Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Free Agency in Ultimate

So one thing that I find really interesting in ultimate is how players change from team to team. Now for the most part a lot of these changes are relatively inconsequential. I move from UCSD to Yale, no one cares. But there are a lot of players out there that have changed from elite team to elite team. These changes are not only good/bad for the teams involved but they are also intersting because it begs the question, "did you move to change teams or did you change teams cuz you moved?". Now I doubt that most people will move across the country to change teams but you never know. I also know that some people's real lives result in them moving and whatever surrounding team gets the benifits. I thought I would talk about some really interesting moves in ultimate over the last 5 years.

Ron Kubalanza - By far the most popular free agent in ultimate today. The guy started out at the university of wisconsin in 1993 and bounced around the east coast playing for D.C.'s Electric Pig and Boston's DoG. Already touching on 2 of the best teams on the east coast. However, in the 21st century, Kubalanza has made his mark on 3 major ultimate programs all in the NW. In '04 and '05 he was with San Francisco JAM. Made the finals in 2004 losing to Sockeye and made semis in 2005 losing to Furious. However, in 2006 he picked up with Furious George where he made the finals again, only to lose again to sockeye. As if this wasn't enough he is now a member of seattle sockeye. Is the third time a charm? In any event, I find this to be very interesting because he has managed to play for 4 teams that have recorded a total of 11 club national championships in the last 13 years (6 DoG, 3 Furious, 2 Sockeye). How can one do this? What sort of life style percipitates this? I think kids in college need to know that they have the ability to bounce all over the country given whatever field Ron has chosen.

Idaho - One of the biggest sluts in the ultimate community. Has played in college in Idaho and Berkeley. Picked up with the Condors in 03/04 when they finished 2nd at club nationals and represented the US in the 2004 world's tournament. Now suits up for Sockeye. In my opinion, I wonder 1) how do your previous team mates look at you? I am sure it is not horrible, but are there any "Jonny Damon" feelings out there. and 2) How can you just pick up with a whole new ELITE team and contribute? Guy must be absolutely unreal. One more reason why these ultimate players are truly as close to professional as it gets.

Tim Gehret/Kurt Gibson - I put these two together because I just want to articulate how screwed Vicious Cylce is. VC rides the two best players in college disc at the pinnacle of their physical ability and talent and then as soon as they came, they were gone. After winnig a college national championship and TG won the callahan, these two went on to dominate MLU (2 best fantasy players) and took Vicious Cycle to club nationals where they managed to beat Revolver on double game point. But with the coming of the club season in 2007, these two took off. Tim headed across the country to Sockeye and Kurt returned to his original neck of the woods (New England) and now plays for the new Boston team. I feel so bad for VC, hopefully they have a chance against Double Wide/Chain Lighting. With a masters in Mechanical Engineering, I am sure Tim sought a job in a lucrative market, such as seattle, and managed to pick up with the best mens team in the world. I wonder if one had anything to do with the other. Kurt on the other hand probably played his cards the best he could and decided to play club where his roots are instead of where he went to school.

Zipp - Now this is a person that I think actually had a life changing event, Med School, and decided to play for the nearest ultimate team, which just happened to be chain lighing. I am sure John Hammond and Jason Simpson were thrilled to know that zipp was planning on attending emory for med school (or so I hear) and hopefully he can carry them to a semifinals birth again, if not farther. I think that this is a solid move because it occurred peripheral to ultimate, not unlike mine. Chain is a great team and I am sure Zipp will be a fantastic contributor.

Seth Wiggins - Now I can only speculate as to the nature of Seth's choices in club disc, and because its my blog, I am going to say what I think. He and big bro make it to the finals in 2003 for college. Kinda get rocked, no biggy. Seth never really gets to the same level in club but does pick up with Rhino, a great team out of Oregon. Big bro, however, picks up with Sockeye and manages to win 2 national championships. He wants in on the deal and decides to head to seattle. Like Vicious Cycle, I feel bad for Rhino because they lost one of the more dominate cutter/defenders/all around players in the country. I wonder if there is any bad blood between these two groups at NW regionals. What I also find funny is that the seminal photgraph of ultimate involves Seth and Chase laying out for a disc which Chase gets in the semi finals at 2003 College Natioanls. Seth gets owned which is funny cuz his mom took the pictures and what is also ironic is that they are now team mates.

