Monday, December 18, 2006

It's a tight squeezeWho are we kidding? For the last several years the finals at College Champies have been held in a football stadium. A nearby high school usually, and that is a great kind of venue for that event: the right size for our attendance (so far); facilities in place (restrooms, parking -- unlike polo complexes) to accomodate crowds; and more convertible to the promising advent of television broadcasting (again, unlike polo fields). I'm told we're looking around Sarasota for other venues to hold Sunday's Nationals games. But you know what? There are permanent metal fixtures in place 120 yards apart. Hey wait a sec. That's the rear boundary for the end zone, you may be thinking. You would be correct. At these facilities we already shorten the fields out of safety's necessity, as we should. So why don't we codify this and have everyone play the same dimensions? Let's shorten the field. I know not every football field will have truly permanent field goal posts. And lest you think I'm taking one facet of one tournament per year and extrapolating it into changing the status quo, let's consider the other consequences of the following adjustments:

Shorten the end zones by 5 yards apiece. Twenty-five is deep, and I have mentioned in the past how that allows for some great plays to develop. I am a fan of deep end zones, but I think 20 yards would still be deep enough. I also recognize that this creeps towards Goaltimate and other versions of short-field ultimate that I generally do not advocate, but it is shortening end zones by five yards, not ... letting Germany "annex" parts of Europe.

(As to the safety issue -- scooting away from a goal post by fifteen feet is the absolute minimum I would feel comfortable moving the back line of an end zone.)

Shorten the field of play by 10 yards. Same problem (creeping) as above, and aggravated, but with the added benefit of everyone being able to huck. I know strong throwers have rightfully been valued on a 70-yard pitch, but they will still be valued on one that's 10 yards shorter. Perhaps moreso, as accuracy and creativity will be rewarded. And let's be honest. How often do you see hucks from goal line to goal line? Occasionally, but it's not like it's a regimented part of your offense. And hucks will be as hard or harder because the cushion in the end zone will not be as generous.

(This now pulls our rear boundaries thirty feet from any football fixture. That's pretty good, safety-wise.)

Scoring may become quicker and more spectator-friendly. I'm pretty indifferent to this, but if it did indeed make the game more watchable then I would support that I guess. I understand few of you will be convinced. So why else should we consider shortening the field?

It will become easier to tape for broadcast/DVD. If your field is 20 yards shorter a central tower camera has to worry less about the tennis-umpire feel. And every camera stays the same distance from the field (whatever it was prior) but is up to 20 yards closer to a play on the other side of the field. Pretty good deal, no?

You reduce your needed acreage by 20%. At large, flat sports facilities (e.g., polo fields), you need 800 square yards less, per field. That's one-fifth of the acres you need! That could make or break your ability to host a tournament at a given location.

Soccer stadiums. These are not found as often as football stadiums, but occasionally we have tournaments hosted at soccer-specific stadiums. Official soccer dimensions dictate the playing field is 300­-360 feet long. And occasionally we will have a game at a stadium with permanent goals or post-holes. So we can kill this bird with the same stone. This will not come up very often, if at all, but just something to consider. We will fill a giant soccer stadium (UCSB, Columbus Crew, etc.) before we will fill a giant football stadium.

Addendum: I'm an idiot. We use soccer fields all the time, though maybe not stadiums, and they are rarely 120 yards long. Numerous facilities that are used annually -- Charlotte's Queen City Tune-Up fields, the Blaine complex, several college nationals sites recently -- are all primarily soccer facilities. Just some more good reasons to shrink the field.

Some football stadiums, as the case was in Columbus this year, leave their field goals up year-round. However, this is not strictly about adapting to football fields. Some take the uprights down, leaving a metal post a couple yards out the back. And some don't leave anything but a metal hole in the ground. But there are several reasons besides safety I believe the sport stands to benefit from shorter fields. They will make the game faster and potentially more watchable with more hucks and quicker scoring. It will make television and film production much easier. And fitting into 100 yards dramatically increases the number of venues we can compete at -- for size, cost, and a host of other reasons.

Change will not happen quickly. And it shouldn't -- consistency is an important tenet to build upon. But this is an adjustment that will have significant and positive changes for the sport; it should be seriously considered by those shaping ultimate's future and its rules.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Here's a rundown of essential holiday gifts for that special someone, whether it's your significant other, recently addicted (to ultimate) teenager, or estranged, ultimate-playing relative. In no particular order:

You know what would be fun right now? To go out and toss. And no matter where in the world you're located right this second, you could actually do that with a Flashflight. The best light-up disc on the market is 185 grams of well balanced plastic and colored LED lights of your choice. From the beaches of Siesta Key to the moonlit quad, everyone needs a Flashflight.

Ultimate: The First Four Decades
If you're reading this you are probably aware of this book. But you might not be aware that you should own it. The book pays for itself if all you do is tear open the DVD. Have you seen this thing? Among many other ESPN Classic–worthy reels is George Plimpton doing a documentary on ultimate! (Do you know what other sports documentary features George Plimpton? When We Were Kings. Rent it.) Anyway, then there's the book itself. Hours of research and labor, exquisite photographs generously donated by our photographers, and scores of sidebars you can use to impress your friends. And all these people did it on less per day than what it takes to feed Rachael Ray.

UVtv Subscription
Check out these offerings! This is maybe the best combination of ability to order from your desk and enjoyment on the other end. Don't worry, it's easy to sign up. Naturally, UltiVillage also offers many DVDs for your ultimate gift recipient.

Lifetime UPA Membership
Give the gift that keeps on giving, literally. Your loved one will be a member of the Ultimate Players Association until he or she goes to a better place. Magazines, Board elections, and a lifetime of dues.

Photographic Prints
Ultimate is perhaps the most photographable sport on the planet. Many sports are relegated to 525 lines of video (okay, or 1080, or 720), but in ultimate... photography remains one of the surest ways to show off the athleticism in the sport. Remember that shot of Nord from Nationals last year? OBSCENE. Some of our favorite photographers include Andrew Davis, Bil Elsinger, Matt Lane, and Scobel Wiggins. Grab a print from them and improve someone's cubicle.

Replica Team Gear

For authentic Furious, Team USA, or vintage Jam gear, head over to Gaia. Sockeye's got their own website, and otherwise get in touch with your local club team. Many of them have stuff for sale.

Gift Cards
What's the retail industry catch phrase here? "Give the gift of choice, if it's December 23rd and you lost touch with this person years ago"? Yeah, do that. Our favorites include Gaia and Patagonia. We also thought that it would be nice (really nice) if you sent someone to a tournament -- but how? Dates, flights, airports... what a mess. Try a Southwest Airlines gift card.

Monday, October 23, 2006

At Bravo's last practice of the year there was a family of two boys and their parents at the track. The parents had their eldest son doing 200 M repeats while the younger of the two boys did three step approaches on regulation hurdles. The boys ages I'd estimate to be 11 and 8. Despite the cold, the 3 inches of snow from the night before, the parents were cracking the whip on their eldest son to push himself as he did each 200.

At the end of one the mom turned to the dad and said, "Make him do two more. Two more would be good for him." To which the boy, bent over at the waist and sucking air replied,

"I'm about to puke. Maybe you should shut the hell up and go home." Wierd.


Right now...

...Monster is discussing on their email list who is bringing what drinks to the fields.

...Twisted Metal is wondering what game against a big-name opponent they're going to almost win.

...Tim Paymaster, Misha Horowitz, and Danny Clark all have some type of nagging injury. Again.

...Alex DeFrondeville is eligible for social security.

...All the Open division players are making fun of the Mixed division.

...Ben Wiggins is in front of a mirror trying on different shades of eye black.

...Brendon Steets and Todd Owens are united in prayer.

...Cyle Van Auken is looking at pictures of himself at college nationals.

...Cyle Van Auken wishes this was college nationals.

