Monday, July 05, 2010

WUCC 2010

World Ultimate Club Championships 2010 - Boston Ironside

Europe is nuts. Prague is hot. Amsterdam jacked my saline solution, forcibly checked my luggage (cleats!), but allowed Surly Beer through unscathed. Ultimate players dominated the scene. The ATM's give out 2000 bills. WUCC check-in was easy enough, although hectic. Stubbs inadvertently misled Rebholz and Muffin into believing their badges was missing -- sending them on a goose-chase for their ID badges - possibly retaliation for getting Smirnoff ICED at Boston Invite last week. The electric plugs are European and the language barrier consists mostly of pointing, smiling, and occasionally bribing.

Ironside team dinner at 7pm. Everything is so cheap -- literally Monopoly money. The World Cup soccer games are crazy to watch. The Old Square has a giant screen set up and the Germany fans went nuts when they owned on Argentina. The Spain goal was equally as loud as Ole-Ole-Ole-Ole cheer rang out, it was easy to picture Shane and Will fist pumping here. Nearing 10:30pm, the old guys grabbed a cab home -- leaving 9 troublemakers out on the town. 3 miles, 7 bars and 10 drinks later -- we found the perfect dance club -- complete with a fog machine and 2 ladies celebrating their bachelorette party. The best part was being solicited to enter a strip club - Hot Peppers no less than 15 times throughout the night. Even more ridiculous was the midget solicitor who said "yeah midgets, in a cage, and you can kick them." Finally asleep at 3am.

The first game was against Munich, Germany at 10:30am. The stadium was large enough to hold a full scale riot. The empty fields were reserved for youth soccer, so we had to warm-up in the 5 yards of sideline space between the stone wall and the field. The field is skinny small, like 35 wide with end zones only 20 deep. It is super hot -- like 85 plus. Ironside began on Offense and promptly turned the disc twice, hucking OB and then Jimmy Foster slipping and taking the disc in the face. The grass was like putting greens. Muffin scored the first break from Dave Hoel to take a 3-2 lead. George Stubbs had a full layout grab in the end zone for an early score 4-3, only to exclaim, "Whoa, I might still be drunk." Germany was tight and gave Boston the disc with a little pressure as the advantage jumped to 7-3 as Naz ripped a huge backhand to Seth-Ro. Teddy jacked a lazer huck to Danny Clark as the lead grew to 12-4. Muffin had a layout D and D-Hoel made a nice box out sky D to make it 15-5. Rebholz and Jasper moved the offense down the field quickly as the the final score was 17-5. The post-game European style huddle was cool as Jacob Goldstein was awarded a sweet MVP jersey. Ryan Todd & Mike Zalisk had to follow up their presentation with a borrowed box of Boston baked beans candy. Hopefully, Ironside can wrestle up something better for the next team.

Next was lunch with Georgia Bosscher as Boston teased her dreadlessly in the shade until warm-ups - complete with Chicken dancing and teaching the 2-step sumo-style Ironman dance. The second game of Sunday was against the Mo Hor! team at 2:30pm. The offense started the game just as the first, turning it twice before getting the D's back and scoring to take a 1-0 lead. #23 for the Slovaks takes the hitch pass and rips a rocket IO backhand on a flick mark for the upwind score 1-1. After that, Boston settled down and moved the disc with ease. The big hammers soon came out as Ironside jumped to a commanding lead 6-2. Half-time was 9-2 as Stubbs was showered with water during the pump up speech. Foster had a full extension slider near the goal line, only to look off a wide open Purcel at the cone, only to throw a floaty looper into double coverage on the S cut for the sky score. Seigs played physical American D for a point and was awarded with a choice swear word. Slovakia scored on a couple of deep balls that either Danny or Colthammer misread by attempting to take at 11 feet as the game ended 17-5. The post-game circle speech was just as awkward as the first, but at least our USA headband accessories went over better. The Czech's had a Chinese Firecracker, "Did we bring the big one?" Three guys lifted an imaginary artillery cannon to the middle set it off and with a screeching whistle made the boom -- very funny.

Will Lokke of Chain told stories of going down to Luxunberg 2-3, before running off 14 straight points. The shuttle service was on holiday so we played Ninja warrior for an hour before finally getting to the women's showcase game and opening ceremony. Hot Pepper! The Czech and Canadians battled to the brink. Czechs down 12-16, before tying the game on 16-16! The golden goal went to the Canadians and partying commenced.

Next up was the Irish Pub where Zalisk was witnessing feats of strength between Chain Lightning and Revolver. It was an All-American take-over as ATL vs. San Fran boat race went down to the wire 1-1. The rubber match had to wait as Revolver passed, giving handshakes with their tails tucked between their legs. The Kid yelled of his dominance and pounded his chest as Jolian just playboy smiled, drank his water, and got a number of a 15 year old. Boston entered the fray and stepped up to the boat race challenge -- getting crushed (Peter Prial *sigh*) in the first round before evening the score 1-1. The rubber match went down to the wire, but "What's that Smell? A-T-L! took the title of best boat racers. Teddy was promptly licked in the face by a girl. Since it was the fourth of July -- all the American's sang a rousing chorus of the star spangled banner!

Lokke was ICED, twice -- Zip was ICED in the bathroom, and Chicken was ICED with his shirt off at the 5 story dance club, with an assist from a foreign girl. Seth and Peter were almost pick-pocketed by prostitutes as the fog machines rumbled. Ridiculous adventures all night. Muffin accidentally locked Goldstein out of their room and apparently, Seigs does not kiss and tell. Foster was hit on by a shy girl in the 80's room as some dude streaked when his favorite song came on.