Bart Watson - Now this is one of my favorite stories in college ultimate. Bart was the golden boy of Stanford for years. Played there as an undergrad, wins a national championship as a junior, but fails to qualify for nationals his senior year in 2003. Now, a lot of Stanford guys, ie Nick Handler and Josh Wiseman, stuck around and got masters in their respective fields and played with stanford for 5 years. However, Bart wanted a PhD in poli sci and headed across the bay to Berkeley. Now I think Bart's motives are completely pure, but I do find it interesting that he left one elite college ultimate team to join up with Dan Hodges and Gabe Saunkeah. In 2004, Cal is the top dog in the bay area section and the northwest region taking down stanford twice. Oh I wish Colorado had gotten the 1 seed that year so that Stanford and Cal would have met eachother in the sectional finals, regional finals, and college semi finals. I can't imagine what that must have been like for Bart and the SMUT guys. What I also find interesting is that Bart has stuck with SF JAM (probably out of convenience) in the club circuit as opposed to playing with his original team mates from stanford who all play for Revolver.

Jimmy Chu - A more recent addition to the ultimate free agency, Jimmy Chu has revitalized a struggling condors squad. After amassing 2 club national titles with Sockeye, Jimmy gave up the life in Seattle and went back to school at UCLA. Attempting to decide between Monster and Condors, he settled on the boys from Santa Barbara. I for one am a big fan of jimmy and hope he does well there. Also, another example (I think) of life changes affecting ultimate. Hopefully he won't have to play against his old buddies at club natties.

Moses Rifikin - Now Moses is an interesting character because I think he probably decided to change teams because he wanted to return to his home state, pure speculation. However, take a look at who he has played for. He goes from Brown to DoG (the standard move for NE players) and plays in Boston for 5 years. Very Forch/Parinella esk but then decides to leave Boston and join up with arguably the most polar opposite of teams in seattle sockeye. DoG seems to be very conservative, in my opinion, and Sockeye, well they are a bit more flashy. I think this was an interesting move and after two finals appearances and a national championship, I bet Moses is pretty happy with his decesion. I wonder how DoG felt about it though during that 15-11 semi final game aganist the fish at club nationals in 2005 the year after Moses left.

Sam O'brien/Nord/Chase - Now these 3 are defintely some of the more exciting players in club disc and they all seemed to end up on the same teams. At one point or another they all played for Carleton, then made the obvious switch to sub zero and as the pipeline dictates, headed to seattle. I think Chase and Nord are from there, but Sam, I have no idea. In any event, i am sure Sub Zero knows that among there alums are 3 guys that are now 2 time club national champs. Once again, another sad story like VC and Rhino, of players just growing up, getting better and heading to better teams. Life choice or ultimate choice, I wonder?

Jack Marsh/Will Chen - Now this is just too cool. You have 2 guys who are team mates for 4 years as well as co-captains of a very respectable Harvard Redline team. They make the trip to natties a few times and then decide to move on to bigger and better things. Two harvard grades should be able to go anywhere and they do, Will heads to Stanford for computer science and Jack goes to Wisconsin Law School. So they leave a great school for 2 great schools and 2 great ultimate programs. What is so awesome though is that these two met in the finals at Centex and the semi finals at college nationals. I can only imagine the emotions going through their heads. I suppose Jack was a bit more relaxed seeing that the Hodags took stanford down by a combined 30-17, but I am sure it was a fun experience. Too bad they didn't cover eachother

shane hohenstein - now this pick up by wisconsin just isn't fair. A transfer student from Winona comes out of no where to become arguably the best defender in college disc. I can only imagine what Heijman, Muffin, and Dan Miller were thinking when they saw this guy come out for the first time. A national title was almost guarunteed.

BVH/Danny Clark/Bailey Russell - I can barely keep track of the teams that these guys play for. Danny and Bailey start out with Pike while BVH is on DoG. Then Danny and Bailey head up north and play for Metal for a year (not a bad set of pick ups). But then BVH and Bailey drop down to play for PoNY in New York once Boston ultimate mixes it up, maybe help get them to Sarasota, good luck. I dunno where Danny plays now, but I can only imagine what sort of circumstnaces precipitate moves like this. I suppose, once again, it is nice to be able to just cleat up for anyone, but you'd think players of this caliber would stay put once they played for a club nationals team, or another one, or another one.

To compliment this kind of observation, I thought I would also talk about some players that have managed to avoid the migration temptation.

