Monday, October 27, 2008

My UPA Bracket

So after 6 years in the sport and 18 months writing about it, I'm finally headed to Sarasota. I got my plane tickets the other day, I'm set to stay with the UV guys. Rob's got some ideas, not sure what they are yet, but if things go at all like Vancouver, I should be on Cloud 9 by the end of Round 1. Here are my predictions for the tournament.

Pool A - 1) Sockeye 3-0, 2) GOAT 2-1 3) Doublewide 1-2, 4) El Diablo 0-3
Round 1: Sockeye should take care of DW pretty easily on Thursday. I know they went to Universe at Labor Day but Sockeye is the new Furious and a 3-0 pool play showing is more or less expected. I think Doublewide should use this game as an opportunity to give their less experienced players a look at the best there is and save up for the GOAT and El Diablo games.

As for GOAT vs El Diablo, I can't imagine GOAT slipping but I don't know anything about El Diablo. If I were playing for DW, I would be very curious to see how El Diablo fares in the first two games of the day because Doublewide has yet to play them this year and they need a win if they want to make bracket play. Anyway, I see GOAT's internal chemistry and history giving them a major advantage.

Round 2: Sockeye over El Diablo, call me crazy. The GOAT/DW game will be a good one though. The score reporter has their predicted score 15-14 but I think a lot of DW's clout goes back to their win over Chain. If they really are that good, who knows but I get the feeling DW's victory over Chain had a lot more to do with the fact that they are Regional Rivals and know each other well. GOAT will bring a ton of quiet but violent cutters and push DW to their limits. This game is dicey because I can see DW making it a close one, come on they have Universe games against almost everybody (Revolver, Bravo, Truck Stop, Sockeye, PoNY, and Chain). However, if they get close and slip, they will have to play a fresh El Diablo team that is probably going to be coming off a 15-4 romping by Team USA. Considering they haven't seen these guys all year I really hope DW has the depth to just play their game and get a crucial W. They went 0-3 last year in pool play and I really don't want to see that happen again.

Round 3: I don't know why but I have this opinion of GOAT that they're passive. Maybe it's because John Hassell is just a big kid. The guy always has this "9 year old boy with a fire truck" grin and he just doesn't scare me the way someone like Ted Tripoli would. Anyway, Fish take out GOAT 15-11ish. I think Sockeye's depth at the 3rd/4th cutter defender will be really hard on GOAT. I don't know if Ouchterlony, Hassell and Link can get it done down field. Sockeye's defenders like Ryan Winkleman and Mike Jaeger are just relentless and I see them getting their team fired up. Hell maybe Skip will sneak away from the summit and get a D. I also think Eric St Amant is hurt and he will be missed for GOAT.

As for the 3/4 game, I want it to be boring and predictable. I want to see DW in the 1/4s play in game at the very least and while I think they'll have trouble with GOAT, I hope they cruise (sorry El Diablo). Hopefully they don't try too hard and only use their deep shots when they look good. God look at me, I've become the conservative Northeasterner I've mocked for so long.

Pool B: 1) Bravo 3-0, 2) SubZero 1-2, 3) Chain 2-1, 4) PoNY 0-3
This is easily the pool of death. Only pool where all 4 teams were at Labor Day. A finalist, a quarterfinalists, a semifinalist and one of only 3 teams to beat Ironside.

Round 1: The Bravo/Chain game should be really good. This would have been semis last year had GOAT not beaten out the Hot-lanta crowd on DGP. I think despite Chain's 3 seed status, they are in a good position to do well again. They seem to always climb out of the gutter in these situations. They took their pool despite being the 4th seed last year and made semis despite being a 10th seed 2 years ago. However, Bravo will want to set the tone early and they are really good at peaking at Nationals. Their new recruits have got to be integrated by now and the Popes/Parker show should be awesome for their O-line.

Sub and PoNY met at Chesapeake and despite a close 14-12 game, I think SZ has the advantage. They are a quarters team and PoNY is a Sarasota virgin. Maybe they trade points early but I think SZ will be as fired up as it gets to extend their winning streak to 20.

Round 2:
The Bravo/PoNY game could be boring but it could also be really exciting. It is games like these that PoNY has done so well in. Because they are still inexperienced at this level, it seems like they tend to play to their opponents and when they are faced against the odds, they pull off crazy DGP finishes like against Ironside and Sockeye. But like I said before, Bravo is great at peaking and PoNY will be just another step towards playing on Sunday.

The Sub/Chain game will be one of the better of the day. Chain is a 2 seed quality team, as is SubZero, and this rematch from last year will be awesome. The winner will probably be looking at a relatively easy path to quarters while the other will have to crawl up through the quarters play in. I personally like Chain in this game. Early in the year I had SubZero in semis but now that I think about it, they need a few quarters exits under their belt. If you take a look at the Bravo example, they made quarters many times before semis and while SZ was there last year, they didn't even make a play in game the year before. I think SZ is on the verge of becoming elite, but like everybody else in that category, they are going to have to eek it out. Their pool, like Labor Day, is really tough and when/if they take that next step forward, they will have a trail of major accomplishments behind them.

As for Chain, their only real blemish is a loss to Doublewide at Regionals and I'm sure we can all think of crazy regional games that didn't add up to much at Nationals. Wisconsin/Iowa, GOAT/Boston, Bravo/Condors, etc... I think Chain is the best they have ever been and unlike SubZero, they have a few bracket play births in a row.

Round 3: If my predictions are right, a Bravo/SZ game after a great Chain/SZ game will favor Bravo immensely. Despite Hector's scouting report of his former team, I think SubZero will struggle. They'll probably do better than 15-5 at Labor Day but I've heard such great things about Bravo's D-line. When I saw Sub's O-line at Chesapeake it looked like it could be better. Hector has gone back and forth this year and hopefully SZ has their game plan ironed out. I know guys like Lindsley are awesome but at the Club level you really need your vets to get it done on the O-line and I think that is why Heijmen and Foster will be so important at this level. In a few years they could be the Mike Caldwell and Sammy CK's of SZ. I also wish Muffin could play. His will to win is insane and I would have liked to see him against a bunch of Mamabird alums.

Chain/PoNY shouldn't be much of a game. Chain is a great pool play veteran and PoNY is in a tank of sharks. I think PoNY will get up for Bravo and give them a game, but Chain should be ready to knock them down an additional peg after a tough loss. In addition, Chain's 3 seed status is a lot like USC playing in the Rose Bowl last year. They have a blemish on paper that relegates them, but they are so much better than their seed.

