1. Travelling 9 or so hours is reasonable by car: It really wasn’t that bad, honestly. We had good rotation on who was driving (though Lumberjack did do the most wheel time), and we didn’t push ourselves to not stop whenever the mood struck. I’d say we took a wee wee/leg stretch/combo wee and stretch break every 3 hours or so. We also had lots of good conversation and goofing off, which helped even more.
2. GRACIOUS AND OPEN HOSTS OH MY GOD: I have been to a handful of tourneys, but Masters was the first one where I felt truly comfortable the entire time in regards to the hosting club and what they were willing to do. I don’t know if it was just a Midwest thing or what, but when we arrived we were greeted with open arms and open beers. Then we were fed dinner and dessert. And then in the morning we were woken to the smell of egg muffins and vegan muffins. And then we were treated to a full spread picnic lunch about halfway through the tourney.
and then after the tourney, Nick and Krystalynn let anyone who wanted get a shower (which 3M did happily, as we had a nine hour drive ahead of us) and made arrangements for folks to meet up for drinks and food at a local pub.
And during every step I never felt like an inconvenience or unwanted. In particular, Kristalynn was always happy and smiling and going out of her way to help polo players out, and I just can’t express how much that meant to someone who was so far from home and in a strange land.
3. We can kill our heroes: Jon Lomax and Greg Russo have been two of the people I kind of thought invented Eastside polo. They were two folks who I didn’t even imagine myself being able to play against without imploding. At to that duo a third team-mate, Rob Glatfelter (who I never really knew until this tourney but was introduced as a brute force and skillful player via Lomax), and you have little Crusher accepting his fate. But through a mix of two amazing team-mates and drive, we (3M) managed to beat them when we played against them in double elimination.
Don’t get me wrong, they went on to beat us in a rematch and then win the whole tourney – but we were the only team to get a win on them, and that means a lot to a little guy from a little polo club. It made my generally fragile ego bolster up quite a bit, and if that was all this tourney was good for, it was well worth it.
4. Serious games without serious faces: I’m not going to say that the tourney was devoid of negative emotion – that’d be a gross overstatement. However, I will stick by this statement: the emotion mostly stayed on the courts, and overall nobody was giving out laser death eyes. Most people played super serious but were all laughs and back slaps immediately following – and that made the tourney much more fun.
5. I got 99 problems but a spoke ain’t one: Horse had a pretty cataclysmic event with his back wheel – one that left him scrambling to borrow other folks’ to complete the tourney. Could it have been completely avoided with a wheel cover? Maybe not, but my money is on yes. I get why folks don’t have wheel covers for pickup – but at a tourney you just need to lock down the possibilities of balls going through your spokes or, in the case of Horse, handlebars tearing out 1/2 of them.