Will Deaver - Now this guy is really a team player. Granted he is the championship director and probably should stay in boulder, but the guy could easily play for anyone. However, he has played with Bravo for as long as I have been around and he has helped them go from a team that didn't even make nationals to a semi-final elite bunch of
ballers. His commitment to them has been outstanding.

Jeff Eastham - Another class act. This guy has been on JAM through it all. Played with them when they made the finals in 2004 as well as 2006 when they didn't even qualify for nationals. I am really glad this guy was on the 2005 USA team. Fast, got ups, and as dedicated as he is skinny. Never faultered, never changed jerseys, stuck it out and is a true semblance of a team player.

MG/Shank/Lugsdin/Savage - it seems like these guys have been together for life. I can remember watching "above and beyond" which chronicles club nationals in '99 and '00 and its the same guys. Now, 8-10 years later they are still together and still winning championships. I dunno what they have in the water up there, but its unbelievable.

Parinella/Forch/Al - the true heart of DoG and I am sure there are more. There in the good times as well as the not so good. I suppose, like Furious, its tough to walk away from a team that is winning national championships, but I still think its cool that they stuck it out and played with the same team for a decade.

Roger Crafts - probably one of the most verteran and muscle bound members of sockeye. This year will be his 10th as a fish and I think he is really a showing of team dedication. I don't know how this guy does it. In a few years I'll talk about Sammy CK, Mike Caldwell, Jeremy Cram and Will Henry like this, but for now, Roger Crafts is the balls. 6 years on the team before they won their first title, way to stick with it.

Now I do not think that any of these moves are suspect or shady at all. I think people should play where ever they want to. I just think that it is interesting to follow these sorts of moves. It also goes to show you that ultimate is not too different from any major sport. There are the mobile superstars like Alex Rodrigues out there as well as the stable giants, like Brett Favre. I wonder if in 50 years there will be a draft system so that teams like Sockeye don't end up with 3 callahan winners.

just my thoughts

match diesel

Monday, September 17, 2007

Making Regionals Never Felt Better

So this past weekend we had sectionals, and lemme tell you, never have I had to work so hard to make a regional tournament. First, we lost about 1/2 of our best players either due to injury or personal issues. Korber's on his honeymoon, Linneman broke his collarbone, Saipher moved to San Francisco, Jake Alter tore his ACL, Jordan tore his labrum, the list goes on.

However, what I really wanted to write about was how different regions are across the country. I can only talk of the 2 that I have played in and I will make some conjectures about some other ones. First, the southwest. The southwest has 2-3 really good/elite teams at both the college and club level. Bravo and Condors are always up there and so are Mamabird and Black Tide. UCSD sometimes makes a run as did PBR/SD United. UCLA is coming along and Monster has made a name for itself recently. However, outside these 3-4 teams, thats about it in the whole region. Now there are some teams that could beat mine (Colt 45) in these regions that I didn't mention but lets take a look at the sectional tournaments. First you have the Rocky Mountain section, ok, bravo is gonna sweep and they did. But come on there are only 9 teams at the tournament and 6 make it to regionals, are you kidding me? They should just try and figure out who doesn't make regionals and save everyone else the trouble. Then you have the desert section. It only has 4 teams. I don't know how many make it out of there, but its gotta be at least 2. So thats 8 teams from 2 sections leaving only 1 section left, southern california. So if you want to have a standard 16 team regional tournament, there are 8 bids left that can come from SoCal, but there are only 12 teams in the socal section. So if you think about it, 6/9, 2/4, 8/12, thats 16/25 teams making regionals or 64% of teams in the region make it to regionals. Wow, how many other regions are like this? I don't want to go into all the details, but the college sectional/regional system out of the southwest is also more or less the same. Except that there are even fewer Colorado college teams making it even easier to make regionals.

Ok, so the southwest is kinda kooky, so what? The northwest is the same thing. All the northwest sectional tournaments have been played and its the same story. You have the Washington/BC section (albeit the toughest section, but just because of 2 teams) which had 9 teams at their tournament and 6 make it to regionals. Oregon and the bay area are more of the same. 4 of 5 (basically) teams make it out of oregon and 5 of 8 make it out of the bay area. So once again, for a 15/16 team tournament you have 15 teams making it out of 22, or 68% of teams in the region are at regionals. College is a bit more complicated becasue there are a lot of schools in the bay area. But the washington/BC sectionals as well as orgeon sectionals in college are pretty analogous. OK so who cares?