Pool C: 1) Ironside 3-0, 2) Jam 2-1, 3) Condors 0-3, 4) Bodhi 1-2
Round 1: It's been a few years since Boston was a 1 seed and I'm sure Forch, McCarthy, Seigs, Doug Moore and the rest of the DoG relics are glad to be back on top of their pool. First game against the Condors will be an old school Above and Beyond rematch but I think Forch and Doug Moore's supporting cast is a bit better than Dugan's. Goleta hasn't played Boston this year but I think their first matchup will go unfavorably.

Jam vs Bodhi will be an awesome game and I might find myself on this sideline. I have already said that Bodhi reminds me a lot of Revolver and I wonder how Jam will handle them. I think the Boston youngsters will have the depth to stay competitive all day, I just think their lack of experience will present a problem. Gabe, Bart, Damien, Steets, Idris, Cissna and the rest of Jam should have the composure that these kids haven't earned yet, but I think Bodhi has a lot of success ahead of them while Jam is clinging to their history.

Round 2: The 2/3 game in this pool might be the best of the day, next to Chain/SZ. Jam/Condors is always a good game and I think this could be a problem for the Condors. Last year Santa Barbara took Frisco to 14-16 in power pools which set up each team to get lit up by Bravo and GOAT. If this happens again, Bodhi will be in a good position to steal a win and head into Power Pools 1-0. Likewise, Jam will be in a rough spot having to play Ironside after a long one. Bottom line I think each team is going to lose after this game.

Ironside vs Bodhi is almost too sappy to be a watch able game. Forseter and Zalisk coach A-Hole at Tufts, so Disney, get your Gordon Bombay camera ready. I see Ironside coming out way hot and taking this game big time. The last time these teams played, Ironside won 15-2 and while I think Bodhi will score a few more, this game should be a cake walk for Ironside.

Round 3: Ironside vs Jam will be an eh game. Both teams are veteran but Ironside should cruise. They have the youth that Jam has not worked hard enough to invest in and I think guys like Stubbs, Neff, and C-Mo will bring a defensive pressure that will force Jam to go to 3rd and 4th options consistently. While Jam's roster is unreal, I think two of Boston's main defensive strengths are youth and depth and I can't see Jam handling it well.

Bodhi over Condors is one of my upsets for Thursday and I really like the young guns in this game. Even if the Jam/Condor game does not factor into the equation, Bodhi has played well at every tournament this year and I can't imagine them going 0-3. The Condors have the ability to rely on their veteran presence to get W's over less experienced teams like GOAT, but I like Bodhi's intensity. They qualified out of the most competitive region in the country and will be ready to stick it to the 3 seed.

Pool D: 1) Ring of Fire 2-1, 2) Revolver 3-0, 3) Truck Stop 1-2, 4) Machine 0-3
Round 1: Its too bad Truck Stop and Ring are in the same pool. Had TS played half as well at Labor Day as Colorado Cup they may have gotten a better 3 seed. Ring seemed to come out strong at Regionals and I see more of that here.

I think Revolver should do fine against Machine. I know the Chicago guys have a decent squad with guys like Joel Koehneman and Kevin Cho but their loss to Madison at Regionals is not a good sign. Losing at Regionals but still qualifying is cool but when you're looking up at Revolver and Ring, not to mention a good Truck Stop team, there really isn't much of a margin for error. They got a win in pool play last year after Doublewide went 0-fer but each team ahead of them should play well. In addition, this is Revolver's first game at Nationals since beating Rhino 15-11 back in 2006, a game they had to play after losing 16-14 in quarters to Chain. They finished 5th that year and since then they have picked up Tyler Grant, Josh Greenough, Seth Wiggins and Martin Cochran. Yeah and is it hilarious to anyone else that Greenough got cut from Jam back in '06 only to pickup with Revolver a few years later and now he is on the better team? Mike Payne, you're a crafty one, you are.

Round 2: Ring over Machine seems like a fair assessment, but who knows, maybe Ring pulls a move like Furious did last year and goes 0-3. As for Revolver/Truck Stop, I think it is interesting that despite losing 13-6 to TS, Revolver is 7 places higher on the totem pole. Just shows you how volatile the Club season is. I think Revolver is considerably better now however, and Truck Stop didn't seem to make good on the momentum they picked up at Colorado Cup.

Round 3: Ring vs Revolver reminds me a lot of the Ring/Bravo game back in 2006. Bravo was ready to make a semis charge and Ring was battling with their own demons and Bravo (5th seed) took out Ring (4th) in a storming 15-9 fashion. I'm not saying I think Ring is going to go down that easily but the parallels are somewhat similar and I think Revolver will come out of pool play 3-0.

As for Machine and Truck Stop, I really don't know. I want to give Machine the benefit of the doubt because a year ago no one had Truck Stop pegged to take out Furious and look what happened there. These two teams are one of the closest on the score reporter with RRI's of 2628 (TS) and 2621 (Machine). Plus their only game head to head was a 14-13 barn burner at Boston Invite, a tournament where Machine played terrible. If Chicago can bring the team that did so well at Chesapeake and Heavyweights, we may see a nice little upset. But if Truck Stop gets their focus back and plays to their abilities, they should make it out of pool play with a victory. I've heard good things about Ryan Morgan and Gorgeous George Strange for Truck Stop and I look forward to seeing them in person.

So with these predictions, I have the four power pools as follows:

E: Sockeye (1-0), Ironside (1-0), Jam (0-1), GOAT (0-1)

F: Bravo (1-0), Revolver (1-0), Ring (0-1), Chain (0-1)

G: DW (1-0), Bodhi (1-0), Condors (0-1), El Diablo (0-1)

H: SZ (1-0), TS (1-0), PoNY (0-1), Machine (0-1)

I usually don't do full previews, but what the hell.

Pool E: Sockeye (3-0), Ironside (2-1), GOAT (1-2), Jam (0-3)
I think the regional rematches in Round 1 will favor Sockeye and Ironside nicely. I think Sockeye takes out Ironside in the E1/E2 game mainly because Sockeye will be ready for Boston this time and I think their offensive velocity will be too much for Ironside.

As for GOAT and Jam, I like GOAT. They have youth and energy and Jam is in a position they haven't been in for as long as I've been watching the game. They have made semis every time they have made Nationals in the last 6-8 years but I don't see it happening in '08. With that being said, I think this game will be one of two that pushes Jam out of bracket play for the first time like ever.

Pool F: Bravo (3-0), Revolver (2-1), Chain (1-2), Ring (0-3)
Bravo vs Ring will be a Chesapeake rematch that Bravo will be ready for. Bravo has taken care of Ring well the last few years in Florida and I see more of that here. As for Revolver vs Chain, this game will be bad ass. Quarters two years, Revolver is better, Chain is better, should be a great contest. I want to take Chain but I wonder if they peaked early. I think Revolver will be poised to play their best at Nationals and they should be a pitt bull no one wants to face next weekend.