Monday's first game at 12:30. Warm up time, where is George? Zalisk was sent on a rescue mission and found Stubbs sleeping still. For the third time, Boston had only 15 minutes of field time before playing. The French Jack Sons were drilling big cross field hucks. The nearby French spectators tease that Nasser is the best French player around, and now he plays with Ironside. Boston began on offense as Rebholz and Jasper moved the disc breakside, until Chicken scores 1-0. The Defense runs a train as Goldstein breaks to Muffin to Seth Reinhardt 2-0. Ironside is playing with intensity for the first time all weekend as the French are fired up. Captain #13 pounds the disc in frustration after a sick poach layout D that he is getting no deep hucks. Hilarious - because he does not speak English. Foster screams Hot Peppers! Boston fires up as Purcel helps out with a deep poach D and punches in a break for a 6-2 lead. Seth-Ro gets a big contact over the top nice D, but doesn't contest the foul because he wanted to be nice 8-3. Muffin and Nasser walk on for rare Offensive point and run it deep to Jimmy Foster 9-3 for half. The French up the intensity out of half and storm back to make it 13-7, despite a nice Seigs jack to Nasser with a bunch of contact for a goal. The defense finishes a marathon point 17-8. High fives and a team picture later -- Boston was eating.

Just this in, Wiggins says Sockeye vs. Revolver at 10:30am tomorrow.
Doublewide vs. Chain Lightning and Ironside vs. Chevron Hot Flash Action at 10:45am tomorrow.
The showcase game of Doublewide vs Columbia was hotly heckled. The kick spikes did not help. Even Frances had to leave her team to heckle Salad Melancamp Hot Pepper! Night campus disc golf with our brand new World's ultimate discs was a great idea - especially on the concrete. Only 4 cars and 2 windows were hit in the process. Big games tomorrow. Less partying tonight.

What day is it? Tuesday? It was much cooler and with rain in the forecast. The pre-game atmosphere and intensity of the match was markedly different. The game speed was definitely higher with much more physical contact on the marks. Chevron was the European Champs and definitely wanted to win this game. Andrew Brown visited from the sidelines, with a full grown Canadian look-a-like beard, bow representing Invictis aka Furious, who came up just short against the Buzz Bullets 14-17 in the round before. Boston was on defense first and dug in for a windy contest, but couldn't convert the turn 0-1. Chicken, Rebholz, and Danny Clark went back to work to score quickly 1-1. Again the defense could not convert a turn and offense was left to Stubbs ripping a nasty upwind flick to Jimmy Foster 2-2. The Defense eventually forced a backfield turn as Goldstein moved the disc now 3-2. However, on the next upwind break, Teddy toed the line for a goal, but was smashed out of bounds, slamming his shoulder into the concrete wall and smacking his head bloody good 4-2. "We have a doctor. We have a doctor too." Boston was in control, but the contest swayed back and forth as England knotted the game at 5-5ish? Muffin found Nasser on the break side who ripped a big backhand to Foster for an easy O point. A Ryan Todd backhand was mack D'd before Nasser magic trick grabbed the disc through a Chevron armpit for an upwind score. Hot Pepper! Goldstein burned a timeout to convert a set play to Peter Prial for the halftime score 8-5. The second half turned windy and shitbox as Muffin and Seigs missed upwind hucks. Muffin also had a clap drop on a swing pass, but almost got the D back with a huge break side bid. The next pass, Seigs followed up with a big layout and foul. Chevron scored and spiked it. Several calls went all the way to rock-paper-scissors status, not to mention the captains twice coming out to flip for outcomes. There was one hammer catch/down call that went to fisticuffs. No noses were broken. The rain downpour began at 13-9 and Boston punched in the goal to lead 14-9 in full fledged sheets of gushing rain. Lightning hit, Hot Pepper was screamed, and Ironside climbed to the box seats. When the rain subsided, Boston re-warmed up for 10 minutes and then heard a 30 minute delay more from the TD. Much arguing later and flip-flopping, Chevron agreed to concede the game at 14-9, rather than trying to play it on turf 30 minutes later. The MVP went to the best looking English cock. The rest of the games were canceled. Castle surfing and semifinal soccer this afternoon! My ribs hurt, and Teddy can barely lift his arm. At lunch, Seigs dropped 19 tequila shots on Brute Squad, a $1 per shot. I love this country.

Through word of mouth Doublewide might have taken half on Chain. Although Jolian claims Chain was in control all game and took it all down 17-12. Revolver took down Sockeye, although the Fish made a late push 13-10. Currently, some of Boston is talking about jerking it deep as George Stubbs hears Harvard co-captain Alex Chang explain the clam to the Chinese National team in the yard outside through the window. Middlebury dork Peter Prial brags that he captained Pranksters to a tie with Wisconsin for 11th at Nationals, explaining the zone work of 7 vs 8 in practice. Off to the Czech castle and dinner for world cup Holland game as Dan Heijmen texts of his Netherworld heritage. Stories come out that Zip was yelling 'Yeah Boston" at 4am as he walks through the dorm, waking up players. It should be noted that 3 Chain players completely missed their game and a fourth showed at halftime.

A Russian bachorlette party hits on Seth-Ro, D-Hoel, and Nasser, with the wife claiming "this is my future husband." More antics as Jasper is bet $25 to race the tram up a 500 yard mega-hill at probably 35 degree elevation, only to get yelled at by the tram coming down the hill and then getting ICED. The Revolver party was basically canceled due to very early and difficult games to play next day. Hot Peppers!

