...two teams merge, a second team sprouts up, two teams merge, a second team sprouts up...
It's only a matter of time before it happens to you. Rumors are widespread about a number of teams combining in Open, Women's and Mixed in nearly every region. There always are. Not just within one division, either. Between divisions.
Someone somewhere thinks that the competition in Division X is weak this year, so they're going to put together an all-star team from a couple of teams in the other divisions. A team starts becoming a legitimate threat to a heretofore dominant team in the area. One group sees the end of the line, the other sees a new beginning. They both see one team forming from two.
There's got to be something greener on the other side! We can get there if we work together and leave the dead weight behind!
Stay with this team? Why? I can instead play GM, coach and player all at once and attempt to orchestrate, run and execute my master plan!
There aren't exactly "trades" in ultimate, but there are mergers and acquisitions. There are layoffs and promotions. Ultimate is not structured like professional sports, it is structured like Corporate America.
Missed a workout due to obtaining country club attire for Fools Fest
Wednesday, March 28
...two teams merge, a second team sprouts up, two teams merge, a second team sprouts up...
Tuesday, March 27
Despite my generally bad attitude about not getting my meal money, the team logged another official victory tonight!
We brought our winning streak to TWO games. But this was a forfeit. Apparently, our awesome 2-9 record was enough to put The Fear in not just our opponents, but the scabs they brought in to replace our opponents. The result of said replacement team being unable to field 5 for the game was a win by forfeit and then an hour of 5v5 pickup.
Talk about ballhogging. Damn. With nothing in the balance, we didn't pass or play defense. Just go do what you do. Fun, but not my style. As "what I do" tends to be pass and play defense. Got some nifty one-one one moves and teardrops to fall, but whatever. It's like pickup ultimate-- you've got to pick something to improve on if you want to make it worth your while. So I just picked the best ballhandler from the other team and worked on playing defense without reaching. I figured this would most translatable to ultimate as well as being the best workout. I was sure he wouldn't mind as he was engaging me each time down the floor anyway.
I did a pretty solid job considering he was quicker than me. On the other hand, he was shorter than me too.
Regardless, the season is over.
Or so you think. There is talk of getting the company to sponsor us. If I'm playing for free, I'm in. There is active thought being given to playing with the company softball team as well. Perfect. Two things for me to bitch about and tenuously connect to ultimate!
1 hour Pickup Basketball
30 minutes stretching
Monday, March 26
We had a win in basketball this evening against the top team in the league.
We were 1-9 going in and they were 9-1. I guess 2-9 is much better than 1-10. We could end the season with a 2 game winning streak tomorrow night! That's right, back-to-back games like the NBA. I'm asking my teammates for my per diem this evening. Somebody must've taken mine.
Anyway, the game last night featured not one but two guest players. The first was a short guy who had obviously played a ton of ball as a kid, but wasn't a star. Did what he did (Mark Jackson-speed forays too the hoop) well though. The second guy was a stone cold scoring machine. I'd say he's the only pure basketball player we've had on the floor with us. The rest of the roster includes two ultimate players (in shape, but neither of us have really played basketball since college), a bunch of non-descript office workers, one short guy who can play and two athletes who played a little ball.
The shocking thing about most of the players is that they cannot dribble under pressure to save their lives. It's scary. Even the best shooter we've got who obviously spent some time playing just can't handle the ball. The short guy who can play is probably a better one-on-one ball handler than me, but I've got him matched for possession dribble or to set up a particular pass. That's my strong suit. That's why they generally let me play point.
This guy who showed up today was chowing down on a heaping portion of chicken with red beans and rice and just before the game started said to us "I'm here, we're not losing tonight." Alright... Anyway, as the game progresses, Zac hits a couple of jumpers and then this newcomer warms up and just takes the rock to the bucket time after time. Draws a ton of fouls, gets many of his own boards and puts them back in. From the three point line in, the other team could not stop him from getting there, no matter the zone.
This is perfect for me. It means I can settle into a complimentary role on the team. I can bring the ball up, take a couple of good shots, expend my energy on D, get some boards and distribute the ball. My only real error was a completely botched 3 on 1 when I tried to pass the ball exactly when I wanted to and instead found that the ball was on my wrist instead of in my hand. Boo. Turnover.
The last game of the season is tonight, and it is a rematch of our first game (the only rematch on the schedule). I think we've got a pretty good shot at the revenge win. It would be great to get back at those guys.
44 Minutes Basketball
Sunday, March 25
Florida, UCLA, Georgetown, Ohio State.
None of these teams are a surprise, exactly. I had Florida, Kansas, Texas, Ohio State. Rock-chalk looked the best of any team I've seen this season when they were on and Durant was the best player in college hoops over the season.
The reason neither Kansas or Texas are not making the trip is the same for each school: The coaching was atrocious. Special mention should go out to Rick Barnes of Texas for utterly failing to do one of two things:
1. Tell his team to get Durant the ball.
2. Convince his me-first guards to get Durant the ball.
Both are failures, but they are very different failures. The first is simply not understanding how to win a game. If this is the case, he's not only a horrible coach, but has the basketball IQ of a rock lobster. If you have the best offensive player by far in a given game, that player needs to touch the ball for you to succeed. Post him up. Re-Post. Run him off some screens and let him face up. Let him bring the ball up and initiate the offense. It doesn't matter-- he can do each of those things better than anyone else on the floor. If Barnes couldn't see this, he should not be coaching at any level.
The second is not understanding how to coach and cajole players into the appropriate roles for team success. These guys kept coming down the floor and jacking up threes under duress without letting Durant sniff the ball. That may be their personality, but the coach is there to teach them how to be successful individual players in the context of the team's goals and gameplans. That is the glory in team sports. Individual excellence forged together into group excellence. That is what the coach is there to facilitate.
If Barnes failed at the second, it means he's not ready or able to handle the egos on a team of this caliber. Perhaps he should be coaching one step down from Texas.
I am excited to see Oden v Hibbert. In my mind, Oden has to lay down the law in this game and dominate Hibbert (the awkward moving center that he is) to establish his position as the top center in college. He shows flashes, but I think Hibbert is good (and strange) enough to require more than flashes.
As for ultimate, well... A week from now will be Fools Fest in Fredericksburg. "The beer tent won't know what hit them," seems to be the prevailing sentiment from the Tight Ass Country Club. I like the sound of that.
Saturday, March 24
...after the Parks Department came over and told us we had to play in sneakers, but I did.
I think it was the result of seriously jonesing for the Pike season to start. I want to be back out on the field getting better. Working with my teammates to dominate. Hopefully helping them improve as much they always help me.
The problem, as always, is that pickup just doesn't satisfy that jones. Even if it is good pickup (and this most certainly was not) the level of trust and comfort with your teammates is not the same. It is that deeper connection and dedication that makes it all worth it. I may have mentioned this in a recent post, but it bears repeating. The camaraderie and shared goals of the team allow for experiences that could not occur otherwise. Buying-in to a group concept and following through is beyond satisfying. For once, you act selfishly and selflessly all at once. Your goals are your team's goals and vice-versa.
We've got a ton to accomplish this season and it is definitely good to be starting up soon. The test isn't until October and, unlike the academic time I've wasted, I'll be doing all of my homework.
3 Hours of Pickup
15 minute core workout
Friday, March 23
March Madness is awesome.
Watching Florida own Butler, Vandy nearly topple Georgetown with well-designed offense, Oregon take it to UNLV on individual greatness and UNC overcome USC's superior guard play was a great evening. The contrasting styles and strategies of the various teams. Anticipation of specific matchups combined with the suspension of disbelief regarding upsets.
The positive cliches abound when critics start gushing over this time of year and they do that Shining Moment thing on CBS. Well, I agree. Not only is the tournament itself great, it sets the stage for the NBA playoffs by whetting the playoff basketball appetite.
I feel that if ultimate were to succeed on any widespread level, this is the angle. This is the platform. Everyone makes the playoffs. Games going on across the country over multiple weekends. Fans glued to their TVs while watching the streaming version of another game in another part of the country on their computers.
