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".