Saturday, February 05, 2011

The damnedest thing about writer's block is that it doesn't stem from a lack of things to write about. Writing requires you to summon the energy necessary to relive the memory, and revisit its emotions, and that process is exhausting. It's kind of like why I haven't gotten around to watching Hotel Rwanda or Blood Diamond yet; I want to, but I know I'll be spent when I'm done, and I'll do it later when I have some more energy, ok?

In my absence Muffin's stream of conscience, like kudzu, grew outward without check and my blog has become an ill-kept garden. The links need weeding and pruning, the masthead a dusting, but mostly I just need to sit down and with the regularity of a drip irrigation system water the keyboard with my words. Yet that takes time, and the catch-22 I'm in is that while I am doing a lot I'd love to write about, the time required to do those things leaves little for their writing. And this being a new year, I toss my resolution to take time to write into the ring, there to rest with everyone else's.

So, aside from it generally being agreed upon that I'm on of the coolest people at my high school (by both fellow staff and students), I've been getting caught up in some Ultimate. I am the coach of the Hodags for the second year in a row, I reprised my role as counselor at Next Level, a camp for high school players, and I also completed my second year with Club as its captain, and we returned to Natties, for my 11th straight appearance. It's been a great experience, with a lot of learning along the way, and I'll entertain the thought that some of you voyeurs out there might be interested in reading about it.

Now, the Hodags are a week away from the first tournament of the spring, Warm-Up, A Florida Affair. We've been busy here in the taiga, alternating digging ourselves out of snow drifts and working out. This year's team returned 18 players from last year - a larger number than many other team's total rosters. Still, an overwhelming number of them were hard-nosed role players from last year. Our success this year will be predicated on these players emerging past their comfort zones and filling out into larger roles.

The departure of both of last year's captains, Matt Crumb and Jake Smart, along with losing the anchor of our offense, Callahan nominee and former captain Evan Klane, left a void at the top of the leadership. However, we have a crop of juniors and seniors that have been hungry to fill these places, and the emergence of Zach Alter and Alex Simmons as trailbreakers has made the transition easier.

Our main challenge has been dealing with the invernal elements. Practice time is at a premium here at UW-Madison, with excellent facilities but armies of club teams fighting for indoor time at the McClain Center. We again took a full roster this season, expecting attrition (but not so early in the season - we've already lost one player we were counting on), and what we need most now is time to play the sport and get used to each other. With Mardi Gras falling later than usual this year on account of this year's liturgical calendar, it conflicted with the Stanford Invite. It was a hard decision to pass up on Mardi Gras, considering that having won the money for like 8 years in a row now they should just rename it Mardi Gras Presents: The Hodags, but we have few opportunities to travel to the west coast and we had to take the one that fit us best.

We find ourselves again this year a young team, with more true freshman than in several years, but our athleticism has increased and our Sophomore/Junior classes are stellar. Provided we're able to put all the pieces together, we will again find ourselves competing against the best teams in the country for a shot at the national championship in Boulder, my second home, come Memorial Day.