I should reiterate here that I'm not sure that Ultimate will ever be the big thing instead of the next big thing, but if it were to happen, this is how. This is the path. It works for club and college. The threat of the Cinderella is always lurking, the formats push players and teams to their absolute limits, and there is always something happening.
This is one reason, in my mind, that the semis are always more exciting than the finals. There is always something happening. If you've got two games to choose from, the following occur:
Tournaments are more fun to spectate than single games. The regular season is for suckers. Follow in the footsteps of the NCAA and market the hell out of this.
30 Minutes Max Strength
Thursday, March 22
Well, at least the season is almost over.
I think one of the take-home lessons from the team/season is that you should be careful getting competitive people together without clearly defined goals, no matter how minor the event is. Even if you're getting together to play pickup, you want to discuss what level of pickup you'll be playing and how seriously everyone take the outcome. Sure, you can go and attempt to determine all of that by feel, but then you'll end up with something like my basketball team.
We all talk about winning games and how much fun it is, but none of us plays solely in a fashion that maximizes our chances of winning. If we were doing that, there would be 3 options on offense, no more (I'm not one of the) and everyone else would focus on getting those guys good shots, not turning the ball over, rebounding and playing defense. Those three players who should be shooting would work to get the ball in situations where they would succeed. You can motivate selfless acts by your teammates by converting the opportunities that their actions give you. Success breeds happiness.
The thing about this team is that we had players who felt they should stay in all game despite it being a thrown together team in order to increase our chances of winning. Frankly, they're right. But there were definitely players on the team whose goals for the season were things other than "winning." These goals were dismissed by the "win" crowd while the goal of winning with our team (at the expense of essentially even playing time for everyone) was dismissed by the "equal pt" crowd.
Of course, as so often happens with men who need to prove themselves, no one ever talked about it. I'm pretty sure I could have been the person to bring it up, but I didn't feel comfortable with that full leadership role since I didn't know anyone on the team save for a fellow ultimate player I brought in to round out the numbers. (Turns out he was one of our top 3 players)
In any case, the season has been fun despite my frustrations. Basketball is still a fantastic sport. I just wish someone had stepped up and taking the reigns a bit. Just a little guidance and direction. We had a nominal captain, but he seemed to be a figurehead for the no one who were actually in charge.
If you actually care about your team, set clear goals and determine how you plan to reach those goals.
I'm happy the ultimate season is warming up...
40 Minutes Baketball
Wednesday, March 21
Apparently, Jersey City is on the upswing...
...Because I saw The Decemberists perform a block from my house this evening. This is rather odd as I live a very quick train ride from New York proper aka Manhattan. This is the musical equivalent of off-off-off-off-off Broadway. If you needed more convincing, well, they're playing there again tomorrow night. The demand must've been overwhelming! Pretty soon they'll be doing Phish-style 3-4 show runs at the same venue replete with a now third generation version of Shakedown Street.
The thing that let me know Jersey City is not quite ready for prime time was this gem of an experience:
As we get ready to head to the show, we double check for tickets and we start the grueling 7 minute walk. As we arrive at the theater (which was really nice, actually) I get the feeling that I may have actually forgotten my ticket. Figures. This sort of thing has been happening a lot recently (Witness the Kaimana debacle). So as I step up to the ticket-collector, I fumble for the ticket and cannot find it. This is not surprising as the ticket is not there.
I tell the ticket guy that I've forgotten it and will have to go back to my apartment to get it. He says "Nah, I've got your ticket right here" while pulling a ticket out of his pocket and ripping the stub off. The first thought that enters my mind, of course, is "Hey... that's not my ticket... My ticket is back in my apartment... Why are you lying to me?" I avoid saying this and just sincerely say "Thank You" as the band was finishing their first song. If I could find that dude, I'd take him out for dinner. The thing is, I can't remember what he looks like or what his name tag said. I guess I single-handedly defeated the whole purpose of the name tag there. I never look at those things. I'm concerned that women with name tags will think I'm checking them out and I'm concerned that men with name tags will think I'm not listening to them. Ah well. Maybe if name tags were placed somewhere that you actually looked in a casual conversation (like on the floor or on someone's forehead) they'd be more effective. But creepier.
We then got in and enjoyed the show as I mumbled my way to sit with my accomplices without ever actually looking at my ticket. The concert itself was very good. As I told my brother and father over the holidays, "I'm pretty sure their lead singer is just smarter than me." The lyrics are wild in a fairy-tale fantasy kinda way and the music is complex in a progressive-folk rock kinda way. (We'll pretend that's a real description for now.) The stage banter was okay, but a bit nutty. For some reason I still can't shake the idea that this band's live performance was a musical version of a non-office focused Newsradio.
I know that makes no sense, but I think it might be true.
When I returned to my apartment, I did find my ticket on the ground where I had mistakenly dropped it before leaving. I guess the lesson is, to adjust a quote from Swingers: If you're a completely honest person and actually don't need the shit, they give you the shit for free.
Did a quick workout today before we got some Indian food before the concert. Both the workout and the food were good.
15 Minutes Circuit
Tuesday, March 20
Had the pleasure of attending an NBA game this evening.
We (JP, Jamie and my mom) had the pleasure of seeing Allen Iverson do his usual AI things, Carmelo prove that he's more of a man than Richard Jefferson (as if there was any doubt), Vince Carter show yet again that he can play when he isn't whining, and Jason Kidd fail to shoot like an NBA player. Also, Eddie House is a black hole. After you give him the ball, you know that it will be closer to the bucket than it was when you gave it to him. Generally, this involves shooting a quick jumper right off of the pass. No hint of a conscience, passing skills or a desire to do anything other than get his shot off.
The thing was, his teammates knew that. They didn't expect anything different. Kidd knew what would happen when Eddie got the ball, and as a result, Kidd gave Eddie the ball in situations where the shot was likely to be made.
This is one of the primary differences between Kidd an AI (two of my favorite players to watch). Kidd is making adjustments in his game to give his teammates the best shots. AI is forcing his teammates to adjust their games to give him the best shots. Kidd makes Mikki Moore look like a very good player. AI makes Melo look lost from time to time.
AI = I am working to get myself a shot. If I can't, I will pass you the ball. Then it is your turn.
Kidd = I am working to get you a shot. If I can't, I will shoot myself. Then it is my turn.
They are both incredible athletes and teammates. You can ask anyone who has played with them (with the possible exception of CWebb, but I dont like him, so that's okay) and the answer will come back the same: He was a great teammate. But they're so different in the way that they see the game. One isn't any more correct than the other, they are just different. If you put them on a team together, would they get along? Probably. They're both HOF-worthy and they play complimentary games. They would just need to trust each other.
In any case, how does this relate to ultimate? Well, I imagine it is pretty obvious if you remember that you CANNOT play ultimate one-on-one. You need to pass it to your teammates. We all need to work on giving the disc to our teammates in positions of strength for their skills. Similarly, an offense should be designed with the players in mind and positions should be distributed accordingly.
Defensively, aside from designing the defense, you need to work on the field to get players into the correct positions in order for them to succeed. If you've got guys who are great at getting blocks underneath, how can you help eliminate the deep look from your the arsenal of your opponent? With the mark? With dedicated deep help? Playing team defense will help your individual players play to their strengths.
Monday, March 19
Did the weekly workout today...
Two part workout:
20 Squat Jumps
20 Squat Thrusts
10 Crunches, holding at the top for 5 seconds in each rep
20 Lying Hip Swings
30 Seconds Straight Plank
30 Seconds Right Side Plank
30 Seconds Left Side Plank
1 minute rest
2 minutes rest
Repeat 3 times.
Do Section A as quickly as you can while maintaining solid form.
In Section B, form is more important than speed.
This should take 20-25 minutes, including rest.
25 minutes Interval
Sunday, March 18
What would the UPA combine look like?
I mean, if all of the club teams drafted players like the NFL, what would the standard exercises look like? What would Ultimate's version of the Wonderlic Test look like? Read Luke's old rsd posts and see if you get the jokes?
