Thursday, December 29, 2005

Training: Base 1 review

Base 1: 11/28/05-12/25/05

Strength Goal-3x/week. Basic Foundational Program

Cardio Goals:

11% of total year hours=12.1 month hours

OD=8.1 hours
EN=4 hours


Strength: 12 sessions over 4 weeks


OD=7.88 hours
EN=3.85 hours

10.4% of total year hours
12510 calories

Overall, not too bad. A bit off for my cardio totals. Most of that came during my last "easy" week, which was quite busy with family and the holidays. My motivation is much higher this year due to, I think, three factors:

1) wanting to challenge myself more than last year
2) feeling a sense of accountability to this blog
3) my new Patagonia gear

So....not a bad start.


Ultimate as a Parody

I had a few moments to view the Ultimate History Book DVD. Initially my interest was mostly in old footage of games, and although there was some, it was a bit sparse. This made me want to film everything Ultimate as I assume that it will be of interest to somebody someday.

I decided to check out some of the interviews and I found the Jared Kass and Joel Silver interviews to be more compelling than I had anticipated. Jared Kass' interview made it clear that the invention of this sport is a natural occurrence. It does not take too much to see how a bunch of college kids could think up an Ultimate-like game. I appreciated Kass' humility and interest in the basic joy of running and catching the disc. It would be fun to bring him out to Nationals at some point, as it seemed like he had no grasp of how so many people love playing this "Ultimate game".

I also enjoyed the Joel Silver interview. It was nice to finally hear, first hand, that he indeed pick up the game from Jared Kass, thus confirming that Ultimate was,indeed, invented in Amherst. This does not take away from Columbia's contribution, which is clearly documented in the book. Silver's interview did reinforce for me a notion that Silver distanced himself from the sport very early on. He describes how he did not take the sport seriously enough to feel compelled, like other players, to codify the rules or spread the sport to his college after the initial class graduated. He pretty clearly says that he did not have a vision that the sport could grow as it has, and it seems that he, like Kass, does not really grasp the growth of the sport.

Silver dropped a very quick and compelling comment that I have not been able to get out of my head for the past 4-5 days. He mentions that his view of Ultimate, when it was formed, was that is was a "parody". He says "That's why we wrote out the rules and had sweatshirts". I assume that they wanted to make fun of the other "serious" sports at Columbia, but also, I imagine, the larger sports world as well. I can see a group of high-school boys creating an imaginary sports world in a kind of dungeons and dragons or WWF kind of fashion. I had a group of high school friends that created their own newspaper in retaliation to the first release of USA Today. They created those street side boxes and chained them to the USA Today boxes. I think several of them almost got arrested. In any case, I can see this same kind of anti-establishment energy leading to creating an alternate sport. To me, this makes sense in a late 60's/70's kind of way.

So, for the past several days I have been pondering Ultimate as a parody. Are we stuck with that? Have we transcended such intentions? Is it destiny that we are to remain outside the establishment due to such beginnings? Have we become what the founders were making fun of?

I think a few answers might come from what happened to the founders after they graduated from Columbia. Most of them went on to found the Ultimate team at their college. To me, this suggests that they did not buy solely into the fact that it was a parody, but maybe I underestimate the power of their original intention. I think it is clear that Silver moved on from the sport quickly, so I am not sure that we take his impression as ubiquitous.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Ultimate History Book/30 years of Ultimate

This is the kind of post that the decision to "read more", or not, was made for. I received my copy of the Ultimate History book in the mail this morning. I have not had the chance to open it yet and do an "Al" (check to look for myself).

The book comes at a very interesting time for me as 2006 marks the 30th anniversary of when I started playing the sport. I have been reflecting upon this since July when I worked as the Ass. Director for NUTC. I was introduced to Ultimate in the summer of 1976 in the Merrill quad at Hampshire College. This turned out to be exactly where we were rooming during camp. Of course, the quad looks tiny and I wonder how we were actually able to play there in the evenings after dinner. I was 12 at the time, and my father was teaching Math for the summer session. I brought the sport home to Ithaca, NY and taught my friends how to play. We played all the time while I was in school, and our favorite place to play was Barton Hall at Cornell University.

My "career" (I have hard time giving it that much weight) has been quite out of the norm. While I have always been aware of this, I try not talk about the old days very much (despite this post). I think I try to look forward as much as possible. In any case, it came as a bit of a surprise this past Sept at the CHC, when, in the middle of a point during a random game on Saturday, Jorah turned to me and said " who did you play with in the early 90's?" I quickly gave him my stock answer. What follows is the expanded version.

After bringing the sport back to my friends in Ithaca, we continued play, as I said above, quite frequently throughout grades 7-12. As we got into High School, disc really became a big part of our lives. We were into Ultimate, but also Freestyle. We had the silicone spray and certain discs for doing tricks, etc. I must say that I had a pretty good airbounce, but no flick. In the spring of 1981, we formed the first Ithaca High School Ultimate team. This came about largely due to the encouragement of CVB, Mike Yonda, and others from the Cornell team. At some point, we had discovered their pick-up game, and they really took us under their wing. We competed in two tournaments as far as I can recall. The first, which I no recollection of (my step-brother reminded me), was the Cornell Frat tournament. We won that one...or so I understand. We then "qualified" for the New York State tournament, which was to be held at the teagle fields at Cornell. I believe we got crushed by all comers at that one, but we had a great time. My only actual recollection of this tournament is our own Keith Millman laying out waist high and then attempting a chicken-wing pass in the air, before he hit the ground. Having never seen anything like this, there was a bit of a pause before we could meekly say "Take your time".

I graduated from high school in 1982, and while I applied at schools like Brown, Virginia, Duke, and Amherst, I was rejected, without remorse, by each one. It came down to a decision between McGill and Umass/Amherst. I decided to consult the best guidance counselor I knew, and with little prompting, decided on UMASS as CVB said that they had a really good Ultimate team.

I was quite lost at UMASS. I tried out for the soccer team, but I had smoked too much pot in the morning, so I was cut by the afternoon. Luckily, ZooDisc had a place for me. During the first few practices, the team managed to get rid of my air bounce, but I still had no flick. We did a lot of "go to". Tim Riviera was the captain, and he split the team up into an A team and a B team. Mike Nevins, Greg Novack, a kid from Bronx Science, and I were all on the B team and VERY unhappy. I recall that the B team disintegrated quickly as many folks decided they couldn't handle the "rigors" of the sport. The team was really a band of crazy gypsies. Besides Tim, we had EK, Seegar, Barney, Mr Pete, John Nisley, Alex Socoloft, Ken Boardman, Jim Melody. Nevins and I traveled with Mr Pete to the first tournament. He picked us up in his red and black Mustang and flew down 91 in the fog. I also got to travel in Riviera's van. I recall doing bong hits all the way down 91 to Connecticut, then falling out of the van, and staggering to the keg. We won the tournament as usual. Heady and immortal times. The only times we lost were to the Rude Boys and Hostages. They did this thing called a ZONE DEFENSE. Never had heard of such a thing, let alone dump-swing, poppers, 2 on 1 power players, 3-handler set. We played the Hostages on a nice, gusty day at the Ultimate Affair, and our "O" consisted of Riviera standing by himself, surrounded by the cup. Usually he would have to jack it to Seegar, which sometimes worked.

We went to a tournament at Harvard. During one game, Duncan and I ran into each other in the end zone, and we were both knocked out. I went to the hospital in an ambulance. I remember lying on the gurney waiting to get x-rayed. The nurse said to me "What ever you do...don't fall asleep" and then walked away and left me by my groggy self. A big help, she was. Tim picked me up and brought me back to Amherst.

We played tournament at Purchase (I remember playing Dartmouth), Connecticut, Amherst, and Boston. Nevins and I got to play a lot for rookies. I couldn't throw, so I was pretty much a D player/deep threat. We would play the Rude Boys, they would play zone, so I would hang in the back against Mooney. We never said a word to one another. I was all business. As usual, Riviera would have to jack it deep. I would give it my best shot, but Mooney was tall....even back then.

There was no college season at this point (no force or picks either, and games were to time...or maybe 21), so we competed in Club Regionals at Amherst. Two bids to Nationals, no backdoor, double elim pansy crap. This was straight up force, mano v mano (except the club teams played zone), semis is the game to go Ultimate. I don't remember a thing about Saturday, except I wore a purple winter hat and that I went up for a D at one point, but was distracted by the unusal shadow blocking out the sun. It tuned out to be Seegar skying at some ungodly height. Sunday. My memory kicks in when we play Zekreation. This is basically the club version of Cornell. CVB has moved to Chicago or something. Yonda is the star along with Zeke. No Brenner or JC. Hard fought game. I knock Yonda out of the game when we collide while making bids for a high disc. I don't get a chance to chat with him and feel guilty forever. We win the game and play the Hostages in Semis. I looked back at an old UPA newsletter and we lost 21-16. I remember it getting quite dark, and there was a huge crowd. EK and Tim were actually able to do some good O work against their zone, so by the end of the game, it was mostly man to man. I was in during on point toward the end of the game, and we turned it pretty close to their goal line. I had laid out for the disc, and I got up to see one of their players pick up the disc and throw a short pass toward our sideline. I scrambled up and laid out, got the block and crashed into out sideline. Folks went crazy and it was quite exciting.

The following spring, Riviera calls me to ask about the team and the spring season. I think I had some motivation issues in 83-84. I was pretty much only interested in music and pot, so I made a "career" decision and decided to not play Ultimate and focus on music. Tim was pissed and leaned on me hard. We had a few very long conversations before I decided to move on. I ran into Nevins at Fools a few years ago. We were quite competitive with each other that first fall. We actually hitchhiked to Philadelphia together so I could pick up a car. At Fools, he said "Yeah, you got knocked out (at Harvard) of the game, and then I got really into it". This is not my recollection, but I think does go to show our very different paths. Mike, of course, won a championship with UMASS in 86 (my senior year), and then played for NYNY. I pretty much forgot about the sport and got very involved in music and audio production work.

