Saturday, March 04, 2006

Games with a Story #1- JPHOF vs Brown, Summer League Game

My re-intoduction to Ultimate came in 1993 via a humble pick-up game in Jamaica Plain. The game and the friendships grew, and then in 1997, we formed a summer league team called JP House of Frisbee (JPHOF). Fun team. We had some pretty good players, but the team was special beacuse folks were quite selfless and that seemed to lead to the team getting the best out of folks.

By 2002, we struggled a bit with numbers. Folks had busy lives, and it was rare for us to get more than 9 out to a game. We toyed with the idea of limiting PT to the first 7 that showed up for a game. Our field was a slanted pasture by the zoo that was decimated by its use as a carnival site.

One week, we had a game scheduled against Brown University. I thought it was a bit odd that Brown would field a summer league team, and it did turn out that this was the only game that they got together for that summer. JPHOF straggled in, as usual, at 6pm. One thing about the summer leagues games is that the traffic is horrible at that time of day. The team was a motley crew, dressed in black, with various dogs and children running around. No sign of Brown. I think we did have a cell phone for them, and it turns out that they were driving up from Providence. As finding this field is tricky for even the seasoned Bostonite, we settled in, figuring that Brown was going to be quite late. We had 8 folks lying around when the first of the Brown cars show up. No problem. We will start when they are ready. I see John Jay, who I coached while he was at Newton North, plus Rebecca Simon (not playing due to an injury, but along for the ride nonetheless) and we exchanged hellos. We became aware of how well they were dressed. Nice new Brown uniforms with numbers. The whole deal. Next came the realization about how good these kids were. All kinds of weird warm-up throws that we had never seen. We're thinking, "Boy, Nathan and Ted really have a machine going on down there".

The game starts and it is a bit subdued, sort of like both teams are calibrating the experience. They are able to score and have, of course, solid fundamentals, but we are also able to score, by a few individuals stepping up to their potential and making big plays. JPHOF never shied away from junk D (in fact, despite those who say that zone to man transitions don't work in Mixed, we were able to hang on with much better teams doing just this), so we decide to pull out a 1-3-3 as they were effective at setting up their isolations. I must say that in the most surprising moments, a 1-3-3 works wonderfully against teams that should clearly be able walk through this gift of a defense. This was one of those times. For some reason, Brown started floating long passes that our backline was able to vacuum up. My thinking was now shifting from admiring the machine to "What are Nate and Ted doing down there?" We took half, and as I could see that John was getting pissed, it was game on.

We trade throughout the second half, but we are always up by at least one as they couldn't get that last break back. We were running a 3-1-3 spread offense that is effective as we are able to get throws off to the iso, and then a couple of our women were able to make long continuity cuts. This, in a sense, summed up JP; we were able to do "sophisticated" things with pretty average players partly, I think, because the atmosphere one that was interested in the process of improving. Brown runs man most of the game, and they like to set up the same match-ups on D, so I have tall Franz on me most of the time. This created problems for me on D, but I was able to mix up what I did on O enough to keep involved.

Finally, it is 12-11 us, game to 13, and we pull to them. We are going down the slope, so they are going to have to work up hill. We play a standard cup zone and hold it the whole way. John runs the show, and they score after about a hundred smart throws. They erupt in celebration. Fists pumping, everyone on the field, etc. we trudge back downhill, and I say to my teammates "What ever happens in this next point, let's remember that this game was fun and that we played well. Do not be timid. Have fun." We set up our 3-1-3, and one of our women, who was not the most confident player, makes several tremendous in-cuts for yardage out of the back row. We were able to make the best of it and punch it into the corner for the win.

After the game, the woman who made the cuts in that last point, thanked me for diffusing the tension before the last point. She said it made it easier for her to play. That's what I liked about my team.

I hung out for a while with Rebecca, Franz, and John, and then, as the dark settled in andd the bugs came out, it was time to make a quick exit and head home.

This was the kind of game that made summer league fun, but I have been having trouble over the past few years finding that place again, and, as a result, I am giving serious thought to not playing this upcoming year. The great thing about BUDA summer "club" is that there are opportunities to learn from very good players. It is hard not to want to take advantage of this opportunity.


Wicks said...

George, it took me at least 3 years to break Jon of all the bad habits you had taught him in high school...

gcooke said...

Crap. I did leave that door open, didn't I?

I should have said that I just did conditioning for James that year..........


jonjay said...

And yet, NNHS was a juggernaut in '99 and '00, reaching the semis and finals at Natties (losing in '00 to that combo Seattle team that was subsequently banned by the UPA). Maybe I shouldn't have been untaught the skills that made me a dominant HS player...

George, I enjoy the conditioning stuff on your blog. It is interesting to see this stuff from the perspective of someone who is so oriented towards endurance. My one comment, in response mainly to your comments about achilles/hamstring/hip flexor issues, problems with lateral change of direction and not liking stretching, is that you check out the book Athletic Body in Balance by Gray Cook. It addresses right/left imbalances and hip mobility in a way that makes flexibility more interesting than traditional static stretching. I think you'll like it. It also addresses functional core training--particularly, core stability--in a way that makes sense.


gcooke said...


Nice to hear from you. Thanks for the tip on the book. Seems like something I could use.

I hope it comes across that I don't believe that running long and slow is in and of itself a good means of training for Ultimate. I just believe that the physiological benefits of improving the bodies ability to process oxygen is a good thing.

I am currently finishing up on my long slow running, and, once we get into April, my training will look pretty much like everyone else's (stadiums, track work, etc).

Thanks, G

dmgriffinhome said...

Hey George--I'm sure that I'm not that woman who scored the last point, but I am a woman who was on the team that you so eloquently recollect. That summer, and the one before (and the one before that), were stellar seasons for me, for exactly the reasons you describe. I loved the opportunity to exceed expectations as a result of camraderie, trust, willingness to try your junky D (and thanks for keeping it simple for folks like me), and a fine balance between intensity and "have a good time." Thanks, now, for putting this down in words. And thanks from then, for having been such a great team mate on the House of Love. Best, D

gcooke said...

Hi D,

Wow. Great to hear from you.

Your comments gave me a chance to read back over this post and reminisce a bit.

One thing that is quite sad is that Mike Franz, referred to in this post, just passed away a few weeks ago. When combined with the feelings of remembering a special point in time, it is a stark reminder that "this too shall pass". As usual, this is an opportunity to enjoy the dance and the fleeting moments that we have with the people we dance with.