Archive for Interviews
The Eastside Thaw is, more or less, the start of my bike polo season. Held early in March, the Thaw is a chance to meet new players, old friends, and play the game in two of it’s more interesting varieties (these being Bench format and a random-draw team). Alias, who is again heading up the Thaw, was kind enough to answer a few questions I have for him:
I went to the Thaw last year and had a blast–as the organizer, do you think it went well?
What surprised you about running the tourney, and what have you learned from it?
What can we expect to see changing this year (and give a little run down on how it worked last year as a point of reference if you can)?
What do you think are the essentials for putting on a good tourney?
But let’s talk about icing. There’s a structural benefit to providing food at the court. It keeps players close and ready to play. Additionally, I’m providing bike valet parking for security reasons. Bikes have been stolen from Frederick at past events, so I wanted to provide this as a service/conveniance. It also looks better than a grass plot littered with bikes.
The Thaw is a pickup tourney on day 1 with a bench format tourney on day 2. Do you see this as a great way of getting the best of both worlds? Which part is your favorite of the two? Read more
Dustin has been talking to me about his polo life for quite some time now–reaching out to me after becoming a fan of Lancasterpolo.com and soforth. Well, He asked how he could get on the site, and I (being lazy and somewhat resourceful) told him an interview would do the trick–so here it is!
So who are you, and when did you start playing polo?
I’m Dus!!!! Some people refer to me as “The Polo Ambassador”. I started playing polo in July 2008.
What’s your current setup (bike, equipment, etc.)?
My current rig is a Smurf Blue Velolucuma 26er Travel. I use an Arena Bike Polo Mallet, and CCM facecage hockey helmet & gloves.
What club(s) do you play for?
I play for San Diego Bike Polo! But I learned to play in Phoenix, and I still think of them as my extended polo fam.
I’ve never been on the West Coast for anything, Polo or otherwise. What do you think makes polo different on that side of the country? What do you think we (East Coast Kiddies) could learn from you, or you from us?
Well, I don’t have a ton of tourney time outside of the Southwest region, but here in the SW, people seem to focus more on winning than having fun; even in pickup. I’ve played pickup in other regions & in Australia, and the vibe is completely different. Refreshing, too!
I played pickup with the Rochester crew, then we all went out for garbage plates at 2 in the morning. At Sydney pickup, we grilled a bazillion sausages, drank too much at the court (drinking in public parks is apparently encouraged over there!), then went to a pub where we all sang Bohemian Rhapsody as loud as we could. I care more about memories like those than about winning. I love the players in my region; many of us have known each other for quite a while. But I wouldn’t be opposed to moving to a place where fun is priority one at polo.
What’s one thing you wish would change in the sport? Read more
Hylon is one of the newer players within Lancaster United and is without a doubt one of the most well mannered. He’s impressed me both with his tenacity on the court and with his ability to read plays before they happen. I interviewed him recently to get his perspective on playing the game and where he hopes to go with it:
Tell me about your bike and your equipment
A Diamondback Ascent from the mid 80′s with nice 26″ Aeroheat wheels with Ribmo Panaracer’s which have made the biggest difference.
How long have you been playing?
A little over a year.
What position do you normally play (offense or defense/goalie/disruptor), and what position do you want to play?
Disruptor and cherry picking to stretch the defense. My goal is to be well rounded and supportive of whatever role is needed to help the team win.
What drove you to play bike polo, and what keeps you coming back?
Always looking for new challenges. I come back to improve, exercise and have fun.
What do you think you do well?
Corny as hell but its true, being a team player and playing a supportive role to give the best chance of winning.
What do you want to work on?
Everything, bike control, mallet control, marksmanship. Regarding style of play, improve patience and seeing the play develop. Ideally, I’m situating myself where the ball and myself are converging. Many of the sports I’ve played involve going to the ball with intensity and then the play ends. In bike polo, intensity can be defeating where you spend more time following rather than being in position to intercept/disrupt/receive the play.
Where do you see yourself (in this sport) in a few years?
Some of my favorite things to do are traveling and meeting people, so what could be better than traveling and playing bike polo with more regularity in new destinations.
What’s your nickname, and how did you get it?
Fat Stacks ~ I believe HBach came up with it after watching me pull out my big wad from my pants.
Anything you’d like to add?
I refer to ‘winning’ a bunch in this interview, but I don’t want to mislead what that really means. To me, ‘winning’ really means playing to the best of my abilities and having fun. I win every time when I meet those two goals. Also, I’d like to thank the Lancaster Polo community (especially Ted Hauser for the connection) for their support in keeping it fun and making it easy to play a sport that was initially intimidating.