...Justice League is bored looking at cabinets at the Home Depot.

...Dr. Chris Hinkle is calling some first year doctoral candidate a dildo.

...Colin Mahoney is lumbeing about ackwardly.

...Rob is hoping UVTv subscriptions sell like crack in Baltimore.

...Tyson Park is visualizing 70 yard forehand blades.

...Jim Parinella is stirring metamucil and smelling of AsperCreme.

...John Hammond is trying to have a conversation and not making any sense.

...Sub Zero is failing to convince themselves they can beat Bravo at nationals.

...The plans Furious has to contain Dave Boardman are doomed to failure.

...Matt Bruss is no longer claiming status as unblastable.

...Revolver is the highest seeded "happy-to-be-here" in history.

...Justice League is wondering about the dates for Revolver tryouts.

...Jeff Cruikshank is unaware of what the word "mark" means.

...someone is underrating A.J. on Chain.

...someone is overrating Jeff Graham. think you know Beau.

...Andrew Brown is waking up sweating from a nightmare in which he turned the disc over.

...Johnny Bravo is not concerned.

...VC ultimate is concerned.'re wishing your Gaia cleats had not just blown out.

...the memories of the Sarasota sun and sand are already warming me.

...Benjamin Cohen is looking at a fire alarm suspisciously.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


It's very late, even for Saturdays, but the upcoming week is already throwing me about my bed. Visualizing our offensive and defensive schemes, trying to do everything right, and picking match-ups with the opposing teams in our pool. With so much mental preparation to be done with less than a week until the Club Championships, who can sleep, anyway?

Tomorrow is Bravo's last practice of the year. It's been tumultuous at times, and yesterday night's last full-speed practice began with a near brawl between two of my hot-headed, but much loved, teammates. After some heavy flagrant fouls from both of them, one held the other back as he ran upline from the dump position. The other yelled his foul call, turned, and before anyone else knew what was happening shoved the fouler with both arms. A fight seemingly immenent, the pushed player walked off the field and was more or less ruined for the rest of practice. After several more points with full-on beef between the O and D, the practice turned into one of the most intense and productive of the year. Excellent way to finish.

But getting back to my original reason for writing. As I was thinking of my friends whom I'll see on opposing teams and thinking on the good times we'll spend in comraderie, I started thinking about my Bay area boys, specifically Matt Bruss, arguably the most handsome ape ever tamed. Arguably. I was looking forward to seeing him play and letting loose a heckle or two when it struck me. Fucking Justice League didn't even qualify for nationals.

Is that still shocking only to me? A team with THREE members of Team USA? Whose entire roster plays as if they're the heralded graduating class of Handsome Boy Modeling School? What could have happened to them? I listed in my head 10 names of players on the team, as I could name them off the top of my head, then wondered how those 10 alone couldn't qualify for nationals? Still a shock.

But getting back to Bruss. Apparently he got his head knocked in an altercation where details are hazy (at best) to all those involved. Apparently he's operating on Spurley's brain capacity. And apparently it still hurts. No, I don't want to out him as one of Justice Leagues' members who purchased a ticket ahead of time, but apparently his melon is so bounced right now it might hold him back from traveling. If anyone reads this and can contact him, tell his ass to get on the plane anyways, get ready to watch his girl win nationals and put back Shlitz with me as we reminisce on our halcyon days as players.

(on a side note, if there is something good to come out of Justice League's elimination, maybe it'll be that next year those that get cut from Revolver will form a team with a better name. Justice League? You're fucking kidding me. You can do better, on and off the field.)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

2004 Callahan Winner Josh Richter Ackley relaxes in the Duo-Core heat capacity Fuzzy Hat from Five Ultimate.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The death of the two Gendors players, both younger than me and one my brother's age, hit me hard.
How often have we driven home all night, tired and spent, just four bodies laying in a car pointing toward home? How often have we nested in the back amid sleeping bags and backpacks, removing the annoying seat belt to find a more comfortable way of sleeping?

My freshman year, a car of 4 true freshmen rookies made their way back from their first cross country road trip, first college tournament, and first trip through the Streets of New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Sometime around 3am, one of them woke up from the back seat and surveyed his surroundings. It was then he noticed the rest of the car, driver included, was napping right along with him. I was that guy. Jason Ludden was the dude "focusing from the bottom of my eyes."

John Shutkin, lord forgive us for giving him a driver's license, fell asleep driving back from Mardi Gras six years later and introduced the side of Tyson Park's car to the railing for several hundred yards, before managing to swerve and avoid a fence post. The grinding of metal on metal woke him. He had run out of gas only hours earlier. That was a tough driving shift.

We do this shit all the time. We're brash. We're athletic, handsome, gregarious, confident and take the proverbial bull by the cojones. My only suprise is that this doesn't happen to us more often.

And, thank god for that.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

It happened last week, shortly after we finished off a shelacking of our outclasses sectionals opponents. The game just clicked. After a preseason of downs and downs, highlighted mostly by eeking out $1000 at the Texas Shootout and using Sub Zero as a pick-me-up victim at Labor Day, we started understanding each other.

Let it be known, Johnny Bravo is beginning to click, and the time is right. It's go time.

I just noticed this on the web. Gymnogyps californianus is endangered. Species slated for extinction next Sunday. Paymaster now shops here. Because he knows we're coming for him.

The Johnny Bravo '06 season is beginning to take form.


(picture caption: Timothy Paymaster awaits his proctology exam at the hands of veterinarian Jolian Dahl, on right)

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Kenny Dobyns recently went on his website to deliver his mea culpa for promising to write some hot posts during the summer and then delivering exactly 0 hot posts. But in typical KD style, it was less mea culpa and more tough shit.

So, to those reading Ultimate Talk for the last couple months, tough shit. My absence this summer wasn't preceeded with a promise to really write more once school got out and all the elementary school rug-rats busied themselves because I had no intention of writing one syllable about ultimate. I took the entire summer off of work, played a lot of disc, and wrote a lot about anything else. The break was nice, and necessary.

And now the season ramps up, with many teams playing sectionals next weekend and all major tournaments over with the exception of Chicago Heavyweights, which will be played this coming weekend on drycrete with pencil shavings spread thinly over the top, if I recall correctly. The only thing harder than those fields is Cheney's blackened heart.

Now, I return to look at previous posts and the only one really still toiling is gcooke, the lone rower bent on getting this ship out to sea. The blitzkrieg of bots pushing everything from vegas to viagra has taken a toll on the site, and the comraderie that existed between collective comments on posters is gone now, replaced by programs that suck Idris' dick at preset intervals, "Nice Site!"

The UPA apologized for the delay in announcing next year's college nationals, then underwhelmed somewhat with its return to Ohio. At least I've got the trip out and back nearly memorized. Still, it seemed like after the whole "someone almost died in Austin" talk, the options were limited. How about back to Boulder in '08?

So, I have several blog drafts already written, some sharp barbs saved up for a few special people, and other titles and ideas for things I can write about on this blog. But I promise nothing. That way each time I actually do post, it'll be like the mint on your pillow with your turndown service, just a nice little addition to your otherwise hectic day.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

My brother said that to me, as we walked away from my parents and to my car to meet up with a motley crew of Colorado and Wisconsin players. The men’s finals had just wrapped up, everyone was giving thanks to whoever deserved it, and we walked together across the parking lot with a few moments alone.

Even then, my thoughts on the entire trip, the season in general, the tourney, and the company I shared for 3000 miles in my car began to gel. There was a lot for me to sift through, and I knew that it would take a while to put it all down on paper. Heartlatch Potbreak came out six months after the fact, and while I don’t expect this delay to be anything close, I will take my time gathering my thoughts to make sure I get them right. This one is the short story of how a little brother became a man for my parents, who read here on occasion.