I really didn't think about the sport again until the spring of 1993, when I was walking across the Boston College campus with my friend, Phil Mitchell. He said "You should come out to our Ultimate pick-up game in JP on Sundays". I mentioned that I had played before (I believe I saved him by not recounting all of the above). As I wasn't traveling for work or working on the weekends anymore, I was able to come out and start to play again. In the summer of 1994, I started to play pick-up at Weeks Field in Newton. Zaz was the hotshot, and I remember him shutting me down. He wasn't too friendly about it, either. I did get a lay out block on James Pitts early on, and Dave Meyers was around a lot. I think it was a bit humorous that I had to learn about the force and picks, even though I was the ripe old age of 30.

I think it easy to look upon 1983-93 as lost years. Could have. Would have. Should have. I think that even if Ultimate had been on the radar during this period, that I spent too much time traveling and working on the weekends to have gotten invloved at all. It took a conscious effort to adjust my lifestyle to one in which I had better control of my time, and I don't think it is a coincidence that Ultimate popped back into view. After I got back into Club Ultimate in 1998, my wife described my interest as a mid-life crises. This is probably accurate, but does not illuminate her actual incredible support for the time I have spent in Ultimate over the past 6 years.

So I am looking forward to reading the book. It seems like it will be a nice Holiday gift.


Formatting-World Cup Style

A couple of Fridays ago, I spent much of the afternoon tuning into the live webcast of the World Cup Final Draw. My main reason was to check out seeding and formatting for the biggest tournament in the world. In the end, I was quite surprised by the acceptance of pure randomness in generating the pools.

The tournament starts with 8 pools of 4. After pool play, the top 2 teams from each pool qualify for a round of 16, then qtrs, semis, and finals. Pretty good so far.

While the above makes sense from a formatting point of view, putting the teams into the pools is done by a random draw. There is a committee that selects the top 8 teams. For this year, Germany, the host team, was given the A1 slot. Brazil, as the defending champ, was given F1. Coming from my point of view, I wondered "why these slots?". Germany is probably a 6-7 seed at best, so why the A1 slot? And then, if Brazil is the actual #1, why F1? I asked a friend of mine who played semi-pro soccer in Russia about this. He is a fanatic of the sport. He had no idea why the teams were put where they were, and, furthermore, seemed to have no interest or critical thought about either the seeding or format. I was a bit surprised as I have had heated discussions about seeding and formatting BUDA Summer League tournaments.

Once Brazil and Germany were in place, the other top 6 teams were drawn at random. From there, the other 24 teams were also literally drawn out of a hat. There are geographical rules about where teams can be placed. For example, I believe that no more than 2 teams from Europe could have been in the same pool.

The bracket basically just places a first place team against another pool's second place team, but as there is no attempt and seeding reflecting ranking, there is no sense that, for bracket play, the #1 team is playing the #16 team.

I spent much of the time pondering the contrast between seeding and formatting the World Cup and what we do in Ultimate.
I came away with a great amount of respect for the care and thought that goes into the UPA formats manual. I think ranking teams in order of strength is positive, and designing brackets that set up "correct" match-ups also works. I also think that the formats go out of their way to correct for possible errors. There is no double elim in soccer, or even pre-quarters. I find it hard to believe that the World Cup format selects only two teams out of each randomly-drawn pool. I feel quite coddled now.

As I have said before, there is work to do around developing consistent seeding guidelines, but I think the inevitable quibbles and bickering about both seeding and formatting is something to be both appreciated and expected. At least we seem to care about what is going on.


Monday, December 19, 2005


I had a few moments during Regionals to check out a few games, so I hung out with a coaching friend of mine and strolled around Devens. At one point, my friend said, "That team (one of the one's we were watching) is too upright when playing D. They need to get lower, bend at the waist, and give themselves some more opportunities". I thought it was quite a specific comment, and most likely, from a team point of view, just a random occurrence that most of the players on the field had an upright posture when running.

A few weeks later, at one of the last 6TM practices, I spent a few points working on what my friend suggested. I have always been very upright when running, and I am not that comfortable with quick stop and starts. I was guarding Seth Mann at practice, and he is short, very fast, and can change direction on a dime. Pretty much the wrong guy for me to guard. I concentrated on keeping low and forward. I found I was more comfortable with Seth's quick start and stops, and while I was certainly not able to stop him, I had a bit more success in containing him that I would normally.

I think Teddy from Slow White does this very well. He is one of their big men, and yet, while running, keeps himself low, almost to the point of hunched over. He is very quick and has great footwork.

It is hard to think about one's posture as it seems so ingrained. I think this is one area in which we could benefit from a video camera.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Whiptails: Fall 05

The captains and I developed pretty simple goals for the fall. The primary goal was to focus on throwing and catching. I think we able to develop facility in these skills, and the team seemed to want to work hard to gain confidence in these areas.

We talked a lot about spacing downfield and making good angles when cutting. We worked on away dumps and we had time to fit new players into zone O and D.

The team had success at tournaments this fall. We beat MIT, Rogue, and Harvard at Sectionals. We lost to Dartmouth and Tufts a couple of times, but beat Yale and BU. We lost to Northeastern twice, but beat them in a scrimmage in November.

We did lose some prospects to other interests, but we do have a few new players that seem to love the sport.

Two areas that fell through the cracks were: updating our personal goal cards, and our rules gurus did not go over a rule before every practice.

I was very happy with the end of the year as we had good attendance for our last two weeks of optional practices. In the past years, folks have just not showed up. Not only were we able to get numbers, but we got a lot done in terms of conditioning and beginning work on decision making.

We now have winter break. Practices start up again at the end of January.


Year in Review

7 tournaments (lowest total since 1998)
36 wins-14 losses

I struggled with my confidence and enjoyment of playing this year. I felt physically ready to play, but I was sometimes out of sync in terms of mental focus.

Mixed Easterns (6TM)- A tryout tournament for 6TM. Lost in quarters to Slow White. At 14-12, Slow is pulling to us, and Eitan says to the folks on the line, "This is to beat the 3rd best team in country". I look down at our line, and Marshall is the only player on the line that played in 04. This is not to make light of what Eitan said. They were pumped up, and I think beating us was a good way to get their season going. My point is that it was an odd tournament to have 19 tryouts and 5 returners, and be iunder the 6TM moniker.

Boston Invite(6TM)-lost to Slow in pool play. Beat Flaming Moe twice. Got to play WMD on Sunday morning with Al and Jim watching as we took over their field for our second round game. I was a bit surprised they didn't move, but it was hot enough to deter any extraneous motion, even if it meant having to glace over the Sunday paper at Mixed Ultimate. Beat Slow White in the final. Played real team defense.

Potatch(Northeast Neighborhood Bullies)- The blog highlight of my weekend was scoring a goal on Corey. I pulled my hamstring on the morning of day 3. DTL won the "have Ted Munter coach your team" raffle, so he coached against us. Josh M got his wish and we played Harvard on Sunday morning. He took over the game and we won.

CHC-Lost in finals to Moe. Beat CLX in Semis.

Sectionals-Got pasted by Chinstrap on Day 1. In the final, WMD's first two passes were intercepted for Callahan goals. The third point they completed 1 pass, then we got the turn and goal. A lot of teams would have collapsed, but they took it in stride. If you discount the first 3 points, we beat them 12-8.

Regionals- lots of rain on Saturday. Went down 5-2 to BMF. Beat Chinstrap in the final. Close game, though.

Nationals-I think that tournament is pretty well documented.


2 Hour Tour

As this is week 3 of this month long training period, it is the "hard" week and I allocated 29% of the month hours to it (week 1: 23%, Week 2: 26%, week 4: 22%). After crunching the numbers, this meant that my OD allocation was 139 minutes for the week. I have noticed that I get more benefit from long OD runs than breaking up the allocation over several running sessions. As it is a good idea to do one really long run each month, I decided that yesterday was the day to run for the full 139 minutes.

I knew it was going to be cold, and, indeed, when I checked, the temp was 15 degrees when I left the house. I bundled myself up in all my new Patagonia gear (sidenote: I am very grateful for 6TM's Pro Player discount. Awesome gear. Somewhat affordable with the discount. Yesterday I wore the Axuwool top, the cool weather top, mid-weight socks, and the R1 tights). As soon as I stepped outside it was COLD. I spent the first 5-6 minutes of the run well above my heart rate target (132-143bpm) in an effort to warm up. I was pretty concerned about being able to keep warm for 2 hours while running so slow.

By about 11 minutes, I was warm and my heart was at 141 bpm. Pretty nice. I cruised along like this for a while, and then at about an hour, my iPod battery ran out( I set the thing on shuffle songs. Weird little section at one point: "By the Time I get to Arizona" followed by "The Sound Of Music" followed by "You're Cheating Heart"). I reached the Charles River at the Needham/Dover line at 1 hour 7 minutes, and I turned around. I spent the next 15 minutes battling the cold. My hands got quite cold, but in order to keep my heart rate down, I had to pretty much shuffle along. I started to get concerned about frostbite, and wondered if I had picked the wrong day to challenge my endurance limits and battle the weather.

I decided to do some OD sprints to warm up. This is basically about a 30 second sprint every 15 to 20 minutes. Just a chance to move your legs fast, but in my case, very helpful to get my temp back up.

Pretty soon I passed some landmarks close to home and I felt confident I would make it. By 2 hours, my joints were very tired and I was barely running. I made it home in 2 hours 21 minutes. I burned 1700 calories and I believe I ran about 11 miles.


Friday, December 09, 2005

"For the benefit of the casual spectator"?

Lots of good talk about fouls and penalties these days. I personally think Marshall's post might be the best in that it is a beginning of an exploration of the use of penalties.

I think beginning a discussion on penalties must come from the point of view of what makes the game better for the players. I don't really trust the expertise of folks on RSD who post with certainty that their particular spin on penalties will lead to "growth" and a "better experience for the fans and media". Perhaps I am naive, but I think that what makes the sport better to play will make it better to watch. I pretty much dismiss any assertion not backed up by extensive market research that claims to have any idea about what would make things better for the "casual spectator" or fan.

I think the discussion should begin with comprehensive modeling of what other sports do. Too often, we are launched immediately into the details of someone's specific proposal. For some reason, the model put out there is a basketball-like "foul limit". Why is this the only thing under consideration? Have we really exhausted all other other options? I certainly don't consider the inevitable foul after foul at the end of a basketball game to be particularly exciting, and I find it in stark contrast to the rather continuous action that largely precedes it. What about the other sports? Hockey, football, soccer. They all have systems in place.

