Friday, April 24, 2009
My mind is still thinking about the Pimpdags/Blackcat match-up from Sectionals and how fun it was to watch. I can't stress enough how good a game like that is for a player's maturity and development.
As an undergrad, I was one of two Hodags that played intramural Ultimate (the other being my roommate and best friend Tyler), and got piles of shit for it from the team. Tyler and I would go and rule over people, having to carry most of the load ourselves. When June rolled around, despite playing for the club team in Madison, summer league games carried the same focus as any game we played at a tournament. Our little high school alumni team (+friends, later) played in summer league finals 3 years in a row, winning the last two. We rocked a Badger State Games threepeat with only our summer league team, until Andrew Brown built a squad designed specifically to beat us.
All these games happened while I was still a relative n00b, and I threw myself at them with all my energy. The finals of summer league and Badger State games were held before a modest crowd, the intramural playoffs even more so, but I loved playing with something on the line (and, as someone who loved playing any chance I got, I always felt there was something on the line). With a backup cast even more green than we were, Tyler and I were forced to hoist the team on our backs and make the tide-turning plays.
Later, as I suited up for my last game as a Hodag in the College Championship finals, and as a Bravo during the finals of Club Natties, I channeled all those games into my head. The experience of being amped, playing in front of crowds and hecklers, and the desire to win at my body's expense, all those little meaningless games I played when few watched and fewer cared as much as me; it was these big little games that allowed me to elevate my play and continue to execute at my best, when others tweaked out, succumming to the pressures of playing in something "that mattered."