Well, if you are on the west coast, you probably think that this is standard series ultimate. If you are an east coast, you are thinking (as I am), what the hell? why do I live in New England. I can't comment on the midwest/south/atlantic because I have never played there nor do I know any close friends that do. Feel free to comment.

Now, lets take a look at New England. First and foremost, you have 4 sections instead of 3 like the N/SW. You have my sectional tournament, Metro NY/South New England. In Open, there were 8 teams that played at sectionals but only 3 get to make it to regionals. Now, in the west new england sectionals there are 5 teams out of 6 that get to make it, ok thats a lot. There are 2 sections left, East NE and Upstate NY. East NE has yet to play (and I don't know how many teams are coming out of there) and Upstate has probaly somewhere around 3-4 teams coming out of there out of 6. This means that 3 come out of the south, 5 come out of the west, probabaly 3 out of Upstate NY and 5 out of boston. If you look at the UPA score reporter, there are 9 boston teams (excluding colleges like Harvard, Tufts, MIT, and Northeastern) that will be at sectionals meaning that there are at least 29 teams competing in the NE series and only 16 get to make regionals or 55%, but it will actually probably be a smaller % in reality.

Ok so whats my point? All these teams and all these tournaments make it really tough to make regionals. For some it is easy, like the west sectionals, but if you look at the upa score reporter, of all 35 teams that are listed in the NE region 23 of them have recorded at least 10 games or more as a team, thats 66% of teams actually putting together a season besides the series. In the Northwest, out of 30 teams, only 14 have recorded 10 games or more. And most perplexing, in the southwest, out of 12 teams, only 7 have recorded 10 games or more.

So what does this all mean? I guess what I wanted to say, is that I now have an appreciation for what it means to make regionals. When I was at UCSD our B team always made regionals and sometimes our C team as well. Now that I am at Yale, we have to fight tooth and nail just to grab the last spot to college regionals. You also don't see a lot of B teams at regionals in NE. Then again, I guess Texas-B, Wisconsin-B and UCLA-B were the only B teams to make regionals in the country. I guess thats an interesting indication of how tough your region is. I suppose its all boils down to how many more colleges there are in NE than other places. More colleges means more teams, which means more club teams which means more competition, but skilled players are much more spread out.

I also find it interesting that of these regions where it is pretty tough to make club regionals, ie NE, there aren't that many elite teams (making at least quarters at nationals). You have Boston, ok they are good, and Goat might be as well, but Boston will probably be happy with quarters and be very lucky to make semis. Goat on the other hand will probably be just happy to be in sarasota. From the southwest, Bravo will make quarters and the new condors might as well. From the NW, there will probably be 3-4 teams in quarters and at least 1 in semis. i want to comment on the South, the Mid Atlantic, and the Central but I just don't know enough. My overall point is that despite not having a lot of top tier teams in NE, it is not easy to make regionals. And conversely, in the west, despite having several dominat/elite teams, it is much easier to make regionals. So, for those people that think sectionals is a formality (cuz believe me, I thought it was), you are wrong. There are folks out there that work really hard and don't make regionals. Take a look at a team like "7-10 split", good team, good bunch of guys. They played 20 games this year, they went to 4 tournaments, went 2-3 at sectiopnals and couldn't make regionals. However, you have a team like Reed College, who only played at club sectionals, went 3-4 (beating the same team twice and one team that didn't show up for sunday) and they are going to the toughest regional tournament in the country (toughest meaning most elite teams). I think it poses an interesing paradox.

Another thing that I want to write about, and you can stop reading now if you want, is what its like to play without your best players. This past year I could not make my college sectionals make up tournament because I was out of town. I was by far the oldest/most experienced player on the team, but despite my fears of us not making regionals because myself and some other really good players were not gonna be there, Yale still stuck it out and we made regionals, awesome. This club series, I got to see the other end of this. Colt 45 sustained huge injuries and personal issues that bascially eliminated 5-7 players from our team that made semis at White Mountain Open. Having lost Korber and Linneman and a few others really made the prospect of making regionals pretty bleak. However, we stuck it out, clawed tooth and nail and managed to make it. And not only did we make it, but we beat the team that knocked us out last year. This was a great feeling and I think it should be felt by everyone across the country. In this game, it is easy to rely on marquee players. Every team has their superstar and its nice to be able to depend on them. Getting the D or the score is nice, but if you don't odds are, your headliner will. However, when given the chance to play without your superstars, you really see what your team is made of. As, a former team mate (jake branzburg) told me, everyone on the team feels the pressure and the drive to make a play because if they don't there is no one else to bail them out. This is good motivation for a team because it gives everyone on the field a purpose, a role and that is really important in this game. I suppose this is the rational behind the "faceless army" technique and while I don't entirely agree with it, I think it is very useful. Now, going into regionals, we will have Korber back giving us not only hope because he is our best player but excitement for the future because we know what we can do without him. In any event, it is not good to rely on your top players. It is good to play without them sometimes. It might make you realize you are actually a better player than you thought.