I do think, though, that limiting the discussion to only copying what other sports do is not beneficial. I have watched many a live sporting event, and, frankly, Ultimate has as much good and bad as any other sport. Football, when watched live, makes even the most call-fest laden Ultimate game seem to fly by. Watching a sport live is very different than watching it on TV. Let's not forget that TV is not reality. For all their faults and failings, SOTG and self-officiating are based on unique assumptions. Perhaps the discussion should also involve some creative work. Thinking new thoughts about how penalties could work.

So, focus on what makes the sport a better experience for the players. The media and the casual spectator will pick up on the fact that it is enjoyable.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005


I tried a lot of stuff during my first couple of years coaching. I was new to this role, and as I felt I needed to keep the girl's interested, we did all kinds of tricky things. Zone to man, various spread O's, etc. To a large extent, I was probably struggling with the lack of self-imposed limitations. Too much freedom, really, and I knew, deep down, that not only was there not much added value, but that my girls were not benefiting from it very much.

Last year my captains were adamant that the focus would be on throwing and catching. During the dark winter months, we would spend our time in the little basketball gym throwing and catching. This was different than previous years in which I preached variety as a primary tool toward combating boredom. I guess we were a little less sympathetic last year.

We emerged into the spring with a fair amount of confidence in our ability to throw and catch. Early on, we went to a tournament in RI, and we got a chance to play Amherst High school. They beat us 11-2, but Emily B said it was one of the hardest fought games of the season for them. What became clear was not only had our work paid off, but the ARHS girls provided a clear example of the benefits of focusing on fundamentals.

Tim is talking in his blog about the good old days of college, and the lack of strategy. Or, at least, a simple strategy that suited their skill set, however limited at the time. I think most college teams can get a lot of mileage out of the following fundamentals:

1) Being able to throw and catch deep into your roster
2) Confidence in breaking the mark
3) Real person D
4) An effective zone D

1) and 2) will allow you to run pretty much any offense, and 3) and 4) should get you the disc. Once your team has really got these down, then you can refine the basics. Stack O. German, Swedish, Argentinian, or whatever spread you want. (How many times have you had the following conversation while waiting for the pull: Player A-Hey, let's run the Swedish!. Player B-Is that the one with the pairs on the side? Player C-No, that is the German, the Swedish is the one with 2 horizontal rows, 3 handlers and 4 cutters. Observer-You have 10 seconds to signal readiness. Player A- No...No...the Swedish is the 3-1-3 with the iso person in the middle. Player C-Fuck it...let's just do a stack. Jack it to me).

We played a team last spring that brought it all, and was prepared to execute none of it. By point 6, we had seen every O and D system known to our young sport, and we were never off-balance or even particularly ruffled. I thought at the time that that team had spent a lot of time working on things that were not adding value. One of the primary responsibilities of a coach is to decide how you are going to allocate your precious practice time. I think many of us put the cart before the horse in the interest of being "tricky".


Sunday, December 04, 2005

Focus During Weight Training

This week was a clear reminder that strength training is very challenging when it comes to maintaining focus. Not only is maintaining focus a way to dramatically increase the quality of a strength workout, but I view strength training as a means to increase my ability to focus over long periods of time, specifically Ultimate games. When I am tired or distracted, there are consistent signs when I am losing focus during strength training:

1) I rush through my reps.
2) I "bounce" my reps. For example, if I am doing pull-ups, I will use my momentum on both the up and down points of the rep.

I think taking a passive approach, mentally, to strength training is very common. We do our bit, show up at the gym, get into a machine, and let it do the work. I am as guilty as the next person of mailing it in during strength training, but being passive basically wastes the time spent in the gym. So use strength training as chance to increase your focus and mindfulness. Your Ultimate game will get a lot out of it.


Training: Week 1

Note: This week went from Sunday, Nov 27-Sunday, Dec 4. All other weeks will be from Mon-Sun.


Strength(STR)- 4 workouts.

Cardio-165 minutes. This is calculated as follows: Total planned year hours(TPYH)=110, First Month(Base 1)= 11% of TPYH, First week=23% of Base 1
Cardio is broken into:
Overdistance(OD-heart rate range is 132-142bpm)=110 minutes(60% of week's total)
Endurance(EN-heart rate range is 142-147bpm)=55 minutes(40% of week's total)

Sun-STR(55m, 395kcal)
Mon-OD(76m, 904kcal)
Tues-STR(52m, 394kcal)
Fri-STR(51m, 288kcal)
Sat-OD/EN(45m:35 OD, 10 EN, 500kcal)

STR=220m, 1512kcal
Strength notes: Same workout each week. Very clear example that focus, especially around slowing down reps, helps to increase the overall workload. On Thurs, I felt distracted and I rushed through the workout.

OD=111m, 1304kcal
EN=55m, 637kcal
Total cardio=166m, 1941kcal

WEEK TOTAL=386m, 3453kcal


Saturday, December 03, 2005


I have some time this morning as my wife is sick. I am tending to the house stuff, and this means missing the beginning of the GHHH tournament in Warwick, RI. The powers that be decided to rename 6TM the "George Cooke All-Stars" for the tournament, so this might be my greatest achievement in Ultimate so far (especially since Jim is on the roster!). In any case, I am trying to figure what will do most to contribute to the legend, showing up mid-stream (roll the Chariots of Fire music)...or not at all (what a tribute!). Tough decision.

Anyway, on to the subject at hand: systems. I have to be very careful here as this is dangerously close to Crazy Frank material. I think I am a bit pissed that I feel I have to even mention him, even if it is in a dismissive form.

Phil Jackson's book "More Than a Game" provides a good explanation of the Triangle offense. It also sheds some light on what the environment was prior to Winter's invention. The O was basically pick and rolls, cuts off picks, and various means of setting up isolations.

While I do not think that the seven principles of the Triangle can be used, as a whole, for Ultimate, it does provide a framework for thinking about the basic principles of offense in Ultimate. For me, it also makes me wonder if there are additional principles (and systems) that will show their head some day. Jim has expressed some interest in the idea of a "motion offense", and it will be interesting to see if new and unique systems develop in our sport.

There has been discussion about the differences between the West Coast style of play and the Dog style of play. I wonder if these are actually different systems. Certainly, the decision making process is vastly different, but are they actually different systems? I am not sure.

I think it is possible to consider that there is one basic system right now...with variations. Furthermore, I think it is possible to boil down this system into two principles: 1) create isolations, and 2) have multiple options for the thrower. Are there others that I am missing?

The Triangle principle of each player being a threat has lead to discussions of a "motion offense" for Ultimate. It is challenging to think about new principles that could create new systems. Most of the time, I don't feel like I have that kind of vision. While I lack vision, I do spend time questioning my assumptions. Hopefully, this keeps me open to new ideas.


Why the interest in Mixed Ultimate?

Lots of talk about Mixed Ultimate these days. Funny thing is, most of it at least seems to based on a sincere concern for Mixed to be better. It was almost easier when no one gave a shit, or just bashed it. It was easy to dismiss bashing. Now we have to actually acknowledge problems. Which is good!

-I think Jim started it here

-Dave Klink then started a thread on RSD

-Then we have the new Condors blog

-Marshall adds his perspective from a conversation with a woman player from 6TM

-Although a bit off topic, Tim spent some time with the World Games DVD

So, why all of the interest? Why was there so much discussion on RSD before Natsionals about qualifier predictions, seeding, etc? Maybe there is not much else to talk about. I mean I know that having the Mixed Final as the middle game was a personal affront to most folks, but I guess that is what surprises me about all this talk. Why are folks spending time on this?


Friday, December 02, 2005

Short Story

This is a short story I wrote in 1985 for a creative writing class at UMASS/Amherst. As it was based on actual experiences and was not trying to be overtly "creative", my teacher was pretty clear that it was the only thing I wrote that fall that was not "shit".
Bryan was my best friend at the time, and is now my step-brother. The two of us started the first Ithaca High School Ultimate team.

Bryan accelerated and sent the car careening around the corners of Cascadilla Park road as we made our way up to Cornell University. In the passenger seat, I could look down into the slate gorge and see the water rushing over waterfalls on the way to Cayuga Lake. I looked back and could see the sun just beginning to lower over West Hill. The windows were wide open, like the accelerator, and the rushing late June air was like a reward for surviving the harsh, dark winters. The end of high school was just a few days away, but Bryan and I had already made the emotional shift away. We did not attend any Senior Week activities, and spent as much time as we could pursuing new friends and passions. As we came to the top of the hill, Bryan accelerated, and our energy increased as we now were closer to the field. We passed Risley Hall, and I reflected for a moment on the experiences of seeing bands there, like the Zobo Funn Band, during hedonistic parties. Bryan's aggressive left turn right before the Beebee Lake bridge snapped me back to attention. We drove up the little hill and could see the motley gaggle of folks gathering at the field.

While Bryan and I were just finishing up school, most of these folks had been out of school for a month. They had decided to enjoy the most beautiful time of the year in Ithaca working and playing lots of Ultimate. Bryan parked the car, and we grabbed our cleats from the back seat. The group energy was buzzing as folks got ready to play. People were sitting around, joking and laughing. Most everyone had dogs, so they were running around creating chaos. We crossed the parking lot and walked over to say hi to Chris Van Buran. CVB was wearing his usual bandanna over his long black hair, and he greeted us with his welcoming manner. We spoke about the summer and the Talking Heads. A few months earlier, I had made the decision to attend UMASS over McGill based on him telling me how good ZooDisc was. CVB broke off our conversation to go warm-up. I watched him closely as he had all the throws I didn't have. He was the first person I saw throw a hammer during a game.

As we made our way over to the group, a fight broke out between two of the dogs. Both dogs were large labs, and folks went diving for cover as the dogs rolled crazily over the bags and chairs. Quick as a cat, Mike Yonda jumped in between the dogs, and emerged holding each dog off the ground by the scruff of the neck. Yonda was in contrast to the laid back, hippy norm. He was muscular, intense, and very athletic. I would only see Yonda a few more times. The last time was a few months later at NE Regionals. ZooDisc played Zekreation in quarters on Sunday morning. Late in the game, Yonda and I went up for a disc and our collision knocked him out of the game.