However, Jimmy and Stubbs made an appearance and took it to the next level at the 5 story dance club again. As the night concluded, Foster and George trekked home on foot because they were both silly and without money. On the shortcut up the hill, J-Fo heard an animal and they scurried over to it. The hedgehog went into defensive mode, curling into a ball and not moving. Stubbs, wanting the hedgehog to move, tossed some grass on it. The startled hedgehog jumped and shivered, but did not move. Jimmy tosses grass on it again, the same result. Giggling in fits of laughter, they cover the scared shitless hedgehog in a pile of grass entirely.

The schedule just came up. Boston has games at 10:30, 2 and 5pm tomorrow. Ugh.

Boston made it to the different field site - now turf fields with a beautiful view. First up was a German team with a confusing zone defense. Nas made a sky D on the first point, but it traded to 2-2. Seth Reinhardt had a perfect under layout catch D and Dan Forrester ripped a nice upwind flick to Peter Prial as the lead stretched to 5-2. Muffin found Nasser who put a nice backhand to Trey for the sky and quick strike 7-3. A bladey downwind pull yielded half 8-3 with an end zone forced turn. Boston was in control all the way and finished 15-5. Germany gave us a vuzwella, reminding us who to cheer for in the soccer match tonight. Also tonight is jersey trade night. Colony from Australia is next up and then the Finnish team at 5pm. The winner of the pool probably gets Sockeye in quarters (hopefully a showcase game), while the second place finisher gets Revolver. Hot Peppers! I think my favorite part of this tournament is breaking the mark and hearing the marker swear in the language of his country -- classic.

The trading party started slow and then exploding in a frenzy. I dealt 4 jerseys and 2 wristbands in the first 20 minutes, and then snagged front row seats and a free beer from Ben Wiggins for the Spain-Germany soccer game. Amazing!

It is now 11:20 pm and we are begging for the cooks to reopen the kitchen and serve us soup. My mind is a pile of mush after 12 hours in the hot sun, because so much ridiculous shit happened today.

The Australian Champions Colony was our second game, their first of the day. They went zone mostly and Boston called probably 55 picks during the course of the game. The Aussies claimed there were gaps in the stack that we could water-ski behind them, Boston disagreed. Colony consistently scored on the break side and gave Ironside their first real challenge of the tournament (aside from Chevron). Rebholz ripped a huge hammer and Jasper shattered marks with his IO flick, but Australia was still up 4-5. Boston finally struck gold and stole back half 8-7. The game went 10-10, before Ironside broke twice to lead 12-10 on a Muffin to J-Fo connection. The final score went 15-13 in a stressful affair. Teddy re-cleated up and provided fresh legs while SethRo played until he coughed up blood.

The last game against the Finnish took place in slow motion. They took the early lead with huge layout grabs in the end zone as Boston continued to huck out the back from midfield. The language barrier was hilarious as their native tongue sounded mostly as gobbledygook. However, Ironside rallied and Boston stormed back for half 8-5. It was 13-10, when Ironside crushed in 2 late breaks to win 15-10. I'm so exhausted and the last pool play game is at 8:30am tomorrow. Quarterfinals against Sockeye are set for 6:15 as showcase game. Hot Peppers!

I'm not sure what day it is anymore. Boston has their last power pool game against Heads of State from Australia at 8:30am. Ironside has already won the pool by defeating Colony, so coming into the game, BI knows that it is not a must win. Regardless, any warm up at 8am sucks and our energy could not match Australia's. Boston misses an early huck badly as the offense looks disjointed and we are broken 0-1. Muffin hits Trey at the cone to make it 1-1. Ironside struggles to match Head's fire on defense, but Rebholz holds down the O with an O2 backhand ripper through the mark to Peter Prial 4-6. Australia, riding Jon McNauton's dirty accent, takes control 5-8. Danny Clark is nervous with a hamstring tweak and things look bleak for Boston. Hot Peppers! Finally, the score finds 8-11 and Boston burns a timeout. Coach Zalisk poses the question of the day -- we are gonna be out here regardless, do we want to put in the effort to do this or do we want to roll over? Goldstein pipes in, winner ice cream tastes better than loser ice cream. Purcel and Muffin punch each other multiple times and the decision is made -- we are winning this game. Ironside hits the intensity button and tweaks out as Dave Hoel gets 2 hand blocks and Peter Prial makes 3 D's in one point. Muffin puts a giant full field flick to Stubbs on O and Seigs gets a deep D and sick layout post D. Muffin murders a big backhand lazer right down the middle of the field to Peter Prial, yelling boom with the disc still in the air. Boston takes the game 15-12 as Heads of State is left to wonder what happened. Seth continued to cough up blood on the sideline and Seigs almost puked when given his allotment of Vegemite -- awful. Goldstein won his third MVP and Ironside took their meganap in anticipation of the showcase game against Sockeye at 6:15 in the showcase stadium!

Meanwhile, Doublewide is the first American team to lose to a non-American team by going down to the Swiss. However, drama erupted with the controversial finish. Firstly, the rules are pretty wack and the fields are super small. No observers makes for occasional cheating and the pick call is worthless, unless the common sense clause is evoked. Anyway, on golden goal point, Swiss catches the disc on the end zone line, calls himself in, does a victory lap and spikes it. Doublewide calls him straddle. A camera photo shows he straddled, so the spike is a turnover. 30 minutes later and much arguing and the TD called over, it went back and they scored it again to bump Doublewide out of quarterfinals and landing them in 9th place. Texas was seen moments later getting sloppy drunk as they were eliminated from contention.