Just my thoughts.

match diesel

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ultimate: Cast and Crew

A few weeks ago I had a discussion with my cousin Alex about who the face of ultimate was now. He had his opinions and I had mine and in response to this discussion i thought a lot about what it means to represent this sport and who out there are perfect examples. I wanted to put together a list of people, I think, are absolutely invalubale to this sport, not just because of their physical ability/presence, but what they bring to the game in their own personal way. On my list you are not going to see Nord, Chase, or Beau but, people that bring intangibles to the game which cannot be articulated in a picture or a game synopsis. They can however be seen with years of observation and appreciation for what they have done both on and off the field for the sport. I also wanted to put together a list of people that should be well known throughout the ultimate community and offer a forum for people to pick up some names they didn't already know and potentially offer other names I am leaving out because I am by no means the ultimate authority and I am sure there are many people I am leaving out.

Andrew Lugsdin - Now this is a person who I think really represents the best of ultimate. First off, the guy has won 9 canadian national titles, 3 UPA club championships and 2 world titles. Ok great. He is also a great sportsman on the field not to mention one of the nicest guys I have ever met (totally didn't kill me when I pantsed him). But what makes him such a valuable part of the game is the fact that he is so successful off the field. I don't know how many folks know this, but the guy is a venture capitalist and has been the president of several tech consuting firms and is/was on the board of 6 tech companies in Canada. He graduated from McGill with a double degree in Physics and Computer Science. Now, for me, this is an example of an ultimate player that has not only been dominant on the field for 10 years but also is an extremely successful man outside the sport. I can think of several players that are spectacular on the field but peripheral to that, ehh, not too many highlights. However, Lugsdin is an example of someone that can acheive great things while still being apart of the sport and that is a goal that I think most ultimate players should go for (I know I am).

Gwen Ambler - This is a person that every woman ultimate player should know. I have never come across someone that has done more for women's disc than Gamler. Not only was she a national champion at Stanford (I think), but she has also been very dominant at the club level playing for Fury who won club nationals last year. This is all well and good but the service that Gwen has done to the game is unparalleled. With her website,, she is the only person (as far as I know) that has covered college women's ultimate in all regions. The analysis is so in depth, detailed, and positive that it rivals any college open website I have come across. She also coaches the Stanford Women's team, who just won their 3rd national championship in 4 years. She managed to make team USA in 2005, albeit as an alternate, but as anyone who has seen her play, represents the absolute pinnacle of women's ultimate.

Ben Wiggins - Ok, he is a popular face and everybody knows his name, ok whats the big deal? I won't say anything about his playing, while it is elite, is not what makes him such a positive force in disc. Never have I seen a person with such enthusiam and dedication to the sport. I think he TDs like 3 tournaments a year with Solstice, Emerald City Classic, and Northwest Regionals, and in case you were curious, they are some of the 3 best club tournaments in the world. He also travels all over doing seminars about the game and coaches dozens of youth players in Seattle. i actually have the privelege of playing with one of them here at Yale and the kid is straight up nasty. He also brings a decore of fun on the field that the game cannot afford to lose and is always quick to give props to his team mates as well as all of his oppponents, just check out his post-ECC Finals Interview with Rob.

Tiina Booth - Probably the most important name in Juniors ultimate in the World. She is the head coach/founder of the Amherst Regional High School Hurricanes. This woman showed the world that college disc is not where kids should start to play ultimate. While coaching the best high school program in juniors history, she has amassed national titles (both boys and girls) and coached soon to be college studs such as Josh Zipperstein. She also had 11 kids on the youth junior world team (Boys and Girls) of 2006. These kids manage to dominate not only the juniors scene but take down very good college teams regularly. In addition she also directs the most prominant youth ultimate camp in the world with the NUTC (national ultimate training camp) and also manages a college directory so that high school kids can research college ultimate programs as they would academics.