“When there’s nothing left to burn, you must set yourself on fire.”
Or, alternately, when you haven’t anyone to interview, you should just do a little one on yourself. So that’s what I’m going to do.
Crusher is the editor and workhorse of Lancasterpolo.com and a club member of Lancaster United Bike Polo. He sat down as me to conduct this interview. We discussed playing versus understanding the sport, his rise to interweb fame, and the dangers of split personality disorders.
Tell me about your set up (bike, equipment, etc):
As far as my mallets go, I currently have a fixcraft Unibody Head attached to one of those new LT shafts (via a cleat, which I’m excited about seeing out on the market), an ARC mallet head attached to an old Fixcraft XT, A MILK head attached to an Arena Creamy shaft, and an Arena head attached to an Arena Creamy Shaft.
Everything outside of that is pretty boring. Oh, platform pedals. That’s exciting, right?
When did you start playing bike polo, and where.
I started playing bike polo in October of 2011, and I’ve always played for Lancaster United (of course, back then we didn’t have many York players and we were called Lancaster City Bike Polo). As I’ve said before on this blog, it was Horse that got me started in this whole mess, but it was the club that kept me coming back for more. It’s a good thing.
What has changed from the first time you started playing to now?
Do you mean for myself, my club, or the sport in general?
All of them, I guess.
That was kinda a shitty interview question, don’t you think?
Not very specific, I mean.
Well, anyway: asking how a player has changed from the first time they played to where they are now is kinda silly. Hopefully the answer is “quite a lot.” For one thing, I’m not rolling around on a bike from the sixties. Before playing bike polo, I hadn’t been on a bike at all since I was fifteen or so. As you can expect, my bike handling is steadily improving with time. I’m not nearly so violent on the bike now, either, as I think can be said about the majority of Lancaster United and the sport in general.
My club has changed dramatically: we have a pretty even mix of Lancastrians and Yorkers playing, with about 12-14 people coming out on the biggest days. We’ve secured two tennis courts to play on in the city (though we never do), and have a pretty good relationship with the hockey players of an outdoor rink between York and Lancaster, which we used for the Keystone Classic and for most every pickup day. We as a club are trying to be more active in the sport at large, and as such are hosting the 2014 Eastside regional qualifiers. So there.
The sport, looking at it as a whole, has changed to be a bit more regulated and a bit more intense, I think. Not more brutal – but intense. Skill is winning out against power and there are more “big name” players in the sport. Companies are springing up everywhere to make equipment, and more people who don’t play are at least mildly aware of the sport. That’s kinda fun.
So tell me about the blog: how did it get started, and how did it get to where it is now?
The blog started out of a meeting Lancaster polo players had at a local watering hole. We were talking about how to move or club forward, and people were making really great suggestions on outreach, securing areas to play, etc.
I really didn’t have anything to contribute, as I was a general miscreant and not very useful. So, semi-drunkenly, I blurted out “I’ll start a blog and stuffffffffffffff” and I kept making that “f” noise until someone slapped me.
On the walk back to my house, fighting against the small blizzard that hit Lancaster that night, I realized what a horrible mistake I made.
So I avoided it until the other Lancaster guys got angry at me, then I went ahead and just started posting stuff: jokes at other players, tips about playing, and whatever else popped into my head.
After about a year, I noticed that we were getting more visitors from out of Lancaster than from within it. After two years I noticed we were getting worldwide attention on the blog. Thus ended my hope of operating it for just long enough that I could slink away from it and nobody would be the wiser.
Sounds like you really don’t like it.
That’s an outright lie, and you’re trying to turn the people against me. I do love the blog and how much people seem to like it. It takes a lot of time, sure, but how better to spend time than talking about the sport.
I think the part I like the most is simply that I have been able to be really opinionated without people losing their minds. I think the readership understands that the majority of articles are based around opinion (not hard facts), and that works well for both of us.
You receive a fair amount of products to review for free – doesn’t that kinda make you careful about how you review them. Read more
Alias, in between preparing for the tourney(s) this weekend and murdering people with is mind, managed to sit down at his computer and allow me to interview him. He talks about how he came about coming up with the inventive structure, challenges he faced, an the rewards that come with that effort.
Totes wrote that in Terri Gross’ voice, btw.
Eastside Thaw – when did you decide to have this event?
Foremost, The Thaw is largely inspired by Polo Camp. DC Bike Polo has hosted a social tournament twice before at the nearby Frederick, MD courts. Polo Camp II was my first tournament experience, and first time meeting players from other clubs. The experience was very positive for me.