List of standard NFL Combine stuff:
I would say that the least applicable are the bench press and the drug screen since we neither push people around nor test for drugs. The rest seem reasonably useful, if you were working to develop a picture of the capabilities of a player separate from his body of work on the field. I'm not getting into the utility of that goal, but rather that these tests would, at first glance, seem to translate well to ultimate. Clearly, "Position-specific drills" would be a bit different as the positions in ultimate are only defined by strategy, not the rules of the game.
What sorts of conclusions could be drawn about players from these type of evaluations? Well, tons, actually. I'm not a huge proponent of putting great faith in these things,but you can get an idea of where people fit in the athletic spectrum. You can also use them as benchmark tests to gauge progress toward physical goals over a season or career.
We do our own "Measurements" with Pike consisting solely of measuring your Monkey Factor (Wingspan/Height) to determine whether our teammates/tryouts are Monkeys (MF>1), Humans (MF=1) or T-Rexes (MF<1). class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_3">Rexes. There are many theories on this topic, but none have been substantiated in clinical trials. I think the idea that heads the list is that it makes Dono feel more comfortable if he surrounds himself with similarly short-armed freaks.
If you were wondering, and I know you were, I'm a monkey by a few inches. MF of 1.06. Most extreme MF yet observed? Either Danny Clark or Jim Regetz-- I can't recall. Either way, they can both tie their shoes without bending over.
So, if you're looking to make the O team this year, hang by your arms on the aptly-named monkey bars. If you want to make the D team, well... chop off the tips of your fingers or something. It makes about as much sense as wanting to be on the D team in the first place.
20 Minutes with the Wobble Board
Saturday, March 17
I mean, I've been a Duke fan for as long as I can remember (This is what happens when your grandmother went to Duke) but I've never wanted to be Grant Hill...
...or Bobby Hurley, Christian Laettner, Elton Brand, JJ Redick, or any other "star" player. Maybe Steve Wojciechowski or Shane Battier. Maybe.
The heroes of the teams I loved were players like Antonio Lang or Chris Carrawell. Guys who worked their asses off to be, as Bill Simmons says, "Glue Guys." Or even more commonly, "Blue Collar Players." Players who would do all of the dirty work to win the game. Players who were leaders, but not stars.
These were the players who commanded respect from teammates and opponents for the roles that they played in helping their teams be successful. They didn't give an inch, ever. If the game was on the line, they were not afraid to take the big shot because they put in the work to earn the opportunity. Their teammates would not begrudge them taking the shot because they worked endlessly to make the team better and had high Basketball IQs. If that was the decision they made, that was the right decision from a basketball standpoint.
I acknowledge that I'm glorifying and oversimplifying this a bit, but there are players on every team in college and the NBA who do the selfless work to make the team win. George Lynch was a great example of this, even though he played for the hated Tar Heels. He played a man's game both in college and the NBA. Malik Rose, Tayshaun Prince, Big Shot Rob, Aaron McKie, Bill Cartwright, Mo Cheeks, Bobby Jones, Charles Oakley and even though they qualify as stars: Jason Kidd, Bill Russell, Kevin Garnett.
Perhaps you can see my bias for 76ers in that list. Perhaps you can see that there's at least one stone cold Jules-from-Pulp Fiction-style-badass in there (Oakley-- possibly two if you count KG) and that not all of those guys played fair. The thing is, when you were playing against any of those guys, you knew you were in for a battle. They were there to win. Not for stats, not for fame, but to win. Essentially, you were/are fucked if you didn't want it as much--whether you were friend or foe.
That's how I see myself as a player. That's who I've always wanted to be in every sport. Do the heavy lifting, put my teammates in position to succeed and want it more than anyone else.
30 min dedicated stretching/yoga (Still crazy sore from those last two workouts)
Friday, March 16
Got my grubby little hands on a copy of El-P's new album, I'll Sleep When You're Dead.
I think I've listened to it straight through about 7 times since this afternoon at lunch time. The lyrics and music are dense and paranoid as always. The change from Fantastic Damage is mostly due to the predictable process of growing older. The lyrics aren't all concerned with "newspeak or freaky lingo," and read in a more straightforward fashion.
That isn't to say the material is simple, but more that El-P is focusing on the complexity of emotion and experience instead of the complexity born of the clash between his ideals and reality. In order to convey the latter, he would often invent patterns and syntax to structurally mirror the divergence of reality from expectations. In order to convey the former, he works dial in his emotional language and connect more directly with the listener through both linear stories and language that you don't need a decoder ring to understand (Take a listen to "Dear Sirs" or "Poisenville Kids No Wins").
This method leaves the page-turning lyric-hound with less to unpack using logic (Though you can rip through "Run the Numbers" and "No Kings" if you need that fix) and more to unpack using emotion. For many of the hardcore fans, this will seem like a complete 180. What they're missing is the development of an artist over time. The maturation process of someone who throws himself full-tilt at the windmills because he knows no other way. Once you accept the harsh reality around you, the next step is to understand your feelings and thoughts that arise because of it.
Anyway, I recommend this one if you like El-P's stuff, but be prepared that while it is obviously the same artist, it isn't the same record as Fantastic Damage. It is the next step in the evolution.
Scheduled Rest Day
Thursday, March 15
This was a challenge. The idea is to do it as quickly as you can:
Get a Deck of Cards.
2-9 = Face Value
10-K = 10
A = 15
Go through as quickly as you can and keep time. My time was 28:09 (4.27 seconds per exercise). There were reports of times as low as 20:58 (with the change of Mahlers to Mountain Climbers).
To quote Clay Davis: "Shiiiit."
I'd like to explain it away by saying the mountain climbers and lightweight nature of the guys with lower times means I'm doing fine, but that would be an excuse.
Instead, I've got another goal to shoot for: Under 20 Minutes or 3.03 seconds per exercise by August. Drop 1.25 seconds per exercise.
28 minutes Circuit
Wednesday, March 14
Went to the Upper West Side Tower of Pain this evening.
I worked out with Kaimana teammate Josh in the city today. It's always good to get some variation in the plan from outside sources. After seeing 300 the night before, we were ready for some ass-kicking and there was a 64% chance of gratuitous bloodshed:
5 flights of stairs for speed hitting every step
5 flights to the top running up 2 flights and down 1 flight x2
(hitting every stair working on speed)
1 flight left foot
1 flight right foot
2 flights two foot hop, every other step
A: Running in place with a resistance band x 45 sec
B: 25 yard duck walk, 25 yards of 2 foot broad jump
The last time through the burpee/grasshopper/squat set we switched to 5, 10, 15. Otherwise, we both might have passed out.
Pretty tiring. Josh tends to mix in more rest with his workouts than I do. I know he's generally faster than me over a short point/sprint, which is likely reflective of this workout concept. I'm more likely to do 15-25 minutes of hell compared to Josh's 45-60 minutes of slightly less than hell.
The atmosphere of his stairwell and "gym" was, dare I say, Spartan. It almost makes you train harder. As he said "I'm on some Rocky 4 shit."
The season's looming on the horizon. I will be prepared.
50 minutes of mixed Interval/Circuit
Tuesday, March 13
So my younger (I hesitate to use the term "little" for rather obvious reasons) brother Jamie has made it through another year without too much damage.
I will pretend, for now, that he didn't end up with another scar on his head during a recent visit to NYC. In this fashion, I can also ignore the voicemail from my father asking what the hell happened to his middle child.
Aside from that nonsense, we have used the term "brothers" a lot on Pike over the years to refer to our teammates. I feel that this analogy is particularly apt. The bond that teammates develop through training, practicing and competing is startlingly similar to the bond you develop with siblings. You work with them, but at every turn, you want to be better than them. Fight as you may amongst yourselves, when you happen upon outsiders, you're united in purpose and deadly in dedication.
That concept is taken to another level when you receive the gift of competing in a sport with your actual brother. The bond that Jamie and I have formed over his 23 years is strengthened by the work ethic and common goals that we share with Pike. Not only do we have the same mother and father, but we also have the same teammates and captains.