Tom Kennedy "TK" - By far the founder of west coast ultimate. He started the Santa Barbara Condors in 1977 and it still reamins the longest standing ultimate team ever with the same name. He led the condors towards the first ever club ultimate championship in 1977 and won again in 1978 and 1981. He managed to develop a team that spawned argably the best college ultimate dynasty in the sports history with Black Tide who won 3 college national championships in a row, twice ('88-90, and '96-'98). Only 1 other team, east carolina, has even won 2 in a row ever. The west coast disc that has been near or at the top of ultimate for several years, in both college and club, owes a great deal of its success to this man.

Jim Parinella - 6 time club national champion, ok everybody knows that. But I mean come on, the guy wrote the bible on ultimate (ultimate techniques and tactics) and has probably the most popular blog in ultimate today. Peripheral to that though, the guy is also a successful engineer and case western/MIT alum. Like Lugsdin, is a true representation of a successful man on and off the field. I dunno about you but thats a decent wrap sheet. Not gonna go into anymore detail, I don't need to.

Mike Gerics - Not everyone's favorite person, but he still is a part of ultimate history and has taught ultimate to hundreds of players. With his WUFF training camp in North Carolina, he has taught the intricacies of the game to several college programs from all over the country. He also led East Carolina to 2 national titles, the only other team to win two in a row outside of black tide. Quite the bitter vocalist on RSD, but definitely one of the most important names in the game today.

Josh Greenough - A very dominant player in college for Oregon and a great player for open and Co-ed teams in San Franciso JAM and Brass Monkey. He and I don't always see eye to eye, but he is very important to this game. The best hat tournament I have ever been to was put on by Josh in San Mateo, CA (his home town) called Beware-O and if you think its just another hat tournament, think again. When I played in it in 2003, I knew nothing about the people in the sport and didn't realize that Sammy CK was on my team and we played against folks such as Ben and Seth Wiggins, not bad for a little winter hat tournament an hour south of San Franciso. He was also the National College Ultimate director for 3 years. The sport is definitely in debt to this man.

Ted Munter – Probably the most respected coach at the elite level in ultimate. Teams he has been a part of include Death or Glory (DoG), Brown Women’s Ultimate, and the Gold Medal Winning Team USA of 2005. Never has there been a name so synonymous with high level coaching. He is basically the Phil Jackson of ultimate.

Stu Downs – Now this is a person I have been watching for 3 years and I wish I knew more about him. I first came across him at the 2005 College Nationals in Corvalis, OR. He is the coach of Georgia’s JoJah Men’s Ultimate Team and one of the most prominent coaches in college disc. In researching other players and tournaments, I continually come across him and he has been touted as one of the best zone D players ever and is one of the most recognized names in Ultimate in the South. Although never a true champion, he exemplifies not only skill but sportsmanship and has dedicated himself to coaching one of the biggest and best college programs in the country. He also looks liek George Lucas if he could play ultimate

Scobel Wiggins – Probably the nicest lady you will meet at an ultimate tournament. She documents some of best ultimate with the highest quality photography I have come across in my 5 years of ultimate. She photographs open as well as women’s disc and really set the stage for dedicated media in ultimate (

Jeff Graham – A former UMass player that started a phenomenal ultimate team in the toughest city to start an elite team in, Boston. The founder of Twisted Metal and one of the main organizers for the new Boston Ultimate squad. In the wake of DoG, he managed to recruit and build an ultimate program that made strides to rival one of the most storied teams in club ultimate history. Never, at least in my experience, has there been a city that has sent 2 teams to club nationals and Jeff managed to do this. A truly dominant player in college, I think he managed to break into the top 5 for Callahan voting despite not even being at college nationals.

Josh Zipperstein - Need I say anything? In any event, the guy is a great frisbee player both at the club and college level. One of the most dominant cutters I have ever seen. However, whats really interesting about Zipp is that the guy is smart. I mean come on Biomedical Engineer from Brown and now a Med Student at Emory? Not a bad CV. What I think is the classiest thing about Zipp though are his Zipp's Tips. The guy wrote down a little tid bit of information every day from November 5th, 2002 to May 20th, 2003. Thats like 180 tips?!?! anyway, did everything he could to help out his team, not only by dominanting physcially but attempting to pass on his knowledge to his supporting cast.

Fortunat Mueller "Forch" - probably one of the most dominating players ever. Despite his smaller stature, he has won at every level. He is the only player I know of that has the 4-fector. College National championship (Brown - 2000), the callahan (1999), club championship (DoG - 1999), and world title (DoG - 2000). he is also one of the main organizers for the Boston ultimate squad. For people in Connecticut, he is a big celebrity because he was a large part of winter/summer league because he moved here after college. In any event, a great leader and player, and oh yeah on of the most feared cutters ever.