The second round of games will be less exciting. I think Bravo should take care of Revolver simply because their Mamabird heavy roster is more experienced at the club level than Revolver's Stanford heavy roster. Like I said, Revolver should play their best next week, but Bravo will as well and JB is already 2-0 against Revolver this year.

The Chain/Ring game will also be predictable. I definitely think Ring earned their one seed status but Chain is good at crawling out of the cellar at natties and I see them taking out North Carolina.

Pool G: Doublewide (3-0), Bodhi (2-1), Condors (1-2), El Diablo (0-3)
Doublewide's experience at this level should really help them in power pools. In my world they would face off against two very different and difficult challenges in the Condors and Bodhi. They took out the Condors 13-5 in Colorado and I think their veteran roster and chemistry will work effectively against the Condors inexperience. As for Bodhi, I don't even know. They should be able to take out the kids, but I get the feeling that anyone that underestimates Bodhi is gonna find themselves in a world of hurt. I think Texas' size will be an advantage and I think Bodhi will struggle as they did against GOAT.

As for El Diablo, my apologies but I don't think they are going to get a win until really late in the tournament. 4th seed Sarasota virgins usually have trouble for a while and I don't know what separates a team like El Diablo from the Van Buren Boys, Monster or PBR. Maybe you get a win over a team like Machine or PoNY late in the tournament, but I don't see it happening against anyone in this pool.

Pool H: SubZero (3-0), Truck Stop (2-1), Machine (1-2), PoNY (0-3)
SubZero should be really pissed to have to stick out in lower pools but that hunger will be a great weapon. I think Doublewide's victory over Chain has hurt SZ the most because they once again are strapped with a really rough road. They should do fine against Truck Stop and Machine and make the quarters play in.

As for Truck Stop, I think they have what it takes to get past PoNY. A 15-6 win over them at Chesapeake is a nice follow up to their 13-10 loss at BI. PoNY will be a in rough spot because Truck Stop will have the confidence New York still needs to earn, and I think this will really help DC. Both teams have similar tournament attendance records but Truck Stop should get the win.

The H3/H4 game should actually be pretty good. I think PoNY will have the talent to get a win in this game but Machine has experience. In their only contest of the year Machine took out PoNY 15-7 (Chesapeake) but I think PoNY is better than that. However, I think Machine will be itching to get a win on Friday and they should be able to get out of power pools with at least 1 victory.

Unless I have screwed something up here, the quarters play in should be Jam vs SZ and Ring vs DW. I think SZ/Jam will be an awesome game. I think Jam will have issues playing a game they've never had to and SubZero will really want to make it back to bracket play. If SZ wants to be elite, this is a game they need to be able to win and it will be a nice confidence boost for them to have to earn this quarters birth after a rough road through power/pool play.

As for Ring and DW, I like Ring. North Carolina was in this same slot two years ago and I think they have the experience to get past Doublewide. These two teams haven't played this year and I think this will be a game that DW earned because of their Chain upset but I think they will be in a bit over their heads.

Sockeye vs Ring: Yeah, the Fish should do fine here. I wonder if Sockeye is in the position Furious was in back in 2006, not having to be really challenged until very late in the tournament. Ring will be a nice opportunity for Sockeye to integrate most of their roster because keeping the starters on for a 15-7 routing isn't very productive.

GOAT vs Revolver: I filled out this whole bracket thing just to get to this game. Last year, this game was Chain vs GOAT and once again, GOAT lucked out with the 8 seed. This seed is money because you draw the weakest 1 seed, which matters when/if the pool D 1 seed isn't stellar. In '07 Furious sucked and two years ago Bravo leaped frogged Ring. If Revolver can assert their dominance over Ring, this should be the best quarters game. In years past it was GOAT over Chain 15-14 ('07) and Chain over Revolver 16-14 ('06). If it goes down this way, I like Revolver. I think like GOAT last year and Chain the year before, they are the team that will crack into semis that is not a 1 seed.

Bravo vs SubZero: School is in session and Bravo is ready to play teacher. This SubZero team is so close to what Bravo was 3-4 years ago and I think that experience will allow Bravo to be successful. I think SubZero making it this far is a great indication of their potential and I like them to fight tooth and nail in consolation games to finish 5th.

Ironside vs Chain: I like the Chesapeake Finals rematch only this time Ironside should be ready to role. I think Boston's weakness in Maryland was their O-line efficiency and from what I could gather at Regionals it looks like their O-line will be DoG-esk in the sense that it will rely mostly on veterans while their D-line has their athletic studs like Neff, Stubbs, C-Mo, and Teddy. Chain's depth on defense might pose a problem, but I think Ironside's patience will be lethal in that they just won't give Chain a chance to make big plays on D. Plus Forch will want to remind Zip who is top DoG.

Sockeye vs Revolver: For the last few years it seems like Revolver's main challenge has been Jam because they are so closely coupled, but now they should be eyeing Sockeye. However, unlike Jam, they don't have a lot of success against Sockeye yet and despite two close games this year, I like Sockeye. I hope for Sockeye's sake that Revolver gives the Fish a game because if history tells us anything, the team with the closer semis game usually performs better in the Finals. In 2007 Sockeye and Jam went to 17-15 while Bravo owned GOAT 15-11 and in 2006 Sockeye duked it out with Bravo 15-13 while Furious rolled Chain 15-7.

Bravo vs Ironside: This game is like Sockeye vs Bravo two years ago and Sockeye vs Jam last year. It will be the clash of the 1 seeds with no clear front runner. I think Bravo has a slight advantage just because they have been there more recently, but this could easily be the game where Ironside shows just how good they are. I like this to be a 15-13 barn burner with Bravo coming out on top. Bravo knows how close they are to a National title and I think this is their year and despite Ironside's talent, I think their Finals charge is still 1 year away. Plus Bravo has met their end to Boston a few times in bracket play and I'm sure they like the reverse relationship.

Sockeye vs Bravo: It's funny, if you pay enough attention for long enough, you really tend to pick up trends in this sport and if things turn out to be as predictable as they are in my head, this game should favor Bravo. I think back to 2006 when Sockeye first beat out Furious and 2008 draws similar parallels. Only this year Sockeye is the team everyone expects to win and Bravo are the young brawlers that everyone knows could win. In '06 Furious was the 1 seed and Sockeye was 2. Furious had an easy road to the Finals and I see Sockeye getting that advantage this year. Bravo on the other hand will have to face off against a good SZ team and a great Boston team before they can even think about the champs.