I'm both a better player and person due to my brother's presence on my team and in my life.
Monday, March 12
Played another basketball game last night. It, as usual, was a debacle masquerading as mild-mannered recreation.
It started off poorly with me turning the ball over and missing two easy shots over the first few trips down the floor. Not a good beginning. Eventually, I just stopped being directly aggressive on offense. My teammates were busy getting stuffed near the rim and playing matador D while I was busy collecting cheap fouls and shooting poorly. Not good times.
I decided that I would need to use a different tactic on O as I moved from "Running the offense through myself" aka playing the point to "Banging the boards and getting second chance points" aka playing undersized power forward. This was a better tactic for the game. I collected some put backs and some fouls, but our team still suffered overall. We were jacking up threes, not moving on O and continuing to play matador D. When you're down 10 points, you can either ratchet up the intensity or resign yourself to a loss.
We chose the latter.
In any case, it has been a while since I got as negative about a game as I did about this one. I had at least 1 teammate tell me how to play defense while he watched his man blow by him. I was punched in the nose on a drive to the bucket (with blood) without a foul call which led me to nearly get a Tech in true Sheeeeeed style, but I somehow weaseled out of that.
The funny thing is that even when you compare this to the losses I've suffered with Pike, this one made my blood boil more. When I took some time this morning to examine that comparison, I realized that it had a lot to do with the level of buy-in from the respective teams. With Pike, I know that my teammates are busting their asses to win. With a shitty basketball team, you don't know that because, well, it's a shitty basketball league. When I walk of the field with Pike after a tough loss (witness the game-to-go in 06) I feel deflated, defeated and weak. I'm not angry so much as I am just internally destroyed and emotionally bankrupt. I can't be angry with my teammates because I know they're giving it everything they have. It just hurts to knwo that sometimes your best isn't enough.
When I walk off the court with a shitty basketball team, I get pissed off because I know that they don't give their full effort. Not that they should be training for this shit, but that they should at least be "gamers." When you're playing a game, you're playing for keeps. That's the agreement and that's what makes competition so much fun.
Anyway, at least I understand it a little better. That, of course, won't necessarily prevent me from getting pissed off in the future. Hopefully I'll at least be able to take a step back and accept that feeling.
44 Minutes Basketball
Sunday, March 11
...in everything about which you care.
If you want to be good at something, you need to work at it. For example, with ultimate, sure, you need to throw a lot, play a lot, practice a lot and train a lot. But more important than that, you need to do each of these things with purpose.
You should not go out and "just toss," you should go out with some particular throws in mind that you want to work on. Examine your release point, the various flight paths, the speed at which it arrives to the target, in what direction your misses go, and everything else. Every time you catch the disc, work on something. Catching with your off hand, catching trailing edge, catching with the hand you would be least likely to use for that type of spin, whatever.
When you play, examine your play. have some personal goals every single time you step out on the field. What are you working on this weekend? Defense? Be more specific. On-disc or off-disc? Getting Ds or preventing your man from getting the disc? Is there a particular hole in your mark? Do you want to work on getting Ds underneath or on hucks? Think it through and have a plan. On O are you working to asses the field faster and move the disc? Looking for more hucks? Improving your continuation cuts? Improving the cuts you would make to initiate an offense? Where are you weak? Focus on that.
In practice, are you dialed in during every rep? Do you think about he purpose of the drill and maintain your focus on that, or do you drift off and think about last night? Do you drift forward and think about the next drill? What are you thinking about when you're watching your teammates in practice? What can you learn from the way that they react in these drills/scrimmages?
When you're training, what are your goals? What are you trying to improve? Speed? Agility? Explosiveness? Endurance? How are you working toward that end? Are you maximizing your effectiveness during intense training, or are you zoning out during 2 hour marathon sessions? Are you even interested in training?
You've got to ask yourself all of these questions and more. If the answer comes back that you don't want to put in the time, perhaps this is not the goal that you should set for yourself. If you don't relish improving your game, perhaps you need a different game. You've got to love what you're doing in order to dedicate the time and energy necessary to improve.
In the end, you need to be aware of what you're doing both on and off the field. You can learn from other players almost every day you play. You should be purposeful instead of haphazard in what you work on. Develop a plan (With room for improvisation) and stick to it. Ultimate isn't so advanced a sport that you can't make it to the top of the mountain. The difference between "elite" players and run-of-the-mill players is not genes, it is dedication.
12 Minutes Circuit Training
Saturday, March 10
Back Row: Jimmy, Zac, Furf, Thorpe, Bhavin, Eugene, Kazan, Butter, TP
As mentioned previously, Kaimana was the best non-Nationals tournament yet, although this particular journey started quite inauspiciously...
The team, Philthy, was cobbled together from a group of NYU alums (Myself, Jimmy, Zac and JP) , a couple of frequent honorary NYU alums (My brother and Josh), a group from Philly (Furf, Eugene, Thorpe, Bhavin, Butter) and some late addition from Truck Stop (Kazan). Most of the players had met before, but had little experience on the field together. The most important question asked during the recruiting phase: "Are these the sort of players who will party though the night and not suck on the field?" Answer: "Fuck yes."
Back to the narrative: The first player headed out to Oahu was one John Patterson. He, for some reason, was scheduled to depart on Thursday and spend the first night in Hawaii on his own. He's a big boy, so we weren't worried about him. The plan was for him to get there and rent a car for the NY contingent. At about 11am on Thursday morning while I'm struggling to maintain any semblance of focus at work, I am given a message by a coworker:
A 'Mr. Patterson' requests that you call him back immediately.
Right on. I finish the phone call that I'm in the middle of, and call JP. He goes into some explanation, the culmination of which was that he missed his flight and wouldn't be able to get there until Sunday at the earliest. He would be flying standby from JFK with lists of over 75 people ahead of him. FUCK! I don't think he had a good explanation, and I'm not sure I was interested in one. This instance prompted me to send an this email to the two people with whom I would be traveling to the Philly airport:
With JP missing his flight today, please please please (BOTH OF YOU!) be on time... I get, as you may recall, unreasonably anxious about missing flights.
The rest of the workday passes with little of import occurring. I somehow manage to get the necessary work done before 6pm and then the travel starts. Julie and I go to pick up a rental car in NYC to drive down to Philly with Jimmy. Sweet. I can also drive to my basketball game that evening. After the game, I head back to work because, as usual, I've forgotten some things that need to be finished.
Julie and I both finish work at about 1am and head back to Jersey City to pack up and go. The plan is to pick up the inimitable Jimmy at 3:30am at the PATH station. Dawdling as always, we leave Jimmy standing out in the cold until about 4:15am. Not good. I'm under the impression that our flight leaves at 7:30, so I know we need to drive fast, but not 90 mph. We make it through the rental car return and all of that pretty quickly, and I, being the sort that shows up to airports 2-3 hours before departure time, start getting really nervous that Julie and I are about to miss our flight. Julie, being accustomed to showing up at the last possible minute and getting on the plane, is positive that we'll be fine.
We get to the counter quickly (6:25am) and the woman tells us that we may not check in. It turns out that our flight leaves at 7:05am and that they cannot let us attempt to check in 30mins before departure. Julie attempts to argue while I do my best not to start yelling at anyone in the vicinity and the woman will not budge. I'm completely flipping out at this point-- This is the first time I've ever been close to missing a flight, let alone actually missing a flight. I suppose it was unavoidable after that damn email and the day full of laughing at JP. Julie is working with the woman to try to get us on the next flight out. It appears that the next flight out will get us there on Sunday, possibly Monday (My memory is clouded by anger). Julie also talks her into putting us on a standby flight out of Newark at 2pm.
At this point, I'm a pissed off wreck after being up for 24 hours and seeing my chance to get to Kaimana slipping away. I call Jimmy to let him know the deal and to discover that he's made his flight. Jamie, the other person I called at that hour, is already on his flight as it departed at 6am.