“Sometimes champions lose.” I thought about it, what it meant to an individual and what it meant to my brother. I realized he understood why we played, why this sport meant more than the athletics and car trips. We play to improve ourselves as people. I had talked to Rodrigo early in the fall semester about his goals for the year and how he was planning on achieving them. He had said then (obviously) that he wanted to win the national championship. When I asked him how, he said he was going to work harder than anyone else.

It was so vague. How do you work harder than everyone else, I wondered. There’s always someone working harder. I wished him the best of luck but felt overpowered by his goal. Couldn’t he see that his path to success was impossible?

What my brother did was what I was unable to do: he ignored the impossible. He enrolled in a weightlifting class in the fall three times a week with Muffin and then set about obliterating his squat, press, and leg extension personal records. When I saw him during Christmas he was huge, 175 pounds and incredibly strong. In the spring he enrolled in a yoga class to improve his flexibility, and on top of the Hodags’ already grueling workouts signed up for Accelerate Madison, an 11 week training program that consisted of 3 weekly 4 hour workouts alone with a trainer, tuning his running form and jumping. He dropped ten pounds and made it so you could read the finest muscle fibers in the parchment of his skin. He did it himself, one workout at a time, one class at a time. When finals was over and they’d lost to Florida, he was disappointed for his team. But, despite a few tears, his pride in himself and his accomplishments shone through his eyes and he was happy. Winning the championship was a benchmark, one way to prove to himself he’d met his goals. By season’s end, though, he understood that he didn’t need a benchmark. It was within him and around him. Just as when Luke Skywalker puts away the targeting computer in his Death Star run, my brother realized the only goal he’d really set was to believe in himself, and he’d succeeded.

It was extremely emotional when we parted. We cried then. He said to me, “Eto, this shit gave me a lot of confidence. It showed me I can do anything I want if I put my mind to it.” There, in plain words, he said it. He’s never been big on fanfare. What the University of Wisconsin struggled 5 years to teach him he taught himself in one season.

“Dude we can do anything we want together. Nothing can stop us.” He struggled to say this and I couldn’t look at him in the eyes as I fought back tears. I wipe them off fresh again as I write this and tell you, Mami and Papi, that everything you might have wanted him to learn in college, everything important, he learned it. He did it on his own. He is a champion.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

This afternoon we departed from Madison. Sold as a seven hour drive, Chicago traffic made it ten even hours. We made a slight pit stop at The Cheese place, a small box-shaped building colored like a holstein heifer, to purchase a pound and a half of the best sliced brick I've ever tasted. It was delicious.

At a grocery store stocking supplies, Richter picked up what he thought was a Gatorade Ice bottle. When he went to drink it in the car's darkness later, he found out he picked up an already open bottle that someone had refilled with water and replaced on the shelf. He stressed for the next several hours that he might have drank a gulp of water someone had drugged, pissed in, or infected with a deadly disease. So far he's exhibiting no symptoms, but I've got him under close watch.

After a frenzied half hour of wheeling and dealing on the phone, I was able to find a ride for Anthony David Adams to natties, whom we'd inadvertenly left behind. Part of the process was moving Tyson Park to Parker and Deuce's vehicle in Chicago, and we met up with the three stooges at our hotel. The seven of us now are resting for a full day of ultimate and debauchery starting tomorrow at 8:30.

Oh, and never eat breakfast at a Country Kitchen. Just don't.

Richter, Tater, Jen and I departed tuesday night from Boulder, CO.

My brother has graduated from college and it was time for a trip home, and a return to Boulder by way of Columbus, Ohio.

Excitement was heavy. It would be 15 hours to Madison, another 10 to Columbus, and then about 22 back home.
Two Mamabird alums in a car with a Wisconsin alum on this particular weekend would normally be trouble. While it's true that the drive back promises to be heartbreaking for at least one of us, we are a strong group and we understand the game. There can be only one winning team. We look forward to all the shit that comes with the territory.

Some notes.
We went to the Essen House yesterday with Grant Zukowski, Mike Degnan, MKD, and Andrew Brown. Put down around 8-10 boots. There were several boot and rallies. A long walk back to Brown's, and then passing out. Great time. The rules of the boot will be discussed in greater detail later.

There will be a Hodag v Mamabird alumni game at nationals. Hotbox, 3v3 is most likely. We encourage other alums to get their team in order, We'll have a round robin tourney with the top finishers going straight to finals. Games will probably happen friday afternoon and saturday between prequarters and quarters. Get your game on.

I'll continue with the chronicles of the journey as it progresses, and will try to write some more tonight when we arrive in Ohio.

Friday, May 19, 2006

As Callahan voting opened I began to ponder this question. The open division seems pretty ... well, wide open. Florida has two outstanding players in Tim Gehret and Kurt Gibson. Dylan, Robbie Cahill, Oscar, and the combined four (or at least it should have been four, once the RC's had their say) candidates from Wisconsin and Colorado are all potential top-fivers.

But to me the women's side is decidedly one-sided. Alex Snyder. I know Bill Simmons has haters out there, but in writing about Kobe's credentials for the NBA MVP this season, he posited three poignant questions for the MVP Test:

Question No. 1: When remembering this season 10 years from now, which player will pop into your head first?

Alex Snyder, VC Poster GirlAlex Snyder. Lauren Casey, Pooja Shah, Megan O'Brien ... all great players, but Alex is the leader of her team. Quite literally a poster girl (see right) for the sport. The migraine at Regionals moved almost immediately from anecdote into the hazy realm of myth.

Question No. 2: In the proverbial giant pickup game with every women's college ultimate player waiting to play, who would be the first player picked this season?

This question is a bit more subjective. Gwen might take Lauren, but many of us—myself included, and maybe Alex Korb—would take Snyder.

Question No. 3: If you replaced every Callahan candidate with a decent player at their position for the entire season [more germane to basketball, but still], what would be the effect on their teams' records?

The most important question. And unequivocolly: Alex. I got mad love for Whit and C and the weapons both known and unknown on Kali. But take away Alex and this team is likely not at Nationals. Take away Lauren from Stanford and I almost guarantee they still have the No. 1 seed. UCLA had the misfortune of losing a key player this season and has the No. 2 seed in Columbus anyway. Remove Alex from the Kali formula and, like an asymptote, they approach Nationals but never get there.

Alex Snyder for Callahan. Vote now.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

It was about noon central time, and I'd been in a car now for about eleven hours. Before having left Boulder Saturday night, I'd spoken with several Kali players who had informed me that they'd lost a close game to UCLA in semifinals after several players got cases of the dropsies.

"It's cool," I'd reassured them, "just play your game and don't dwell on it." I got in the car and started driving.

But eleven hours into the drive, the Nebraskan and Iowan landscape had given me little to do other than feed my own doubts about how the weekend would turn out. I flipped between nightmares of Kali losing and those of the Hodags losing. I was uneasy. It was during one of these periods of unease that my phone rang. I looked at the screen. It was Alex Snyder. It was shortly after 10 a.m. in San Diego. Something wasn't right.

I picked up the phone and my worst fears were affirmed. I couldn't make out any words, through the sobbing. "Why?" was all I could understand. "Why?"

My head reeled back. It was Alex, it was early, and she was crying. They'd been eliminated. They'd come out flat and someone jumped on them and now their season was over. I was crushed. "This weekend will end in ruin and woe," I thought. I felt the emotion beginning to overtake me too, along with the fatigue and the impending headache this whole thing would cause.

But, as my eyes made plans to join Alex's, something happened. She uttered a coherent sentence. Then another. Something about who they'd be playing, then something about their possible opponent in the following round. Then I made out another word. "...migraine..."

I almost shat myself in relief. She was vomiting. The nausea was overpowering. Her legs were on pins and needles, her arms numb. Her vision was blurry and she wasn't sure if she'd be able to play a point. But I was still sighing with relief. I knew Alex. I knew that it wouldn't take long for her to lace her shoes up. I knew what would follow afterwards. It would rain goals in Kali Nation. I told her so, she said she was going to lay down until the first half of the game was over, and we hung up.

