Friday, November 5, 2010

Small Rosters

Every year people bring up the idea that smaller rosters will either make it easier for other teams to compete in the "elite" field, or make it somehow more exciting by not watering down teams.

And every year after nationals i think, those people are idiots. maybe they didn't see the same open finals i saw, but i saw two teams of pretty equal talent play each other. Only one of those teams used ~18 people (not by design, but by injuries and about 24 on their roster) and the other used 27. At the end of the game, the team that used 18 literally had players walking on the field. they could not keep up with the steady stream of hockey style balanced lines that revolver kept rolling out.

I don't know about you, but seeing players walk on the field due to exhaustion isn't very entertaining. If you moved to smaller rosters, you wouldn't have players getting down on the pull, you wouldn't have hard marks, you wouldn't have most of the things that separate club from college ultimate, you would just have the best college players playing a college style game.

Maybe if nationals wasn't as long, you had more times in between byes, and you had less games that had fewer points, then, yes, smaller rosters would be ideal. But, until the day that nationals isn't in sarasota, played over 4 days, with focus on intense and physical D, then there shouldn't be rosters of 18-20.

i would call myself a role player on good teams, a very good role player, but a role player. When i went to the finals at nationals with ironside i played well over 1/2 of the D points in the finals and the tourney. My legs were very tired, we had 27 men, and all of them played. i wonder sometimes if people who want smaller rosters have gotten to the semi's at nationals and know how intense of a game it is, or even in a close quarters game.

when i played on twisted metal, there were probably around 16-18 players who could play at a national level. i just remember being so gassed by the time we reached the pre-quarters that there was little hope of winning it.

I also don't understand how it would increase competition. In the MA region, a shortened truck, southpaw, and ring roster of players would still beat everyone else. just look at ring's split squad results to see that.

some people argue that they see teams play tight rotations at nationals for justification. I counter that with, that team probably didnt' win that game. and if they did, shame on the other team.

anyway, back to creating graphs.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Nationals in Review

This was the first year I didn't stay at Siesta Key, we stayed at the tourney hotel 10 minutes from the fields. I loved it.

For the past so many years going to nationals, I always hated leaving about an hour before cleat on warm-up time, to drive in traffic, to get to the fields. This was a huge load off everyone's shoulders in the morning, and made it very easy to refuel after games were done.

I highly recommend it to teams with high maintenance players, younger teams, and teams that just want to concentrate on performing their best without the distractions of siesta key.

Anyway, onward to the recap. Wednesday, half the team drove (read: the young, dumb guys), they had a car break down in savannah and had to get a rental. I flew in with the over 30 crew on the first flight out in the morning. We went to the beach and threw around, after some time, we then left and went to the fields to cleat up and throw around to get use to the wind. There is little to no wind in NC where we practice, so acclimating to a crosswind is important.

Thursday, we wake up, get to the fields, have a great warm-up. It is super hot and humid, and the dew stays for almost all of the first game. We start off against Doublewide.

They are missing the two Gibsons, but they are still jacking it deep mostly to a really tall dude named krich or something like that. He made some great grabs in double coverage.

Doublewide gave the disc up too much, but we could not convert anything in the first half (yeah, i get that if we couldn't convert then they weren't giving the disc up too much, what I mean is that they were not playing #3 seed ultimate and we were not capitalizing on it).

Our offense was atrocious on thursday. We held the disc to long, didn't swing it, and then hucked late into the count to a backed man. When we actually had a guy wide open deep, we floated the huck and 3 defenders would smother him.

The observers were possibly the worst observers I have ever played with. All season long, I had really been impressed with the quality of observing, and then when we got to nationals, none of the people who worked at ECC, Chesapeake, and Regionals seemed to be observing any open games near me. The only time I felt the observers were high level were during the Furious game, machine game, and ironside game, but I guess that is what you get when you are the 11 seed.

Anyway, back to the game. Basically doublewide took half off of static hucking 8-5. Our D line starts converting all of the doublewide miscues and we bring it to 12-11 us, receiving the disc. The O line then starts to malfunction again with drops, throw aways, botched dump throws, etc until we lose 15-13. Painful loss.

The captains and team did a great job of keeping spirits high and bouncing back for the big game against Sockeye. We come out, put a lot of pressure on Sockeye's O line, and get a few breaks. I think we might be up 2 breaks or so, and then the sockeye loose man / junk D starts to give our O line fits because they are holding it too long and are unwilling to take the easy pass. They get around 8 breaks on our O line during the game, maybe more. There were a lot in a row going into and out of half. I get to play 3 D Line O points that game and we score all three effortlessly.

In general, I think it is a good thing to stick in a D line on O when you can't stop the bleeding, but in practice, during that game, it just sort of made me angry at the O line for not being able to do what we, the D line, could do with ease.