Ironside vs. Sokai/Cockey/Sockey as the scoreboard teased. The fans thought the game was at 5:30 so they trickeled in and had the watch the full warm up. The crowd grew to probably 3,000 people with announcers and an air of anticipation that words now couldn't match. Hot Peppers! Ironside has the best warm up of the tournament as this is the first real elimination game. The teams stare each other down as Jolian and Chain encourage Boston. No one is cheering for Sockeye except maybe Riot. The game is intense from point one, but Boston punches first, leading 4-3 on a Nasser flick looping blade to a striding Chicken. However, Adam Simon tweaks his hamstring and is forced to leave the game. Sokai is making the points long -- and yelling "The boats rocking" when they finally get scored upon. Ryan Todd replies, "Because the boat is full of fish." The junk is working as Goldstein rips a huge backhand to Purcel for a break. Teddy Bowar gets his Jaw-in-mess when he takes a tooth through his cheek, spitting blood. When asking for ice, the medic replies it is in the truck, when asking for a towel, they reply there is none.. Seth Ro stalls Wiggins on the end zone line, using the little known travel-play-continues rule, but Ben ignores it and play goes on without an observer interjection at 6-4. The announcers are giving player's grief for stopping play with each travel, it goes mostly ignored. George Stubbs is running loose deep and Rebholz is bombing huge. Boston takes half 9-7ish. Goldstein steps up on O after Chicken goes down and plays awesome, getting a huge air D to save a break chance, as well as Matt Rebholz getting a layout poach D, also saving a break chance. However, Peter Prial misses a flick bomb to a wide open Jimmy Foster and wheels come off as Sockeye takes the lead 10-11. Trading ensures until Muffin is spiked on at the cone, the disc is respiked, although it should have been launched into the stands. Old man crazy Fleming makes the catch of his life deep and Sockeye is up 14-16 in a game to 17. Wiggins rips a flick to a wide open Skip, who begins his high stepping showboat, only for George Stubbs to accelerate and layout mack touch the disc, before Skip punches in the win 15-17. Awful. Ironside was in control, but unforced errors gave way -- very disappointing. Chicken was the most upset, not able to finish the game. Teddy won the MVP for taking stitches to his face and Boston ICED Skip for their MVP prize as he deserved it. Sewell, not an ICE veteran, choked twice, spit out half, and put up a weak effort, understandably so after a long game. Captain Todd consoled the team as best he could and was proud of the effort. Live blogging available here

Ironside had games to play the next morning at 8:30am so no sour pants drinking. Cockey had their team meeting outside the dorms and their game plan for Chain Lightning was overhead. "When Chain makes big plays, just smile. When they get D's and score, just smile." Very sneaky Sokai. Atlanta seemed over confident - only missing 2 dudes from last year as well as picking up Jolian and Sammy CK, 26 deep with entire lines over 6'2.

The semifinals were set - Revolver vs. Buzz Bullets and Chain Lightning vs. Sockeye, both at 8:30am with no other team's available to watch... lame!

Waking up this morning was awful. The repeated full warm-ups had taken their toll on the fifth straight day of playing. The 5th place bracket game against Canada's Invictus. Numbers of healthy players had dropped to barely manageable as Andrew Brown negotiates a game to 11 in order to "watch the best ultimate in the World." No arguments as semifinals were happening simultaneously. Canada struck first, taking a lead with nice breaks and spot on hucks to space 2-4. Points were hard fought despite increasing heat and early morningness. Boston took a win or go home attitude with tales of winner ice cream. Foster hauled in 3 goals and Muffin found Colthammer for 2 more as Boston responded 11-8.

Post game included a footrace to the main stadium. Once arriving Chicken and Seigs began discussing the Top 5 Hard Bodies of Ultimate. It turns out Chicken is wealth of ultimate information -- especially on the womens game. The pics were a bit Colorado heavy: Jolian, Mac, Beau, Hensley and maybe Faust, later deemed too flabby. Chain and Sockeye were exchanging blows on one field as Revolver had too much legs for the fading Buzz Bullets. Chain was in good position at 15-13, still on serve to win and just needing to hold. A Sammy-CK blade to a sliding Dylan is dropped now 15-14. Receiving to win, Swanson hucks a big backhand, but the narrow field does not help as Dylan skies Zip to throw the greatest. Sockeye is young and hungry, tying the game at 15-15. Not shying away from Chain's aggressive style, Jay Hammond rips deep but no dice as Sockeye is playing smothering gritty D. The cap is on, next point wins. Chain yields big unders in the heat and Tyler Kinney calls a timeout 10 yards out. Nate Castine wants the ball and goes wheel route for the Flying Squirrel rifle blade, which Castine leaps over the shoulder snag for the win. Chain is SHOCKED! What a comeback, I almost didn't feel as bad to losing to Sockeye for about a millionth a second. Revolver vs. Sockeye in the finals.

We made bets on the Buzz Bullet-Chain game, but it was obvious Atlanta was looking for the World Title and not third place. Boston slow plays Colony in the fifth place, asking to play to 13 rather than a full game to 17. Colony, feeling robbed after a close loss to Boston in the power pools, wanted another shot. With 5th place on the line and not wanting to lose to any team outside USA, Ryan Purcel was amped to play. Peter Prial was playing well on offense with Dan FunBoy moving the disc well 2-2. Colony was scoring deep 6-6 until Rebholz found his stride deep 7-6. Seigs blows the game up to half using a sneaky mis-direction force middle for the turnover and scoring quickly 9-6. Boston is down to 16 players, but hitting stride in the last game of the tournament. Rebholz is hitting Peter and Stubbs at will with backhand shots. Muffin sends a backhand ripper to Nas 12-7. Purcel sends a huge floaty flick pull and then follows it up with a better flick huck for a score 16-7 and finish it 17-7. We trade jerseys and settle in for the last of the Chain-Buzz Bullets finish. It was 9-8 half time to Japan and close all game. At 17-17, the Buzz Bullets hold with chilly offense and punch in a break to win 19-17. With only finals left to play, it's beer and soccer as the women's semis begin.