I smiled. I know warriors and I'd just spoken to one on the phone. Later, exhilirated from the Hodags' victory over CUT and driving home with renewed energy, the reports started trickling in. Kali was going to nationals. Alex Snyder had taken her pain, bottled it, and handed it out to Santa Barbara and San Diego as door prizes to their game. The headache was all theirs.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I had written the obligatory, the easy, the predictable. The Hodags had again eliminated CUT, this time at regionals, sending them home early for the first time in 17 years and winning regionals for only the third time. There was some bashing, the obligatory sodomy joke, and some more shit-talking about where the Hodag-CUT rivalry now stood.

But something happened. Call it getting softer as I age. Call it perspective.

We had a party here Saturday night to celebrate Mamabird and Kali qualifying for Natties. During the cookout the TV was turned on to Disc 2 and the main focus was the Colorado Wisconsin match-up from quarterfinals last year. Wisconsin lost, both times they hit the DVD's rewind button. I enjoyed the footage, and handled the banter and ribbing I received from my guests regarding the game whenever CU did some nasty shit and Wisconsin turned it. At the very end of the footage, after Joe Dombrow plows into Richter trying to stop the winning goal. Mamabird rushes to celebrate, and the camera zooms out to capture the big picture. There, a less detailed eye might miss him, is Ryan Carrington. The heart and voice of the Hodags for three years walks towards the camera and his teammates holding his head in his hand and tries to stop himself from losing it. I was there, I remember him just as he's shown. The dode benchwarmers on Mamabird present laughed and said something stupid. But the real players on Mamabird, the ones on the field when they were tied against Brown with the season on the line, they didn't say much. Richter and I shared a very intense moment very recently that spoke to that very instant. He remembered. "Shit, that kinda sucks, I love Carrington."

Up above, there are two pictures taken by Robin Davies of the Hodags just after winning. But having been there, I tell you on the other side of the field those exact same embraces were taking place by teammates who loved each other no less but were enveloped by different emotion. Someone had to go home. The Hodags screamed and hugged more for the relief of having survived than the elimination of their rivals.

This whole thing reminds me of Spartacus and Antoninus, how they hated each other and were enemies when they first met yet, by the end of the movie when the Romans force one to kill the other, Spartacus tearfully kills his friend to spare him the pain of crucifixion. It's a stretch, I know, but I was moved to see CUT leave the field. They are a good team deserving of a spot at nationals, and in this battle, the only thing one can be happy about is that it's not you shedding sorrow's tears.

CUT, great season. Wisconsin will represent and perhaps, if you let them, make you and the Central region proud.

Recaps have already been made, and the footage showing the Hodags playing some of their best disc of the season will soon be available.

I will only touch on thoughts here.

First, the drive there and back (12 hours each way) for only 3 hours of Ultimate was exhausting, and worth it. The Hodags answered the challenge and did it well. Watching my brother score goal after goal wide open was awesome. Watching him throw the first upwinder to Ted was better, checking him toe the line on a fading huck upwind to set up the second upwinder was better still, and watching him jump backwards and plant his feet in as another huck started sailing away for the game-breaking upwinder to take half and the wind at 7-7 might have been my favorite. The connection he and Ted share is sweet to see, being able to remember the way they'd both energetically chase my hucks down when I was a senior in high school and they were merely freshmen.

The Hodags are still improving. They looked better during spring break when I practiced with them than they did in the Centex video, and once they started clicking they looked even better at Regionals. Their first outdoor practice wasn't until after Centex. They are exactly where they need to be to peak at nationals.

My brother's upwind goal to take half off the Matt Rebholz backhand huck was the play of the game for its monumental momentum swing. Second place is for a call the observer made. Late in the game CUT made another run and scored upwind, broke downwind, and was working upwind again to tie the game at 13's (and pull downwind). With Heijmen on the mark, Chris Rupp stepped into him, threw an off-balance and erratic backhand and called the foul. The disc sailed up and started fading, and two nearby CUT players started going for it. Yet, with the disc suspended in the air and starting to catch an edge, another CUT player called them off the disc when he heard the foul call, expecting the disc to return to Rupp in the middle of the field with a new stall count and 20 yards out of the endzone. The players obeyed, gave up the chase, and let the disc fall harmlessly to the ground some 5 yards behind where Rupp threw it. It would have taken hustle, but as the disc was released it was perfectly catchable, and playable. They chose to let it drop. And, when the call went to the observer, he ruled no foul because Rupp had thrown himself into Heijmen to draw the contact. Turnover. Wisconsin throws to Ted, who sends a huge hammer to Rodrigo in the endzone, and next point Dan Miller throws a backhand to Shane upwind. Game over. Huge foul call, huge ruling by the observer. Bad form on those two CUT players for not chasing down the disc like their season depended on it. It did.

The CUT alumni and fans trying to heckle Carrington by imitating him were unsuccessful. Sooner kindle fire with snow.

Despite the roped-off field, as Wisconsin started asserting its control the Hodag alumni started charging the field after every score. Eventually #15 on CUT started taking offense, and more than once as I ran into the blue pile his foot or shoulder happened to be in my way. I started cheering with more exuberence every time he was within earshot. Late in the game the guy was a complete non-factor. Focus on one or the other, you obviously couldn't do both.

My parents were there with my sister and uncle. Almost the entire graduating class of 2003 was there, and many parents were there. It was great to see everyone so energetic, the positive energy definitely helped the Hodags early when the offense was looking confused.

Sam O'Brien was there, helping CUT, and though animated at first, I started hearing less and less from him as the game drew to a close. He didn't even say goodbye.

Rodrigo Valdivia for Callahan, but when the game footage comes out, you won't have to hear it from me. Or you could just see him on CSTV as a sophomore killing Colorado and Oregon.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Two men enter, one man leaves. There can be only one.

In business, in sports, in movies, we are conditioned to view conflicts and struggles as clashes between two mutually exclusive entities. The victor. The vanquished.

The higher the stakes, the longer the history, the more pressing the odds, and people clamor for it. We, the voyeurs, toss a thumb in the air and demand a conclusion. So it was small surprise when I arrived at the finals fields and saw scores of spectators and alumni lining the pitch, their unbridled bloodlust barely contained by the perimeter separating the players from the hooligans.

Discs were flying subject to the whim of the violent wind, random rays of lights escaped down through the supercell clouds enveloping the sky; nature wanted a hand in the outcome. Some had allegiances, others were there to witness, to say they were there years from now, all were slick-handed and licking their lips. History would be made.

But in the center of all these people, history'’s peeping toms, were twotightlyy controlled nuclei, on in cardinal red, the other baby blue. They had tucked the rest of their life in an envelope and stuffed it into the back pocket of their jeans, manila with words reading: Open after regionals. Those that say they put their life on hold for this game would be wrong: this game was their life. They had been preparing for eight months. They were ready.

They didn'’t need to be reminded of the history they'’d soon be a part of. It was already stitched into their skin. Carleton with seventeen straight nationals appearances, the longest streak in college ultimate. Wisconsin the frontrunner for the championship. Two finals appearances for each. One trophy a piece. Only two regional losses for CUT in the modern era. And a pre-quarters matchup in Wisconsin'’s favor the year prior that placed them in this do-or-die situation now.

Carleton has dominated the rivalry at regionals. The history between the two has been mostly one-sided. But the times have changed. The sport is growing, and CUTÂ’s small-school influence waning. As more juniors are exposed to the game, Wisconsin's 50,000 students weigh in with growing influence. Witness the two times prior to this Wisconsin and CUT have faced off in a season-ending game: both in semifinals at Spokane and in prequarters at Corvallis the Hodags emerged the victors.

So although as both teams crisply warmed up they looked focused only on the fundamentals, the confidence and doubts wrestled within each mind. The same history, each team with a vastly different telling.