While I think Sockeye has all the pieces to earn a 3rd consecutive National title, I like Bravo. They are so ready and this is easily the best they've ever been. Sockeye is amazing but they aren't as good as last year with their roster departures. Bravo on the other hand is absolutely ready to win it all and I don't see anything stopping them. I really think their quarters and semis challenges will help them prepare for the finals and considering the fact that Sockeye has ended their last two seasons 15-13, I think 3rd times a charm.

Closing Thoughts
It's been a crazy ride this summer/fall. College was a ton of fun to follow earlier this year and while Club was much more difficult and challenging, I like where things ended up. Much like college, I feel like each team in Sarasota will have some sort of story behind them and I think that is important. In reality, no game is inconsequential and for me it is really important that everyone has some dialog associated with their team. For all intents and purposes what I write should NOT be read by the competitors because they have other things to focus on, but for you at home, hopefully reading stuff like this will make your UVTV subscription worth something to you.

As for my own reflections on the year, I think 2008 was pretty sweet. Ironside's resurgence, Hector's free agency, Chain's consistency, Worlds, Bodhi/PoNY, DW over Chain, Furious missing out on Nationals, Truck Stop at Colorado Cup, Bravo's charge for Gold, these have all been great stories over the last 6 months and now we all get to witness the circus that Sarasota will be. I think Chain's loss to DW is the biggest curveball so far and with Ring potentially being in a similar position as Furious last year, who knows what could happen. Likewise, Jam is looking down the barrel of a gun they've never seen before and I think the Bodhi/Condor game is very interesting because it pits a veteran team with no Nationals experience against an experienced Nationals team with fewer veterans. I can't wait for next week and I hope you all are as excited as I am. Stay tuned.

just my thoughts

match diesel

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Digital Warfare

With all this Conference 1 dialog going on and the election of the UPA BOD and the President of the United States, it has become painfully obvious that our little Ultimate paradigm is quite the battleground for digital warfare. I say digital because most of the discussion that goes on (public anyway) occurs in some form of online format, whether it be blogs, websites, messageboards, emails etc. I like to think that if you remove some of the nouns like "Skip", "UPA", "Cultimate", "Wisconsin", "Brodie", the discussion could just as easily be about world diplomacy.

Right now there is a veritable globe of nations out there fighting for a voice in our sport, lets call it "Planet Ultimate". You have established powerhouses like the UPA led by people that are very knowledgeable in the sport and have been there for the bulk of the sports lifetime. Now to me, this draws a similar parallel to Europe. The UPA is also so established that some may even call it antiquated. However, there has recently been this new kid on the block known as Cultimate, which to me could draw parallels to the US, or they could be a terrorist group in the Middle East, it all depends on how much power one believes they have.

First, the birth of Cultimate is an interesting story which I will not disclose here. All I will say is that the breaking off from the UPA and starting a new organization draws significant parallels to the colonial days of the US. Now its been about 4 or 5 years since Skip began his campaign and now Cultimate has some clout. Much like international diplomacy he has reeled in some allies across the globe to assert himself as a potential powerhouse.

However, depending on the response of his new idea, he could either be the next super power or just another fledgling terrorist group. Personally, I am a big fan of Skip. He gave me a voice a long time ago and I am ever so thankful for that. However, I think he would have had more success if he had talked with teams first and then made things public. Maybe stuff gets leaked, maybe RSD gets cluttered with rumors, but if he wanted to be successful, he should have aimed for as unbiased a decision as possible. Now instead of an unbiased set of teams choosing one path or another, you have an entire population of ultimate players raising their voices and pushing and pulling for influence.

To make matters worse, Skip baulked a press release yesterday and I really didn't like seeing this. I think this plan is a really good idea, but so far Skip's execution leaves something to be desired. This is an incredibly sensitive time and when all eyes are on you, you need to shine, not buckle. Now, instead of having people wonder in amazement, their skepticism is running rampant. With this latest development, concerns regarding eligibility, refs, and 5 Ultimate jerseys (which I hear are featuring school logos, not team logos) are only getting stronger. I hope you can turn a Hodag tattoo into a badger.

But what's done is done. I wrote the bulk of this article last night before the press release debacle and I really don't want to start all over, especially considering the fact that it has been removed. I suppose I understand the utility of patience and timing when it comes to journalism, but then again, I don't have the integrity of The Huddle, so what do I know?

As for Conference 1 itself, the bulk of the pressure now seems to be on Wisconsin. They are a nation on "Planet Ultimate" that has the means to sway opinion. Maybe in real life diplomacy that means WOMD, but in our example it is simply that they are the best team in the country. Because our sport is not as organized as the NFL or NBA, the better teams have more leverage. Considering that Florida is already in, Wisconsin agreeing to become a part of Conference 1 could induce a major domino affect. I am willing to bet that Carleton will go along with what Wisconsin does on the basis that they share connections through Sub-Zero and they want to protect their rivalry. That would be 3 out of 4 semifinal teams and seeing that Colorado has looked up at Florida and Wisconsin recently, I would imagine they would follow suit. With all 4 semis teams in I think quarters teams and below will follow suit. As an aside, Skip should be in Wisco this weekend for No Wisconsequences and I imagine he will be doing some serious hand waving to get the Hodags on board. Whether or not they buy into it is another issue, but some developments can/should be in the works next week.

Another curveball is Georgia's rejection of the proposal. This doesn't surprise me too much, especially considering that Florida is on the other side of the fence. From what I can gather, these two teams really don't see eye to eye with regards to this sport. Their team mentalities could not be more different and I am willing to bet that Georgia is rejecting this proposal for the exact reasons Florida accepted it. With that being said, I am not certain what sort of affect this development will have. Like I stated before, Wisconsin is under the most pressure and this whole situation is one giant game of poker. Georgia and Florida revealed their strategies early and while I think every team is responsible for making their own choice, no one is hurt by being a bit patient, especially considering the fact that sources tell me that no time line has been proposed by Cultimate for committing to Conference 1.

However, all of this could sway in the direction of the UPA as well. Florida's commitment to Conference 1 was a nice move to establish some momentum but as Brodie concedes, "You cannot declare yourself the champion without going through the previous champion". Their commitment to Conference 1 could be short lived if the Hodags decide not to saddle up and without the champs, I can't imagine Conference 1 getting off the ground, especially with as much "all or nothing" talk that has been going around.