Women's semis was familiar foes Fury vs. Riot together and Uno vs. Brute.
Fury went up big 7-1 and looked to have the game in control. It tightened to 9-3, but Seattle made a big push 10-9. Fury punched back to lead 15-11 and finished 17-14. Brute kept it close 3-3, but faded quickly to 5-11 and 10-17.

The party was very fun, probably 3,000 people. We ordered beers 5 at a time, flutter guys proved aggressive. Table topping went down as Foster, Stubbs and Muffin were all nailed. Jimmy McMurray made an appearance! Skip was Iced, as was Stubbs by Kaela. The sneak midnight showing was rumored to be either Sting, David Hasselhoff, or Lady Gaga. Frances was probably ruffied and muffin fell asleep in the techno club while Jimmy was dancing on tables. Did I mention a 5 story dance club?

Surly made a finals appearance riding the big shoulders of Ron Kublanza, Big John Chandler, and a beastly Dave Boardman. The game was tied 11-11 before Troubled Past took the title 13-11. CLX won mixed over Canada 17-10 in the early round, which I slept in and missed a bus.

Fury vs. UNO was a ridiculous game. It was very cloese the whole way as UNO took half 9-8. The atmosphere was incredible, both teams playing very athletic, very fast. UNO's players all went to the same college and this same alumni team had been playing for 10 years, rumored to have been in Prague for a month practicing in the conditions. Very sunny and with increasing winds, Fury ties the game 14-14 with Alex Synder's smooth handling. Fury still needed a break to win and both team sensed the importance of the next point as the defensive intensity ramped way up. Fury strikes first with an awesome layout D. UNO responds with an over-the-shoulder layout D. The teams trade back-to-back-to-back-to-back incredible layout D's. The energy in the stadium was incredible as Fury took the lead 15-14. UNO ties it at 15-15 and keeps in the same line. Fury is on O for the win. A quick deep shot and the Bay Area takes down the title 16-15. Awesome game.

In the men's final, Seattle played hard and took an early lead 5-4, but soon gave way to a deeper Revolver. Mac Taylor, 5x silver medalist ('05, '07, '09, & 2nd place Callahan finish in college) finally earned a title, playing tight handler D on Wiggins and then going deep on the turnover 6-7. Beau showed off his high release flick and even launched a backhand huck which came back on a travel. Revolver was in control by halftime 6-9 and lengthened their lead as Bart Watson was hitting his deep shots. Watson also showed his faultless spirit as he called a foul on a throw to a poach D. The foul did not affect his throw and per WFDA rules, gave up the disc, playing with the best spirit. Mark Sherwood had a nice deep D and Beau had a ridiculous D in the end zone, turning on the speed to catch up right before half. Nate Castine played awesome for Sockeye, getting it to 10-13, but it was not enough to overcome the Bay Area final score 13-17. USA SWEEPS!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

It's possible that you have found yourself, sunning on a spotless day in your bedroom, alongside the nude figure of your significant other. The haphazard blinds, partially open, lay ribbons of light on her torso, and she steals a curious glance in your direction. Her smile wonders what crazy idea you're incubating. You likely turn to face her, return her smile, and begin caressing the inside of her buttocks.

If you have found yourself in this room, on this afternoon, it's likely nothing I am about to write will be any real news to you. Really, it's just one of those fleeting observations we have daily. For a second we connect to something directly in front of us, and move on. That's usually how I do it, at least. But every once in a while our attention can be caught askew, and our new angle of observation makes the obvious, for a moment, remarkable.

But there you are, it's a lazy weekend afternoon, you're still in bed although the slant of light is nagging you to move about your day, and the absolute stillness of the preceding morning has tuned your inner radio toward these otherwise ignored thoughts. The light is warm as you begin to trail downwards, finding the diaphanous wisps of rebellious hair escaping her ponytail down the length of her neck, the thumbprint-sized depression behind her clavicle, the slope of her breasts, the texture of her skin a fresh sheet of expensive cotton pulled smartly over a firm mattress - the king's chambers were never this inviting.

Her initial giggles and smiles have abruptly stopped, and you look up to find the corner of her lip is caught between her teeth, with the sensations below struggling to pull it out, though it threatens to egress with a whispered moan clutching its soft flesh, hidden in the damp warmth of her mouth. Her eyes are open but rolled back so that only a waxing slice of pupil can be seen, as if her sight was caught by the night sky and frozen there, alight, a week after the new moon.

It's all the cue you need to continue, and indeed I do, as you have before, I'm sure. She climbs on top of me, as eager as I am to cascade into each other, and begins to rock her hips. But I still have a cartoon grin drawn across my face, and she laughs again - a question - and brings her face down close. "What," she says, flatly but with play. Perhaps she's wondering why I'm making such an expression, the kind of grin so unflinching in face of circumstance that its devotion to my face pulls her from whatever mental recess she goes to when we have sex. I know exactly why that grin is there, and why it won't leave, and why I'm not asking it to. The grin is held in place by the hands of an idea, a realization of things that I have always assumed but never attended to. If I'd been able to both think these thoughts and speak them, I would have. I give a small try, but it proves to be one too many pins for my mind to juggle. My words catch and snag on awkward sentences which send them tumbling out of my mouth, and so I stop. We do not.

Afterward I sit down to collect my monologue before time's breeze enters and scatters my words away like oak leaves in autumn. If you've ever raked a lawn in the approaching harshness of an October afternoon in Wisconsin, you know you have to act quickly.

Detatch yourself for a moment, if you can, from the way this feels. From the physicality of it. For a moment, don't let the gentle tug of friction as I slide out of you and back in be the focus of your energies. Sex is almost always such an intense and inward thing, and the strength of touch such that it can snuff out other communication. So, just now, just look at us, and what we're doing, as if from the corner of the bed.