This leads us to renting another car to get from Philly to Newark. I'm getting ready to reverse the same drive I just made down from Jersey City. 2 more hours driving, but this time I'm mad as hell. for those who don't know, I'm a very ugly person to be with in these situations and Julie did a better job dealing with me than could have been expected. She may well be ready for sainthood.
We get up to EWR with time to spare and I NEED food. All I've had thus far was coffee, beef jerky and trail mix. And more coffee. We go up to the gate and wait for standby to be called. I have absolutely ZERO faith that we will get on the plane, and I'm ready to throw in the towel. I'm trying my best to be pleasant and failing miserably.
While Julie is on the phone with her father (who lives on Maui), I go back to check on our status. I ask about the two of us, and the woman tells me that she called Julie's name. I rush back to her and let her know. She runs to the counter, I pick up our carry-ons and go back to the counter... Julie's got the golden stand-by ticket on a direct flight to Honolulu! Sweet! It then dawns on us that while I'm the next standby on the list, it is not likely that I'll be getting on the same flight. Fuck me. I realize that the power of positive thinking has really had an impact here. Or at very least the ability to talk rationally to the counter-lady in Philly put her first on the list out of the two of us.
Julie is feeling some guilt about getting on the plane. I tell her that I would leave in a heartbeat if I were her and that she should go. It doesn't help her, but at least I convince her that I won't resent her at all. I walk to the counter and pester the woman there very nicely as the plane boards and she says that I will need to wait there just in case something awesome happens.
During this time, we hatch a plan to throw some money away on a one-way ticket if one of us misses the flight while the other makes it, which seems completely likely to me. Expensive? Yes. Completely worth it if it means not missing the whole fucking tournament. That being said, considering the situation, the price was reasonable.
Julie boards last, and the woman says that there is one seat that may or may not be available as the ticket scanner was down during part of the boarding process. They send someone on to double-check for the empty seat and... no dice.
As I walk dejectedly away from the terminal, I go to a "pay-per-minute" internet connection (very sketchy) and purchase the tickets that Julie and I discussed to get me to Honolulu on Saturday afternoon. The trouble is, the flight leaves from Philly. Another two hour drive on I-95. Sweet. I've been up for 32 hours and I have to climb back into a rental car. Well, at least I can have some more coffee!
I go back down to the rental agency (Avis) who were nice enough to put our car on hold as we waited for standby tickets. This prevented me from needing to rent another car and pay a bunch more money for it. That gets a big plus in my book. I climb back into the car that I hated the first time around and start my drive. I've got the Chili Peppers Stadium Arcadium up on full blast because I need something to sing along with. It was one of the 11 actual CDs I brought with me on the trip for "Rental Car Music" on the islands. It is easily the music with the most edge as the others (Bob Marley's 4 Disc Songs of Freedom, 2 Jack Johnson discs, Neil Young's On the Beach, Damian Marley's Welcome to Jamrock and Third World's 96 Degrees in the Shade) were all specifically selected as smooth Island Cruising Music. The backup was the Damian Marley disc, but it just isn't as angry and, well, I was pissed. I was wishing that I brought De-Loused in the Comatorium by The Mars Volta, El-P's Fantastic Damage, or Nirvana's Nevermind. At very least, I wish that I had been able to find my copy of Girl Talk's Night Ripper (excellent party disc and very brisk).
I stop on the way for more coffee.
I roll into the Philly Avis rental car return and unload and start the trek to the counter. Damn am I tired. Almost 36 hours straight. I clearly look like a complete wreck as the woman behind the counter asks me if I'll be able to make it to the terminal. I'm apparently worthy of enough pity to be bumped up to First Class on the flight out to Portland. Cool. That should give me enough space to sleep. What a shame. I've been bumped up to FC once or twice before and the free booze is just a fantastic addition to the food. At this point there is just no way for me to stay awake any longer, so I'll just have to pass.
I head through security (a horrible chore, as always, in Philly) and stop by a bar for a couple of beers before the flight. I board the plane and as I settle in to watch some of The Wire on my ipod, the guy next to me starts talking to me and demanding my attention. Fine, I'll mollify him for a bit-- I don't want any enemies on the flight. We talk for a little while and somehow we get on the topic of pre-fab housing developments. I say (paraphrased, but close):
Anyone who lives in a McHouse like that should be ashamed of themselves. Just like people who read the USA Today, aka McPaper. What kind of idiot would want to live in a house that looks just like the 50 houses in the neighborhood? It completely devalues craftsmanship and individuality while eroding any meaningful sense of community. I've been tempted to start fires in developments like that. I mean, I'm no arsonist, but these sorts of things are destroying the fabric of our society bit by bit.
It then turns out that he lives in a house like that and has a copy of the USA Today with him. so much for not having any enemies. He is at a loss for words, and I return to reading Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel as we're preparing for takeoff and using my ipod at times like these may lead to a crash or some horseshit.
To my complete shock, as we get into the air, this guy starts talking to me again. Unbelievable. I stop the conversation as he asks the flight attendant for something. I bury my head in my pillow and cover up with a blanket and start to drift off. Nearing the 40 hour mark, I'm a little buzzed, still a little wired and very, very cranky. Sweet dreams (or blessed blackness) await.
Within 3 minutes he's talking to me again. He asks about the book I'm reading, why I'm going to Portland and what I was watching on my ipod. As I start describing the book, I can tell he has no interest, so I keep talking in hopes that he'll stop listening. It doesn't happen. I run out shit to say about the book as he asks for the attendant again. I shut my eyes and turn away. he says something, but I pretend I'm asleep. Soon enough, I've ignored him and I am actually asleep. No need to pretend.
We arrive at PDX at something like 2am. I'm 7 kinds of uncomfortable from that flight and all I can think about is what the hell was wrong with that fucker on the plane? This is the type of person who causes shouting matches. If he had touched me to wake me up, I would have let fly a string of obscenities seldom heard these days liberally punctuated with other vile things that you can call someone. It, of course, reminds me of a Seinfeld episode that I cannot place at the moment in which a character mentions the people who travel on airplanes with nothing to do and says "These are the people who want to talk to you on the plane" or something to that effect. I'll tell ya, if you buy me a drink or to, I'll waste my time with you. Otherwise, I come prepared. I've been traveling since I was a little kid-- I know better than to walk into a plane with nothing to do. Christ.
Anyway, I get the joy of spending the next 4 hours in the PDX airport, as my flight to Seattle leaves at 6am or somesuch. I've stolen a pillow and a thin blanket from the plane so that I can lay my head on one of those sets of seats in the airport that are specifically designed not to let you sleep on them comfortably. Blech. Listening to some dreamy Sigur Ros, I drift off.
I wake up ready to roll. I'm very sore, but nothing some stretching won't fix. I do my usual morning/airport stretching routine and hunt down some breakfast. Yipee! More coffee! I board the quick ride to Seattle, which was highlighted by the flight attendants moving some people around to "Balance the Plane" which is a terrifying thing to hear. Uneventful trip.
In SeaTac, I get to my gate with enough time to spare, give a call to the group at Kaimana and make sure that someone will be at the airport to pick me up. Julie's father, who will be seeing Julie play for the first time as well as seeing ultimate for the first time, says he will be there. Awesome. I get on the plane and immediately pass out again. We arrive at HNL a little early and I make a beeline for the agreed-upon pickup spot. Did I mention that my luggage arrived with Julie? For some reason, it was sent straight through even though I didn't get on the plane. This was sweet for me because I had only my carry-on with which to concern myself. If something had gone wrong, this would have been adding insult to injury, but it actually worked to perfection.
I get picked up and finally FINALLY we roll up to the fields. Gorgeous. The last time I was in Hawaii was before I really played ultimate and we had rolled by these fields, but seeing them through the lens of "this is where I'll be playing for the next 2.5 days" was a whole different experience. I missed our first game against the Doughboys (a 10-5 loss), but I got there just before half against the Sipping Sallys.