What's funny is that this battle ground has made its way to my little desk in New Haven, CT. My Alma Matter is one of the 25 selected teams and as such the current captain has reached out to ask for alumni input. Much like the team meetings happening all across America, people have their varying view points and ours is no different. However, rather than propagate my own agenda, and I'm sorry to say that I have one, I have simply tried to provide the captains with information from which to base their decision on. In my opinion, the best plan of attack is not to decide what is the right answer, but simply the best answer, ie the best way to handle the situation. Lots of people are tossing out a lot of "what if we boycott this" or "why wasn't this team selected" or "we could pick teams based on this", and those are just distractions from the matter at hand. Arguing for or against is a waste of time because both opinions are right and wrong. The best idea is to handle this situation delicately and carefully.

Personally, on "Planet Ultimate", I have a vested interest in Conference 1. If the sport heads down this avenue, I might be able to further my journalism career and that is exciting for me. Much like the current Presidential election, I have a sole determining factor to base my decision on and despite the fact that there are other things to consider, this brings the most clout. I suppose I should clarify what I mean here. With the Presidential election, I need to vote democrat. I need to vote democrat because my job depends on NIH funding. If the democrats are in office, tax dollars will go to research, bottom line. If the republicans are in office, they will go to some sort of war effort, bottom line. This doesn't mean I don't care about National Security or Veterans or whatever else the Republicans have on their agenda, it just means I care the most about my individual employment, sue me. I voted for Kerry, I will vote for Obama but I would have voted for Hilary or Biden if they had been nominated.

If this weren't already clear, my journalism career is the only thing I have invested right now in college ultimate. I am not a player, I am 3,000 miles away from UCSD. My current local college team is way outside these discussions and despite the fact that I care about their progress, they have made several choices contrary to my own opinion, so I can't really speak for them.

However, I still remain conflicted. I feel for teams like Arizona and Dartmouth. Erik Gafni wrote a very heart felt synopsis on RSD regarding his opinion and I know Erik and the rest of Sunburn. They were such a great team to write about and party with in Boulder and I would never want anything but the best for them. Likewise with Dartmouth. I know some of their current players like Sam Haynor as well as their alums like Kevin Garrity, Socks, and Greg Heltzer. I also know a lot of other Northeast teams that will lose out on this situation and while I believe in their cause, it is not where my interest lies.

However, what I can say, and this is how I will support them, is that their connection within their own region is their saving grace. That is the only leverage these teams have and programs like Dartmouth, Arizona, UBC, UNT, and Claremont will have to cash in on whatever relationship they have with the more recognized entities in their region. This concept, however, is not uniform across the country. This is where relations between Georgia and Florida are different than Dartmouth and Harvard. Maybe it's geographical, maybe its rooted in competition, but this is where the strain will be.

With that being said, everything is riding on these 25 teams to make a decision. For the most part, I've heard a lot of "all or nothing" discussion which seems to go in favor of the UPA. Because Skip made his announcement when he did, there is a lot of external pressure on these teams and the only way to alleviate it is to have open lines of communication between organizations, which to me posses the biggest challenge. Interactions between teams is going to be really difficult and forming a "player's union" so to speak, is going to be hard. Right now you have Florida and Georgia, two teams that used to be in the same section, acting in opposition to one another, so the prospect of having Colorado, Ohio State, and Oregon on the same page seems to be a tough pull. In addition, posts like this on RSD do not inspire a lot of confidence.

I really wish I could peak my head into that fish bowl and somehow observe the interaction that these teams are having. What are people like Jim Foster (Wisconsin), Ryan Thompson (Stanford), and Will Neff (Michigan) saying to each other? These are all the leaders of the teams involved or are the people with something to bring to the discussion table and I really think this will be a test of their maturity in this sport. The online discussions have elucidated what is at stake and much like the bailout, it will be on these representatives to make a choice. In talking with the captain of UCSD, it looks like things are still localized within email which is expected given the fact that this bomb was dropped this week. However, an unbiased discussion forum will need to be developed in order for the collective action to occur. Good luck with that.

What is even more interesting is the non-players scattered throughout these programs. UPA President Mike Payne is/was the coach of Stanford and I can't imagine him letting Stanford sign on for this. However, Stanford does not carry the clout they once did and to make matters worse, they have a recent cooperation with Skip with respect to Stanford Invite, a brilliant strategical move on Skip's part. Texas is also in this discussion as Skip is a TUFF alum. They love this guy in Austin and I would not be surprised if Texas responded positively to this opportunity. Their program's weakness has always been regional competition and while they might be leaving UNT behind, this could be a chance for them to get over a competitive hump. In reading things like this, it looks like that is the case.

In addition, take Western Washington. If there was ever a team that has benefited from powerful friends, it is them. Ben Wiggins is/was the coach and Reid Koss (WW Alum) is one of Skip's TDs. Despite the fact that they have never even been close to Nationals, they are a Conference 1 team. What about UW? They were at Nationals in 2005, they have just as much a claim to this spot as a team like UCSD. And why Minnesota and not Arizona? Each have taken turns making noise, and the later is the one not in Conference 1 but has made Nationals. The inconsistency with team selection is a big problem.

Lastly, the Hodag alumni. This is an event that has put former 'dags into a position they must be drooling over. If ever there was a group of former players that still has influence on their current team it is Wisconsin. So many alums were there in Boulder and Columbus and now they are in the driver's seat. They are the ones bringing the information to the table in the Hodag huddle and this decision is more or less the Florida Recount of the ultimate world. The winner of that vote will surely sway nationwide opinion.

In my opinion, all of these competing egos favor the UPA because signing on for Conference 1 will require a ton of collective action. It is much harder to collectively act, than to collectively not act and this is why I believe Skip is at a disadvantage. However, if the communication between these select few is stronger than that of intraregional programs, things could favor Skip. At the end of the day, all of these teams want better competition and while they may have loyalties to teams below them, each one of them wants to improve their program and it all comes down to what they believe and how they convey it. If programs like Minnesota and Texas have stronger bonds with each other, in the sense that they want to step up their program, than with their respective regional opponents, then we may see some serious collective action in favor of Conference 1.

With that being said, I think most teams will fall in line with Wisconsin. UCSD is a small player at this table and they will not lose in following suit with the Hodags and I think teams like Kansas, Oregon, Illinois, Pitt, etc.. are in the same boat. I also believe that the UPA really needs to ante up. They made a formal statement on RSD, but now is the time where their presence needs to be felt across the country. A lot of people have questioned their control over college ultimate since organizations like Cultimate have sprung up in contrast to some of their missions such as womens ultimate. In addition, I think it is pretty obvious that entities like Cultimate, Ultivillage, and 5 Ultimate have taken over the ultimate scene recently and all are acting outside the realm of the UPA umbrella which is a bit scary. The fact that such influence is outside the most powerful body in the sport is a black eye at best for the UPA and this is the call to arms that the UPA has been dodging for awhile.

