Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Endorsement: Davies

After discovering Ultimate during my senior year of high school, it quickly began to overtake my other passions and interests. So it was only natural that after my only high school campaign culminated in a state championship over Colin Gottlieb and his West High teammates, I sought another forum where I might showcase my mad skillz.

It was then that I first made the acquaintance of the Madison Ultimate Frisbee Association (MUFA), MUSL (summer league), and MUSL's coordinator, Robin Davies.

I knew nothing of organizing a team, deadlines, or fees. I didn't even know most of the rules then. I predictably missed the registration deadline, and showed up at a house on Jennifer Street in Madison guarded by two of the most intimidating German Shepherds I'd ever seen. Afraid to even knock, but knowing that it was the only way to have a chance of playing Ultimate that summer, I braved the canines and rang the bell. Robin answered the door. I apologized for our tardiness, explained our situation, and begged to be let into the league. He took our half-filled roster form, smiled, and told us our first game would be the following week on a Wednesday. I left elated.

Back then, $25 got you a disc, a team t-shirt, two games a week, and two free pitchers of beer and two free appetizers from the Great Dane after every game for the length of the summer. That was 10 years ago. Inflation has taken its toll. Now, for $25 you get...the same thing, minus the apps, but the t-shirt is now a 5 Ultimate jersey. And the finals is an open-invite bash with incredible food and drinks served on a gorgeous Madison evening with a boisterous crowd, exciting play, and not a mean-mugging hater to be seen. $25. That's not a typo. My first year MUSL was around 16 teams playing 5/2 coed. This year? 88 teams, 1750 players. The man responsible? Robin Davies. For 8 years he held down the MUSL director position and groomed that little plum into one of the best summer leagues anywhere in the country. That was his baby, and it grew into a mature, stable beast.

Now I pick up my latest UPA newsletter and see Robin Davies is running for an at-large position for the board of directors. I couldn't be more elated. You want someone with a different perspective from all us tired, "elite" ultimate players that care only about the fall series and Nationals? Robin Davies. You want someone with a proven track record of waxing a little league into a self-sustaining powerhouse among everyone from casual city to college-champion players, and having everyone involve enjoy themselves immensely? Robin Davies. You want someone that has spent the last 10 years of his life listening to and addressing the needs and wants of every category of player and person? Robin Davies.

I know most of us are more concerned with not turning it over in pick-up than we are with voting for UPA board members. For some reason we don't care. But, hey, for just one moment, take a breath, click on this sentence right here, and vote. Vote for Robin Davies. I am not the type that endorses shit lightly, and definitely not the person who will recommend someone just because they're a friend. For disclosure, we haven't spoken in over a year and as I type now, no one in Madison knows I'm writing this.

Robin is going to get shit done, he's going to put in the work, take care of the little things, and make sure the voices of the mass number of players get heard: the players out there enjoying the beautiful afternoon, caring less about winning a national championship and more about expanding our base, promulgating the love, and having a good time.

It's a voice seldom heard above the din of the needy "elite", and Robin is a man to represent it.


Anonymous said...

Robin deserves props and this position. My two little stories about Robin:

1) Like Hector, I grew up in Madison around Robin and MUSL. I was just getting into the sport and went against my parents wishes and joined the Hodags. My dad thought it was a waste of my academic time and wouldn’t lead me anywhere. Robin happened to work with my dad and they would chat every once in a while and Robin would mention my budding Frisbee career and added in reports on the Hodags. It gave my father something to be proud of, his son being noticed in a local community. Robin validated my commitment to the sport and made my parents realize that it might not be the end of the world if I played. To this day I credit much of parents acceptance of ultimate to Robin.

2) 5 years later I was in Africa doing a stint with Peace Corps and wanted to run a camp for kids in various villages teaching them how to play ultimate and also some stuff about basic health, AIDS, and the environment. I emailed the UPA about possible help, but they only did stuff in the US. Ultimate companies offered discounts, but my budget was around $20. I posted on, but not much help. I emailed Robin. A few weeks later a box with 12 discs arrived with a note from Robin. We ran two camps and taught about 50 kids how to throw and play and had fun. Frisbee took over the soccer fields in the towns, the kids running to my door and asking for the Frisbees so they could play. Out on the street in front of my house, kids working on backhands and kids self-officiating.

The kind of guy I want on the UPA board is the guy who gives teenage kids a chance to play, and then helps them feel justified in their sport of choice. A guy who works hard to build a community and leads with light hands. The kind of guy that has a day named after him by the city of Madison (Robin Davies Day). The guy who, though I hadn’t talked with him for three years, sent a box of Frisbees half way around the world so some kids could have some fun. The kind of guy who always has an extra beer in his cooler for you.

So there, not as eloquent as Hector, but some more props to Robin--and I bet more than half the players who have gone through the Madison firsbee community have two similiar stories.


The Cruise said...

I don't know if I ever met him when I played one year of summer league in Madison, but I probably played hockey with him at Vilas park.

I'm certainly going to vote for him. I still keep my MUSL tshirt for the memories, that was a very well run league. My team was entirely made up of that one fraternity that lives in the Louis Sullivan house, three girls who'd never played before, me and some really short hispanic guy who sold the rest of the team weed.
We won the season pitcher race by a landslide.

Brusssucks said...

Robin is a great guy. He used to videotape summer league stuff and I would run up and try and throw grass on his camera lens. But it's cool.

Robin said...

Thanks for all your support! Couldn't have done it without you!

Burt is still a bitch, but we all knew that.