After the game, a lot of people were dejected. The low road is very long and hard to get to the quarters, and now we essentially had elimination games ahead of us. Dave Snoke rallied the team to get ready to play good ultimate and salvage the day, and we did just that against Madison, although the O line did have some troubles late in the game against them, but the D line got on the field again and closed the door on them.

I had never played on a team who's O Line had an entire bad day. Ironside's O would sometimes have a bad half, or get too excited and have a bad game, but never 3 games in a row that were sub-par.

Friday found us in the bottom pool with Tanasi and Machine. We started off playing Tanasi and it was chippy with ticky-tack calls. Our O Line struggled again a little, but we pulled it out and started to have great momentum in the second half going into the Machine game. We played machine, and started off a little slow and then just wore them down and ran away with the game. Their talented handler core was playing both ways a lot of the time, and it was noticeable that they got slower and slower as the game wore on. We were able to keep our lines mostly open and our key players fresh for the prequarters.

As we were walking over to play in the prequarters, it seemed as though every ring player was stopped by players on other teams for them to give us advice on how to beat furious. i was left wondering if players root for ring, or if we just were the lesser of two evils at that point.

Anyway, the common theme of the tips was that there were exhausted. We took advantage of this and ran them to the ground on D. I think we take half 8-2 or 3 or something big like that. Furious then mounts their own comeback halfway through the second half as our O Line starts to get rattled and starts chucking it deep to double coverage at high stall counts. Their D line really outplayed our O line in the second but thankfully we punched it in to stop the bleeding.

This set up the quarters matchup that ring was hoping to not have this year. Ironside in the quarters for the 4th straight year (technically, the first year was the prequarters, but still...). We had a game plan that we were going to use, we had the match-ups set, we even had a good O strategy, but we got down 5-0 to start, and never really recovered. We didn't give up fighting, and we even clawed our way back in it, but d'ed discs were finding their way back into the hands of non-intended ironside receivers and we were not getting the chances we needed to win.

The finals were tough to watch. Ironside had about 5 injuries on a 24 man team. I was worried a little before halftime when ironsides O line started to look gassed everytime they came off the field. Their D line was still playing hard, but they were just making tired mistakes. Last year, Chain did a great job of using everyone all tourney to stay fresh and have the most legs, and this year, Revolver seemed to have learned their lesson and used more of their deep team all tourney. Jeff and Will who are normally indefatigable showed signs of being exhausted towards the end of the game.

It seemed as if ironside handlers became gun shy and would not throw it deep to jeff when he was being fronted. This made jeff have to work too hard to get the disc underneath, and then he stayed back and handled after the handlers were having trouble getting the disc off the line. I have never won a game that jeff handled more than cut (he might be the best cutter in the game), and i knew they were in trouble when it was happening.

but, it was very, very painful to watch a championship slip away from my friends. I know how hard they worked for it.

in reflecting on the year, it was a very interesting playing for a small market team. I was asked to do a lot more for them in both PT and throws. I think I played well, but there were times when I was absolutely gassed after a turn because I was playing so much.

the feel of the team is very unique. you don't have ringers moving to town to look for a championship, you don't have a town where all the top college players migrate to, you don't have 90 people on your tryout list, you just have a group of dudes who grew up in the area, went to college in the area, and learned to play a brand of ultimate that gives them a fighting chance against the big market teams. It is really fun to be an underdog, to just go out there and give it hell.

i am already looking forward to next season.

I hope we can work on getting our offense a little crisper, a bit more patient, and a little better at decision making. I also hope we get better at mental toughness, I feel that people played scared in big games, or worried too much about uncontrollables and not enough about stomping on the other team. I feel if we can both become more fundamentally sound and mentally sound, we will continue building upon a good season.

For any college players reading this: Ring is a great, young team that is on the rise. The triangle area has good tech jobs, super cheap cost of living, and you can play league games outside in the winter time. If you are looking into cool places to live after college, become an immediate impact player, and part of building upon 21 years of grittiness, send me an email, and we can help you find a job.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I will post after nationals this year to give a recap, but needless to say I am pretty excited about getting back to nationals. it is fun to be an underdog again.

I haven't been in a tougher pool since my twisted metal days, and honestly, those pools make thursday really, really exciting. if I was awesome and wasn't pulling together a report right now (the joys of the downtime of huge web queries and macros), i would find the clip of metal upsetting the condors on dgp the thursday of my first nationals.

ring had some great practices after the egg we laid at regionals (aside: if you think you can make it to a sunday of a tourney by taking a redeye across the country the night before to get there as the game starts, don't. you just can't function. your legs are lead, your mind is asleep, and your D will suck.)