On such as sunny afternoon it shouldn't be difficult. Today's sky and all its daring lighting cast us in shades and tones that are unusual for this activity. Denuded by the fog of a hot shower, or fleshed out and silhouetted by a sleepy jaundiced streetlamp; these are the hues of lovemaking we're used to. Today though, the bright and playful sun has carved us into such stark relief that it's possible, for a moment, to pretend you've walked into a room where two lovely strangers were enjoying themselves. That you are a witness to, as much a participant of, lovemaking. It's an easy enough exercise with the slightest bit of will, and imagination. Here I am, your lover, normally painted in Fauvist blotches of indigo and violets and heated with slivers of unconfident light, now filled in with brash strokes of rose and peach and glowing white in my desire. I could be any one. And you, below me and flushing with effort, the color of your flesh shifted within the frame of mine, could be anyone. So if you have managed to remove yourself from the physical sensation of the sex between us you might begin to see two people, just any two people, working their way to a deep rouge while enjoying each other's company.

Now, before closing your mind to this new path and losing yourself again in your accelerating gyrations, hold that thought close to you and guard it like a candle flame outdoors, while reconnecting with your body, so that like staring into a mountain lake, you can see both yourself and its depth clearly and simultaneously.

I know I sound far too often like a crazed idiot, disconnected from reality and spouting soft philosophy. I know this. Bear with me, because trying to explain how I feel and what I am thinking is a bit like writing instructions on viewing a Magic Eye 3-D portrait; the words might make perfect sense to you but the meaning won't until you relax your sight and discover the image for yourself.

In this moment, slowly syncing our hips, the sine waves of our thrusting written on the sheets as a seismograph of bodily fluid, I feel not only my enjoyment at the sex we are having, but also a deep love and connection with all couples everywhere losing themselves into each other in the same way. I connect our tiny arc into the giant piebald circle of love and procreation. The myriad positions, the desires, the insecurities and taboos, we are by our participation in this postmeridian copulation also a witness to all instances prior of same.

And I guess, if you're not understanding me, that that might seem kinda weird. Perv, you might call me. Distracted, others have. But it's a difficult thing to express, that with each thrust, giggle and smile, I hear and see each giggle and thrust that humanity has created, and will eventually. And it's harder still, feeling thus connected , not to giggle and smile back.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Continuing from some ideas on the last post -

Your player/teammate just made a bone-headed turn-over on the field. Getting the disc back is imperative: What do you say to them, or in general?

I like:
Let's get this back!
I'm going to get this turn!
I got your back, bro!

I avoid:
Go get it back!
(Name of Player)!!! GRRRRR!!!
Anything derisive.

When I'm playing and a teammate turns it I tell them that I've got their back and that I'm going to get the D. Then I play D as hard as I can. I've found that it's an effective way of slyly (and in a positive manner) guilting them into shaking off the mistake and getting on their horse. Shouting "Go get it back!" will often negatively tighten younger college players who, upon being singled out, only feel their mistake highlighted.

On the other hand, telling him that you're going to get it back has a much different effect. Here he ise, having messed up and obviously knowing it. He expects a backlash, but what he gets is an example of his teammate selflessly offering to right their mistake. He feels his team's support, but more importantly he sees his buddies working to right an error he made. As bad as he might feel about his mistake, a quick and personal mental calculation tells him it's nothing compared to how he will feel if his buddies bust their ass for him and he just lags pissing and moaning. He sets his jaw, he decides he's going to man up for his own error, and we're off, 7 men playing their best D only moments after a turn.

I've had a bunch of these little questions floating around the back of my head this past year as captain of a natties club team and coach of a college champion hopeful. I think next I'm going to write a little about the thin line separating Being Angry from Being Intense, and why it's important to try as much as possible to tap into the latter and avoid the former.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

As an educator and a college coach, the skills necessary to recruit young minds toward the task at hand overlap nicely between my paying profession and my playing one. I work as HS support staff, and in that capacity get to sit and observe many of the teachers at my school. I see how the good teachers engage their students in the process of learning, and watch as lessons become exercises in fun engagement.

I also, sometimes, am in classrooms that struggle with behavior management,  with a teacher lacking patience, tolerance, or understanding. Someone lacking patience can turn a tiny infraction into a momentous occasion, inviting the entire class to sit and witness control of the situation dissolve in a fury of adult opprobrium. Because of this they don't have the students as allies, and when the teacher's patience frays and they try to regain control all the students hear is this:

"You're trying my patience! I need you to blah blah! I need everyone to blah blah! I want this! I need that! I need I need I need I want I want I want!"

And on and on, a list of demands, that the students give exactly what they want (whether she explained it well or not is irrelevant), as if by virtue of the existing power structure and being the Teacher, all students are obliged and do exactly as  Teacher says or get layered with condemnation. When a teacher can't keep their cool, the entire class knows it.

So where's the Ultimate? I'm getting there. You see, these types think that by virtue of their position they should be obeyed, so their interactions with the students rest on this pillar of their pedagogy. But what if, as the students are more than happy to demonstrate, they don't give a shit about what they say? What is going to motivate the students to want to improve then?

At the beginning of the season I made what is, at face value, a very small semantic request. I asked the captains and officers that, whenever addressing the team, be it practice, huddle, or email, that we never use the singular first person. That we never begin with "I need..." or "I want you to..." The frame for what follows requires that the listener be vested in the speaker and his authority, and that they place their own wants and needs below those of the speaker. And that kinda works, sorta. HS students know they need to do their work, and players know they need to work out and practice, so to the extent that they know it necessary they'll follow along. But what if your goal is not to just have them do what is minimally required, but to inspire and motivate them to do their best, every time?

