Monday, June 05, 2006

Mixed Easterns: Brief Recap

The first (and only) "What the Hell am I doing?"(see my Golf Cart Boy post) of the weekend came as I opened my front door at 6:45am on Saturday morning to get in my car and drive to the fields. I was greeted by pouring rain. I turned around to see my daughter, still in pj's, curled up with a nice blanket in front of the TV. I almost bailed....but duty called.

By the time I got to the fields, the rain was more of a drizzle. The fields, which were quite dry when we lined them on Thursday, were draining very well, and were actually in very nice condition. The Devens staff has done a remarkable job with the fields, and the conditions never got sloppy, even when it poured rain during the last round on Sat. We are very lucky to have access to that facility and I am appreciative that the teams seem to have got the message that we need to respect the fields and the facility.

I was also quite pleased that all 32 teams showed up. I had alternate versions of the format ready...all the way down to 28 teams, but, thankfully, none of that was needed. Tommy, Barbara, and Eric ran a great show as usual. They really have the details down. For example, on the trainers golf cart, they have a field map taped to the steering wheel, so that it is easy to find where injured players are. They have a stop watch for the caps. The fields are lined, and the registration process, thanks to on-line rostering, went smoothly.

You can see all the results here:

All the pools, except for C, F, and G went to seed. Pool G ended up with Harpoon taking the pool and RIP (who upset WMD in the first round), WMD, and Gratuitous tied at 1-2. RIP, who started off with the big win, ended up in 4th place, and WMD, who finished 6th overall, came precariously close to not qualifying for the championship bracket. In pool C, SPAWN began their run to a great weekend by upsetting GCAS, which was basically 6 Trained Monkeys running their tryouts. In pool F, Tandem, basically Brown Alumni, began their run to the championship in strong form with two 15-1 wins. Tandem, not surprisingly, has very good skills and is fundamentally rock solid. They did not seem bothered by the rain at all. Many of the players have College rings, and they ran a crisp and efficient offense that demonstrated the pedigree of the Brown program. (Kyle, was that OK? Balanced??)

The last round on Saturday was crossover games, and featured only one 3 seed over a 2 seed as MHUC beat Enough Monkeys. The top 3 of pool A ended up finishing 2nd and tied for 11th. Blackfly, on their way to the 11th place finish, beat 7Express in this round, furthering the NY teams slide from the 11 seed to a 24th place finish.

It rained very hard in the 4th round and pretty much most of the evening. By Sunday morning, the rain had subsided, and the fields were in fine shape, considering the conditions.

The Championship Bracket began with a round of 16 that had two upsets: WMD, the 9 seed, beat SPAWN 15-7, and GCAS, the 10 seed, beat Harpoon 11-7. Slow White, who brought a split squad due to a strong recruiting year, continued both their teams strong showing with 15-3 wins in this round.

In Quarters, WMD gave SW X a run for their money as they lost 12-10. WMD seemed to ramp up over the weekend after their rough start. Chinstrap overcame a deficit to defeat Philly KRU 15-14.

At this point, there were 5 teams in the 9th place bracket that wanted to qualify for the Boston Invitational, so that was a bit exciting. MHUC and Gecko ended up finishing 9th and 11th to secure the at-large bids to the BI.

Both Semis were close affairs. Tandem went up a couple of breaks over SW Y, but SW Y made a late run as the time cap went off. At 12-12, Tandem put up a long throw which was caught on the end zone line, at this point, the hard cap went off, Tandem scored to win 13-12. In the other semi, SW X edged Chinstrap 12-9 to earn a rematch with Tandem.

Both teams seemed a bit fatigued in the final, but Tandem continued with good offensive efficiency and took home the Mixed Easterns Championship Trophy.

So, congratulations to Tandem and to Gecko and MHUC for qualifying for the Boston Invitational.

The tournament was a great success even with the weather. Teams seem to like playing at this venue and appreciate the attention to detail that Tommy and Barbara provide.

A quick note about the other divisions:

Big Ego Ultimate (basically old dog) avenged their finals loss to Above and Beyond in 05 and took home the Masters Easterns Trophy. Jim took the time to remind me of what number championship this was for him, but I forgot what it was as it was too large to remember.

In the Youth Division, Amherst High School brought a Mixed team to the Open Division and won both the Massachusetts title(over Lincoln-Sudbury) and the New England title(over Amherst JV A....that's right there is a JV B as well). I watched them play a bit and they are very fundamentally sound as well as disciplined. I know that Hh posted some derogatory crap on the Ultimatetalk chat line about "indoctrination", but frankly, if any club team played like that...we would call it good Ultimate. It seems a bit precious for folks to take it upon themselves to decide when it is or isn't good for our young players to have the opportunity to play good Ultimate. It is hard for me to see how offering the opportunity of high standards and positive behavioral values can be bad for our young players.

So, as usual, this weekend provided an overall look at our past and future. That opportunity is a rare one, and, again, thanks to Tommy Proulx for his vision.


aaron said...

The fields were as you say, incredible. Solid rain throughout the tournament and the fields held up. No really dangerous spots, no "force giant bog" calls.