We spent the last couple of practices refocusing on our fundamentals (sideline talk, marking, Defense, Defense, Defense). after all, nationals is about who can execute and play a team game the best, especially quarters onward. I think thursday and friday are about who can remain the freshest and still get a favourable quarters matchup.

the teams that stick to their fundamentals and their strategy (patterns) and executes their game plan will beat the other team that has flown off the radar with the game plan and has just become lone wolves out on the field.

it should be no surprise that the majority of teams run the same "plays" as other teams, only under a different name. the better teams just execute them better and recognize the patterns on Defense as well to make it harder for other teams to run their plays.

the older i get the more i realize that the line between a winning team and a losing team is about confidence and trust. you have to have the confidence in yourself to play at your fullest, confidence in your system so you use it and rely on it, and trust in your teammates to do the same.

three car loads of ring is taking the road shortly. the older guys are flying. we are all very excited, and looking forward to having a slugfest of a thursday.

I have no crystal ball and have no clue how thursday will go for us, but if we bring the energy and focus we had at the last couple of practices we can run with anyone.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010


So, Chesapeake came and went and it wasn't blazingly hot or humid this year. I didn't even put ice in my cooler (note: I have started to take an ice water cooler with me to practices down here). If teams don't do that for nationals, they should. Putting an ice water towel on your neck and head is awesome in the florida heat.

anyway, so this was the first year playing chesapeake that i haven't stayed 5 minutes from the fields with danny clark's awesome parents' house. instead I stayed with the team at the sheraton in the sprawl that is outside of the dc beltway. the 30 minute drive to the fields just meant that we would have a looooong day ahead of us before we could get back to sleep.

Ring's saturday had a grueling format of game, bye, game, game, mini bye, game. The first game was against NYC's replicants. They hucked it a lot and tried to force the disc to the center cutters in the ho. we countered this with poaching off the sideline handlers and making sure we didn't get beat deep. they still completed a good amount of hucks on us. although, that is what they do and they seemed to do that on everyone all weekend long.

We won with a good margin, and then we had a bye where we hydrated, ate food, got out of the sun, and tried to get prepared for a long day.

The second game was against Tanasi and they have some talented handlers and cutters. they break the mark well, give-n-go well, and huck well, but they had some execution errors and forced a couple deep looks to covered men that ring capitalized on. We win in a good hard running game. they are a team that no team should overlook at regionals. especially early since they don't have a very large team.

the third game was important because if truckstop and ring win their sections, the winner of this game would have the #1 seed at regionals. we had the same record at ecc, so i was kind of curious how this game would play out.

there were a couple things to keep in mind: 1.) brian stout was injured and was not playing. he was injured by a revolver player at ecc and will be out until regionals. 2.) i think Ryan Todd has gone to about 2 practices with truck, so he wasn't what you would call seemlessly integrated into their O yet.

Anyway, we start out on D and go up 2 breaks on them. We take the half with momentum and maybe one more break. we are making sure all our players are fresh and keeping their legs in the game because it is hot, and there is a lot of tourney left. anyway, we are in firm control of the game until late in the second half when truck breaks us twice to make it 11-10. We then punch it in on O to win.

Truckstop seems to be running spread a lot on O this year. there are a lot of teams that seem to be moving away from ho and moving towards different looks on O. it will be interesting to see how stout affects the cutting patterns of the other players if he is playing O this year. on metal he definitely ate up a lot of the deep cutting space by the way he "cuts" (read cherry picks), but man, you can toss up some meatballs to him and he will bring 95% down or more.

We then have a mini-bye to play in the showcase game against chain. it looks like chain lost tall joel wooten, jay hammond, rob barrett, cricket, and one or two more. of course they replaced them all with very competent players.

anyway, we start out on D. i get down on the pull and mark PV. he proceeds to launch an 80 yard backhand to zip. yep. it isn't like i used to see that one before.... man, PV is ON this game. the rest of the handlers are missing their mark. we give up two breaks early in the game, and then claw our way back into the game with some gritty D. I think they take half either up 1 break or we are even. We are close to on serve at 8s or 9s and then they pull away right at the end.

i left that game thinking that chain didn't look as "on" as they did at this time last year. They looked more like the chain of two years ago that could be forced to give the disc up if you put enough pressure on them.

On sunday, we were supposed to play the winner of goat/machine. when we get to the fields and are warming up, goat and machine are in a heated game. the last couple of points take a long time and have a few turns by each team. goat ends up winning by one.

we start to play goat. I don't recognize any of their normal O handlers. the russian handler tolly? and their european handler joel aren't there and in their place are significantly younger players. The cutting core is their usual crew of andy, hassel, inian, keanu look alike, and #20 who is a blazingly fast goal scorer.

i forgot what it was like to play goat when it gets ticky-tack. it was physical on both sides and the calls were contested a lot. we go down early and try to claw our way back in the game.

it seemed like every break we got the offense would then go out and promptly get broken. this would have crushed some teams, but ring's D line just kept going out and doing work. we eventually go out on double game point on D and manage to get a coverage D ending with tuba stalling out hassel near their own goal. It was awesome.

a great win for Ring. every tight game that we have and we can pull out a victory is well worth it. good teams play in tight games and lose; great teams find a way to win.