Much like the communication between these college programs, it will be interesting to see what the UPA comes up with. At the very least, I sincerely hope that whatever doors are opened by this whirlwind remain open. There is nothing to lose by having elite teams talking with one another. In addition, it may be nice to have loyalties tested both at home and abroad to figure out where teams stand on this issue across the country. Perhaps if there was a little more money and uniform veteran presence in all of these programs it would be a little easier, but they will have to take what they can get.

As for my own influence in this situation, I am not going to say what these 25 teams should do or not do. I do not want to be held responsible, partially or otherwise, for whatever direction this sequence of events goes, all I want is to provide information. I am a very logical person but logic solely relies on data. If there is more data on the table, a better logical conclusion is easier to draw. Logic may seem like a black or white concept but if data is missing, a logical solution could still be wrong. If teams utilize a narrow library of data and arrive at a sound solution, the end result could still be bogus. Right now information needs to be delivered and hopefully those that have it can put their egos aside, myself included. If teams, both C1 and non-C1 teams, have as much information as possible both with regard to their own program and amongst each other, the conclusion to this event will be defensible. Teams may get hurt, but justifications will be present.

One thing I also wanted to mention with regard to Skip and money is that he is not evil or rich. He simply chose a career based on ultimate and while money is involved, so is distilling ultimate into a sport that will command the respect it deserves. People like myself and most ultimate players do not have a paycheck that depends on ultimate. However, guys like Rob and Skip do, and while we may think they are hording cash, that isn't the case. Skip and Rob are just trying to make a living. They need to pay for health insurance and rent just like the rest of us, only they have chosen ultimate to be their source of revenue, and believe me, there isn't much of it.

And as for Cyle, his history is really a question mark and speculation with regard to his relationship with Skip has been a source of speculation for sometime and now it is culminating. Skip chose Cyle as a business partner for reasons I do not know and it is not my place to know. However, he knew Cyle's past, as does everyone else, and there was going to be a day when that was going to raise eyebrows. Today is that day. I'm not saying Cyle is going to screw things over and I'm not saying he isn't. I know Cyle both professionally and personally and in addition to the fact that he is a very motivated and capable person, he has always been very nice to me, but I also can see where other folk are coming from. In working with Skip and Cyle with mssui I believe that I know where Skip is strong and where he is weak and judging from my actual relationship with Cyle, I think he can help Skip get this off the ground. But the trust issue is still a valid concern.

However, others do not share my knowledge base. They see the embezzlement issue and that is totally legitimate. If I were Cyle I would not have made my Florida monetary issue as public as he did. Once again, like announcing Conference 1 early, Cyle's inclusion is a decision that Skip is going to have to stand by. He is going to have to trust the people he has surrounded himself with, role the dice and see what happens. In addition, not only will he have to live with his choices, but also the actions that are taken in response to those choices by others in the ultimate community. So far, when it comes to tournament design and planing he has shown himself to be a brilliant revolutionary in this sport. However, this announcement, like Cyle's selection as a business partner, is incredibly risky.

As for if the proposal itself and if it will actually work, I think underestimating Skip is a mistake. A lot has been thrown around regarding eligibility, refs, etc.. and I have always felt that rejecting an idea because it seems really hard is weak. This is Skip's baby and he will work as hard as anyone to put it together. To say that he can't iron out eligibility issues because the UPA struggles with it is not exactly a solid argument. However, things like mssui and NCUS sort of came and went without living up to their hype, so I still wonder, but hey, that's what Cyle is for. It is not like Skip is all alone. He has the backing of 5 Ultimate as well as an army of TDs and associates that all have their varying skill sets. I would give Skip the benefit of the doubt. In all honesty, the only real risk teams are making when signing on with Conference 1 is if the UPA refuses to allow them to compete in the series if it busts. That is leverage the UPA has and before any team makes a decision, they need to know what reprocussions will be taken by the UPA, if any.

In the end, I think we are all going to have to wait for some developments and I think there are 4 major questions that need to be answered before any progress can be made:

1) What does Wisconsin decide to do? They are the champs and not only are they the champs but they are easily the most successful team of the last 10 years. That kind of respect is now being put to the test and the whole world is waiting for the example to be set.  As an aside, if Hector's interpretation is right, CUT's support is a huge pickup for Skip becuase unlike Harvard and Brown, Wisconsin's most relevant neighbor is in favor of the idea.

2) What does the UPA decide to do? Can/will the BOD election results provide increased action by the UPA or will the bureaucracy result in more inaction? Gwen Ambler seems to be the main focus of positive BOD discussion (and with good reason, she is bad ass) and I can't imagine her liking this idea. Can/will she be apart of the spear head operation to address Cultimate? Also, what if teams sign up for Conference 1 and it busts? Will they face punishment by the UPA?

3) What sort of follow up response does Skip/Cultimate have? A real press release? A joint effort by the UPA? Can/will they address questions that have been asked? I think people are very interested in this one but for all intents and purposes, the information could be isolated to the 25 C1 teams, so we might not know right away.

4) Is cooperation possible? This is probably the least exciting question but the most important one. Regardless of my personal connection to the situation, I can't imagine all these C1 teams collectively acting and only with cooperative action between Cultimate and the UPA can Skip progress the sport in a way he wants. This gesture alone is quite a move on his part and he needs to be prepared to deal with the UPA if/when it doesn't go down the way he wants.

Anyway, this whole digital warfare thing is pretty amazing. For me it is like a drug and I sometimes need to remove myself from it it to prevent it from taking over my life. Much like real diplomacy, alliances are made and broken all the time. There have been times when I have been on the side of the UPA and times when I have not. I have had direct discussions with Mike Payne but I have also pissed off people like Will Deaver.

In addition, my standing in the online community has also been in flux. In February, Hector seemed to be a fan of mine and now he seems to hate everything I do. It doesn't really bother me, I personally think he is just a big bully. Likewise with Ben Wiggins. We have had our ups and downs and while we were good earlier in the year, things turned ugly at Worlds and while I have the utmost respect for his playing ability and success with Sockeye, I tend to butt heads with him personally. I think the main issue there is not that one of us is right or wrong, but that we are very similar people. From what I can gather we are both attention whores, and while we both want the same thing we have chosen different routes to get it. If I remain highly involved in this sport, it is only a matter of time before we cross paths again and I really hope we can both exhibit the maturity that our constituents expect.