Bryan and I got our cleats on and went to warm-up. While we were still in high school and still inexperienced as Ultimate players, the college folks always welcomed us at their pick-up games. They helped us with our throws and kept us involved when we played. The start of the game was a dance of unspoken words. Folks just knew it was time to play. The folks wearing red and black for dark would go one way, and the whites would go the other. It did not seem lost to us that the opportunity to play this game on this warm summer evening was a gift. The seven of us on the line all acknowledged each other with energy and readiness. One of us put our arm up, and with a yell of "Ultimate", we would pull and run as fast as we could. I could see the disc floating past the red sun setting as the game began.


3 Teams that I would like to play on

1) Team Blogworld--I don't know....we might do well at Fools.

2) Team USA Selection Committee--So far, teams 1 and 2 give me a chance to play with Tim.

3) Team NUTC--The age disparity is so large that I am sure I would vault immediately to "sideline figurehead".


Monday, November 28, 2005

"You have to catch that, Bitch"

I was walking past Frisbee Central at Devens Field a few years ago during Easterns. I was going to get one of those steak tip sandwiches that they sell at the Boston Invite. As I walked past field 8, I noticed that Ring was playing Dog B (or X....whatever). Just as I approached the end zone, Ring put up a huge huck to one of their young, tall, fast guys. I remember thinking "there's a goal". The young guy was just past half field as the disc went over his head in that nice, floaty, "go get the goal" kind of way, but, just at this moment, a nice gust of wind took the disc quickly toward the end zone. It became clear that the catch was not going to be certain at all. The young kid, and Ray Parrish, who was about 10 yeards behind the young kid, both realized that he was going to run FAST. I guess in order to provide motivation, Parrish started to yell at the kid "Go get that, bitch", and "You have to run that down, bitch". It seemed to help as the kid shifted into another gear. He reaches the end zone line as the disc starts to die, and goes fully horizontal about waist high. His fingertips touch the disc, but both the disc and the kid crash to the earth. No catch. No goal. Ray, who is trailing the kid, straddles the kid, leans over, and yells "You have to catch that, Bitch!"

I brought this story back to my humble little div 2 corporate team a few days later. We decided, after much debate about cross-gender bitch calling, that we would work in "You have to catch that, Bitch" as much as possible over the course of the season. I think folks took us a lot more seriously as a result.


Perspective and Thanks

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I attended a funeral for the father of a friend of my 8-year old daughter. He had an interesting story as he grew up in Cambodia and mangaged to survive the genocide. He met death with a level of grace and courage that I can only hope for.

A few days later, I found on the web an old high school classmate of mine. She has been spending most of the past 15 years working for Doctors Without Borders. She spent a fair amount of time in Yugoslavia during the chaos.

My little family travels to Hartford, CT for Thanksgiving to visit with my wife's family. They have a lovely tradition of going around the table, just before desert, and everyone spends a moment telling what they are thankful for. Two years ago, some one said "Water". I have been pretty much intimidated since........

This year, with the help of the little bit of perspective given by the first two examples, I decided, rather than trying to one-up "water", to go the self-indulgent route. I was thankful for the opportunity to pursue the things that interest me.

I have been doing a better job of 1) acknowledging that I shouldn't take things for granted, 2) recognizing my unimportance in the grand scheme of things, and 3) frequently reminding myself of the things that I am thankful for. I think a healthy dose of self-deprecation goes a long way toward keeping things in check.

The author of the book "The Inner Game of Tennis" postulates that competition is a cooperative effort between two opponents to fully realize their potential.

So, be thankful for the opportunity to play our sport. It really is a gift. Also, don't believe the hype. You might be the MAN on your team. You might have just roofed someone for a goal or "made someone your bitch". Celebrate the chance to challenge yourself to your fullest potential, but always remember to step back and recognize the insignificance of your actions. Be humble.


Training: Day 1, plans for Day 2

Just a quick announcement that I am sure everyone was waiting to hear: my training program for 2006 began yesterday.

I started my year out with the basic strength training routine given to me by Bryan Doo. Lots of balance stuff mingled in with lunges, low rows, presses on a swiss ball, etc.

55 minutes, 395 calories. I noticed my head being much more into it than last year, and I am a bit sore today.

The plan for today is a 60 minute Overdistance run.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Do you have a vision for Ultimate for the future? If so, what is it? What do you see when you look out 5, 10, or 15 years from now?

I think that for many of us, a vision of the future is measured in terms of events that create a sense of legitimacy. When I was in high school in the late 70's/early 80's, I would play pick-up with the Cornell team. I can clearly recall the discussions in which it was put forth with absolute certainty that "Ultimate will be an Olympic sport in 20 years". Well, here we are, 25 years later, and that hasn't happened. Another pillar of legitimacy is a professional Ultimate league. Again, the failure of the WUSA raises red flags, especially since banking on youth awareness and popularity is crucial to both the WUSA and Ultimate.

It is hard, when considering a vision for the future, to not get caught up in the understood symbols of validity and legitimacy. I actually question as to whether modeling Ultimate on the current vogue constitutes a vision. I think there are folks out there that view adherence to "experiments" such as self-officiating as dooming us to a Promethean existence. There are times, like when I am playing a team of cheaters, that, I must admit, I agree that SOTG seems like an abject failure. However, there are also times when surrendering to the impatience of needing immediate validation fails to cherish the things that differentiate our sport from other athletic experiences. When I go into a school and teach clinics to a room full of 15 year olds that have never heard of the sport, it is helpful to have the self-officiating card to play as a means of getting their attention. I have thick skin, so I don't mind discussing respect and accountability with a bunch of skeptical kids. At least I have got them thinking. Sure, it hurts to be dismissed as "quaint", but, remember, Ultimate is like the rock band that you have discovered that no one knows about.

Media exposure leads to legitimacy, or at least that is what we have come to believe. Sure, it pisses me off to see poker on ESPN. I would love to be able to watch some Ultimate on TV. However, be careful what you wish for. If your motivations are based on wanting the general public to view Ultimate (and you) in a light of your out. I am not sure that I buy into the perception that sports like football and basketball are the panacea of the TV experience. If your vision for Ultimate is edited to accommodate the rigidity of the TV format, think about the impact and proliferation of TV on baseball. I think it is not a coincidence that the glory years of baseball coincided with the explosion of radio. Have you ever listened to hockey on the radio? I have, and it is terrible. My current thought is that there is great potential in webstreaming Ultimate. As I have said before, the CSTV webstreaming footage is my favorite website. The screen is tiny, the quality is terrible, the camera shots suck, and I have to suffer through Kyle's commentary and Ariel telling me how to throw a flick, but I just can't get past the potential. Can you imagine being able to go to a site and being able to select a quality game like......I was going to say the DOG vs Furious 02 semis, but that is just so obvious. How about the 98 Dark Horse v Red Tide game? Ultimate should embrace the challenge of using its unique assets to differentiate itself. Perhaps a new media, full of potential, is where we should hang our hat.

I do a lot of corporate events for my work. I see corporations struggle with balancing the need to put forth the things that make them different with the need to be familiar. I recall watching a show about Pixar, and the guys are driving around this big office space on scooters. No "veal pens" here. Offices that express creativity and imagination. Of course, the show made me think "If I decided to not be self-employed. That would be where I would want to work". Someone had a vision about a cool place to work. Don't take this time, in which your vision for Ultimate can make a difference, for granted. Finally, if you do have a vision for Ultimate, always view it with a critical eye. To what extent is it a belief system? What assumptions am I making? Is it dynamic and reactive to change? I have been lucky to know folks with vision for Ultimate. I admire their conviction, courage, and perserverance, and I appreciate them serving as role models.


Monday, November 21, 2005

Good resource for the 2-handler set

It has come to my attention somehow that Jim and Zaz's book, pages 137-145, offers a very good synopsis of the 2-handler set plus additional help if you are stuck on using 3-handlers. Thanks to those who pointed this out to me.


Zone O: 2-Handler set

There was an article several years ago about the death of the 3-handler set(3 handlers, 2 wings, a popper, and a deep). I believe that Al and Nathan wrote it, and it might have appeared in Chasing Plastic, I am not sure.

In any case, the article was well-written, and I agree that once a team goes with 2 handlers(2 handlers, 2 wings, 2 poppers, and a deep) against a zone that there is no going back to the traditional 3-handler, dump and swing mentality.

So, how predictive was this article? Are club teams primarily in 2-handler sets? How about Open college teams?

In college Women's Ultimate, most teams use the 3-handler set.


Friday, November 18, 2005

Look, but Don't Touch

I must have been is a weird mood the other day because I posted more to RSD than I have in total over the past few years. RSD is like my crazy extended family. If you answer the phone and are willing to speak with them about some inane family drama, before you know it, you are sucked into a black hole of need, pain, and hurt. Thank god for caller ID.

Anyway, the day started off fine as I was able to pontificate somewhat clearly on all the refined aspects of my knowledge. Slowly, though, as the dialog increased in pace and more and more folks put their hooks into the slithering thread, I started to develop a real "RSD Voice". Then I lost my mind and self-control. I started spewing out vile and belligerent retorts. I frothed on my computer as I made it a personal vow to skewer those that couldn't see the subtle nuances of my well-reasoned points.

I awoke from this frenzy when my computer made its "new mail" beep. One of my friends, who I just skewered, had, out of kindness for my plight, sent me an e-mail that basically said "What the fuck are you doing?"

My apologies seemed like non-Bounty paper towels in the face of a deluge. I had to promise that I would get back my "look, but don't touch" mode, and, once again, be thankful for caller ID.


Thursday, November 17, 2005

In The Trenches

Well, I just finished another year of work as the Youth Educator for BUDA. I gave a spring summary in this blog this past May, so I will try not to repeat myself.

If you ever want to feel good about yourself and want to give back to the sport, spend a day teaching Ultimate to 5-6 high school gym classes. A humbling activity if there ever was one. I most certainly need my nap when the classes are finished, and I wonder how teachers do this day in and day out.

It is my understanding that this program is one of the few outreach programs in the country. We face a large task in that we are trying to get into as many schools as we can in the Metro Boston area. Our big successes are Newton North High School and Lincoln-Sudbury High School. In both cases, the faculty has bought into the value of the sport. Both schools now offer Ultimate as part of their curriculum. We provide the clinics and a Teaching Kit (10 discs, cones, rules, literature, etc), for free, and in the case of Newton North, the faculty has said that they now have more confidence to teach the sport correctly. Both schools are welcoming to me as a visitor and do not carry themselves with a sense that I am treading on their turf.