We are coming off of a big victory, feeling good, and the ring guys from last year want a shot at ironside. they seem to hold a special place in their hearts for boston as they (we) ended Ring's season for the past 3 years.

It was a little weird playing against everyone. i guard jeff a few points and i pretty much could have just stuck a pylon out there and done just about as well.

it was hard watching boston get up so many breaks in the first half. too many. 7-2 or 3 is crushing. we trade out point for point in the second half.

So, Ring finishes our regular season with only 3 losses. We have had some good victories, and in our losses I would say a large percent of the reasons for those loses begin and end with confidence and not realizing we can hang with any team if we just go out and play our game. out of the 3 teams we lost to, we by far have the most room for growth, the most area for rapid improvement, and the best potential for player development before nationals. we have A LOT of work to do before now and then if we want to have a chance of beating these and similar tiered teams at nationals.

ironside looked really good. their O was very clean. goldstein tore his right thumb ligament or something in the finals and that will hurt them, but man, it is kind of a blow to the ego that they could be so good after losing 10 players. They were by far the strongest team we played this season. I would equate them to how much head and shoulders chain was above everyone last year at this time.

i'm tired. that's all i got for right now. i am going to spend the next couple posts on confidence, progressive marks, and why the death of the vert stack means no one can score near the endzone anymore.


Monday, August 16, 2010

ECC Wrap-Up

I guess I need to get a new name for this blog. Crap.

Anyway, I went to ECC with Ring this past weekend. Going into the tourney I was a bit curious to see where I stood on a fitness front compared to last year, how our team was going to handle expectations, and how our team was going to stack up against other teams having only played in two split squad tourneys and minimal scrimmaging because we have been covering a lot of old and new Ring concepts and strategies at practices.

We get to the fields and are cleated up by around 8 and the first game of the day is at 9. We do our plyos, active warm-ups, throwing, and our ring warm-up. The ring warm-up is a pretty cool little warm-up that works on all your throws (dumps, short in passes, throws to slashing horizontal-ish ho cuts, and hucks).

One thing that I am getting used to this year is that Ring doesn't scrimmage before the game. I liked that ironside would do that because I felt it got the blood flowing, the mind seeing D and O patterns, and got you throwing real game throws so you are already a few points into a game by the time the real game starts.

Before we started against Wolf, a team with some of the younger players from last years Jam team on it and other hard running college kids, the captains told us that for this game we were going to run 3 equal lines of 7 players the entire game. We split off into those groups for 2 mintues and discussed who would do what and to go over D sets.

Wolf never got out of the gates unfortunately. They had a bunch of nervous drops, turfs, and throw aways, and we were very stingy with the disc after the turn. When they did score, it was normally off of Tommy Hendrickson pulling some crazy throws out of his sleeve.

I think after half, Wolf got a few breaks back, and we may have traded out until the very end to finish up 15-10 or so. Our D legs never got up to speed because they were producing the turns themselves. I think that hurt us a bit for the next game.

We play Revolver next. For this game, we tried having 2 O lines, and about 10 D only players (that's me!). The O players were supposed to hop on a D line 2 or 3 times a game to keep the D lines legs fresh.

I remember it being if O1 and O2 got broken, the D line would come in and play O. I came in at least two times that game for O, so that should be an indicator to how clean our O was working, especially in the first half when I think we got broken twice to start.

Unfortunately, our D wasn't any better. There was no sign of life in our team, and we were just quietly conceding to Revolver which made me a little upset. After half, we got a little bit of life back into our legs and got a few turns and a break or two, but we never recovered from the four point run we let them get on us somewhere near the start of the first half. We lose 15-11. Our first true test of the season, we got punched in the face, and we didn't even hit back until we were in the second half.

Revolver was missing Cahill and maybe 1 or 2 more players for them, or maybe some of their typical O guys played D this weekend. We didn't give them much of a challenge, so I don't know if I saw what they are going to be like this year.

Aside: the only thing that might be worth mentioning about that game for Ring is that KP had one of the filthiest over chest high layout grabs I have ever seen in my life. I think he did it right in front of cameras, so that will probably be a clip of the day soon.

We then play ECU. We heard they beat sockeye in the showcase game the night before so we didn't know what to expect.

They apparently are comprised of retired sockeye guys and just out of college carleton players. Their team is based around a really cool concept of hosting free clinics for kids and just seeming to be a great team to play on and enjoy your teammates.