"This game is ours. We own Wisconsin at regionals. Always has been, always will be."

"“We beat them when it matters. When the season's on the line, we know what it takes to win. One team is going home to pout, and it's not us."

And, softer voices, asking questions. Which stats to believe? With two different tales colliding, who gets to write the ending? Both teams exuding confidence, both supressing doubt.

Monday, May 01, 2006

I literally just got out of the car, quarter to seven. Twelve hours of driving each way for one and a half games. Three dollars per gallon of gas. Totally worth it. I will write my thoughts later today and tomorrow, but I wanted to share this picture.

This is Gigo and Ted at Junior Nationals in 2001. At this point, they'd been playing together for 4 years. Yesterday, they brought their nine years of playing disc together to bear on CUT, with disasterous results for the Northfield residents. Aside from Gigo playing the best I've seen him play, having a hand in about half of Wisconsin's goals, he and Ted shared five goals with each other, including the critical first upwinder after CUT's.

Tyler and I took this picture that Sunday, after being bored at home with little to do and getting the idea to drive south on a whim and surprise them. Worth the drive. Today, five years later, it paid for itself again.

My brother and I always compete against each other. And I alway thought myself the better, more experienced and well rounded player. Today the seed of doubt has been planted. After playing the best game of his career in semis of nationals in '03 against Mamabird, he played one better the following day in finals and was +8 for both games.
Yesterday against CUT he went +9 or 10. Absurd. I've got a lot of work to do.

In the movie Gattaca, Ethan Hawke's character always competes against his genetically modified (and superior) brother. They swim out as far as they dare into the ocean, and the first to give up and swim back loses. When Ethan wins, his brother asks him how, despite his genetic inferiority, he managed to beat him. "Do you want to know why I win," Ethan asked. "I never save anything for the swim back."

Neither does my brother.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Not me, you say, never. You are faithful. But your will, regardless of its strength, bows to cupid’s arrow, just as everyone else’s. One day you may find your heart prone on your Macroeconomics textbook, your Dr. Grip shooting out of your sweat-soaked fingers like a watermelon seed. There- perhaps to your left or maybe in front of you- you’ll see them. The love of your life. The love of your semester, at the very least.

Within their ethereal features you’ll find lust, longing, a reciprocal desire to explore you and your life, and an inner beauty. What you won’t find however, is one shred of a clue as to what the fuck you’re talking about every time your heart races, your voice accelerates, and you breathlessly start to tell them of a great mark, long pulls, and spirit-crushing Callahan scores that lifted you over your sectional rival and into the most competitive regional tournament since the redraw. You will find a vacant look trying to escape detection between polite nods, hmms, and ahas.

But you’re not discouraged! You will persevere! No, no! You accept your loved one’s ignorance as a challenge, an opportunity to create a new convert, and blissfully daydream through your accounting classes of the day they’ll throw their first I/O flick, catch their first layout goal, and embrace you on the field as you celebrate your first coed summer league championship.

Then, the bell rings, you press the blank pages of your notebook together, and head off to practice. Your dinner plans are pushed back, as you work the logistics of your upcoming tournament weekend. And they wait, hungry, rinsing the pasta and refrigerating it until you come home. When you arrive, you’ve brought a couple of teammates eager to carbo-load together, and before your loved one’s pulled the food out of the microwave you and your teammates have begun parsing the pools, analyzing (nearly) every possible bracket match-up, discussing your plans to contain players that are hot and ragging on those that are not. They eat their pasta with a smile adhered to their face, turning their head to whomever holds the conch, and feeling very much the same way they’d felt several hours earlier in French class as they tried to make out the words in L’Argent du Poche.

You throw around with them, but can’t really enjoy it. Sometimes they complain you throw too hard, others you tire of throwing the same fifteen yard flat backhand over and over. You want to run around, catch one deep in stride, jump and catch a nice hammer at the peak of your leap! You love them, but, damn. If they could throw a disc well, that’d be something, wouldn’t it?

Your weekends are booked. They’re looking forward to the summer when the series ends and you can finally spend some weekends together. You’re wondering how to mention that tryouts for the club team are at the beginning of June. You’re helping run your team’s tournament, then heading to sectionals, and hoping to squeeze studying for finals in the time between practices and regionals. They’re hoping you're going to squeeze them in the time between practices and regionals. Something has to give. After nationals, when you receive the club team’s schedule and they read it over your shoulder, something does.

They’d never ask you to give up ultimate for them. Inside, they hope you’d do that on your own. But this year the club team is really coming together, many of your college teammates are playing together for the experience to make a deeper run during the college series, and you’re finally taking the leadership roles you’ve been craving since you learned what a stack was. They should understand. If they really cared for you they would understand. But it ends. You go your separate ways, each with two pieces of the same truth- neither of you understood.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Just say it

This is my brother's fifth and final season of college ultimate. I've already begun planning a road trip to nationals to be there when he proves to himself what he's known for years: he can do this without me. The tournament is in Ohio, less than an eight hour drive from my old hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, and so I wonder what plans my parents have for the weekend, and if they too are planning to be present on what will be one of the most emotional and proudest moments of my brother's life, regardless of its outcome.

They attended last year, after some cajoling and a promise that they'd not only get to watch some ultimate but also spend some time with their eldest- the prodigal son and his then girlfriend, whom he was very excited about. Our time as a family in Corvallis and the way our voices amalgamated into a single unified "Gigo!" made me happy, but as I laid in bed that Friday night I was overcome with melancholy. It's not that I wasn't excited for my brother, but thoughts of nationals two years earlier forced their reminiscence.

Gerics handed me the game disc Dean Bolton had foolishly thrown up in celebration only moments earlier. I had hucked the winning goal. The pile of baby blue bodies grew in the endzone, and while the rest of my teammates rushed to enhance it, I couldn't. I walked to my best friend Tyler and hugged him forcefully. My girlfriend Sarah Grebe came down from the stands to congratulate us, feeling happy for me but slightly out of place in the pull of Hodags that jumped up and down in unison. I found my brother's mahogany Mexican leg within the pile and gave it a tug. I wanted to hold him. It was one of the happier moments in my life, but not for the championship medals which Lyn Debevoise was readying. I was not happy because I had won a championship, I was happy because I had watched and helped my brother win his. His play in the semis and finals, where he lit up their best players like grandpa's birthday cake, had left me beaming.

And I looked at the stands again. This time not looking for someone, but noting the absence of two people, our parents, who were not there to see their two sons frame their satisfaction and accomplishment in the foreground of a six foot Mexican flag to have their pictures taken.
I took violin lessons for five years. Hated it. My parents were at every concert, wincing through a wandering melody and clapping at my hiccupped vibrato. I was in choir in high school, and although fun I sang less for the emotion than the grade I received. Then, writing and ultimate discovered me within a year of each other, a boy famished for something expressive, ferocious, and emotive. And while my writing I kept private and unannounced, everyone with ears knew of my passion for Ultimate and my drive to improve.

Yet my parents looked on puzzled, attending with reluctance a few rounds in tournaments in Madison, once at Tune-Up. They didn't get it, perhaps not quite sure what to make of a willing energy emanating from the son who never tried. Maybe they, examining this odd, new sport, felt the fad would eventually be filed alongside baseball cards, rocks, and comics in my history's attic. Taking time to see their sons play a game made sense if proximal, but to leave work and home behind for the same was an inconvenience as pointless as watering the lawn in a rainstorm. So when I first mentioned the idea of a trip to Austin, I received the same dismissive chuckle I'd gotten as a second grader telling them I was going to train my most recently caught pet frog.

Maybe though, their absence was my shortcoming. In the weeks leading up to Memorial Day weekend in 2003 I pushed for them to purchase a ticket. I told them my girlfriend would be there watching cluelessly as well and she'd love the company. I pressed on their brow our chances of winning and told them the pools were aligned in our favor. I visited home and worked out in the backyard, lifted weights in the basement, told them of our plan to etch tattoos into our skin should we win.