With this to consider, the online community is a veritible battleground. Today's allies could be tomorrow's enemies and vice versa. Boston used to hate my guts but now things seem to be a bit better, at least I hope they are. However, other people have jumped ship because I have either misquoted them, held an adverse opinion towards something tied to them, or just misspoke about this issue or that. My bad. I don't mean to piss anybody off, but I've been doing this long enough to know that someone is always going to have a reason to hate me so if you do, I'm sorry, I stopped caring a while back.

In the end, we all just need to take a few deep breaths and respond to things as they come. Trying to sort everything out on RSD is a waste of time. Right now there are dozens of threads discussing the topic in a variety of ways. We as a population of ultimate players need to first wait and see what the champs decide to do and go from there. They, as well as the rest of the college teams out there, need to communicate with those teams around them to see where everyone stands. If they sign on for Conference 1 maybe teams follow suit, maybe they won't but that is step 1 and step 12,045 is Devens, MA. When/if that day comes, I will enjoy a nice little commute to the Nationals extravaganza instead of a plane flight to the middle of nowhere. Thanks Skip. However, this could just as easily be a flare up that is forgotten as quickly as it is brought up. Relax folks, well everyone except Wisconsin, get to work.

just my thoughts

match diesel

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sarasota Thoughts

So I've decided to break my silence and toss out some spittle for the coming Florida showdown. Here are my NE Regionals perspectives and some overall thoughts and possible seedings.

I had the pleasure of actually being at this regional tournament and despite the fact that it wasn't as exciting as a year ago, it was still pretty legit. A lot of folks are talking about how good Boston is and they are absolutely right. They took the Northeast like no other team took their region and they did it without some popular standouts. George Stubbs wasn't in attendance and neither was Kurt Gibson. Will Neff told me Stubbs was out of town and I get the feeling Ironside didn't need Gibson to make the trip from Dallas, but I still think his presence would have been nice considering he didn't play at Labor Day. No one managed to get more than 8 on Boston all weekend and with their star studded '08 roster, I'm not surprised. It is a bit weird seeing guys like Holzer and Jeff Graham embrace teammates like Seigs and Josh McCarthy, but winning is the common denominator and they all want to bring gold back to the Northeast.

The only major weakness I can see for this team will be late Sarasota experience. Forch and Doug Moore won a title a decade ago, Teddy and Jasper have been there in Mixed, and there are a bunch of relics from Boston's last semis romp in 2005, but for the most part, teams like Bravo and Sockeye have a major advantage of simply having played in semis or better the last few years. Getting through quarters and onto semis in the same day will be a challenge and while Boston's scores at Regionals are impressive, they have such a mental edge on the rest of the region. Such a mental edge will be on the side of Bravo, Sockeye and maybe even Jam in two weeks and Boston will need to play their best if they want to make the performance leap of losing in quarters to making Finals.

Then again, having such an arsenal of experience from all walks of the sport really has been the boost Boston has needed. Teddy and Jasper's flair, Goldstein's leadership, Will's talent, Stubbs' athleticism, Trey and Dan Patiestas' experience, Ryan Todd and Paul Batten's speed, C-Mo's size and the presence of Jeff Graham and Danny Clark are all things Boston either didn't have or hadn't utilized fully a year ago. Last year's Boston Ultimate was an unleashed pit bull of talent but another year of training and focus has turned them into a fearless merchant of death.

As for the second team out of the Northeast, GOAT had a very expected performance. Their biggest game was probably their first contest against Bodhi and they didn't disappoint. The young guns really wanted to take out Toronto, and given their 10-12 loss at BI, they were close. However, GOAT really showed why they made semis last year and crushed Bodhi with a vengeance. Despite John Hassell having a broken thumb, GOAT's height really proved to be the determining factor. Top to bottom, Bodhi really struggled to get a good matchup and while guys like Miles, Pat Roberts, Frogger, and Upton are big, they just didn't seem to command the vertical space that GOAT does. Ouchterlony, Link, Anatoly and the rest of their mammoth team just get it done downfield and their experience within their own program as well as abroad will make them a 2-1 favorite in pool play at Natties. Eric St Amant was on clip board duty and I'm not sure if he will be playing in Florida, but either way they should have the personal to make their presence felt.

As for Bodhi, I really love watching these guys play. Everything from their cheers, to their jerseys, to their overall group mentality is really awesome to witness. They remind me a lot of Revolver in the sense that they have a ton of young talent led by some really solid veterans. However, unlike Jam, Ironside seems to have a very close relationship with Bodhi and I wonder how the future of Boston Ultimate will be organized. Setting up a farm system in Bodhi would be nice for Ironside, but I doubt guys like Andrew Hollingworth would want to play second fiddle to anyone (congrats on making Natties by the way, I know how much you wanted it).

I only caught their 3/4 game against PoNY and this was all it was cracked up to be. After taking out PoNY twice, this game was really the final showdown and PoNY looked as if they could avenge their performance woes. They had a 10-8 lead late in the game, but Bodhi's defense was insatiable. They played every cutter as tight as a prom night virgin and it was only matter of time before a turn came.

One thing that really seemed to be an issue for PoNY was how dependent they were on Seth Crockford. Yes Seth has a few rings with Sockeye but seeing him command their O-line the way Bailey Russell should have was frustrating. Seth was a D-line handler for Sockeye and he seems to take a few chances that PoNY wishes he wouldn't. He had a poor hammer turnover late in this game and while he got the D back, I think Bailey's experience and poise would have been a better offensive weapon. They just couldn't score when it mattered and despite having more than a few opportunities on DGP, they continued to show their lack of composure and conceded the hat trick to Bodhi.

They are Sarasota bound however, and that is all that matters. Sons of Liberty are a decent team mainly because they have a lot of experience with each other as New Noise and Red-Line but PoNY held their own. I was impressed that SOL had the depth to play so late into Regionals and they had a 7-6 lead at one point but PoNY wanted this game and they showed why they had the gumption to take out Boston and scare the crap out of Sockeye. But then again, we took them to 14-16 so either they are very beatable or we are just bad ass. I'll take the later.

As for seeds, this is a really tough call. Chain really didn't help their cause by falling to Doublewide but judging by their performances in previous years, a 3 seed won't limit them too much. Revolver also presents an interesting problem. They took 2nd out of the NW but that title doesn't bring the clout it once did. They only beat PoNY, Condors, and GOAT at Labor Day and a loss to Chain also doesn't help. They do have a win over Sub-Zero but I think their loss to Ring is an issue because Ring is top dog in their region and Revolver isn't. Doublewide, the Condors, GOAT, Jam, Truck Stop, and Sub-Zero also have claims to decent seeds but not everyone can be a 1/2 seed so we'll just have to wait and see what the TD comes up with. Here are my seedings.