Unfortunately for them, in our game they just seemed tired or disinterested in winning. They have a couple of miscommunication turns, and we win 14-11, but it felt not as close for some reason.

I view ECU as the bracket busters for NW regionals. They might not have the legs to win out to go to nationals, but they can spoil some contenders' season in the process. I would not want them first round on Sunday.

We then have sockeye for the fourth and final game of the day. Sockeye is not having the day they wanted to have: they lost to Truckstop after receiving on double game point, they lost to boston (or did they play and beat streetgang? ahhh cultimate, i hate you), beat Pony on DGP, and now were playing us.

It looked like they were missing at least their tall handler that played with them last year, one volume cutter (ray), and one goal scorer (mc). They also look and are much, much smaller size-wise than previous years and we had enough little squirrels to cover their squirrels effectively.

Ring is pretty young, and so far we hadn't gotten fired up about D or winning, so I took it upon myself this game to lead the charge and be the emotional backbone of the D line. It was a bit exhausting. After they took half 8-7, we went on a D run that was pretty awesome. In my excitement of leading the D line, I played waaaaaaaaaay too many D points that game. I think I played close to all of them. It was the first time I got to see Ring dig in and see what they were made of, and it was awesome to behold. We stayed positive, we got each other's backs, and we fed off of each other's want of more and more blocks and scores. We win 14-11, when i released the game winning throw, i had such great feeling of looking forward to the season and what a an awesome force our D line could become on both D and D's O.

My only regret about the first day is that I wish we would have played revolver after we got the sockeye win. I would have loved to have given them a better game, and I think we would have been more confident and would have been playing tighter D after the sockeye game.

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday: holy crap I wake up sore. I played too much in the sockeye game for my own good, and I have to put on tights to get my legs loose. It is also uncharacteristically dry and sunny out, which makes it super easy to dehydrate quickly. I felt thirstier out there than I do down south.

On Sunday we would have Furious, Streetgang, and either whoever we hadn't played in the west coast bracket or in the finals if ironside loses horribly to someone.

We make sure to run Ds that will take furious out of their first, second, and third options (deep, deep, and deep again). It seems to work and we get a fairly easy win 15-9. Our D plays very well, and the D plays well after the turn. They are missing at least oscar and maybe a few more players.

We have streetgang next and never really get up for it. They crushed boston last year at nationals by having their bigger lefty guy jack great throws to their excellent deep receivers even when they were covered. Their lefty guy was a big factor this game as well. If he wasn't hucking it, he was either stepping into the lefty backhand drawing the foul and getting an i/o off, or he would step back and throw bendy hucks and breaks. Tuba has a couple big blocks this game as well as Brett, but I think we take that as a reason to continue to be up a break instead of wanting more and more and more.

We eventually eek out a win, but you don't want to keep a team like that (who catches waaay more than their share of 50/50 balls) around near the end of the second half. The 15-13 win leaves us tied with Truckstop for the team with the 2nd best record. Sockeye apparently crushed Revolver and proved that teams shouldn't just write them off for the season just yet.

We find out that only records within the pool counts, so we are playing Rhino. We change back to 3 equal strength lines, and we never get in a groove.

We trade the lead several times. We even get up by a lot after being down at half. I think it was 14-11 or so, and then they break us a lot to make it 15 all, us receiving. We call a real O line for this point, and we promptly have a drop close to our brick. Rhino picks up, moves it very well laterally across the field. They get up near an endzone corner and instead of hitting the wide open goal cuts, they send a bladey flick over the stack towards the back center of the endzone which thomas ward makes a great deep D on. We get the disc back, bang it around a few times, and then one of our handlers gets a break away deep run and makes a great catch for the win.

All in all a satisfying weekend.

Oh, I almost forgot about the rules:
Contact: this is pretty much awesome. Disc space was so awkward to say while you have a million things to do on the field at the same time, and it seemed very arbitrary to call and even to prove or disprove since it deals with planes of moving appendages. Contact simply is, if someone touches you while marking, you say contact, and they go down to 0. It is everything disc space wasn't.

20 yard endzones: This isn't really a big deal because it normally only is at tourneys that you have a truly regulation sized field. I wish though that they would have made the playing field proper be 80 yards instead of just chopping off 10 to the endzones and keeping it 70.

Travel, Up-Down, In-Out: Awesome. No ticky-tack bullshit travel calls, no disputes and stupid reenactments of where people perceive their feet to be at the time of a catch. It almost felt like a real sport out there. The games with observers go so much faster than without.

I will write more, but I am super tired.


Monday, July 12, 2010

I'm Back...


Haven't posted since November. A college season without me coaching has gone by, a club season begins with me being a 30 year old rookie on Ring with new strategies, new teammates, and a new identity to learn and embrace. I am having a blast so far.