The clinic agenda is short and to the point. I go over the basics of both throws, the kids practice the throws, and then we play. As I said in May, there is a lot of skepticism about SOTG. I think, when framed as it means to be respectful and that it empowers the players as referees, that they sort of get it. I hope that, for the most part, they feel that it is a real sport by the end of the clinics.

A lot of girls stand around in a clump, and the boys try to throw it as far as they can. At Newton, though, I had one team (the teacher divided the kids up into teams for a week long tournament) that realized that if they played real defense that they would have success. They had one good thrower, and two girls totally pumped to shut anyone down. The team rolled through everyone, and they were fun to watch.

When you stand in a gym with 30 loud teenagers, it feels like we have a long way to go. I think we only have the option to keep chipping away at the iceberg.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Crap Formats

One of the things I have enjoyed about my UPA job is that I have learned about formatting tournaments. I am certainly still in diapers compared to Adam Tarr, but I have enjoyed learning from him and the others in the formatting committee. I have great respect for their concern for fairness and well as their attention to detail. If you are a TD or tournament planner, I think the Formats Manual is a must read.

As I coach a college team at "social" tournaments, I am often presented with "napkin" formats. There are often serious problems with these formats. I suspect that a lot of the mistakes come with lack of knowledge or experience. However, when my girls asked one TD about a format, the response was "Its our tournament, we can do what we want". Not only does this acknowledge an awareness that problems exist, but it also signals that there was intent to take advantage of the organizational role. I am not going to guess as to what the intentions of a TD are, but if the intent is to gain an advantage, I do not understand how someone could put themselves in a position of upholding SOTG on the field, but clearly show disrespect in devising an unfair format. I have heard the "Hey, we are here to have fun and play some games...." rationale. It seems pretty clear to me that a team can have fun and "just play some games" equally well in a fair format.

I want to make clear that what follows next makes no assumptions about intent. It will point out some interesting wrinkles, but, honestly, my point is to say that players care about formats and is not trying point fingers or call someone a cheater.

So, exhibit A of crap formats is the tournament we played in this past weekend. The link is here:

The first thing that one notices is the decision to run it with 3 pools of 4. While the formats manual is very clear about the specific problems of doing this, I actually think that due to having only 4 fields, this is not a terrible idea.

The most significant problem is the way that the pools break into brackets. One notices that, for some reason, pools A and B graduate 3 teams while pool C gets to send only 2 teams. Again, I am not questioning intent, but it does raise a red flag when the the two host teams (Brown A and B) just happen to be seeded third in their pools. One would assume that the break between the C2 and C3 teams would be the 8-9 break. This would make sense as the top 8 teams make it to qtrs. Looking at the seeding, however, there seems to be no clear way to get to a place in which C2 and C3 can be seeded 8 and 9.

Looking at the brackets, the top game is A1 vs B3. So far so good. If one does a traditional snake (pool A: 1, 6, 7, 12: Pool B: 2, 5, 8, 11: Pool C: 3, 4, 9, 10), then this makes the qtr the 1 v 8 game. Let's look at the 2 seed, it is B1, down at the bottom of the bracket. Their opponent: C2!!. So not only does pool C send only 2 teams, but the the 2 seed. Again, if we are going with a traditional snake, this means we have the 2v4 game in qtrs. Seed number 3 (C1) is in the same bracket with the 1 seed, and they play A3, presumably the 7 seed. This leaves us with the 5 seed playing the 6 seed in the final game.

An additional problem with this bracket is that B1 and B2 are on the same side, meaning that, if one were to mis-seed and put the 2 best teams in pool B..... both could not make finals.

The other real problem is the seeding. I won't go into specifics, but Cornell at 5 is a joke, Yale above Wellesley (we beat them 12-3 two weeks before)doesn't work, and Brown-B at 7 is really an insult to everyone 8 and below.

So, I don't think it is particularly beneficial to be solely crtical, so I do have two alternate ideas. I think a strong possibility should have been 2 pools 6, stright into semis. 4 fields means playing the round robin in 8 rounds, so with semis and finals that means 10 rounds. A bit tricky, but possible. The other idea would be 3 pools of 4, but pre-qtrs on Sunday morning. This would have kept everyone in the ballgame, possibly corrected for seeding errors, and given 4 teams a bye for finishing in the top 4.

The teams that ended up getting screwed were BU and Yale. They finish 3 and 4 in C due to point diff, and then win the swill pool against, surprise!!!, Brown A and B.

In summary, if you are a TD, show respect for the teams that are taking time to travel to your tournament. Do the right thing and devise a format that is fair. If there is a need for deviating from standard fair practice, be very clear and upfront about why you are straying from the norm. Lastly, read the Formats Manual. It is a great resource.



As usual, there has been a bunch of discussion about Ultimate on TV on RSD. As usual, there are a wide range of opinions about the impact that TV exposure would have on Ultimate. Some folks feel that Ultimate should follow the football model, complete with refs and "jiggling ta-ta's", and this is understandable as football so clearly dominates the TV landscape. Other folks feel that it is going to be very difficult for Ultimate to get on TV with all the competition, and that our efforts should focus more on the areas that we have more control over, like Youth development, etc.

I enjoy watching Ultimate videos, and I think the CSTV web streaming content is wonderful. They have edited it heavily, but the 80 or so calls in the men's final do not slow down or negatively impact the experience, in my opinion. I would like to see more web streaming content available, and I ask my Wellesley College team to check out the CSTV material as it is a fine chance to learn about the sport.

When I watch Ultimate videos, I struggle with the camera angles and the fact that I can't see what is developing downfield. I think Stacked does a pretty good job of presenting the downfield action. I also appreciate the chance to watch the entirety of a game, even the most mundane portions, as I find the ebb and flows interesting. As I coach women's Ultimate, Stacked can also serve as a complete tutorial of the uses of a 4-person cup. This summer, when I worked at NUTC, we showed some of the Ultivillage DVD during rainy afternoons. I found the highlight reel format to be less than satisfactory, especially when presenting it to teens.

As I became aware of my dissatisfaction with the camera angles of the Ultimate videos I was watching, I started to view the mainstream sports on TV with a bit more of a critical eye. This has actually had a significant impact on my experiencing sports. In my opinion, from a technical point of view, basketball translates very well to TV. In a half court game, the camera can capture the motion of all ten players on the court. Even in fast break situations, the camera can get most of what is occurring at any given moment. This is not to say that I spend much time watching basketball, but I do appreciate that it can be covered well. Obviously, basketball gives us no help in terms of how to present Ultimate.

I played soccer as a kid, and I do appreciate the game. I think soccer translates pretty well onto the TV screen. Most of the action can be framed by a camera. The downside is that the camera shot is quite wide, so the viewer feels a bit distant from the action. I think that soccer provides a good model of how we might have to capture Ultimate, if it is played in large arena. The trade-off of distance in order to capture the bulk of the downfield work is worth it, in my opinion.

My experience of watching football has, unfortunately, diminished as a result of this awareness of camera shots. I now find it hard to comprehend how we accept missing all of the defensive back set-ups and downfield receiver routes. This came to head for me in the 2001 Super Bowl. The Pats kept throwing out 6, 7, and 8 defensive back sets. Madden kept remarking on how odd and effective they were. Yet, there I was, stuck looking at Kurt Warner, the offensive line, and the running backs. Finally, sometime in the third quarter, they threw us a bone and showed an overhead camera shot. It was remarkable to have a quick glimpse of a giant portion of the game that had been entirely missed up to that point. I spoke with a producer who shot sports the other day. He said that football is great because it allows the cameras to reset every play. I understand this, but I am finding the pace of football to be less and less satisfying. All the stoppages of play and the commercials are very frustrating, and, in my opinion, do not really provide a positive model for how Ultimate should be presented on TV. I think we need to be careful and not follow the herd.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Blogworld as a positive resource

This Ultimate bogworld has the potential to be a great teaching and learning resource. I have used some of the teachings to great effectiveness with my Wellesley girls. Here are a couple that stand out for me:

1) How to teach players the hammer-

I have used Idris' method to efficiently teach my girls how to throw hammers. At Nationals, I was speaking with one of my 6TM teammates who plays for the Yale College team. We were discussing my girls beating them 12-3 at Coffee Cup. She said, "They kept dropping hammers over the cup!" Awesome.

2) Clam Defense-

Al gives a great historical and practical description of the clam:

I like the perspective, and I think this usage could be helpful in college women's Ultimate as teams tend to be a bit predictable starting the disc off a turnover.


Time to Retire?

I can hear the chuckles already. " play in the Mixed Division....doesn't that mean you have already retired?" (Sidenote: Don't you hate RSD posts that begin "Uhmm.....(insert smart ass remark here)". The uhmm is so smug). While I acknowledge such sentiment, it is clearly incorrect and is only really useful to ruffle feathers and bolster fragile egos. However, I think it might be a Universal Truth that if you are 41 years old AND are low down on the depth chart of a Mixed team, it just might be time to embrace one's mediocrity and hang up the cleats in an effort to avoid the 73 Willie Mays Syndrome. Of course, in my specific case, it would 73 Willie Mays without the Vic Wertz catch, the 660 home runs, MVP's, and basically the whole of the 50's and 60's.

Now, if you have read this far, the answer to the title of this post (and deep concern about my career path) must be keeping you at the edge of your seat. I will, however, defer to the wisdom of MC this past Saturday night at the 6TM party in which she said "Decisions about retiring should not be made in November and December". And, indeed, my thoughts have been changing rapidly since Friday or Saturday in Sarasota. I am considering 3 options:

1) Maintain the Status Quo--Perhaps the path of least resistance. Maintain the same level of conditioning and training as last year. Contribute to the team however I can, even if it is in a limited role. While I truly believe that role players provide a benefit to the team if they, at the least, fully challenge the starters in practices (I feel I was successful in this task), the harsh view is that I am essentially riding the team's coattails.