This game is a pretty uneventful finish as we cruised to a 14-9 victory (I throw like shit and can't run down some beautiful hucks, but I do get some nice Ds). As the Sipping Sallys made a nice run late in the game it gave me a chance to warm up a bit. The outcome was never really in doubt and we got a chance to start to mesh on the field. It turns out we added another player once we got to the fields by the name of TP. He was wandering around looking for a team to join. He, apparently, went to UC-Santa Cruz with Jamie, and we picked him up immediately. For someone with no prior knowledge of our team, he fit in perfectly. Oddly, he had actually sent Furf an email asking about a spot on the squad before the tourney. Furf did get this email... but not until we actually returned on the 27th of February or so. Kismet. This brought our numbers up to 11 as neither Kazan nor JP had yet graced us with their presence. I'm not sure if Kazan missed a flight too or if he was just coming late. You can't ever trust ultimate players. We had guys at Nationals who would roll up to the fields late. Unbelievable.
We then had a 2 round bye in which I got to go to the only fast-food joint worth visiting (Jack-in-the-Box) for some much-needed nourishment as well as stopping by the 7-11 to get some booze to add to the freely-flowing beer. I also dropped by the already set-up campsite (one of the few joys of being so late) and then hopped into the ocean for some body-surfing. Ahhh... now THIS is what I traveled all this way for!
I wander back to the fields in time for the start of our next game against the Aloha Spirit team. I think we took half at 7-2 on the way to a 15-6 victory. As the game got to the second half, we called a drinking timeout and then started playing dumb points like all-scoober, all-hammer, all-blade, all-lefty and such. It was a fun game, certainly, and I think we represented the tournament's fun spirit well in that one. Let the record show that Furf cannot catch a perfectly thrown 40 yard blade.
That first night was consumed by getting my stuff into the tent and then getting in line for food very quickly (all the while drinking the free beer of course). We also witnessed Josh getting a fantastic nickname from some ladies as he appeared to suggestively make a burrito disappear... This would come back to haunt him all weekend, much to our enjoyment. We wandered back to the campsite to shower up and get our goose on. Back to the main event! I got to catch up with some guys I hadn't seen in a while from other teams (Special shoutout to Dufort-- alway great to see you) and get righteously inebriated.
As the night carried on, we noticed that most of the Philly contingent was nowhere to be seen. It came out that those nancies had decided to take a "1 hour nap" before coming back to the party. Predictably, this one hour nap turned into a full night's rest as we didn't want to waste valuable drinking time to attempt to wake them from their golden slumbers.
Eventually, we decided to head back to the campsite, but a funny thing happened on the way to the campsite. As we tunred to walk, it became apparent that someone had taken the concept of Drive-In-Movie to another level, projecting some sort of Girls Gone Wild style porn onto the polo scoreboard. Completely twisted, Julie suggested that we stay for a while and watch. This led to her chucking discs at the scoreboard, attempting to hit various anatomically comedic portions of the screen. Porn Disc Golf was born. At some point this grew tiring and I wandered off to the tent.
We woke the next morning to pretty solid sunrise. Part 2. A slice of paradise dropped into our lives. Plans were immediately hatched to return in 08 with much the same squad plus some of the slackers who backed out.
We gathered our gear and headed to the field again, feeling hungover, but not destroyed. The breakfast of cereal, fresh fruit, smoothies and more was fantastic. For some reason, there was no hot coffee this morning which led to the discovery that I was not the only coffee-fiend on the team. good discovery as it led to a group splintering off to find some of the black stuff at a nearby eatery and retrieving it for us. Of course, the Philly crew was endlessly heckled for missing the party from the night before. A drink with a horrible horrible name was coined this morning: PAPaya-SMoothie-bEER, or PAP SMEER. Wow. Just wow. Without the combination of coffee and this new invention,we likely would not have made it to the first round game against Ono.
As we strolled up to the field, I realized that the Ono guys were almost all UCSB and/or Condors. As Kazan rolled up to the field in his drop-top 'Stang, I realized that we were likely in for a beating in this one. The wind was intense and it seemed that all they wanted to do was play zone. Eww. We had no idea how to play against a zone together as we had no established chemistry. I quickly grew tired of the team trying to swing it back and forth and resorted to blades that were dropped and hucking at any opportunity (into any type of coverage) just so we wouldn't have to waste our time working up against the zone. We were definitely plagued by drops in the wind of this game. Not that it would have affected the outcome, but it would have been a bit closer than the 12-3 drubbing we endured. Looking back, I would have expected something more like 15-9 or so, but we stunk in this one. Their blue terrycloth shirts were pretty pimp though. Big points for that style statement.
We had another two-round bye until we played Almos Pau for the third spot in our pool and a potential spot in the quarters the next morning. As our agreed-upon goal for the tourney was "Make quarters and party like rockstars," this was an important game. our very careful prep for this game consisted of drinking, going to the beach, bodysurfing and whomever felt the call rolling some disturbingly large fatties.
The game against Almost Pau was a tight one. We jumped out to a lead and then they came back into the game. We mixed up some zone and some man while continuing our trend of ripping the disc to anyone streaking deep, whether or not they had a step on their defender. I had what turned out to be, by far, my favorite play of the weekend in this game, and it came on D no less. I was the short-deep in the zone and I was sizing up their little give and go motion for a couple of points. As they near a position from which they have been throwing through the cup for the whole game, I see a handler break into the space to the right of the middle-middle and I react by telling my middle-middle to move left to open the hole. Simultaneously, I watch the thrower's eyes as he notices this shift. I know what he's going to do, and I start my 7-yard spring into that hole in the cup and bid as he releases the disc. It would have been a 4 yard completion, but instead it was a stone-cold catch-block. FUCK YES! We score the point and go on to win 13-12.
At some point either just before this game or during it we realized that, in all likelihood, we would be playing a game immediately afterward for a spot in the quarters. The format determined that the 3 teams that finish third in each of three pools are compared on cross-pool point diff. The team that has the best point diff. is given the 7 seed in the quarters. The two teams left have to play a game to 15 with no cap. We did not have the best point diff. This led to our game against Kane, led by Kaimana King, Mondo.
This was another tight game against a closely matched opponent. It went back and forth, but throughout, I was convinced that our players were a notch better than theirs, overall. Our zone was effective and we had some solid play in man D as well. We alternated between spread and stack Os as well as man and zone Ds well. Our team was very receiver-heavy (which resulted in combo players like me, Zac and Jamie handling far more often than cutting) and that hurt us from time to time. One of the positives was that the three of us who handled a lot had very similar strategic thoughts on how dumps should cut and that we had played with each other rather often. The game was an overtime win, methinks, to the tune of 16-14 or so. Hardfought and clean, is my best description.
We earned the right to matchup with Nada in the morning! Jamie and TP v their college "coach," Idris! Two Pike, one ex-Pike, one PoNY and one TSGH against all of those open club vets! Fun times were on the horizon!
More importantly, we had achieved half of our goal, now it was time to party like rockstars! This goal was definitely aided by the arrival of our very own John Patterson. We went to get our dinner of fried chicken (easily a team favorite) and refuel the beer machines. In doing so, some team members decided to challenge the team chicken-eating record to comedic delight.
This is the point in the evening, if you've ever traveled to this type of tournament with me, that I'm most vulnerable to being a cranky old bastard. Often with this sort of tournament (much like Mars, Poultry Days, PADA Mosh and the like) we bring a team of solid upper-middle class talent. In order to make the quarters we have to bust our asses. Combine this with my obsessively competitive personality, and I rarely come out of the game (for better or worse) in these situations. I'll completely wear myself out for the sake of winning these games because it makes the tournament waaay more fun for me. Then I pay the internal energy bill with early-evening performances like this.
Yikes. That was probably the most coherent I was for 4 hours or so after we finished eating. I don't think I ended up being squirted by the infamous beer gun as I likely threatened/promised righteous retribution on anyone who so dared. Eventually, I perked back up in much the same fashion as Redman being revived by Method Man to Du Hast in How High (An unexpectedly funny movie whose humor is magnified 10 fold by the commentary track from Red and Meth) to make a strong rally, going until the party shut down.