Some post topics I want to write about:
1.) Confidence
2.) Acclimating to heat
3.) Differences between top club team practices (without getting into the nitty gritty proprietary stuff)


Monday, November 2, 2009


Nationals was pretty bittersweet. I felt this was the year.

The core of ironside is made up of 2003 college graduates which means a lot of the team was 28 (jeff and i are the old two of that group at 29). There was also a feeling that for a lot of us, this might be our last year playing for boston due to age, job/family commitments, mileage on bodies that can no longer stay healthy, and moving away.

Practices were special.

Last season there was a sense of urgency that fortch, doug, and mccarthy wore all season. Winning the sprints at the end of practice (well, once fortch worked off his winter belly by chopping chords of wood), taking that extra second to look a teammate in the eye, working hard on every cut all season. Those 3 really brought up the level of those practices.

This season, it was even more prevalent as more and more players saw this as their last, best hope for a title with boston (me, faust, etc). I moved away and couldn't organize the tuesday night mini practices, but, our track workouts were more intense than anything we ever did to date, we had more teammates doing them as a group than before, and practices were intense and heated at times.


We also had a pretty up and down season in terms of results. We started the season sort of late by having extended tryouts with sons of liberty trying to create two boston teams. This meant tryouts for ironside really started mid-june, and the roster wasn't finalized until after june right after a poor boston invite appearance where we simply played bad.

after that, we beat a lot of teams at ecc by playing b- ultimate. i left seattle being disappointed at our play, but felt good that we could beat a lot of teams not playing our best. I was also left underwhelmed by revolver who everyone was heaping praise on.

at chesapeake we played pretty uninspired ultimate at times, but we were experimenting with lines, Ds, Os, and other things. On sunday, we were demolished by chain. We looked flat-footed and slow and they looked awesome.

We came back and worked and worked and worked and by the time regionals rolled around, we crushed teams. I felt really good going into nationals after absolutely crushing one of the strongest (on paper) goat team to date.

one of the biggest adjustments of the season was the hole that fortch left both in the offense and the defense (zones), as well as his confidence and leadership in the huddle. that guy could probably convince me to do pretty much anything.

anyway, wednesday morning i arrive at the tampa airport to be welcomed by stiffiling heat and humidity. I wait for my teammates to arrive. Our last couple practice weekends had been somewhere in the 30s to mid 40s, and i wondered how the team would be able to handle the temperature differential. The answer became better than most northern teams.

Thursday, we arrive at the fields at 8 a.m. to start to warm-up for our game at 9:30 a.m. We talked about some strategic things, and some changes that had to be made due to injuries.

Ben Faust who is a dynamic cutter and thrower for our offense had been battling injuries all season, and his quad injury was so extensive that he couldn't get up to speed meant that we needed to bring george stubbs and chicken over to the O sometimes to fill in his void.

This would mean our Ds O would sometimes not have the same fire power, but offensive fire-power is not something our D's O lacked. Matt Holzer and Paul Batten also had been riding the injury bus all season and were going to see slightly limited PT to see how their bodies could handle the injuries/heat (if you get injured, nationals is a very hard tourney to play due to not being able to get in good enough shape).

Anyway, about 30 minutes before our game with bodhi, when every team was warming up, Goat rolls up to start to warm-up for their game with pike. Ted Munter looks over at them, and then says to me, "goat just lost to truckstop, they are not ready to play today". His prediction was absolutely correct a few games later.

Back to our game with Bodhi. I think Bodhi was affected by the heat more than us. They are much younger than us, and I am not sure what was happening to them, but they looked like they were melting into the ground as we played them. There were several times that they turfed either the first or second pass and didn't even get our of their own endzone. The game was completely out of hand within the first 5 points, and the score could have been a lot worse as our D's O turned it over a few times near their goal line leading to easy scores.

We then got in shade, ate some salt, ate some tums, put ice towels on our heads, and tried not to let the heat affect us too much. We watched some other games after we cooled down some, and could not believe how slow people were running. The heat was just taking all the power out of people's legs. Ring was in a close game with chain i believe and was tied at 10s before they just seemed unable to convert scores due to lack of people cutting. They worked the disc up to the endzone on D in several occasions and then just stopped cutting and wound up throwing a high risk / low reward pass that would get d'ed.

Our next game was against san diego streetgang. we had watched them play doublewide and knew what to expect. what we did not expect was that they were going to play near perfect. i think they started on D and got maybe 2 breaks in a row on us by hucking quickly off of a turn. when our D line got onto the field, their two handlers, a lefty and a righty were dropping bombs all over us. it didn't matter the stall, if we were backing them, or if their was a good or bad matchup, if someone was going deep, they were sending it. and it worked, 90% of the time. I think they took half 8-5. and we were unable to get the turns needed to win the game. it was a little rattling because of how slow our Os D looked after the turn and it was unnerving to see us unable to stop a team confidently hucking on us.