"I love you. I love this sport. I love my brother. I want you to come to Austin and watch your two sons be the best in what they love most. It will mean the world to me."

I didn't say that, only scribbled it along the margins of every comment, every hint, every cleverly timed conversation about Ultimate I had in their presence that month. Instead I piled into a car with my girlfriend and two teammates and drove twenty hours to Austin. We arrived on Thursday and three days later I held my brother in one arm and the college championship in the other. I kissed both. My parents heard about it later that evening while sipping wine and dining in our Madison home.

They didn't get it. They said congratulations and understood we were happy. But we weren't happy, we were elated. My brother and I were closer then than we ever had been. My parents hadn't come. I hadn't asked them to.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Speech

Richter and I notched our first victory as high school coaches in the season opener - barely. 13-12 us. As the game came down to the wire, our innate fire for competition started smoldering and we found ourselves feeling much as we do during the club season, with a game on the line and nothing going through our heads other than the desire to win. And, sometimes, looking for an opponent to toss around.

We're far from the calm, collected, preternaturally machinal coaching robots embodied in my roommate Whit or Ben Wiggins or Billy Rodriguez, three excellent coaches. We invite the emotion, the rage, the desire, and let it course through us. So now, being handed the reigns to a fun high school team and faced with the task of breaking them down and reshaping them in our image, I wonder, how can I best motivate them mid-game, as the opponent goes on a run and their young minds struggle to grasp what is happening? How can I fire them up to play their hardest? More importantly, how can I get them to care about their effort as much as I do?

The whole episode, watching the other team come back before the intensity picked up and we finally won, reminded me of a moment in Club nationals '04. It is, still, what I consider a defining moment in leadership under duress for me, and it came courtesy of our captain, Forrest Collins. I remember it as if I were now in the huddle.

The time out was called because we were panicked. Having lost our final pool play game to Furious, we knew our first game on Friday against Pike was a must-win to stave off a pre-quarters match-up. Pike had arrived as an upstart, much improved from the prior year, and had beaten Sockeye in the first round of the tourney. Losing to Pike would force a victory over Sockeye to escape the extra game, a win would give us breathing room in case of a three-way tie.

But here we were, after a night of psyching ourselves up and a morning warming up the body and brain, playing our flattest game of the tourney and down deep into the second half 11-7. Even the last score had been hurried, a gurgitation of random cuts that had somehow become our seventh point. We now faced pulling to a team we'd not broken yet and down by four with only a few points left. In some eyes confidence wavered and a defeated complacency took hold, resigning to prequarters. This is what I felt and what I saw in the eyes of my teammates as we placed our arms around each other in a circle and waited for Forrest to speak.

He began. There was confusion at first. Something about visualizing himself writing an email post-nationals. About a come-from-behind win against Jam he had envisioned in his head. Hypothetical sick plays by Jolian. And his realization now that there was no Jam game, there was no hypothetical - this was the game he'd portended, the game we were meant to come back from and win. This was the moment that would define our tournament.

In truth, I remember everything he said almost verbatim. But why reproduce a speech? Heard, or worst yet - read, outside of its context it feels empty and trivial. Besides, it's not the words I remember best.

I looked up as Forrest's voice cracked and wavered through his words - he was losing it, he was on the verge of crying. Our captain was so emotional in that moment that he wasn't sure he'd be able to hold back his tears. This was our friend, teammate, and leader asking that we try to feel the desire as deeply as he did. A man exposing his feelings in a place where he knew he would meet no ridicule - we wanted everything he wanted as bad as he did, and until then had been in a torpor unable to express it.

Maybe a tear or two fell. It was enough. We awoke.

I remember walking to the line that point, after Forrest exhorted that the seven players that wanted it most step to the line. A casual statement that the Alamo's William Travis would have smiled at. My heart was pounding, I was shaking some. My head was spinning remembering how only moments ago Forrest had pulled me in. I would not forgive myself were I to let him down. And, as we chose match-ups and called our defense, I knew everyone was as shocked and intense as I was.

By the time the pull went up the game's outcome had already been decided by everyone wearing the Rocketship. We scored the next five straight to take the lead before Pike had a chance to catch a collective breath, and went on to win 16-14, a 9-3 run.
Perhaps, sometimes you just have to show them, your teammates or players, that you care about the outcome more than anyone. You have to shock them with your will to be better, to demand more from yourself. A leader to me isn't the person with the biggest mouth and most platitudes, it's the quiet one whose play leaves no question unanswered. Being that example to our high schoolers this year will undoubtedly be our biggest challenge.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The market's going crazy these days. Also, the UFSE will soon be a publicly traded stock.


  • Georgia - currently undervalued, sure to rise.
  • Alex Snyder - Women's callahan favorite will pay dividends on your voting investment come May
  • - Daag's gift to the people is cheap enough to warrant a token investment so early in its existence, though the pictures of the entire Davidson men's team make registering hard to stomach
  • Jolian Dahl - still a buy
  • Ryan Krug - 500,000 reasons to buy. stay tuned.
  • Mamabird - take advantage of their dip in price to get in before their ascent
  • Jam - syke! still not going to win it all. But Bruss makes this stock a hot novelty item
  • Ultimatetalk - the smarter people in the game get together to bounce ideas. But how long until the inane babbling in the Live Message text box becomes an on-demand rsd?
  • Colorado Kali - it's just a two horse race. Make your choice and ride.
  • Stanford Superfly - see above
  • Hh - second quarter expectations will be met. Booya.
  • Hodags - too pricey to get into now, but a sound stock to hold in Ohio
  • CUltimate - Byron, Skip, Skizip massage the heart of a dead invite back to life, and show what happens when adults are in charge. Earlier criticism of the commercial angle to TDing silenced.


  • Carleton - reports trickling in of miles-long lines of mice streaming out of Northfield, MN
  • Collegeulti fact-checking machine - Busted. way busted
  • Collegeulti School of Grammar - the company declared bankrupcy, stock useful only as toilet paper
  • Atlantis TD
  • Arizona - speculation bubble that keeps them in the top 16 will burst in San Diego come regionals

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

This is going to be a recurring feature, where I give you my starting seven on qualities as varied as handedness and meal preferences.

Madonna. Prince. Liberace. Lebron. In most facets of sports and entertainment there are those few who define themselves less with their name than with their larger-than-life persona. These are the people who have no need for a last name. We talk of them at the water cooler, around couches in drafty dilapidated student housing, between bong rips or on road trips. The first name usually suffices, though sometimes the last name is just as good. Their personalities are as unique as their monikers, and we pay our respect by not burdening them with more than one.

Ultimate is no exception. We have our ballers, our cartoon personalities, our superstars and miscreants known so well one name suffices. Here I bring Open Ultimate's Starting Seven one-name players:


There are others. But when you hear those names, there is no doubt in anyone's mind as to who you're talking about: instant recognition. What other characters come close?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Dear William and Mary Alum,
I am in a muddle. I love two men. One is my ex.-boyfriend who wants to come back to me, the other is my current boyfriend. Both are lovely men, but feel more spiritually attached to my ex. I am unable to make a decision. Do you have any tips?
How'd You Pick Either Dude?