What I asked is that we frame every address to the team in the team's terms. Some players might not like me personally, and I know some Hodags would love to flick a captain or officer in the nuts, hard, if given the chance. But every one of them wants the team to succeed, to win. So we say:

"You need to..."
"The team needs..."
"We have to..."
"Let's all..."

It's a small quibble, maybe just a little something to make a fuss over; a single word change. But I'm convinced it makes a difference, as we repeat it practice after practice, huddle after huddle, one word change become a thousand word choices over a season's time. If you as a coach make it about you, players are invited to take you or leave you. But they're not on the team because you're the coach, or the captain. You ain't that special. They're on the team because they love playing Ultimate, love being on a team, and want to work hard for the team so that they may personally feel more accomplished. If they hear that you need them to try harder, their inner monologue gives you a parenthesized "fuck you". You work harder, bitch.

But listen to the difference. Say instead, "We're slacking. When we showed up at tryouts and went around the circle after making the team, we all promised each other we wouldn't shy from the hard work. We knew there would be hard work, challenges. Here's one, right now. Right fucking now. So we can go back on our promises to ourselves, to each other, or we can sack up and play with some heart. The team is better than this. We are better than this. Right now, we have to work harder."

At my high school it's never about me. When I enforce rules they're never enforced because I want them to be. We do things in my office because the students are there to learn to be winners. They want to be winners, they want to be great. I remind them of this desire they have, this picture of themselves they hold in their head. You want to be a beast. You said you wanted to go to college. This is what it takes. It takes hard work. I'm here to help you not quit on yourself. You need to put your head down and put in the time, for you, right now. I see that person you want to be, poking out from within you; now sit down, focus, and let the beast loose. You deserve it; you owe it to yourself. Do it for you.

I don't know if it works or not, I'm just convinced it does. At least, I'm pretty popular with the kids these days.

Thursday, March 04, 2010


I'm at the airport in the Minnie getting ready to board the flight out to SFO for the "Stanford Invite." There are ten of us here and we're all anxious to get out to the West Coast and bring our best against the best. Let's bro.

The Fear of Failure - Over-training, Mental Fortitude, and Confidence

Yesterday was the first day in nearly 4 months that I felt tired. It wasn’t the kind of tired that my legs feel, or the kind that leaves me gasping for breath. It was a mental fatigue, leaving my motivation and conviction on the wayside, begging the question, “What’s the point?” It was the first day since Club Nationals, in the doldrums of the off-season, that my awareness finally mumbled, “Enough.” I might have asked my legs to push again, but my heart wasn’t in it. I slowed down, stopped, and within minutes found myself puking out everything in my system; maybe half a cup of water. As I dragged myself from the gym I couldn’t shake a specific memory. It was the last weekend of October in Sarasota and my body was melting in the heat. It sucked my energy, ate away at my leg strength, and collapsed my breathes. I couldn’t beat it, I hadn’t trained properly.

That was the first realization I recalled on the plane ride home – I had been neither mentally nor physically prepared. I thought back in anger of my off-season. Four months of crutches, two months of biking & calf raises, and then just the last four months of scattered practices, countless skipped drills and usually just one cleat on. On that plane ride home, I thought only of time evaporated and opportunities missed. At Nationals, I had over 400 touches, but probably played one of the least memorable tournaments of my life. The frustration and regret consumed me and I decided to remedy that mistake this season.

Confidence is one fickle fellow.
When you have it - nothing can stop you.
When you lose it - it's impossible to find again.

I've always been cocky, confident, and sure of my ability.
Any competition brought out the best in me.
Losing was not an option and I believed in myself unconditionally.
I could accomplish anything I set my mind to and I attacked every challenge with this attitude.
I never gave myself a chance to doubt my talent or physical abilities because deep down, I wholeheartedly believed in myself.

And then, for perhaps the first time in my life - I lost confidence on Thursday October 29, 2009. A week prior to Club Nationals, I majorly tweaked my back in the weight room dead lifting. I was barely cleared to play after seeing a chiropractor 7 days in a row, and entered Nationals without a workout or throw to my name for a whole week. Highly uncharacteristic. I hid every ounce of weakness and pain from all but a few of my closest confidants. I didn't want any excuses.
As Madison prepared for Sockeye, I quickly realized two things: 1) my change of direction was hampered, and 2) my throws were not perfect. As a primary handler -- these are pretty big problems. I discarded these concerns and played the best I could. With the score tied 7-7, I finally flinched, throwing 2 poor turnovers, allowing Seattle to steal half.

It was a like a fire extinguished. I lost confidence in myself. Unlike the hundreds of times before, where my 10 second memory simple erased the outcome, I couldn't shake the feeling that I had let down my teammates. I couldn't recover -- I had lost confidence in myself. It is almost an impossible feeling to describe. With the inner coals barely flickering, it was very difficult to... feel right again. I knew how I was supposed to recover, but I was finding no path to that outcome.

After one week of swine flu post-Nationals, I began training with a new found tenacity – to make up for lost time. I decided the best way to fight my demons would be to kill it as hard as possible. I pieced together a three month workout routine correctly named “Kick Me in the Face.” Over the next 84 days, I practiced/trained/lifted/sprinted for 144 hours. The rest of my time was spread thin between work, Bella, Hodags, and high school wrestling. My tactic of choice was fully committing to my best effort for every exercise of each practice session, and if needed, to recall the pain of under-performing last season. It was all I ever needed to remember. I battled countless workouts and buckets of sweat, clinging to a couple of motivational lines hot on my mind, “Be the change I want to see in myself. Give my best effort! Eagerly accept the hard work and pain – visualizing my desired result.” The reaffirmation of my goals worked and I trained onward.