By this time, several players were starting to feel the heat. We were doing everything possible to stay hydrated. For the doublewide game, we came out swinging. they had kurt on the D line, and he was out of shape for kurt's standard, but his job was to bomb it after the turn. they broke us a couple times, but our D line kept the game close. I think doublewide took half on us. out of halftime, the sun had sapped a lot of players energy. Everyone still had the desire to battle, but the game was being played at 3/4 speed. I really think that we would have lost this game if we weren't so deep. the D line just chipped away and wore them down until we went on a 5-0 run to close them out 15-10.

I felt good while playing but awful after. I ate a burrito, drank fluids, pounded salt, and in general tried to stay hydrated throughout the night. I was hoping tomorrow was going to be cooler.

On Friday, we had only 2 games. the first game would be against truckstop, and the second game would be against revolver. we had a team meeting to talk about the two teams and what they like to do and what we should watch out for. For truckstop, we wanted to pressure the dumps, take away their i/o breaks that they live and die by, and concentrate on team D. The O line was going to be aware of where stout was on D and make sure he couldn't just hangout deep like he likes to. Off of a turn, we were going to play stout tight and force him under as he doesn't like to work to go deep if you shove him under.

For revolver, we were going to poach off of the handlers to force it to a sideline because they like to run their offense through the middle. we were going to make them break us with arounds. On Offense we were going to play stubbs more and more on O and play chicken some o points as well to add athleticism to the O line.

A lot of our strategy against them would be based on taking away their pull play and on forcing certain players out and others under. This was a little bit of a change since we normally just force everyone under to contest the under throw.

Anyway, we start out by playing truckstop, and i think we get a couple breaks early, and our O looks much better than it did yesterday. Then, our O starts crowding the force side and we stop looking deep, and i think truck takes half on a few breaks.

out of half, our D takes over, getting several blocks and also forcing several stall 9 throw aways. those are always something to be really proud of (especially as a dump defender). truckstop seemed to be lacking a cutter thrower this season, and when the cutters would get the disc, the offense would stagnate. We wind up winning 15-12 after our defense goes on a few runs in the second half.

We then get ready for revolver. i thought this would be an excellent chance to steal the 1 seed for the tourney. i thought going into the tourney that chain was the team to beat and by winning this game, we could be sure to play them at our freshest.

We start out on D. We run down on the pull, and i am off my handler to force it to a sideline, they throw it to him and he launches a break huck when i am just putting on the mark to no one. kind of surprising and uncharacteristic for them. we work it down and score. on the next D point, we get a turn, and then cough it up and they work it down and score. we trade for a few points, and then we get a turn with our bozo zone, and convert on a crazy hammer from crockford into the sun to seigs (this might have been in the ring game though, everything is blurry). all of a sudden they break us to take half 8-7.

they proceed to break us twice more out of half. by the time our d line gets on the field, we are running out of chances to close it. we have been stupidly hucking off of a stagnant disc against them when we get turns. We got enough turns to even the score up in the second half, but converted only 1 or 2. I think we were at 12-11 when they closed us out. Our O line forced a few deep balls that we didn't have to, and we were having trouble scoring near the endzone.

I felt very good about that loss even though we lost an opportunity to take the 1 seed. I was pretty confident that we could make adjustments to win the next game, and that we would put some stacked D lines in sometimes as we had pretty much just played our 2 D lines alternating the way we do in most games.

I also thought they were going to run out of gas. The first thing I noticed was that they only played about 15 guys where we had played everyone who was healthy, and they only got a break on our team when they stacked their D line with O players.

I actually thought sockeye would beat revolver the next day due to revolver's short rotation and apparent lack of depth (it also could be that their players all look the same.... for instance, they seem to have 2 near identical lanky red-headed handlers who throw bombs).

aside: I only got to see glimpses of sockeye's play and they seemed to be making it very hard for themselves by playing long and sloppy points and close games against all the teams they were playing. they normally would not pull away from a team until late in the second half, and their games seemed to take the longest to finish.

We go home, and I feel pretty good. I felt bad in the revolver game though. The heat was making me weak and winded at times as I was having problems breathing in it. We have 6 D handlers and I am probably playing just under 1/2 to just over 1/3 the D points which is a lot less than last year where I was playing 2/3 of the D points and felt like crap by Saturday.

At the end of the day, I feel I am finally ahead of my hydration and looking forward to Saturday.

Saturday comes. Ring first round of the elimination games for the 3rd year in a row. I don't feel we are ever not in control of the game. I do have an unfortunate turn to a wide open crockford trying to lead him to the sideline. I always think he is running to the sideline and he never does because I am an idiot. I can't tell you how many times this season that exact same situation happened.