2) New personal goals/work harder--Perhaps I could address the lack of personal goals this past year by working harder this upcoming year. I think I could be motivated to try to bump myself up a few notches on the depth chart. This was before I was told by one of the subbers that my disc skills need to improve, however. I am pretty good at self-evaluation, though, so this isn't really news (see the mediocrity part). Unlike Al and Jim, in "my day" I was a D player/goal scorer. As I have aged, I think one could say that my transition to the other side of the disc has been far from graceful. Still, this option provides for clear direction and goals, and might be the most emotionally positive.

3) Retire--You know what "they" say: "If you can't do......teach". The most dramatic option. In the past, I have made similar decisions in a cold turkey fashion. I tend to cut my losses and move on. I have been nuturing the foundation of a viable path after playing, though, and I think I would get a lot out of it. Coaching, teaching clinics, my admin work, and the NUTC job are all rewarding and will serve to keep me involved.

There are other factors that will impact this decision. Family, work, the make up of 6TM this upcoming year, and 6TM's decision about attending Worlds (maybe I should ride out on the Australian sunset) are just some examples of external forces that will come into play. answer yet.....


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Training: The Year in Review

My training period actually ends on December 1, but as I take the month of November off, it is a good time to review the prior year and evaluate how it went.

First, the metrics for 12/1/04-12/1/05:

This year, I added in Ultimate games and practices. This was probably a sorry attempt to bump my numbers up, but I thought it might be interesting.

Total Year Hours: 334
Total Calories: 149,763

Total Weight Training Hours: 47 (roughly 20%)
Total Aerobic/Anaerobic training hours: 142(roughly 40%)
Total Ultimate Hours: 145(roughly 40%)

My total non-Ultimate hours: 189
This is down from a high of about 250 hours several years ago, but only 16 hours off of my goal for the year. I think the major loss came from weight training as my focus and commitment were not there this year.

So the numbers are interesting, but do not tell the whole story. In general, I felt this was an off year, and I did not have the confidence in my conditioning that I have had in prior years. I think was due to several factors:

1) Lack of defined and focused personal goals:

I felt very comfortable in the 03-04 year as my conditioning resulted in an appropriate role on 6TM, and we had a great year on and off the field. Entering this year, I had very little resolve to improve on that model. However, as we added more depth on the team, specifically in the areas in which I contribute, and, my overall focus was off, my role and contribution diminished this year. I need to evaluate how to proceed, but I think a possible set of goals for 04-05 could be higher volume and more focused work in an effort to try to bump myself up on the depth chart. Or retire....but more on that later.

I rely heavily on my foundation work in Dec-March to get me to the place where I can benefit from quick twitch work in the late spring/summer. I think if I proceed with the above goals, then I am going to have to train "for real" this December.

2) Injuries:

Chronic Achilles tendinitis, small hamstring tweaks, and chronic tight hip flexors were omnipresent. I think I need to make a commitment to stretching as I have no interest in it at all.

3) Nutrition/Weight:

I love to eat and cook. When I started training seriously, I weighed 164 pounds. With real weight training and conditioning, I was able to get up to about 180 pounds at about 11% body fat. Some folks have questioned whether this extra weight was beneficial, but I felt that I had more power and spring at that time. In the past few years, my weight has been getting close to 185 and I am higher in my body fat count. I think that 05-06 will require greater attention to nutrition if I am going to train seriously.


Monday, October 31, 2005

Checking Out Real Ultimate

I had a few minutes during the tournament to run over and check out some real Ultimate. Meaning Open. I decided to grace the Dog/Sockeye power pool game with my presence and root for my Boston blogmates. I had, up until then, not much chance to see Al and Jim work during "Jim's Tournament", as I believe he called it, so I was pleased to be rewarded with a big upwind backhand from Al to Jim for a goal.

As I arrived at the field, I took my usual spot at the back of the end zone on the opposite side from the Crow's Nest. The crowds are thin there, so it makes for good viewing. I sat down to see 14 players standing around discussing a call, and I was able to decipher that Sockeye had the disc very close to goal that I was sitting at. The next 5 minutes was a real treat. There was about 30 seconds of Ultimate and 4:30 of arguing about an all-you-can-eat buffet of foul calls. Certainly this bodes well for Ultimate on TV as there was plenty of time for instant replay for those football viewers that can't pay attention the first time through, and, additionally, PLENTY of potential for commercial breaks. I awoke from my nap in time to see Fun Boy make a great lay out block in the end zone, and I think he might have been able to complete a pass before a series of little touch fouls erupted from the clusterfuck of bodies trying to get out of the way or get a block. I remember thinking at the time that I thought only folks in the MIxed Division called fouls on so little contact.

Very late on Saturday evening, Jim showed up at our party, and I had a chance to mention to him how impressed I was by the "action" that I had seen. I was not dissapointed as he responded, "Well, at least we can complete forehands". I said, " between foul calls". There was a brief pause as he cracked a smile, then added" well....fuck you". We all laughed and I , of course, ceded the debate to the intellectual prowess of his final argument.

On a serious note, I was able to get around and check out very good Ultimate from pretty much all the divisions, and I do believe that Nationals is a gift. The wind on Sunday was very difficult and that made it hard to showcase the best that the sport has to offer.


Brass Monkey vs SWSD

At the time, and I think I am also correct in hindsight, I felt that the Brass Monkey/SWSD game was going to have a significant impact on how the tournament played out. Perhaps this is the result of limited perspective, as my team was going to play the loser in qtrs, but this tournament would have been very different if Brass Monkey won that game.

The initial impact would have been that both finalists would have been in the same pool. I think we would have had a real battle with SWSD to see who would play CLX in semi's.

Another interesting thing was the addition of wind on Saturday. This really hurt a bunch of teams that were cruising along on Thurs and Friday.

Speaking of wind, there was a lot of debate in the Crow's Nest on whether the Mixed final would get to double digits. After the first few points, the concern became whether there would be a halftime. Luckily, things moved along quickly at the beginning of the second half, and not only did we get to 15, but we didn't have to give out SOTG awards and the medals at the same time.


Saturday, October 01, 2005


One of the things that I have enjoyed about Ultimate is that it is a springboard into other interests. Specifically, training and sports psychology. My limited knowledge of sports psych has been largely informed by Alan Goldberg (, and John Thompson's book 'Shooting In The Dark".

I have found Goldberg's discussions of expectations and goals to be helpful and applicable to Ultimate. I apologize in advance for the lack of original thought in the regurgitation that follows.

When I was making a "living"(probably better described as a "dying") as a musician in the 80's and early 90's, expectations were particularly insidious. I remember driving to gigs thinking "This is going to be a GREAT gig. The place will be packed. We will rock, and people will love us. Fame and fortune will quickly follow!!!!". Needless to say, the actual experience inevitably paled considerably as compared to my fantasy. No one would be at the show. The sound sucked. We sucked. And this is the problem with expectations: they are largely fantasies focused on things out of one's control. Many Ultimate teams and players struggle with expectations. The problems with expectations are: they can create passivity ("Making Nats this year is a matter whether I work hard or not"), pressure ("God damn it! How can play so BAD??? We are a GOOD Ultimate team. We HAVE to play better!!!"), and provide no structure for improvement("We are a good team......because.....well...we said so").

My experience is that my enjoyment and view of an event is in an inverse relationship to my expectations. I find that I usually enjoy an event/work/Ultimate a lot when I go in feeling like I/we/it will be bad/suck/dissapointing. For example, say I am on my way to my wife's work party at Christmas time. In general, I approach this party like "This will suck. Standing around with a bunch of Social Workers over egg nog will be a bad time". This attitude does not endear me to my wife, but it is hard to have a bad time when I am expecting the worst. Most of the time I walk out of there saying, "That wasn't so bad after all", and my wife feels smug because I was everyone is happy in the end. Now, if I was solely driven by expectations, specifically low expectations, I think least what I was expecting...would be pretty grim. There is an area of focus that can help, however, and it is summed up by this mantra: maintain LOW expectations and HIGH goals.

High goals are wonderful. They provide structure, challenge, hope, and excitement. What I really like about Goldberg's presentation of goals is that he divides them into Outcome Goals and Process Goals. I coach the Wellesley College Ultimate team, and the girls and I have found embracing this method is a helpful way in defining what we want to get out of a season. Outcome goals are things like "We will qualify for Regionals". They essentially focus on the "uncontrollable" elements of the sport. Process goals provide the means by which Outcome Goals can be achieved, and this is where the power lies as they focus on the "controllable" elements. Things like "we will throw x number of forehands and backhands per practice", a solid plan for conditioning, and "we will attend x number of tournaments per year".

So at the beginning of each year, I sit down with my captains and we make two lists: one for Outcome goals, and one for Process goals. We do not discuss expectations.


Sunday, September 25, 2005

the season so far (mixed haters ignore this post)

For some reason, as the UPA season heats up, we once again are seeing that all the talk on RSD is about the Mixed Division. Sure, some random guy wondered about why Kaos was seeded higher than Jam, but he was successfully and rightly put in his place in the proper RSD way. Contrary to this stimulating Open action, there are several riviting threads about the seeding for various Mixed Regional tournaments. We even had Dusty S come in, despite his "lack of interest" in the Mixed Division (what? Is there nowhere else to go? Oh yeah...there isn't), and pontificate on his perspective of the South Mixed Regional Seedings. Christ, if that kind of input does not legitimize the division........what will?

All we are misssing is The Saints' predictions for Mixed Nationals qualifiers. I bet we are waiting until all the Sectional results are in. Well, at least that gives me something to look forward to this week.

I, of course, attribute all of this interest directly to my intense efforts to make sure that every single one of the Sectional tournaments is correctly and accurately reported on the UPA SRT...well in advance of the event. To me, the SRT, is the only real-time documetation of the Series. Kind of like the standings in baseball. So, the better the info...the more the talk.....

So it has been an interesting season so far. I would describe it as "Cracks in the Armor". Here is how our 04 quarterfinalists have fared so far:

1) Shazam--Pretty good at rebounding from the loss of Eric, Finn, and Aaron. Lost two games with a half squad (Don't we all have excuses when we lose? what is a half squad?...and why does it matter?) to Brass Monkey in Aug, but redeemed themselves by winning Labor Day. Was down 12-11 to Bezerkerpiggy (my pick-up team beat them at Potlatch 15-6) before digging down deep and winning the Section 13-12. All I can say is, if we are lucky enough to play them, that I can't lose to someone that was a CAMPER at NUTC while I was Ass. Director.

