So you you remember when I had that caption contest a while back? No? Well then…awkward…Anyway – Evan Cromer won the caption contest and as such had the great fortune of being interviewed by me (stop laughing).
Tell me a little about Indiana bike polo – how was it organized, how long have you played?
Indianapolis Bike Polo began in 2008, originally playing under Highway bridges downtown, and randomly using tennis courts around the city as well. I began playing in 2009 after hearing about it from a friend of mine, Keith Cruz, who started Indy’s club. Kieth and I have worked with the Indianapolis Parks department over the past few years to secure a permanent location for our club: an underused set of tennis courts just north of downtown Indy. The courts were resurfaced and painted specifically for bike polo, and we have since built 4ft walls this year.
This is Indiana’s first permanent polo court but not our last. I think it is also important to note that we have also formed the Indiana Bicycle Polo Cooperative, founded in 2010. We have five cities that are currently included in the CO-OP, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Lafayette, Muncie, and Bloomington. The purpose for the CO-OP is to ensure that each city has the resources and insurance to approach their own parks departments, to inquire about securing their own places to play. By using each city as part of the same club, we are able to use the same insurance policy, which helps keep costs low, and legitimizes our cause.
What’s your current bike polo setup (bike, equipment, etc).
Headset: Chris King
Wheels: Surly polo hubs laced to Salsa Gordo’s, panracer ribmos 1.5″
Brakes: TRP M920 Linear Pulls with a custom Avid dual pull lever
Stem and bar: TruVativ T30 alloy stem with a TruVativ T40 carbon straight bar
Gearing: 35X22 MKE polo chainring mated to a cheap ACS freewheel
Pedals: XTR clipless
Mallet: MKE pole(43″ long) to a UHMW head (4 1/2″ in length)
Protective gear: LAS road Helmet and lacrosse gloves
What position do you play the most?
Goalie during league play or tournaments. During pickup, anything goes.
What do you focus on the most as a Goalie? What do you focus on the least?
The two things I try to focus on the most are blocking shots(obvious), and also giving my teammates a play by play of what is happening on the court between them, when they are open, and when they need to be doing something differently. You have to remember that when your teammates are out playing their hearts out that you are their extra set of eyes and ears, a coach of sorts, if they could see what you can see, you will have a much more cohesive team.
I focus the least on outside noise from spectators. They may only be trying to help by telling you what is happening or what you should be doing, but deviating from your game is never a good idea, if you want to try new things, do that at pick up.
Are there shots made on you in goal that are just impossible for you to block (or that you wish you could block better)?
Top shelf and airborne shots will always be impossible to block, if you do get a chance to block one, it will be pure luck. My biggest weakness is when an offensive player is bearing down on me quickly, I will begin to move forward enough to see if I can interfere with their shot with my mallet. This leaves my back door open and also changes the area of where I am accustomed to my five hole being. There are a few people who found this to be my area of weakness, but were also nice enough to help me understand what I was doing wrong, so I have been a little better in that respect as of late.
When getting prepared for blocking a goal (the ball carrier is bearing down on you), what are some things that are running through your head – do you take a certain position or look for certain signals from the ball carrier?
Keeping my back door closed, and angling my bike out about 30 degrees, I will stay in that place. I no longer watch the offensive players eyes, as they do not tell the whole story. Follow the head of the mallet at all times, it will tell you exactly what shot they will take. Most importantly, wait for it, and once they are drawn in, use your mallet to extend out to them, giving them a smaller window of opportunity to make a goal. The same principle applies for a shot on goal from further out, with the exception that you can move forward in goal if needed to cover the front door with your front wheel.
Should goalies roll out of goal and defend the 1/3rd or 1/2 of the goal when the ball is in the other team’s half or should the goalie stick to the front of the goal specifically?
Depends on the situation, and the court size. If your offensive players are handling the other team well, you can easily come out of goal and play 1/2 court defense, allowing your teammates to utilize you for an offensive move if necessary. However if they are being manhandled on the court and there is a breakaway every ten seconds, you will need to stay in goal. Also, on smaller courts (120-130ft long), it pays to stay in goal. It is common practice for people to shoot on an open goal from 1/2 to 3/4 court length and still score a goal. In tournament play, I do not want to feel responsible for those easy goals to be the difference in a win or a loss for my team.
How often do you travel for bike polo? Ever play outside of your region?
I try to travel a few times a year, maybe half a dozen or so. Most travel is done in region, which is great because the Midwest has so many clubs in a central location. If you don’t get a chance to travel you don’t get a chance to play against other talent, and make new friends. I love the polo community and their willingness to take in anyone that loves the same sport they do. Of course I would love to travel more, but having a full time job, a wife, and being 35, it just doesn’t happen as much as I would like. I have never played outside of my region.
What’s your opinion on shuffle goals?
I have read many opinions on this, and most people make a valid argument for both sides of the debate. My opinion is that a skilled player does not need to utilize a shuffle to score goals. Let’s keep skill a part of the game we love and not allow shuffles to count as goals.
What are a few things you’d like to see change in the sport – and what is the one thing you’d hate to see change?
Change is something I am never fond of, but polo seems to grow organically. I have seen so much progress in the last three to four years, that it is hard to tell where we will be at come 2017. Let’s keep playing for the love of the game, and ensure that the players are the decision makers, I am not ready to see polo become too commercialized yet.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for allowing me the chance to answer these questions for you. If you, or anyone reading this, happens to be in or around Indianapolis, please feel free to come play, drink beer, and crash on our couches, we would love to have you.
Thanks to Evan for a great interview to add to the collection and for providing such great answers. You can learn more about Indy Bike polo here on facebook or on their site indybikepolo.org