Ring forced jeff under which made him become a thrower and lead him to get comfortable being an extra handler around the disc. This would turn up to bite us the next game because for our offense to work effectively, you have to have the best cutter in the game cutting instead of handling. we win 15-11.

I then go over to watch quiet coyote beat amp. redshirt and a redshirt clone, matt packard, are taking the game over with their athletic grabs, and misha horowitz is representing the metro east with his hucks. amp seems to be playing really tight and no one is actually making in cuts.

on defense, ben kleaveland is smothering misha on the dump, but they are not playing good dump defense on jay adams who is just getting every other throw upline by circle cutting the defender.

on offense for amp everyone just seems to be standing and watching their main receiver cut deep, which leads to a layout dump d block on a poorly thrown dump. QC picks it up and scores for the win and the opportunity to go to worlds.... I would assume that QC will pick up brian stout for worlds. I think they are going to turn some heads considering arguably their best receiver didn't come to nationals due to food poisoning.

We go to the grocery store to sit in AC for our game vs. chain. i hate the late semi's as a player. you have so much time before your first and second game.

Anyway, we start out and chain breaks twice to start. Our D line does a good job of getting it back to even, but then we get broken 2 more times to take half. we are having some pretty uncharacteristic turns from handler to handler, and we aren't doing a good job of creating space.

I played some piss poor dump D one of the points I was in and wish i could take it back, but I was also instrumental in some big yardage throws to get our second break in the half (twice since the first time the camera was on the field... i am not really known for big yardage throws or throwing upfield....). Ironically that was the point that I wound up on Dylan. I remember being in a gym with dylan when he could hang on the rim from a standstill and I could barely touch rim with only one hand from a run.... I was hoping he didn't remember that as he started to run deep.

For the second half it was more upwind down wind and i am not high on the upwind D handler depth chart so I knew my PT that half would be limited until we got a break. that break didn't come until late in the half and then they scored upwind to make it 13-11. They then proceed to break us 2 more times to end our season. We also had enough chances to get all the break backs with turns and we simply did not convert.

I was in tears at the end not because we lost which was pretty frustrating, but because I wouldn't get to play with my teammates one last time on Sunday. I had played with 2 of them in college, and at least 6 of them were my metal teammates, a few of them were metal tryouts with me 5 years ago.

So, why didn't we win nationals if the team we had this year was arguably better and deeper than last year? To be honest, I don't really know.

Our Os D looked a little slow at times this year, but that wasn't our downfall. At times our endzone O looked very sloppy for both the O and D line. Our offense is to score at the cone from the back of the stack, but we rarely did it. We also never really swung the disc well all season. i would say that was the greatest change from last year, we didn't move the disc from side to side as well.

If I had to make adjustments as a coach next year, I think I would slow down the endzone drills so players can absorb the mistakes and adjustments that they need to make. I would also play a lot more double score, and I would practice dumping more. I would also do a more zoney cobra D and add in a bozo transition and get rid of the normal zone transition.

but, what i realized last year was by the time you reach the semi's anyone can beat anyone, it is just a matter of who is on. last year, we were on (in the semi's.... jam was on fire in the finals). this year, chain was on.

Overall, looking back on my 2 years with metal and 3 years with boston, I grew a whole lot more as a player with boston than I did with metal, and I attribute a lot of that to having a great coach. Ted is really the unsung hero of what makes ironside work. He has a knack of getting the best out of each and every player. If you ever have a choice between playing for a team with a coach, and one without, you should play with a coach*. *that statement is true if said coach isn't an assclown.

I watched fury play brute in the finals. fury's d just looked much more sophisticated than brute. they seemed to run a clam or a poach off the 2nd or 3rd in the stack to the openside to slow down kathy dobson, and then they took away brute's around break and brute's offense stagnated. off of the turn, they had athletes on the handlers and just ruthlessly ran them deep. brute looked unwilling to handler crash the 4 man cup, and unwilling to throw a little blade over the top. i am very proud that brute never gave up and kept swinging until the end.

I then watched chain beat revolver. revolver played an even shorter rotation than against us, and chain used pretty much their whole 27 man roster. i think if fatigue wasn't a factor though, revolver still wouldn't have won. It was chain's year.

So what is next? I really don't know. I signed up for winter league in NC. I think I am going to try out for ring next season, and I hope to have a lot of fun with them. I would like to see them get over the quarters struggle.

I am also going to try to lift weights in the offseason. something that I have really never done. I am getting older, and I think I need to if I want to extend my career.

It has been a good season. I got to be a part of one of the best D lines that I have ever played on, and that was a truly awesome experience. I really hope we go to worlds.