2) CLX--I hung out with Kevin at CHC, and he talked about this team called Meth from Iowa. Said they were going to be very good. I just looked at yesterday's results from WP Sectionals....Meth beats CLX in pool play 13-9. I don't know...I think CLX will pull a 6TM and win the Section.

3.5) 6TM--I know we are listed as the second 3rd place finisher in the official results, but even though BM had a better record....we did beat the Champs. So I list us first here. Still finding our way and settling into the groove. Got CLX off our backs... a little bit, but lost to Mr Whatever and Moe at CHC. Lost to Chinstrap 13-5 at Sectionals on Sat. Got pissed, played real D on Sunday and managed to win the.....Section.

3.5) BM--Wins the Section as they should, but what about that first day at Labor Day? Now with Finn on their team, they will at least have someone who will talk a lot about himself...uh...I mean, the team.

5.5) Holes and Poles-- Totally psyched they are even playing in the Series this year. I felt like a total jerk when, on the day that Katrina hit, I wrote their contact in the morning and asked him some inane question about CHC logistics. I wrote back and apologized for being clueless.

I think the South is going to be tough with Hang Time and Hot & Sweaty battling down there. Let me just say that Hot & Sweaty is quiety going about there business with not a bump in the road so far. They came up to Boston and were not challenged, and have not lost a tournament...ever. The only crack in the armor I am concerned with is Hot & Sweaty's depth at a tournament like Nationals.......

5.5) Bad Larry--I spoke with Q, and he said that they are "all over the place". Picked up some friends of mine (Flock, Bill Burke). Ok. showing at Lavbor Day. The real question is will the Gendors challenge the lock on the SW of BL and......

7) DTL--Now that they have been coached by Ted Munter, they should be rocking. Played very well at GRUB. Looked just OK at CHC.

8) B+(now Gorilla Foot).....did what they do and won Chesapeake. Did what they don't do...and lost to Ono (a solid team) in semis at Sectionals. Finished 2nd. BWu said that he doesn't think that the MA teams are going to be a strong as they were in years past.....

So, that is a lot of Sectional losses and close games by our top 8 from 04.



There has been a lot of talk on RSD about seeding. Some of it is about how folks feel certain tournaments should be seeded. Other points are about the criteria and parameters for seeding. Interesting stuff. Here are some things I discuss with my coordinators when it comes time to seed UPA sectionals and Regionals.

1) Seeding is reactive, not predictive.

Subtle point. I am terrible at NCAA type brackets. Folks who care, and think that seeding is predictive, think I suck at seeding. I probably do, but at least this gives me an out. In my two years of seeding Nationals, I have successfully created a legitimate "hell pool" each year. In 03, it was pool A (seeds 1, 8, 9, 16). They finished 2nd, 9th, tied for 3rd, and 6th, and the pool featured two double game point upset wins. In 04, it was pool B (seeds 2, 7, 10, 15). They finished 8th, 5th, 2nd, 10th. Pool play resulted in several double game point victories and a 3-way tie first. This is the kind of stuff that makes one proud.

Seeding is a relative strength ranking of the teams based on past data. The UPA SRT has been great in helping to provide a database of results, but the data is not at all comprehensive. Many teams and tournaments do not report results. When it comes to seeding Regionals, many teams have only their Sectional results to report. In the face of lack of data, seeding becomes subjective, and this is where data like past history, for example, can provide a guide.

Perhaps I will seed Nationals based solely on the RRI this year. That would create some great drama as the results from Regionals came in...and would provide incentive for reporting results next year.

2) Rank the teams, as best you can, in order of relative strength. I think it is useful to generate such a list without adjustments for Regional/Sectional rematches, but with respecting Sectional finishes.

3) Consistency. I view this as a mandate of my position. I try, when discussing seeding with my coodinators, to apply the "rules" of seeding equally and consistently across the sections and regions.

4) Tweak to avoid Sectional/Regional rematches.

The importance of this varies wildly from person to person. Regional rematches in pool play at Nationals can impact Wildcards. I have talked with players who insist that rematches are to be avoided, and, for example, that the teams from a Section or Region must be evenly distributed across the pools (so, if a section sends 4 teams to regionals, then 1 team should be in each pool).

My view is that the purpose of Sectionals and Regionals is to qualify the best teams to the next stage. The Formats Manual is a study in consistency in trying to achieve this purpose. I think seeding should be handled with equal care and respect. If, after ranking the teams, the seeding can be tweaked in a manner that does not create obvious over- or under-seeding issues...then make the change.


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

re: zaz's "we're bad" then on to training

Zaz's post on "Big Time Sports" is very interesting (, and I agree with the sentiments. I think Al ( misinterpreted what he was saying. To me, Zaz is saying that a higher presence of over-40 year olds in our sport, as compared to other sports, is a sign that our sport is not at the highest level, athletically speaking. Al and Zaz seem to be saying the same thing. 40 year olds can still play!!!!!...but Zaz seems to think that is not a good sign.

Zaz has his list of basics that our sport is a bit behind in, when compared to other sports: skill, athleticism and discipline. I would like to add training to this list. I would like to be specific and talk about two aspects of training: volume and strength.

I work for myself, and this, fortunately, allows me to make my own schedule. This is out of design, however. I realized, when I finally found the work ethic I lacked as a young adult, that there was no way I could train properly for Ultimate and have a full time job. My wife and I had to make adjustments in a our schedules and our spending habits to do this, and I hope it has been worth it. The SERIOUS training book that I use has, at the beginning of developing a training plan, the term "year hours" to describe the amount of time spent training during the year. The author goes on to list what the year hours are for endurance events and ability. Most of these are events like nordic skiing and marathons, not team sports. The year hours for "average competitors" is between 200-300 hours. Elite and world-class nordic skiers log 500-1000 hours per year. My most OCD period of training occurred a few years ago. This would involve training even when I was on "vacation". I would get up at 6 am drive 45 minutes to the nearest gym, return at 11am, then go out for an afternoon aerobic workout. Needless to say, I felt that things got a bit out of control and my wife hated me. However, even with my flexible schedule and with OCD, it was hard to manage much more than 250 hours of non-Ultimate training (meaning I didn't count practices or games). Bill McKibben, in his book "Long Distance", also talks about being consumed by his training routine (the book is a diary of year in which he trains for Nordic skiing at an Olympic level of volume). So I would like to add lack of training and preparation to Zaz's list of what makes us bad.

I have not done comprehensive surveys, but I am generally amazed by how few Ultimate players do any kind of weight training. There is a hint to the benefits of weight training in a book about Michael Jordan. MJ would shift his plan such that during the season, his focus would be on the "weak points" (ankles, groin, wrist, etc). I have found weight training to be an effective means of injury protection. I was lucky to hire Bryan Doo (played with Dog, now the strength and conditioning coach for the Celtics) a few years back, and he gave me a great, 16 week strength plan that has a variety of workouts. I shift the workouts around so that I am doing foundation work in the winter and plyos as the season comes along. So, again, this is a sub-category to lack of training...and another reason why we are bad.

I am not trying to say that folks should be like me. Those of you that have seen me play will probably realize that they should specifically not do what I do. I have found, though, that higher volumes of training and incorporating strength training have been beneficial.....even if it is confined within the glass ceiling of mediocrity.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

UPA Score Reporting Tool (SRT)

I am in love with the SRT. During the fall series, I spend more time with it than I do with my wife. Rodney Jacobsen has developed a great tool that, I think, goes a long way toward creating a sense of a year long season.

There are two major upgrades this year:

1) Seeding grids--If you go to the main tournament page, and click on the field that reads (in bold and underlined) "9 Open Teams", or "16 Women's Teams), a grid will come up. Here is an example:

The grid gives you a quick glance at the overall head to head results, and it also provides its take on seeding the tournament. It is important to note that the SRT does not weight a higher finish at a tournament.

If you click on one of the squares, a head to head comparison of the teams comes up.

2) Import Formats-- You can now import a format into the SRT. After you have created your tournament and entered in the number of teams, you are given the option to import any format for that number of teams. Click on that and up comes the full pool play and bracket schedule.

It has been interesting to note that there is gamesmanship on the SRT. Not surprising. Sometimes teams, that are not at full strength, change their name for tournaments so that their results won't hurt them later in the season. I just noticed that Hot and Sweaty, a Mixed team from the south, entered in a result which dropped them in the RRI ranking...and the result was a win! Today, that result is gone, and presto....back up they come.

So there is work to do in terms of continuity and reliability of the data, but Rodney gets a big thanks. Adam Tarr, as well, as he entered in many of the format templates.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Josh's Request-Sprinting

My, this is exciting. My humble little blog has some action!

Josh, I know exactly what you mean by springy legs...or, I should say, lack thereof. I, too, have felt this for much of this year. I have also struggled with the questions of overtraining vs. undertraining.

I have noticed that in my past two tournaments that the excitement and adrenaline of playing has really helped to make my legs feel loose and that that extra gear is still there. At CHC, I felt that my focused training (being able to go 100% for a full point 4-5 times a game) carried through for most of the weekend.

In any case, here are some specific thoughts about your questions:

1) Form--I have actually never been much of a form guy. In anything. I have trouble analyzing mechanics in most thing. I think it is good that you spoke to Michael as he has much more awareness of the physiology than I do.

So, I notice that my arms start to wave around a bit when I get tired. I also notice that I need to be more aware of getting up on my toes. You mention some issues with the specifics of getting up on your toes, but, for me, it is more about not running on my heels when I am tired.

I also notice that I don't like to bend at the hips when I moving on the field. Start and stop stuff has always been hard.

So when you are at the track, think about your arms. They should be close to your body. Your legs will follow your arms, so pump them hard.

2) Training--It sounds like you have a good handle on the overtraining issue, but what about periodization?

A good training plan not only incorporates the peaks and valleys of the year, but it will also account for peaks and valleys within each training period. I break my training plan into 4 week cycles. I try, as much as I can, to have the first week be about a 1/4 of my total months work. The second week is slightly more, the third slightly more, and then the fourth week is the "off week" at about 18-20% of the total months work. What is great is when this off week lines up with a tournament. You get a nice 3 weeks of work, then ease into the tournament.