"Admit it, when you found out that W&M had made it to nationals, the first thing you said was "Who the heck is William and Mary?"
Upon finding out that William and Mary is actually a state school located in the heart of the #3 tourist attraction on the East Coast you said to yourself, "Hell, self, you don't have to worry about these chumps! They'll be so scared of all the big strong other teams that they'll be too busy crying to even remember to show up!" But show up W&M did, a week early, to have exhausting two-a-days in the crappy freezing Spokane rain.
And then, in the tourney, they make college ultimate history by making it to the semis from the pre-quarter round, something no other team has ever done, ever. EVER! NERVER!
W&M won way more games then anyone thought they would... except them. "

Dear William and Mary Alum,
I just recently started sleeping with my boyfriend, and he's the first person I've ever been with. I love him and trust him completely, so why is it I feel so embarassed to be naked around him? I always turn the lights off, and when I get out of bed I run to the bathroom with a blanket wrapped around me. I want to be as relaxed as he is with his body, but I just can't do it. What can I do to change? Please help.
Ashamed Lady Lover, The Almighty Lord Knows

"I've played against all these other guys that are being hyped for callahan, and dont want to take anything away from them (valley, richter, jared, chase etc) but it really doesnt even seem close. Mangry has a complete game. Fastest player in the country, can sky over anyone, can put the disc anywhere at anytime, and most importantly, his attitude that he brings to the game is absolutely perfect...Take a look at this man before even thinking of casting your vote elsewhere."
"You are out of your mind man. Nobody has ever dominated mangry, and certainly not richter. I really can't think of a single category in which richter is better than mangry. They're both great all around players but andrew is faster, has better leaping ability, quicker cuts, better throws and decision making, not to mention spirit\attitude. Andrew Mangan is the best all around player in the country this year."

Dear William and Mary Alum,
I was reading your recipe for canning cabbage, and I am wondering, you say to process the jars for 60 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure. Now my question is are you using a pressure canner or hot water bath? And do you really mean to process for 60 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure? I’m questioning the 60 minutes.
Help One Tired Amateur Impress Rest

"Sam got the right idea because NC State and W&M both brought B squads to that tourney that april 8th weekend. That is not an indication of the A team strength of either team. The two wins W&M got against NCstate were both teams and full strength. Though, it seems a bit unfair to say that W&M cant hang with the NC teams because we dont ever get to play with any of them because we're always underated at tourneys and get put in the lower bracket. We battled our way back up from the lower bracket at Terminus to finish 5th. We have played UNC, but that was at Tune-up, so long ago!! We have played Duke and lost and also Wilmington. If we played these teams as much as they play each other, we'd get some wins too. I do recall beating Duke in the fall, but that doesnt really mattter, and we only lost to Wilmington by two."

Dear William and Mary Alum,
Hi, I'm a Japanese student from Japan. Since I used to live in Swizterland and England, I'm interested in other countries culter. Here I woul like you to tell me how you feel about Japanese culter and how it is different from your's.
I'm looking forward for your answer.

Would Adore Advice About Anyone's History

"Yes we did indeed expect to beat ucsd and some would say we choked. Its a shame we were not able to show the country just how well we can play. we came out very slow and did not have a very good game all around. we did mount a comeback down 8-3 at half to bring it back to 9-9. we just failed to pull it together after that for some reason. i refuse to believe it was due to "running out of gas" as some have said in other threads. it was the first game of the day. anyway the game of the tournament for us was the brown game. in a highly contested game that could have gone either way, we ended up losing. i just wish the brown players would stop laying out into all of our backs and stop trying to control the game with calls. that is not the way ultimate is supposed to be played. anyway, if we win that game we make it to the semis, easily. and then, anything could have happened. Sometimes things do not work out the way we want them to, but that's what happens when you are on a national stage with so much sick competition."

Dear William and Mary Alum,
"While I am watching this game I keep hearing loud cheers down the way. Mary Washington making grab after grab. They were down 6-1 and came storming back to tie at 8-8 then take the lead 10-8 I believe on 50/50
huck after 50/50 huck from what I as seeing from the upper field. I got there at 11-10 Mary Washington. Cap goes on and it becomes 11-11. 12-12 and hard cap is on so it is double game point. William and Mary pulls goes zone. Mary Washington works it. Luke gets it about 10 yards out and throws a hammer to a wide open Connor but it hangs. William and Mary player gets there but Connor still has a chance. I think William and Mary player touches it and it pops up into Conner's hands, down his jersey and onto the ground. William and Mary throws an errant throw to 82 on WM and a foul is called as both he and defender layout. Contest. A dump or to. William and Mary player get stranded ount about to stall out, I believe from my head count a dump throw at about ten and Connor sideways layout catches for a Callahan on double game point. Thrower had nowhere to go from what I could tell. But William and Mary's season ends and Mary Washinton goes to regionals for the first time I believe."

The Real Ultimate Team Heckler

No comment.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I've been reading the criticism that has been receiving on rsd with some amusement. People have ragged on everything from the design to the content with various levels of vitriol. Some offer friendly suggestions, others start hating. While I have a few quibbles about the site, mainly the overhyping of Wisconsin, I've not felt interested in joining in. I give them mad props for all the work they have been doing so far, and I'm sure they will work out the kinks as they go along.

Yet in a brief visit the other day, I saw something on the site that made me have to click the back button immediately lest I were to spill the drink I was holding from laughter and incredulity.

What had me so appalled, so humored, was their current Power 16 ranking for best tournaments. In it, they rank College Centex #1 and the UPA College Championships #2. Clearly, Cyle from Florida, you have never been to Nationals.

Forgetting that the rest of the list contained some tournaments that are either incredibly forgettable or run haphazardly year in and out (are there really 16 college tournaments worth ranking?) I couldn't believe they would rank a midseason tournament over the Championship. Are you serious? Clearly, Cyle from Florida, you have never been to Nationals.

In my college career we won and lost at some of the most competitive tourneys of the season. We made finals or semis and battled in game after game against the best competition at Easterns, the Stanford Invite, and other tourneys. After losing close games, after being eliminated from competition, or after losing early and making our way to the shitbox fields for consolation, I never saw a single one of my teammates shed a tear. The accolades we received from our successes we pushed back in our minds, and the disappointments felt we used to drive us the rest of the season. These tourneys were a time to fine tune our plays, scout the rest of the field, and ready our minds and bodies for the real task at hand that season: the road to a national championship. Clearly, Cyle from Florida, you have never been to Nationals.

Centex "hands down the best?" Whose hands? The people who have hands down for Centex are the same people with their hands down grabbing their ankles come Memorial Day Weekend. In the list, their explanation for why natties is #2 is filled with more criticism than praise. While allowing that there is no trophy like it, they denigrate it by saying only a handful of teams start their season hoping to go, much less win. However, with Centex being an invite-only tourney where most of the 24 teams have little chance of winning, the same could be said. But nationals - ah! Nationals! Clearly, Cyle from Florida, you have never been.

College nationals might not field the best 16 teams, but it is the toughest tourney of the year. It's a feeling of such expectation and anticipation when arriving at the fields for the first time that it forces a bowel movement. Here is that girlfriend that leaves you broken or in flight with a word, a tourney where regardless of the outcome at its end you will embrace your teammates glassy-eyed and express your gratitude. This is a tournament full of false bottoms, where cocksure teams have found they can always drop lower, until they find themselves losing to a team they've ridiculed all season playing with more heart than what they decided to show up with. It's not the best 16 teams, but the best teams are there, fighting tooth and nail, trying not to drown in its gravitas, showcasing 32 weeks of hard work that hopefully manifests itself in the best disc they've played. This is peaking. Cyle from Florida, it is an otherworldly experience, different from any other tourney you'll play. I am sorry you have never been to Nationals.

Friends disappear for the summer. Brothers and sisters you breathe in unison with go to their separate corners after nationals. Teammates you injured yourself for get a job and move away and wistfully remember natties, and some you never see again. It is the last tourney of the season, for many, the last college tourney of their career. Everyone knows it. Everyone plays like it. You walk the fields on Saturday as rounds end and they are littered with players prone on the field, or held up in a friend's arm, grown men and women and Callahan could-have-beens crying. They know why they cry. They didn't get this emotional losing or winning Centex. At that moment Centex doesn't mean shit to them. They cry because they love this sport and the friends within it and Nationals is a time to give them your thanks by playing as hard and selfless as possible. At Centex if a superstar feels a tight hamstring they'll nurse it and if aggravated, will rest and save themselves. It is a long season.

