Yesterday’s pickup was missing the majority of the
sons of bitches that make pickup days so challenging a lot of our polo elders. As such, the people that remained were the folks who are a bit more easy-going, fun-time centric. You know, the rest of us.
Point in fact, we had two fresh-faced players (Chewie, a guy I work with, and Tony, a student of Trace’s wife). Both were excited to play, and both added that ever important element of newness to the game.
But, as many of you know already, even one new player can change the chemistry of a pickup day. With two, each game basically became a clinic on the fundamentals and were not at all fast paced-which is fine, really, for all of us. Since the top players were out and about doing whatever it is they do when they don’t come to polo, it was up to the rest of our club to define the day–and define it we did:
We, by way of example, didn’t reshuffle teams as is so often the case when the big boy players think a game will be one sided. The net result was a few one sided games. But, it taught the new and newer players how to defend against a stronger force, which is a lesson every bike polo player should learn.
We also spent time letting new players learn instead of rushing them or giving them a free break on shooting or putting their feet down. The relaxed day allowed for a larger focus on learning rather than on just keeping up. I think this also allowed for some pretty spectacular playing (Tony getting a goal on me–a legitimate goal–Sabrina locking down the goal like crazy and basically becoming my mortal enemy, and Chewie trying like hell to get a goal but bending his fork in the process).
I learned that, eventually, I’ll get fed up with how slow the games are being played. Yeah, I know, I know. But really, it’s hard to be used to at least a few intense games and then spending an entire day only pedaling at half speed and stopping yourself from getting frustrated by poor plays. And I get it, the majority of players are new/ newer in the club, and I’m not at all frustrated by them. By the end of the day I just wanted to pack up and hope that the next pickup day would be a little more intense.
To that same point, however, it was awesome to see us have a full bench of newer players. Sure, some old hands here and there, but a great amount of newer players, and that speaks to the health of our club and our sport. It is comforting, if nothing else, to see so many new faces.
So what it comes down to, really, is that I was happy to have a relaxed day where our new players weren’t getting tossed around by the A players of our club, and I can see the value of having B/C days of play. That being said, I sure missed being out-gunned and learning from it, too.