1) Sockeye
2) Bravo
3) Ironside
4) Ring - Won Regionals, beat Bravo at Chesapeake, took JB to DGP at Labor Day, beat Revolver and Chain at Labor Day
5) Revolver - Took 2nd in a tough region, went at least .500 or better at every tournament (7), avenged sectionals loss to Jam, wins over Doublewide, Sub-Zero, and GOAT
6) Sub-Zero - Took Region, rebounded from Chesapeake and went 2-2 in a TOUGH Labor Day pool, took chances and won Heavyweights, swept series.
7) Doublewide - Yes I know this is probably the most controversial placement but I'm having a tough time with Chain's loss. They put together a great season but they lost down the stretch. DW had DGP showings against Sockeye and Bravo and their universe win over Chain is a big deal. However, I wonder if this high seed will seat them at a table they aren't prepared for.
8) Chain - Won Chesapeake and Heatout. Went 5-2 at Labor Day and their only blemish is a loss to Doublewide
9) GOAT - This is a tough call because GOAT lost to the Condors at Labor Day and I have them seeded above them. However, they owned Ring this year with wins at Labor Day and Chesapeake but I believe Ring has earned a 1 seed status because they took their region and they beat Bravo, Revolver and Chain.
10) Condors - This is also a dicey spot but the thing that has stuck out for me with regard to Santa Barbara is their 2-1 record against Jam. The SF boys are probably looking at a top 10ish seed but they lost to the Condors at Cal States and Colorado Cup. Losing at one tournament, ok no big deal, but two different tournaments? Sorry Jam; Husak, Steets and Namkung deserve to be below their former teammates. They do have a late season win over GOAT, but I think this still puts them below Toronto because the Goleta Group was less than stellar at Sockeye Invite, Colorado Cup, and Labor Day.
11) Jam - It is weird seeing Jam so low on the totem pole, but this is about as high as I can get them. Their preseason wins against Doublewide and Revolver are both erased because of Chain's loss to DW and Jam losing to Revolver at Regionals. The Condors definitely got the better of them and while they did beat Sub-Zero, I think a Regional winner is more deserving than the 3 seed out of a region that is not as dominant as it once was.
12) Truck Stop - These guys have definitely had an up and down year but I think this is as good a seed as they can get. For me, the most impressive thing about Truck Stop is that they went to Colorado. Machine is right there with them at this spot but Machine didn't make the trek and the DC crowd went and got wins against Revolver, Doublewide and Jam, not to mention a universe game against Bravo in the Finals. Their Labor Day performance really hurts them however and this is about as high a seed as they deserve.
13) Machine - A win over SZ at Chesapeake is nice, but they lost to them at Heavyweights and Regioanls. Wins over Bodhi, PoNY and SOL make the best 4th seed but its about as good as they can expect.
14) Bodhi - Put together an awesome freshman year with great showings at every tournament they played at. I feel bad for them because they got screwed by TD's all year with tough seeds at Boston Invite and Chesapeake, not to mention having to watch their biggest challenge get bids to Sockeye Invite and Labor Day. I wish their wins against Ring and Truck Stop mattered more but their Heavyweights performance reaffirmed their "New Kid" status. I think they'll get bids to the best tournaments next year and should just be happy to be at Nationals.
15) Pony - Another team that has a few big wins that just didn't precipitate to a good seed at Nationals. Beating Ironside and DW at Labor Day was great, but Series record matters a lot more and a 4th place finish just doesn't get you much in the realm of Nationals seeding. An 0-3 record against Bodhi is a major black eye for the New York crowd but at the very least, if they are better than this, they will have many chances to prove it.
16) El Diablo - Don't know much about these guys outside their record. They haven't played any other National qualifier outside Chain since July so I think a 16 seed is a well deserved spot. Prove me wrong.

I'm not going to go into pools and all that jazz mainly because these seedings will probably not be perfect and I didn't take regional rematches into account. This is just what I think thus far.

Closing Thoughts
I have been somewhat quiet the last few weeks for a variety of reasons and I'm sorry if I haven't brought the dialog that some folks have come to expect. I really love to write but my original goal was not to become the best writer in ultimate. My original goal (and this is one I have had for many years) was to be a part of Furious winning gold. I knew I would never play with them, but I wanted to be associated with it somehow. In developing my journalism career, I was able to establish the reputation to get close to the right people to put me in the seat I filled in Vancouver. I also like to think I played a small part (unintentionally) in setting up Team USA to be the over confident entity that they were in Vancouver and commentating the finals was a nice little bonus.

In addition, I also wanted to be asked to write the Club Open Preview for the UPA magazine and I got that. For me this was a big honor because it meant that the most important organization in the game recognized my skill and passion and regardless of what others might think of my writing, I got the chance to have my voice heard. Despite what folks may say about the UPA magazine, no writer in this sport would turn down this opportunity. This honor only goes to very prominent people in this sport and it was nice to be included in this little club.

Lastly, I wanted to be asked to attend Nationals. Having Furious go down at Regionals was tough on me, but it allowed me to relax a little bit because I knew that if I didn't make it Florida, it wasn't the end of the world, my boys weren't gonna be their anyway. However, part of me still wanted to go to Sarasota but rather than just go like I did to Centex, Nationals, and Worlds, I wanted to be asked. As luck would have it, I got a phone call from a prominent media entity last week who wants to employ my services for UPAs and I think I will oblige.

In the end, for me life is not about winning or losing but about getting what you want. I wanted these things and my writing has been a medium for me to achieve them. However, now I have a new set of goals that doesn't necessarily revolve around my online alter ego and that is where my focus has been. My graduate work is incredibly challenging and while I have put in the hours, my mental commitment is not what it could be and I'd like to free up my mind to see what I can come up with in the science world.

In addition, I want to step up my personal game by taking better care of myself. I've been injured since April which has allowed me to focus less on the playing aspect of ultimate and more on the observation. However, now that I am almost recovered from my Jones Fracture (sorry Muffin, I know your pain) I want to step up my commitment to my playing self. In order to do this I've decided to give up alcohol and for the last month or so things have been going really well. My new girl friend has been very supportive and I like where things are going. Check back in a few months and maybe I'll have the six pack I've always wanted.

In any event, I hope you readers have enjoyed my spittle over the last year or so. I'm not saying I'm done, but I don't know what the future holds. There will always be great stories in this game and I hope my example has shown the passionate people out there that all you need to make a name for yourself is the will and commitment to do so. I never was and probably never will be a dominant player but I like to think I've made my presence felt. Anyone can do it and I really look forward to the day when someone else actually does.

just my thoughts

match diesel