The one motivation that always keeps me pushing is the fear of failure. Once I set a goal – it is mine to achieve. Nothing can stop me, except for… me. And for the first time in four months, I slowed my pace and eventually waited, pondering any excuse good enough to stop. I tested my muscles, but found my body felt the strongest it’s ever been. I tested my fortitude to continue, but found only stale disappointment and doubt for my certainty. Motivation was blurring just as the end-goal was blurring. Frustration at my weakness, disappointment in myself, and the corresponding lack of willpower all swept into the most powerful emotion I could understand – the fear of failure. Would it be easier to quit than to attempt and ultimately fail?

Instead of giving up, I resorted to the internet to answer my questions about over-training and rest cycles. I read sentences screaming weakness and fluffy-soft excuses, as if written for mid-30’s house wives. Their symptoms of over-training seem normal for anyone working out seriously. They don’t convince me to stop. Instead I tracked down individual stories – legends of Dan Gable and Apollo Ohno who train up to five or eight hours a day for their athletic goals. I ask myself what makes them so strong? If they can do it, why can’t I? I was coming closer to the answer I needed.

If I really want it, neither physical nor mental roadblocks should stop me. The fear of failure – should only make me push harder. The disappointment from last year should only fuel my fire and drive my hunger to be better than that. Here is to the off-season and to learning from my mistakes.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Nudge Nudge

I finally got around to giving the Winter 2009 UPA magazine a thorough look over.  I found something that tickled me.

It was obvious to me, and anyone else that knows anything about club ultimate, that when it started coming out that Chase would be playing co-ed (I mean, mixed) this club season, that whatever team had just acquired him off marriage/move waivers would be the next Club Mixed Champion.  Pardon me if that seemed like too big a leap in logic to assume.  When it turned out that Axis of C'Ville won, I decided the right thing to do would be to feign a polite surprise.

Now several months removed from that finals and looking at page 22 of the newsletter, I find that my practiced reaction was entirely unnecessary.  Chase was in on the joke too.  Find him now, tucked away in the top left corner of the picture.  There he is, giant smile upturned at its right corner, reaching up toward that eye.  And there is that eye, crows' feet dangling downward, cinched shut while the left remains open in a near universal piece of code: the wink.  The wink, that flash of facial expression to bring you in on an inside joke shared only by winker and, now, you.  Telling you, hey, I'm not being entirely serious here.  I am telling a joke.  And indeed he is.

Look at him there, winking, telling you, a bit sheepishly, "yes, I know. I shouldn't be here.  I make Mixed ultimate look like a summer camp dodgeball game between grade schoolers and counselor.  This is Julius Peppers putting on pads today against some Pop Warner cast-offs.  This is them running into the inmovable object and trying to push.  I, too, feel like I'm cheating.  Just a little bit.  Just a little bit." Wink.

I imagine, too, that on the picture to its left, Zach Eastlund is looking into an unknown distance resigned to a fate that, only moments ago, he was hoping to avoid.  As the disc hung there, gently tabling off and both he and Chase in hot pursuit, he may have found himself thinking of Sisyphus and three short feet from the mountain's ridge, heavy boulder in tow.  Perhaps today, perhaps mere moments from now, the rock will make it to the top.  But it slips away, and Chase tallies another goal, and both Zach and Sisyphus purse their lips and get angry for having allowed themselves the luxury of hope.


Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Tuesday was the first day of classes for Spring Term ‘10 at the University of Wisconsin. As the students flooded the downtown streets again there were a select few who had their inner eye pointed toward a place far from Ag Hall or Memorial Library. For these students, Van Hise is not a foreign language center but a set of stairs, Bascom Hall not a building but a finish line. Yesterday they walked Charter and Mills and University, but their minds were already strolling Bellagio, Luxor, Flamingo. They have only two weeks to wait until their feet follow suit, and until those feet transition from restless leg syndrome on the Strip to relentless legs syndrome on the field.

Harsh Wisconsin winters are known for their calculating culling of herds, and this year’s winter has already been harsh on the Hodags. Four of our number have gone down, one a rising star now tethered for the season, the other one of our most experienced players, the Brain to many a teammate’s Pinky, putting aside his quest for world domination until his ACL is healed. The other two found life too difficult to juggle with all of Ultimate's pin already up in the air and bowed out.  With one numb gust we went from wondering how to manage 27 studs to wondering how many more of the 23 remaining go down.

It wasn’t all bad news. For once, we sent a Jewish teammate to Israel and he actually came back. The addition of Masler to the corps of defensive handlers will serve stiffen its cloth with the starch of experience, and increase the intensity as an already crowded defensive squad fights to earn playing time. With two weeks remaining until our first outdoor tourney of the spring, with each game a rock on the tipping scale of this year’s strength bid allocation, with the feel of a warm piece of plastic pinched between fingers and thumb fading into memory, the Hodags turn to the two things that never lack, the only two things they can count on during the eternal winters, the only two things that strengthen while nature weakens and wilts: their will and their legs.

At our two fall tournaments we opened the lines into two tiers of playing time. The players on the offensive line ranked among our most experienced, veterans that can be counted to conserve when the timing is crucial, miserly with turnovers regardless of pleasure. These 9 played nearly every offensive point, and at CCC showed that they can do it well when their games dovetail downfield. That left 14 sets of legs on defense, a vicious and tireless centipede ready to walk over any offense. They did not disappoint.

Now, we’re 3 days removed from our first spring trip. We’ve been sizing ourselves up against our teammates for such a long, claustrophobic winter that it’s difficult to predict how we’ll fare against teams that have the opportunity to throw, play, and just be outside. Still, it’s Vegas, and we’re feeling more than lucky.