Ultivillage Rob - First off, what is this guy's last name? Anyway, he has brought the sport to more people and in such a manner that deserves some serious acclaim. Beginning in May of 2005, he started giving us COTDs not to mention Discs 1-4 and on. I am not aware of any playing status of Rob but his service to the sport is incredible and I know I have given him props multiple times, but I think he is under appreciated. Hopefully his company will get him in the blue chips and he will be able to sit on an empire of Ultimate Media that changed the way people look at ultimate, literally.

There are many, many more, but I just don't know enough to do them justice. I think some other names that are synonomous with improving the overall caliber of ultimate are Steve Mooney (Basically the heart of DoG in their hay day), Damien Scott (arguably one of the most model after players in the game and he plays for JAM), and Mike Namkung (part of the second Black Tide 3-peat, one of the founders of JAM, and was part of the gold medal worlds team in 2005).

Because of people like these, ultimate has earned the respect that it has now. If players and supporters like this are emulated the sport is in good hands. It is nice that there are people out there that have careers and motivations while still being steallar ultimate players. It is also nice that there are people that can contribute to teams as much on the field as off. I suppose my worry about ultimate is that as the sport evolves the competition will get better and better. This is nice, but there are a lot of things that need to be maintained (ie sportsmanship, community service, respect amongst opponent/team mates, on and off the field role models, etc...) and with people like these and countless more, i think the sport will continue to improve competitively yet command the respect for players, teams, and programs of all levels.

Match Diesel

Monday, September 3, 2007

Late Summer Elite Disc

So the regular season is pretty much over with and sectional tournaments are gonna start popping up everywhere. I thought I would talk about some teams and some things that I think are interesting.

Elite Open

Furious (start off with my team) - One can never really get a feel for this team until regionals. Seems like they always have a less than stellar showing through sectionals and then wham! they win regionals and make the finals at natties. Some things to think about. 1) I think Furious at CUC is the furious we'll see at Regionals. Everyone was there, and everyone wanted to win. From the ECC footage I saw it didn't look like MG was there and who knows who decided to make it down to Santa Cruz for their 3rd tournament in a row. I think they are resting up their heavy hitters and are preparing for the series. 2) Furious, to me, seems like they are getting older, at least with their head liners. Alot of their guys, Lugsdin, Savage, Shank, MG, AL Bob, Seragalia, have been with the team for almost a decade. Now this is great, lots of chemistry, experience, etc... but they do not have the young college recruits that some other teams like Sockeye and Bravo have. Its been a while since an "Oscar" has popped up in Vancover and with guys like Kubalanza going over to Sockeye, its gonna be tough for them to compete with the likes of Tim Gehret, Ray Illian, Seth, etc.. on Sockeye not to mention other teams like Chain, Boston, Condors, Bravo and Revolver who are all picking up young college/club studs like Zipp, Kurt Gibson, Jacob Goldstein, Jimmy Chu, and the mama bird/hodag crowd (respectively). Now I think Furious can compete now, but in 2-3 years, without some new blood, its gonna be tough to match the athleticism that some of these teams are gonna have. I for one think they'll find a way, I mean come on, 3 UPA championships and a world title in the last 6 years.

Sockeye - These guys are interesting. It seems like they can win at will, but only at will. It looks like they know that they are the most talented team in the country and they let some teams creep up on them. I mean they won ECC but letting Boston get the better of them in pool play? I dunno. I do however know that they are the best team in the country. if they are focused and wanna win, they are going to. Their handler core is too good with Sam O'brian, TG, and Wiggins. Their deep game, when they want it to be, is unparalled with Nord, Chase and Ray, and their middle cutters like Sammy CK, Seth, and Moses can't be covered. Not to mention they have some of the best defenders in Skippy and Roger Crafts. So I think that their performance against the buzz bullets (both times) is pretty indicative. labor day not so much. I think they'll take sectionals 15-8 over Furious and then maybe 15-11 over Furious or JAM at regionals.