But at nationals those same superstars have a hamstring colored like Picasso's mural to Guernica taped twice over, they've taken all the ibuprofen they can and maybe sprinkled in codeine and they are out on the field running around as if pursued by the Hound of the Baskervilles. No one is saving themselves. This is why we save ourselves! To play till our organs burst at the end of a long season and have for the rest of the summer three days of memories we can thumb through in our minds over and over. For the rest of their lives, for some. Clearly, Cyle from Florida, you have never been to nationals.

But maybe this is your year. Florida has some studs, won Vegas, and is looking very strong. Though I think you'll find yet again that the season is long and as you begin to tire Georgia, backed by everyone's Callahan favorite Dylan Tunnel, will win the region again and you'll lose the subsequent backdoor game to the best NC team. Not everyone knows how to plan a season carefully and peak when the time is right, when the stakes are highest, and when the outcome of the best college tournament is on the line: Nationals!

Clearly, Cyle, you have never been.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

I scanned the room for something familiar. I needed to be able to find something I knew, something I could use to remember who I was and perhaps give me a clue to how long I'd been there.

As I peered at the world from the sunken rotating sofa, I became aware of giant television screen pulsing out every sporting event from polo to midget wrestling. On one particular television they were showing a continuous version of sports center with no commercial interruptions. ESPN 3:Casino. And hundreds of bulbs, bald little illuminated heads, covered an entire wall of the room with an odd dance of numbers. It began to sink in: I was in the Bellagio's Casino Sportsbook.

The bets were numerous and odd. Besides betting on the winner and spread, you could also place wagers on anything your mind could conceive. The first person with a fumble. The last team to score. First player to receive a penalty. Finding no energy in my legs to move from the spot I set about to read all the possible betting lines. It took forever. As I neared the end I found I could move again and so stood up to leave. As I walked to the door, in the corner of the wall on a small betting screen hidden from plain sight, a word caught my eye. There, glowing out of the wall in a serene green was the word "ULTIMATE" in all caps. I stopped to read.

It seems like the Sin City has caught wind of this week's tournament, and where ever there's hot college competition Vegas has a hand up its skirt. I asked a cocktail waitress for a pen and a kiss and, receiving the pen, began to jot as best I could the Vegas betting lines on Trouble, and when interesting some of the odds. My hand shook from excitement, fatigue, and the car bombs, and the napkin was later soiled and blurred wiping vomit from a teammate's mouth, but here is what I was able to transcribe.

Colorado -250
Wisconsin -200
Richmond +1,000
Texas -110

Most Arrests Per Team
Most Arrests Per Player
Brian Frederick -110
Number of Organs Clandestinely removed from players by scam artists
12 Over -120 Under +120
First strip club visit
noon Friday Over +220 Under -180
A Player will Fall into the Bellagio's Fountains
Yes -110 No +120
First Unassisted Hook-up Between Men's and Women's Teams from Different Universities
Saturday 8am Over +150 Under -150
Metro east team in Semis
(I couldn't quite get these odds, as it smudged. It looks like a plus sign, and then a really big number)
Death of a Coach
Yes -110 No +100
Number of Break-ups between Visitors and their partners
52 Over -200 Under +220

At this point I felt my strength waning, and realizing I'd eaten the last of my elven Lembas bread, I began tripping to the door. I'm not sure I made it that far, but I awoke on the floor of my hotel room later that evening, surrounded by teammates in mid-rally and ready for more.

Tomorrow I will post a last minute survival guide for those teams going with some must-have tips on minimalizing your losses and getting attrition to work for you.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Las Vegas is the kind of city where you feel like brushing your teeth more often than usual. The casinos leave a film over you like the tar on a cigarette, and by the time your trip is done you're moving and thinking slower because of it. When I returned Monday night, I couldn't wash it off me. Only today have I begun to smell less and less like Her alleyways and more like myself.
I returned and the first person I saw was my roommate Michael Whitaker, coach of CU's Kali, and a favorite to win the tournament and the national title. He asked me how my weekend had gone and how I'd liked Vegas. I lurched towards him hollow eyed, grabbed him by the collar and gurgled at him, "Don't take them Whit! Don't do it! They will die!"

I had stared at the belly of the beast, felt its stomach acid and returned to warn the world. Las Vegas, college edition, is going to end in ruin and woe.

As I conversed with Whit and other players from teams around the country, one thing became clear: no one has any fucking clue how crazy it's going to get. They are all in denial. Most of those players are on teams looking to win the tournament outright, but they're fighting a losing battle. Trying not to party is like walking around all day with a midget around your neck, easy at first but before midday, the weight will pull you down.

And those are the teams trying to win. There are 64 men's teams in attendance. Of those, at most 20 really believe they can win. By Sunday, only 8 will still believe. That means there are at least 44 other men's teams, milling around after games, with only one thing on their mind: the rabid submittal to their vices and passions.

Skip! As I type this right now I am awestruck by your sheer arrogance! You are sending dozens of college kids to their deaths and you know it!

I tried to talk Whit out of it, but was met with mild amusement and a raised brow. "Don't worry Hector. I'm going to keep my girls nice and safe all weekend."

Fool. His feelings of smug assurance bordering on hubris are probably echoed by other coaches and captains on attending teams. Their desire to win a national title at all costs will make them zealot Ahabs willing to risk the lives of their players in their quest for their white whale. Don't go!

Vegas is a drug, overpowering, arrogant and seductive. It's human to succumb, to falter, to sway a measure in the city's rhythm and get lost. These are college kids, players with tickets for the day after, or the luxury of having a team that doesn't give a shit about results. This is pawned textbooks, made-up college expenses for daddy, sold iBook for another chance at greatness in the Roulette wheel. This is underage drinking and walks down casino hallways and street sidewalks where you're offered anything from opium to sex to religious salvation. These are kids who last partied hard the night of Prom. This is Trouble.

I came away with a nicked dignity, a lighter frame, and twenty in cash. On my team I was one of the lucky ones. As much as the memories will never be forgotten we all walked away as if we'd lost something, the city had pick-pocketed and fondled us as we were looking. The college kids will come back from their three day affair and it'll be, "show me on the doll where She touched you."

Between visits to the Bellagio water show and their hotel rooms it will happen. The air will get in their lungs and they will taste some of the city's offerings, becoming modern-day Persephones amidst the barren decadence the city offers. From there the tumble is mercifully swift, and a few short hours later they feel strangely calm despite the two grand they just dropped in craps. Western Union standing by to serve you.

Don't go! As Admiral Ackbar famously said, "It's a trap!" We all as elder ultimate players bear a burden to protect the younger ones when we can. Those players in attendance at Club Trouble have no excuses. We know what will happen. We witnessed. Having survived the weekend and kissed my front lawn because of it, I ask those in charge of college teams not to go. You will be implicit in their deaths! Felony records don't stay in Vegas. Neither do VD's. I doubt everyone that needs to will stash the body in a place where it's unlikely to be found.

To the first and probably last Trouble in Vegas College, to the death of Ultimate's innocence, akin to the Stone's Altamont concert, akin to the Kent State shootings, akin to the Catholics' retaking of Moorish Spain - to the end of an era - I toast.

There's trouble brewing.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Starting Seven
1. My travel Pillow
2. Skin on and around both elbows, hips, right knee
3. One brown dress shoe, size 12
4. some disc, stolen now at least three times over
5. dignity, on the steps of the Bellagio
6. Rowan's glasses
7. Matthew Pankratz, at last head count

Official Vegas lines on Next weekend's aptly named Trouble in Vegas (college edition) were released yesterday. I sat down at the sports book couches of the Bellagio with a pad and pen and wrote down as many of the interesting ones as I could. I will write them here, as they were displayed, tonight.


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.