Lastly, I had noticed a theme in many posts from polo friends in other clubs. Lots of people expressed that their clubs suffer from low numbers and loss of morale in the winter. I saw a need for an early spring event to kick-start the polo season and raise spirits.
I added “Eastside” to the name because I wanted to do something to regionally make the Eastside stronger. Also, if the event proves successful, I hope for it to be culturally adopted into the annual cycle for the region. In my mind, the Eastside event calendar begins with the Thaw, and ends with Turducken. Rince. Repeat.
By time I attended the Keystone Classic and Turducken in 2012, I had talked to enough people from other clubs, and the response was positive enough that I felt like I had a green light.
You’re doing it outside of your club, right (it’s a 1 man show) – how hard is that so far?
I deserve every bit of hardship I’ve put on myself here. It is incorrect that I’ve done it all by myself. Many critical components of the Thaw were handled by members of DC Bike Polo. This is my baby, and I’ve obsessed over it for months now. It has been hard, but I did it to myself.
Tell me about the days setup and what you think you’ve done that’s inventive.
The Thaw is actually two tournaments for starters. Because of this, it also meant that players could elect to only play on one of the days without messing up the roster.
Saturday is a “Shuffle deck 3v3″ tournament. The 72 player roster was sorted into three skill groups of 24 people. Each team will have a player from each group making the playing field more competitive horizontally. Each team will have strengths and weaknesses. Players will check in and draw a card. That card will determine their team, so I’ve left it to chance–I didn’t want to try and engineer the outcome. We’ll be playing several swiss rounds, then playing a single elimination bracket. Stats for individual players are significant because they will determine who are the team captains for day two.
Before we rush off to day two, we return to DC and have a big house party in the heart of the district. No survivors.Sunday is a “Schoolyard Bench” tournament. The 8 players that became team captains on day one will do a player draft, and all players will arrive knowing what team they are on. There will be one pre-bracket match to get to know your team, and then the teams will fight it out in a double elimination bracket.
2 – 6′ x 4′ goals will be used.
You billed this as a new-player friendly tourney – why is that important to you? Read more
So happy to say that, after a THRILLING and HEATED battle of entrants, our own Horse J. Krofcheck has been elected as an Eastside rep for the NAH. I asked him a few questions about his new position:
So, You’re an Eastside rep now – what are your duties?
Nothing. Just trying my damnest to make sure polo stays as awesome as it is.
(Editor’s note: ^I line him up for some humor and he comes back with boy scout earnestness. What a jerk)
THANK YOU to our new reps – you’re helping our sport move forward and I wish you the best of luck during your appointment. Expect an email from me, Pierre and Sprinks. I wanna getta know ‘cha.
1. You won! How Does it Feel?
2. How did you come up with the idea for the name (which was, so we all remember, to not change the name?)
Listen, I’ve tried to name MANY things before, its an awful exercise to undertake, I named my last team for North Americans after the OKCupid profile of a guy who was messaging my ex-girlfriend. Your moderately widely read blog already had a name, so why put yourself through that torture.
3. That’s about as far as I want to go with the contest – tell me a little bit about your setup (bike, equipment, etc.)
As you know, I enjoy interviewing polo players and getting their perspectives on our goofy little sport. Naturally this leads to me begging lots of people to give me an hour of their time to answer my simple, Cosmopolitan style questions.
So far, not a single person has turned me down, but that all changed last week when I innocently asked Lumberjack if I could interview him for the blog.
He said no.
When I asked him why, he made a “I just ate a whole lemon” face and shook his head. I think that means something, but I don’t speak the language of the woodland realm, so I’m not sure.
But he did give me permission to falsify the interview, so – without further ado:
Lumberjack, thank you so much for doing this interview with me – my first question: what is your current setup on your bike/equipment?
I am currently riding the Fixcraft Prototype bike with a bunch of parts that help make it move.
Could you be more specific?
Alright then. When did you start playing bike polo?
I played bike polo before you were born, but when I did that it was on grass and we actually had to try to pedal a bit more. Now we’re playing it on the hardcourt and it’s much easier. I started playing with Lancaster’s players a few years ago. I’ve been playing with your fools ever since.
What’s your favorite part of bike polo?
Ignoring questions like that.
What’s you’re least favorite part? Read more
Sabrina came to Lancaster United as a general unknown – she knows Ted, but that was about it. Even so, she jumped in with both feet and is progressing nicely. She’s already got the shit talking down, and that’s kindof the most important element of bike polo, right?