I don't know to what or whom to attribute the overwhelming sense of good will that teams seemed to have for one another, but it was wonderful. Maybe it's all the Canadians, maybe it's early in the season, but teams were spirited, calls were discussed not debated and I left feeling more excited about playing that I have in a long while.

Many thanks to the TDs who ran a tight ship (special thanks for the nice food).

Aaron (B-leavy)

parinella said...

I told you it was #101, but I had already forgotten about the NJ Invite win this year, so it's 102.

Not being a tournament organizer, I've had very limited dealings with the Devens staff, but it's not been good. I guess they have a strict no exceptions policy regarding everything, and maybe they get asked a lot over the course of the weekend for exceptions, but I have had two negative experiences with them, both related to trying to take care of my boy. At about 4 pm yesterday, after 90% of the players had cleared out from the premises, I asked a guy wearing a Staff shirt if I could take my 2 year old into the conference center to use the bathroom. It's not that he refused my request that bothered me, but that he tried to make me feel that I was a bad person for asking so. And last year or the year before, I almost got into a fight with another staff member regarding the parking lot (at about 4 pm on that Sunday, I wanted to drive in to pick up a tent, a 1 year old, and a tired wife and get the hell out; the signs stated "No Parking", not "no entrance", and I had always understood that the reason for it was that the staff wanted parking spaces for non-ultimate players, not that they didn't want anyone driving in the big lot). And again, although I was upset about the result, what stuck with me was the sheer rudeness exhibited by this woman, even as I tried to be calm and reasonable about it (which I couldn't maintain, unfortunately).

I realize that we as players are fortunate to have Devens as a site, but aren't they also fortunate to have us as a customer? Or do they feel that they're in such a monopoly position that they can mistreat the end users of their product?

Tarr said...

Glad to hear things went well. Do you thing Tandem checked out on their last game on Saturday, or just got outplayed? Obviously, they're collectively crafty enough to know that that game was relatively unimportant.

On Amherst - they're fine. They run a structured offense, but I'm on record saying there's nothing wrong with giving players rules to follow. And they've produced a number of solid players for the next levels. There's no reason to think that their offense inhibits player development, by comparison to 99% of juniors programs.

They only suffer by comparison to Paideia. Over a span from 1996 to 2003 (and presumably after that, but it's too early to say), Paideia graduated an unbelivable number of dominant players - Moses, Jason Simpson, Pauline, Miranda, Chicken Simon, Dylan, Jolian, et cetera (I really could keep going on for a while and stay at the elite level). It's an extrodinary leap to say "if only their offense/teaching was less structured, they would have matched Paideia's output of elite players". That's not meant as a slight to Booth and the rest of the Amherst staff. Clearly, Baccarini understands how to teach young players to make them great, but that doesn't mean Amherst is doing something wrong.

JP, all future wind need to be ranked, at least as top quarter/second quarter/second half, in terms of overall satisfaction.

Oh, and the UPA volunteer/staff team, aka "Jailbait Whore$ on Meth", finished 4th (of 16) at GRASS. We were vary gracious to the three teams that defeated us, offering them good luck in the 2007 series.

gcooke said...


Thanks for making the trip up. I appreciate the comments.


I think that Tandem probably just wanted to get out of there during the last round. It was pouring rain and cold.

Thanks for your perspective on Amherst. Very well said. I remember watching Padeia play in 02 and having the same "good Ultimate" impression.


I haven't had any specific dealings with the Devens staff, so I am in position to comment either way. I don't think that anyone should be treated rudely and there is no justification for treating someone that way.

I actually did remember that it was 101. I was just making a joke.


tiinabooth said...

I've been a bit reluctant to get into the Amherst/Paideia comparison, but I think that there is one factor that is always missing from this discussion, and that is economics. My players come from a public school and, for the most part, have middle-class to lower-class incomes. The few who have made it up the elite ladder are of the same economic class that many Paideia families enjoy. (Now I know there are exceptions, and I don't really want to discuss whose family makes how much money, but in general, over the past 15 years, I have found this to be quite true.) And clearly, having more disposable income gives players the ability to travel, move to ultimate communities, and more easily experience other competitive opportunities. Players who can't afford a four-year school, or choose to attend 2-year community colleges, or decide to join the military, are not going to have those kind of opportunities.
Even posting this much seems a bit intrusive, but I felt it had to be said.
I think the perfect example that illustrates this is a phone call from an alum that I received a few weeks ago. He said that he was, "really excited" about being able to get back into the "ultimate scene." He wondered whether he could take some ARHS teams to ultimate tournaments because he had just gotten his bus driver's license.

gcooke said...

I think Tiina's points, taken along with Adam's, speak very well to the fact that what players do with their careers after being a part of a high level program is affected by a variety of complex and interacting factors.

Economics can be a touchy subject, but I think it is important to acknowledge that if we are able to travel and commit to the time demands of our sport, all of which is done on our own dime, then we should consider ourselves very fortunate.

It is easy to view our choices through the lens of the parameters that impact the decsions of Div 1 athletes or professional athletes. Many times on RSD a player is said to have signed a contract, and I understand that this is both tongue and cheek and a good way to feel that our sport is legit.

So this is excellent perspecive. Thanks, Tiina.