JAM - Despite hideous uniforms, these kids are good. JAM is having a fantastic year coming off "chokefest '06". It looks like they got Damien Scott back, and anyone who has played near this guy will tell you he is the balls. really impressive showings at Colorado, ECC and Labor Day. I think they'll play well at regionals (finish 2nd/3rd). I would love to see them upset Sockeye, but I don't see JAM breaking out of the clutch-less cage they have been in for awhile. In any event, they seem like they have the fire, which might be all it takes. Should sweep sectionals and if they don't they are screwed.

Bravo - This is a team I want to see in the finals. These guys are so good and work so well with eachother and they deserve to break out of the semi-finals and make it on Sunday at natties. Their young guys are soo good and are basically the legs and the leaders on this team. Their handlers are so good with Chicken and Parker, their deeps are so good with Jolian and Beau (notice how I put Jolian first, guy is sooooo good and doesn't get the press he deserves), fired up cutters like Richter, rabbit, and JV can play both sides of the disc and they still have a whole troop of veterans in Willy D, Valdavia, Tripoli, etc.... Their height is pretty polar though with tall guys playing really tall and not so tall guys, yeah not so tall. However, their chemistry is top notch and I think they will do well.

Revolver - These fellas are so up and down. They are a good squad but I think some of the Stanford guys might need a break from elite disc. I'd be surprised if Sherwood, Robbie, and Nan are fired up about playing another elite level season after playing another semi-finals loss in Columbus. Who knows though? Those are my guys, I'd love to see them take down JAM at sectionals. The good news is that they have had a few great late season wins with W's over Rhino, Furious and Condors. Hopefully they bring it this weekend in Santa Cruz.

Boston - I am gonna do some serious word eating if Boston gets lucky in the series. I am so impressed with them and they have done far better than I expected. Huge wins at ECC over Sockeye and Bravo. A less than stellar showing at Chesapeake, but thats their 3rd tourney in 4 weekends, so I'm not too worried. It looks like Kurt and Goldstein are doing well for the Boston crowd. Somewhere Vicious Cycle is crying after losing their top 2 players. I would like to see them do well at Nationals but they have a lot of guys that haven't been there for open, ie Teddy and Jasper, and hopefully they will continue to play as they have. I think they have a shot at quarters but beyond that, it is gonna take somer serious luck.

Condors - Now these guys have been off the radar for about 2 years now. After losing Namkung and Steets (both I think play for JAM) they have seen their success dip at nationals. However, now they have Jimmy Chu, who I believe is one of the best D line handlers in the country. Great showings at Colorado and Labor Day. Not getting into ECC must have sucked but I am sure they want to return to the glory days of '00 and '01. I think they'll make power pools at natties but they'll probably have to fight in the "play-in game" for quarters.

Rhino - I wish I knew more about this team. I know that Seth used to play on it and there were rumors that Chase was going to. All I know is that they are basically an Ego squad (correct me if I am wrong) but according to most, they are legit. maybe a bit young but defintely talented. Have the ability to catch anyone sleeping and I hope they do. I think if they bring whatever they had at Solstice they'll do well but making nationals with a fired up JAM and Revolver fighting for spots 3 and 4 and Sockeye and Furious for spots 1 and 2, its gonna be tough.

Chain Lighting - Now this is a team that I think is having a rough year. Made semis last year and they picked up Zipp. They have dylan, Jason Simpson, and John Hammond so they have the talent to do well. I dunno if they are gonna have any competition until nationals. Maybe with Double Wide at regionals. Hopefully they get it together and do well.

Elite Co-ed (I have gotten into Co-ed recently because of some friends, so here are my thoughts)

Shazaam - Watch out. These guys are on a tear. They have won every tourney they have gone to and are my favorites to take the region. i watched them at Boston and they looked wayyy to complete to be stopped by any other co-ed team. With them, Brass Monkey and Mischef, NW co-ed regionals could be almost as good as natties.

Mischef - the current champs are having a decent year despite not making it into Potlatch. They had such an interesting showing at nationals last year with close win after close win, so who knows with them. The smith brothers really know their stuff and can dominate most teams. However, their grip and rip style could be a little more conservative and might get them into turn over trouble against pateint teams. They managed to win it all last year and they have picked up some new/better players, so who knows.

Slow White - The only team that really draws water in the NE deserves to make at least semis at nationals this year. Really close to winning it all last year but fell short. Their guys are top notch and their girls, if used better, are some of the best i have seen in Co-ed. Don't know how they are gonna do without Jasper or Teddy but they do have Miles and a few other new players that can ball. Heavy weights should be a good tournament and they should sweep that and the series in NE. Hopefully they get a nice little confidence boost to carry them to the promise land.

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