It sounds like the bulk of your work is Ultimate these days. I know it is hard to find the time, but I think you should be doing some kind of work 6 days a week on your "on weeks". It might be that you have 1 rest day, 3 practice days, and 3 training days. I also find that variety in those three days of training can really help to keep things fresh.

In terms of rest, besides the 1 day of rest each week, I would rest 2-3 days per tournament.

3) Mental Focus--After seeing you run this summer, Josh, there is no question you can fly. Focus on the things you can control: your conditioning, sleep, and nutrition. This is the time of year where you need to be relentless in these matters. Even at 25. I don't think I have ever been to an Ultimate party. I am usually asleep by 10am...even on the road. I have a tournament morning routine that borders on OCD, but it makes me feel comfortable with being prepared. I get up three hours before game time, take a hot shower in which I stretch, eat a big breakfast 2 hours before game time, and warm-up satrting an hour before game time.

4) Hydration--Last year, I played in two August tournament in high heat, and we only had 10-11 folks. I think I was chronically dehydrated for 4 weeks. I found a direct correlation between the amount of water/gatorade that I consume and the spring in my legs. I try to continue this hydration every singlke day, but I lose focus.



Thursday, September 01, 2005

UPA Series Restructuring

A big upcoming project for the UPA National Directors will be looking at a reorganization of the UPA Championship Series. There have been many suggestions about a possible model. Different divisions, a European soccer model (teams move up and down between divisions), teams earning byes to Sectionals based on previous years', plus others, have all come up.

My initial approach to this task will be to view restructuring as an enhancement of a UPA membership. I think there is some sense out there that other than the Champ Series and newsletters that go missing, that a UPA membership could have more bang for the buck. I have no idea about what other sports organizations charge and what services they provide, but, for the moment, I am going to take this criticism seriously and not treat it as whining. So, for me, ideas about restructuring will have to enhance the benefits of membership in general and not cater to specific interest groups.

I think the development of a sense of a season could be a real benefit of restructuring. Members could get more events for their money. The UPA currently sanctions events, and I think it is great that the UPA is able to provide insurance, etc, but there is always a bit of grumbling about why folks have to be UPA members to play at a tournament. I think some of these feelings could be mitigated if the event was part of a larger series of events. Now, there are some real issues to face. Rosters, for example. When would they be due? Teams playing in the UPA Champ Series have very different timelines. Some teams complete their try-outs by early spring. Other teams are just getting going in August. The UPA Score Reporting Tool (SRT) is a very helpful step toward the sense of season as it tracks results and provides rankings, but there is also much consistency missing. Teams change names to hide results, and many events are not reported. Certainly, the SRT is a major step forward, but there is a lot of work to do.

There have been ideas about incorporating local leagues into the new structure. The general idea is that league play would serve as some kind of qualifier. I think this idea has potential for bringing in new UPA members, but, again, there are many questions to be resolved about the continuity between teams that participate in local leagues and teams that participate in the Champ Series.

I am wary of restructuring serving to cater to the elite level teams. Ideas such as teams earning spots to Nationals directly based on previous years' results do not resonate well with me. There is also the "Why does Furious George have to play high school teams at sectionals?", and "Why does Sectionals have to be 2 days when we know we are going to qualify for Regionals?" whines. I think elite teams, for the time being, need to remember that for the teams that do not qualify for Regionals, Sectionals is the season. I also believe that there is a benefit to elite teams and high school teams playing one another, at least in the present series structure that we find ourselves.

So, in summary, the idea of restructuring the champ series is appealing to me if it enhances a UPA membership. I think that a better sense of an Ultimate season could be the fundamental enhancement that drives restructuring.


Saturday, July 09, 2005

Big Rosters

Jim P has been talking about rosters and efficiency, and, as 6TM is just finishing up with the final touches on our roster, I thought I'd add some thoughts on roster size. 6TM had 13 men and 8 women last year. It was generally agreed upon when we reviewed last year that we were not quite deep enough at Nationjals. We also made a few errors in our subbing over the course of that tournament (Jay, for example, played 16 points in our first game against Uncivil Union). So, in discussing the roster for this year, we decided that we would need to use our bench more fully this year, plus add a few folks (4 men and 2 women) to make us just that much deeper.

Now, I am not getting any younger, so I am quite pleased with this change, even though I am somewhere down around the middle of pack in terms of PT. I told Marshall that he would never hear a complaint from me about PT, and this was true. After a few years of "starting" on teams that finished 9th at Nationals, I realized that for me to go further, I would need to play on a team that I would see limited PT on. I was very happy with my role (2nd string O) last year, and Marshall mentioned that he was happy that I was able to come off the bench strong. This is a skill that has taken some years to develop, and I am not sure how I fit into Jim's graphs.

We took a large roster to the Boston Invite, and with the heat and humidity, I was glad we did so. It actually felt, even though it was a 2 day tournament, that the heat challenged our bench in a similar way to Nationals, and I think the size and depth of our bench contributed greatly to our win.


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Seattle/Potlatch Trip

My family just returned from a week in Seattle. We went there to visit Ruth's cousins, and I was going to play at Potlatch for the first time. We landed at 5:30pm last night, and no one could go to bed before 11pm. We had breakfast at 10:30am this morning, so the time adjustment still needs some work.

We landed in Seattle around 11am past. Apparently, Seatac has a terrible reputation for getting the baggage to the baggage claim, and our case was no different, as it took 90 minutes to get our baggage. The plus side of this was hanging out with Dave Hill and his sister, and, as she lives in Seattle, was able to give us many handy tips for the tourist portion of the trip. We decided to proceed directly to the Seattle Zoo as we knew we had to be out and about for as long as possible. I must say that Frances (8 years old) was a real trooper and managed the time change with grace. The zoo is very nice, and, with partaking in the local obsession with caffeine, we kept a reasonable energy level throughout. The gorilla exhibit was great. The silverback was huge and the baby was very active.

We made our way to Ruth's cousins house and had dinner out with Roger. He is a physician at UW. Roger and Fernne opened their home to us for week. They are very relaxed and don't impart a sense of needing to entertain upon the proceedings.

On Weds, we drove up the coast to Whidby Island. We crossed over Desolation Pass and made our way to Coupeville. The pass offered some spectacular views, and the weather was warm and sunny. The island was quaint, and we had a nice lunch. We made our way to South Whidby State Park to spend some time on the beach. The water was too cold for swimming, but Frances found a clay deposit nestled in a fresh water stream. She and 2 other kids spent the next several hours painting themselves with clay and making primitive bowls. We struck up a conversation with the mother of Frances' new friends and ended up having dinner with them before getting on the ferry to go home. So it was a very full day.

Thurs was Seattle day, so we went downtown to be tourists. We spent the morning at the Aquarium after walking through Pike's Place Market. The market is fun, but I can't help feeling like I am in tourist land, kind of like Faneuil Hall in Boston. We enjoyed the otters and the octopus at the aquarium. It is not a large aquarium, but the exhibits were well thought out and focused. After lunch, we went to visit Ruth's cousin Ben, who works at an art gallery in the center of town. Very fun work displayed there. Eli, Ruth's other cousin, made us all a wonderful dinner of halibut that evening.

On Friday, we rented a canoe and went out on Lake Washington. We went through the arboretum, and saw Great Blue Herons, many ducks, a raccoon, and a woodchuck. We went to the University district for lunch, and had a so-so meal at a teriakyi joint. Ruth and I went to see Eli's salsa band that evening, and they are very good. Eli has a good voice and the band lays down great grooves.

Saturday morning comes, and our trips go in different ways. Ruth and Frances drive to Roger and Fernne's cabin in the Ockanogan region. They bought 500 acres and built themselves a very nice place to relax. Ruth said they met interesting folks up there. Many folks living off the grid and homeschooling.

This day began my first time to Potlatch. I played with the Northeast Neighborhood Bullies (Josh McCarthy, Sangwha, Fun Boy, Skipper, Adam Goff, Jay Clyne, Megahn from San Fran, Evan, Joe, Paul, Frannie, Abby, Dave Wu, and Lisa G). Sat morning was a bit rainy and our first game was against Beer Run, a "real" Mixed team from the Bay Area. We knew some folks on the team, and they played, according to them, "horribly" and we won 15-6, roughly. Personally, I played terribly, and this continued through the day, making it one of the more useless days of my Ultimate career. We then played Sleeveless in Seattle (Fury/Wisconsin/Jam). We lost 15-13. They ended up making it to A pool semi' they must have started to play better than they played against us. For our last game of the day, we played Joy Ride (Vancouver). We played badly and lost 15-14, but based on point diff still finished 2nd in the pool. I then settled in to watch Team USA play Canada in an entertaining game. USA won 16-15. Jay's parents played host to Dave, Lisa, and me that evening and made us an incredible dinner.

Sunday. We played two pretty mediocre teams to start. Won both by large margins. I decided to break up my routines/superstitions as yesterday was terrible. I shaved, had coffee not espresso, and it really paid off...I guess. I felt much better. Active and much more confident. Our last was against DTL from Colorado. 6TM played them at Nationals last year and beat them 15-8. The fun wrinkle is that they won an fundraising auction item to help with Team USA's costs of going to Germany. Their prize was having Ted Munter coach them during a game at Potlatch, and it turned out to be their game against us. So this was fun, they played well, and beat us 14-11. I spoke with Ted after, and he said he suggested that they move away from their spread stack that they love to run. It will be interesting to see if they make changes come fall. Went to the party after....with very low expectations, which proved to be prudent. It was nice to chat, but the paltry servings of salmon left much to be desired.

After much political negotiating, Josh got his wish. We got the B pool, and our first round was against Suckwagon (Harvard). I came out strong, but injured my hamstring in the 4th point. We went down 4-1, before Josh (who said that we CANNOT lose the game) literally took over and we won 15-11. We then played a local team, Bizerkerpiggy. We played well and won 15-6. Jay had to leave, so we were down to about 6 guys. We were tired and lost in semis to UBC to end out tournament.

I was grateful to be invited on the team, and it was a fun tournament. I felt my additional mission of scouting out Mixed teams (Hang Time, Shazaam, Brass Monkey, DTL) was successful. I also really enjoyed watching Team USA and watching them play.

Ruth and Frances met me at the fields, and we went to a 4th of July party on the lake. Very nice fireworks and food.