Some highlights from that evening:
- The Demon Ice Luge
- Our team starting no fewer than 10 brawls with itself
- Jamie getting his nose broken by Julie in one of said brawls
- Josh and the guy who was overseeing the Ice Luge
- Furf v Eug
- JP winning the Team Spirit Award after missing the first two days
- Josh learning how to hula on stage
- JP settling down in a tent that he thought was mine and taking the sleeping bag. When Furf entered and said "I think you're in the wrong tent." JP replied "Nah dawg, this is my tent." Leading to Furf say "I think you have my sleeping bag." Reply: "Nah dawg, this is my sleeping bag." The reality was that JP had stumbled into Furf's tent, taken his sleeping bag and refused to give it back. Perfectly played on JP's part.
- Many Many other Insanities and Inanities.
Anyway, this game was pretty good in the first half-- I think they were surprised that we didn't completely suck. We kept it close (5-8 at half) with our Grip-n-Rip offense, but they were simply more skilled and experienced. We had some drops, but so did they.
There were a couple of fantastic flick rips by Kublanza to cuts right up the sideline in this one. I also had my favorite throw of the tournament. As a swing pass was coming my way, I took a glance upfield and noticed that their deep-deep had crept in tight. On the line just before this point I mentioned to our wing/deeps that they needed to stay deep just in case this happened. As I anticipated a swing pass coming, I glanced upfield to see where he was and by the time the disc got to me on a quick swing, I had the space from the cup and ripped a huge backhand past the deep and to our deep. After this, he stayed deeper and left our wings open for blades up the line-- perfect.
It was all to no avail though as in the second half Nada pulled away to a 15-6 victory as our errors continued and theirs didn't. Yup, that's about right. First time to the tourney ends with a loss to the reigning champs. Notable oddity: Hammond was playing with his ipod shuffle on during the game. Rude and hilarious-- who would expect less?
We went on to eat far too much ahi poke and drink a bunch more beer while watching Nada go down in the finals to Ono, and then it was time to catch the flight to Maui.
Oh, and in that team picture at the top, you may notice that JP is the smallest guy on our team and that Thorpe is the biggest guy. For some reason, Thorpe and Butter joined forces to stretch out JP's XXL shirt before he showed. The sight of him standing up in that jersey is fantastic. You can get a sense of it from the team pic, but it really doesn't do it full justice.
The Philly contingent stayed on Oahu for the next week, doing things like eating and collecting citations from the police for, in Butter's words:
Officially, "disorderly conduct." Unofficially, being drunk, bored, stubborn, breaking pint glasses, not listening to mall security and inferring that some woman at the bar were very ugly.
Eventually, I may include some recollections from the week on Maui leading up to the best hat tourney I've ever been to, but that may be quite the undertaking like this entry.
In any event, the trip was a complete success. The team is planning on returning in 08 becasue we can't come up with a single valid reason not to. The fields, competition, organization, campsite, weather, people, parties, food, alcohol, scenery and all else were ideal. The only thing that could even slow us is the possibility that we would never return to the mainland. Going back to work is oh-so-difficult if you've just come back from a week in paradise.
Friday, March 9
Burpees x 30 seconds
Mountain Climbers x 30 seconds
Jumping Jacks x 30 seconds
Mahlers x 30 seconds
Split Shuffle x 30 seconds
Grasshoppers x 30 seconds
Rest x 30 seconds
Go through 4-6 times
Really, this "protocol," if you want to call it that, can work with any 6 exercises you choose, provided that you can do it for 30 seconds. I was originally introduced to this by a trainer I knew in college, but more recently came across it for a second time in reading Never Gymless.
Basically, I can't say enough about this book. It is a handbook that covers almost every aspect of non-track and non-sport specific strength/conditioning that I'm interested in. I put in my hours at the gym lifting in college. I find that my body works better and is just as strong if I stay out of the gym and continue working hard with these sort of exercises. It also removes the bevy of excuses like "I don't have the space or time to do this" or "I don't have the money to afford a gym" or "I don't want to travel to the gym." These were all bullshit and still are. Now I have no reason to even think those things.
If you want to be in shape, you can do it, just put in the time.
If you want to be better at ultimate, you can do it, just put in the time.
Be creative with your training. Every time an excuse comes up, work to solve the problem instead of accepting it.
One of the excuses that I used when I first started playing club ultimate was "I've torn both of my ACLs, I'll never be strong or fast enough to compete." It took me at least a full season to get over that and realize that it was not acceptable-- no one wants to hear you bitching, they want to see you perform.
The second excuse was not a verbal one, but a physical one. I was hovering around 185 when I started with Pike. I felt like I could never be as fast as those skinny motherfuckers on my team. It seemed that they were just built differently. True enough in some cases (I'm looking squarely at you, Bailey, Danny and Joel) but there were others who I assumed were naturally that way.
As it turns out, I was dead wrong. These guys were busting their asses in terms of training AND eating well. All it took was a trusted teammate telling me that the first thing I needed to do to improve my game was lose 10-15 pounds. When I did, well, I got a ton better. Try running around with a backpack of 15 pounds for a day and then take it off to do a couple of sprints. You'll notice the same difference I did once I reached my goal of 170. These days I go from about 172 at the beginning of the season to 167 at Regionals/Nationals just due to the constant training/playing. I'm a little sturdier in the early season, and a little faster at the end. Perfect.
To quote Walter Sobchak paraphrasing Theodore Herzl "If you will it dude, it is no dream."
21 Minutes of Interval work
Wednesday, March 7
Shamelessly taken from Vern Gambetta's Blog, this is a great entry on his part.
This was something that my HS Volleyball coach talked about every single day. If you've won the workout, you'll win the game. If you've won the practice, you'll win the game. If you practice winning, you'll perfect winning. We won WAAAY more than we lost and every single player on that team benefited from Mr. Baranowski's wisdom both on the floor and off, even if many of us didn't realize it until years later.
I'm proud that he is now in the PA Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame because he was easily the best coach that I have ever had the pleasure of working with. In fact, I would lobby for him to legally change his name to John Aabaronowski so that he'd be at the top of the list. Back in the day, much like the Indiana State Basketball tourney of Hoosiers fame, there were no size designations in PA Volleyball. We had a total enrollment hovering around 600 students and competed against teams that would have nearly that number TRY OUT FOR THEIR VOLLEYBALL TEAM. We held our own and took our fair share of games from them, but they always had the upper hand in the end due to sheer number of athletes. But we were NEVER outcoached. Suprising for a guy who had never played volleyball and who managed to finish his first season with an abysmal record. That would be the *only* losing record for the Lake-Lehman High School Boys Volleyball team for the rest of his stay.
Over the course of his tenure as coach, Mr. Baranowski turned a Baseball/Foootball/Wrestling focused school district into a volleyball powerhouse. We dominated the district (The 59-0 during my 4 years was the norm, not an aberration) and always represented well at tournaments. Technique was drilled relentlessly. "Chalk-Talks" and video review were the norm. We scouted our opponents as a team and were better prepared than anyone else for what happened on the floor.
Practices were uncompromising exercises in focus and determination. For the first 3 weeks you were there as a freshman or sophomore you never scrimmaged. (You did get to watch, out of the corner of your eye, the upperclassmen doing things on the next court that you were always impressed by.) Every practice was laid out to the minute. Motions without the ball led to drills with the ball led to larger drills without the ball led to (eventually) scrimmages. The gym was a dingy, freakishly yellow dungeon in a Middle School that should have been condemned years ago.
Not only was it intense, but the requirements to remain eligible were higher than what the PIAA or our school required. He checked your grades weekly and sat you out no matter the consequences and you'd be running timed suicides at the end of practice until you were begging for a chance to do your homework instead.
Players from my time there went on to play at Juniata, Pepperdine and Harvard, to name a few. If you're playing a volleyball game in NE PA and there are some hick-lookin' white guys who are tearing you up over and over again, it means they went to Lake-Lehman during Coach B's reign. They know how to win and have all of the skills necessary.
