named Scrappy Doo.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hector,
I appreciate you giving the "little guy" hope but your foremost job should always be the truth. I remember playing you at club sectionals 98 in Blaine and although we may have won you were easily the most athletic guy on the field. Granted, it wasn't the strongest of fields but there were a couple future ballers around. Playing time wasn't an issue either as I recall. The long hard road out of hell wasn't as steep for you as it will be for most college freshman newbies. Not to mention the fact you joined the program when it was at its absolute low point of the last decade.
Just keepin it real,
-Dikeman

PS I weighed 95 pounds as a high school freshman.

parinella said...

But all the fans hate Scrappy Doo. I was always hoping that the Mystery Machine would run him over backing up.

Hh said...

Jim,

It's not about the fans. It's about the heart. It's about the intensity. It's about the desire. It's about the drive. It is not about the fans and it certainly is not about acts of animal cruelty.

The sport grows. New people are playing, different kinds of people. A new breed of player is emerging...

More to come on that, though.

Anonymous said...

H-

I dont know you, you dont know me. You might some day, I might someday reach the level where other people who play the game know me, or remeber my jerz number.But im not there. I was like you, only not 5'5 and skinny. i was 5'9 and 190. im not talking muscle. i was as light on my feet as shamu. I learned how to run an offense before i learned how to run. Offensive skill, breaking the mark, that was my building blocks. then i decided to get in shape, caus college anit highschool. I did it, and i made A as a fresmen.

Your post is the truest thing i have ever read to what the game is like/means to me. So, you dont know me, and i dont know you. But you know me, and i know you.

-JephB, arizona #15

luke said...

i think it's an age thing. the young kids were not as stunned by the addition of the scrappy. especially, since, i think, it was just jabberjaw the shark in a little body...

it's like, for alex, when they added 'judy' to the 'punch' show. it yes doubled the whacking, but it was just hard to accept the change...