When I think about the dedication that I have had in my ultimate career, I look back to two non-family influences in my life: Coach Baranowski and Mr. Edward A. Richards. Mr. Richards was the band director who did the exact same thing for the band that Coach Baranowski did for the volleyball program. Laugh if you will, but myself and the handful other athletes who were also in the marching band unanimously agreed that those practices were harder than anything we did for our respective sports...
...with the singular and notable exception of volleyball.
(Scheduled Rest Day)
Tuesday, March 6
The Hoops squad took on the number two team in the division today. We're either last or second to last.
Just like last week, we had to spot the other team 4 free throws for 2 non-compliant jerseys. One of which was mine. This time the other team buried all four. Boo. Why punish the irresponsible players like myself? I tried to argue with my team to show up in whatever shirts we wanted next week and spot the other team 16 free throws or so and tell them to go fuck themselves.
Just like last week, I drew the matchup of the other team's stud. This time a little shorter guy, but a dead-eye shooter off the dribble and the spot-up. Bad news. It meant spending all of my energy keeping the ball out of his hands. Got a couple of steals and buckets out of it though.
As the game progressed, I found myself distributing well, but shooting really poorly, like a classic point guard. Got a couple of boards, a couple of steals, held my guy down and only had one TO. Maybe two.
As the clock wound down, they were inbounding the ball with 16 seconds left. My guy straight up jacked me in the chest with an elbow. The breath left my body for a bit and I was stunned. Luckily, the other ultimate player on the team was on the inbounder and essentially point blocked the pass. Second chance, and Zac (the aforementioned ultimate player) deflects the ball!
He gets a hand on it as I'm breaking to the other bucket...
Tips it toward me...
I've got a clear path...
I reach my hand out to push it ahead in that open-court dribble...
Suddenly the ball is back to the other team.
As it turns out, I couldn't quite get the handle. In the paraphrased words of an ultimate captain, I did not "catch the [ball] before it caught me." The other team got it back and then we had a last second heave-ho after a missed bucket to try to win the game. Didn't happen. Painful, of course.
Ultimately a bad loss, and if I really, deep down still cared about basketball the way I cared about ultimate, I'd be beating myself up. But I don't.
On the other hand, I can tell my chest is gonna be killing me for a couple of weeks. That guy got me right in between the ribs. That will help me remember.
As always with these games, the refs stood out. They weren't bad, but the inability to call my own fouls was frustrating as there were some horrible hack-jobs that slipped through the cracks on both sides. This leads me to the ref discussion I had with Bill Mill right here on this very blog in the Pluot entry. I want to try my hand at a project that I've been mulling over for a couple of years.
The paradigm that I want to work in for with this attempt at the rules is to use the concept of "best perspective" to determine which calls should be made by a third party of some kind and which calls should be made by the players. I'm in the process of coming up with guidelines for this. Players can *feel* things that third parties cannot see. Third parties can see things that players cannot see or feel. The primary thought is that Visual calls should be made by third Parties while physical calls should be made by Players.
Of course, all sorts of complications arise from this premise, but that's where the fun comes in. How can we close the holes in what players can accurately perceive with what a dedicated Third Party can perceive to best cover all aspects of the game? As a second governing principle, how can we best maintain the ability of the players (however nancy-like they are) to determine the way that they prefer the game to be called.
44 Minutes of Basketball
Monday, March 5
A mix of Maximal and explosive sure to tire the shoulders:
12 Lunges for each leg (24 total)
8 Clap Pushups
12 Squat Jumps
12 Ankle Hops
Rest 45 Seconds
Repeat 4 times.
Felt good and tiring over at ~12 minutes.
I also Nancied out and skipped pickup this evening. Something crazy in my ear about 25 degrees with 27 mph winds. If/Then of pickup:
If wind in mph is greater than temperature in degrees Fahrenheit then I'm not going.
12 Minutes Max/Explosive Strength
Sunday, March 4
We've established a new feature on the Pike email list this year. It is the "workout of the week." Apparently, this involves me putting something out there for the team so that all of the pale nerdy kids who got their asses pegged in dodgeball will have a repertoire of basic strength workouts to choose from. This isn't quite organized into a coherent plan at this point, but I'll be including them here as they are also workouts that I'll be doing.
Ideally, as the season goes on, we'll have a trainer on board to help plan the workouts with a goal in mind. The end result (providing the team with a toolbox of strength workouts) will be the same, but it will have more authority and experience behind it.
Today, it was this 12 minute gem utilizing the Tabata interval protocol (which I believe has cropped up here before):
-2 minutes of burpees
-2 minutes of rest
-Pushups (8 sets of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off)
-Bodyweight Squats (8 sets of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off)
-Thank your lucky stars that you don't have to do it again.
-Boot as needed.
--If there is no rest listed, don't take any.
--During the initial 2 minutes or any of the 20 second sections, do as many of the listed exercise as you can as quickly as you can.
--During each 20 second period for Pushups, start with clap pushups if you're not a Nancy and then downgrade to regular pushups if/when you work your way to Nancy-hood. If you cannot complete any more pushups, do your best to stay in static pushup position for the remainder of the 20 seconds.
-For all three exercises, maintain good form while working for speed. This primarily means keeping your lower back relatively stable.
All credit to Ross Enamait for this one.
12 Minutes Circuit
Saturday, March 3
Made the trek to New Brunswick for pickup today. Turnout was 14 with the Rutgers kids out of town for Atlantis. Former/current/possible Pike players in attendance: Myself, Jamie, Dono, Walt, B.Lo, Raphael and Vlad.
It was beautiful weather for early March though the mud was very difficult for planting/jumping and the wind steadily increased in strength as the day went on.
There has been some discussion of retaining the services of a trainer for the team in 07 (which I think is a fantastic idea). This made me wonder about how many teams are already doing this. We have all, by this point, heard of Bryan Doo and DoG and I imagine that a number of college teams are allowed to use the trainers at their schools. The value of expertise in physical preparation for ultimate seems clear to me. In particular in light of the combination of endurance and explosion needed to perform in the current tournament competition paradigm.
The cost for services like this are, at this point, unknown to me, but I cannot imagine that a team working toward Nationals would not be willing to invest the money in order to be better prepared for the particular rigors of the sport.
Right now, the model for training is often one of "Hey, which guy trains a lot? Let's make him run it." Often this player is more than willing to do so in addition to being rather capable. That being said, he rarely has the qualifications or experience of a professional. Likely he has found something that works for him but may not be applicable for everyone else on the team.
If it hasn't happened already, I expect that in the next 3-5 years a decisive majority of teams will employ their own trainers. Of course, if it has happened already, well, it's just another sign of me being behind the times.
2.5 Hours of Pickup
Friday, March 2
I'll be playing with that Old Crow-drinking dirty ex-Pike Irish bastard Nic Darling and other associated miscreants and sociopaths at WAFC's Fools Fest in 2007. I think this means that I will be playing coed, but at Fools, who can tell (or remember)?
I'm pretty sure the contract that I signed stipulates a pre-approved expense account set up in my name. If not, I'm a fool and I'll have to take this case to arbitration next season.
The other contractual agreement involves an undisclosed number of promises not to bother Nic about returning to Pike from his current semi-alcoholic aspiring novelist haze in exchange for his best reasonable attempts at not letting Marie beat the crap out of me.
Too bad on two fronts: Every team needs a guy like Nic who gets sunburn when it rains, and I have evidence that watching Marie beat men up is hilarious.
Thursday, March 1
Pike is getting rolllllling...
Sping 2007 Tour:
Beth Coltman Memorial Tournament, Henlopen DE -- 4/21-22
Pike Invite, Unknown Parts of NJ -- 5/12-13 or 5/17-18
Live Logic, Austin TX -- 6/2-3
Boston Invite, Boston, MA -- 6/23-24
I'm still lobbying for tour shirts that the bootleggers outside the shows can sell, but thus far no dice.
This is not your father's Pike.
Scheduled Rest Day