Tag Archive for Bike Polo Tournament

Wanna Win $1,000? (Yes, Really)

CommClass

I was recently approached by Boston Bike Polo with a very interesting email subject, which in fact made me think that it was a scam email–but following the worst impulse possible, I opened the email and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was not, indeed, someone who was trying to get my bank account number. Point in fact, it was a notification of the 2014 Commonwealth Classic!

Being interested in the Classic, I interviewed a representative from the club (read: the person who was offered up to me by Boston as the sacrifice) and learned a bit more about what kind of magic possessed them to have a $1,000 prize:

Tell me a little about your tournament–is there anything in particular that separates it from other tourneys (any weird rules, is it a standard 3v3?)

The Commonwealth Classic is the most classic classic out of any other polo classic that ever has been. 20 teams have the chance to compete at Boston’s notorious home court. Only three will ride with away with the Commonwealth Cup. We will be playing with the generally accepted NAH rules with a few caveats to encourage play styles currently trending in Boston. Think relaxed Boston pick-up, but way better.

Commonwealth ClassicWhat were past Commonwealth Classics like? What is the makeup of players? Very competitive or very laid back?

Historically, the Commonwealth Classic has attracted a crowd who absolutely appreciates autumn polo. Nothing really says “321-polo” quite like the colorful leaves, crisp New England air and fully torqued polo players bulging net. We’ve only got one court, so it tend to be quite a fun and cozy tournament,

What are some of the sweet, sweet prizes people can win–if any?

Get this: the team who plays the best polo gets ten hunnit dollars. Simple as that. We’re planning on giving away a bunch of other rad prizes too , but we’re really trying to lure in everyone with those greenbacks.

 What about creature comforts (hotels? travel to courts? Drinking rules? foods to eat?)

Boston club members intend to put up any and all who wish to travel from near or far to join us. We’ll make sure you’re happy warm and ready each morning with hot coffee, breakfast and Bloody’s.  PBR will be joining us to make sure everyone is properly hydrated.

Anything you’d like to add?

We’re really excited for this. Right now the poloverse is preoccupied with Worlds and what not, but we know by the time October rolls around everyone is going to be itching for a fun/awesome/competitive tournament. Hope to see you there!’
Wanna know more? Here’s the LoBP (ALL HAIL!) page: https://leagueofbikepolo.com/the-commonwealth-classic-2014

NAHBPC 2014: A Reporter’s Dairy, Final Day +1

2014-07-14 10.00.11

Several things happen on the morning of Sunday, July 13th. For one thing, the smell of our hotel room becomes so unbearable that I find myself unable to go in and out of it without feeling the deep-down need to vomtron 5000. It’s been so bad that the cleaning folks won’t even change the sheets anymore.

Secondly, I am tired of the waffles at the continental breakfast. They’re free, so I eat them (this is actually what the giant insect space aliens are going to say when they stumble across our country/planet in the future, too), but I do so without any enjoyment. Corvus has the first game on court A, so we leave a touch earlier than the other two days. I wear my bought-in-Roseville salmonish shirt and realize almost instantly that it does not breathe. I begin to sweat like mad at the courts.

The final thing I notice quickly is how beautiful all of the women look today, and I know that I miss having Caitlin around to pal around with.

I watch the Corvus v. Dauphins game and have high hopes in the beginning that Corvus will win. Sure, the Dauphins has that lovely fellow Jacques who treated (and continued to treat) hurt polo players throughout the tournament–but Corvus is full of Pennsylvanians, club mates, and longstanding friends. I have my priorities.

The game itself, despite my hopes plays out differently. After an early Dauphins goal, Horse responds with a slap shot from the side, answering with a point of his own. It strikes me as an even match up until the last 2 minutes, when Dauphins turns up  the heat and dismantles Corvus with a 5-3 win. Everyone seems happy with their performance (recognizing the after-loss mile long stare that happens to everyone). Horse tries to take the rust off his bike.

2014-07-13 13.43.35And that’s kind of the theme of the whole tournament. The people at the tourney are jovial. It’s the last day but it still feels like a very competitive pickup day. I manage to slip into conversations and groups without feeling like I’m interrupting, and feel even more comfortable talking to folks that I otherwise would be too intimidated to (here I think of Kremin, who was more than willing to chat me up about his injury and plans, Joey of the Beavers who stops under our tent to shake my hand and talk about playing with Simpson, and Andrea–the person who broke her ankle (I get nervous talking to beautiful women, I start stuttering a lot, you see), about how she’s feeling and what she plans to do about the injury). I don’t know if it’s because the weather was so miserable the two days before or not, but the whole atmosphere of the final day is one of enjoyment and relief. The weather itself is better than anyone could ask for. The air is filled with cottonwood seeds, white and downy they fall like patchy snow across the courts and players and ground. It’s wonderful to behold but they are so ephemeral that I can’t get a single picture of them. In hindsight this makes me happy, as I want them to be something just for us at the tournament (I’m sure someone did get a picture of them, however, but I don’t want to see it).  Read more

NAHBPC: A Reporter’s Journal, Part 2

2014-07-13 15.24.08

Sleeping in a room with five other men is something that I don’t necessarily recommend for anyone, but somehow (exhaustion, I think) I sleep well Friday night, despite Sprinks straight up stealing my pillow when I turn to shut of the air conditioner and my pillow drops off the bed Horse and I are sharing. I spent, like, 2 minutes looking for the pillow until I realized Sprinks sucked it up underneath his head like an octopus hiding away a clam shell. I try to be angry, but he looks so happy to have it I can’t be.

After a quick breakfast flanked by Koyo and John Hayes (wherein we discuss the Assassins’ victory over the Beavers once more), I hit a Wal-Mart to:

1. Feel bad about humanity

2. Get drinks and ice for Corvus/NASA

3. Buy a perfectly lovely $3.00 shirt that I might actually wear after the tourney–if I’m able to pack it in my tiny bag (I was able to, dear reader).

2014-07-12 09.49.56When I get to the courts there is a light, frustrating sprinkle (not the pillow thief), and it’s clear that the humidity is much higher than the day before. As a man who sweats as soon as it gets above 60 degrees, I pray to the elder polo gods that there is some kind of breeze to push away the polo stank of 2-day ripe players. I plant myself in the pop tent that Rodney provided us to write a bit and get out of the rain/cool myself. I’m joined by Horse and Sprinks of Corvus, who seem relaxed–and well they should be. They performed well enough yesterday that they were guaranteed a spot on Sunday. Others here, however, are fighting for that honor. It’s and interesting mix of relaxation and stone-eyed focus. For my part, I’m getting more and more nervous about the rain.

2014-07-12 09.15.25I pop over to Mr. Do’s command tents to talk to sweet Jenn and the crew. I confirm with them that they were indeed getting shocked during filming the day before (okay, so they were shocking each other, more or less), and that they are very well prepared for the work they need to perform. Indeed, to me they seem the most prepared out of anyone at the tournament–having taken position under several tents on the side of A court & having a very exciting-looking scaffolding structure upon which they are filming games. The whole team is exceedingly pleasant to me but also clearly quite busy in getting set up and filming, which I am able to certainly excuse. We’re players in the same game, after all: Mr. Do’s team covering the visual, factual side of the sport and me covering the almost-impossible-to-verify, bullshit side. I tip my Pith helmet to them before moseying away to watch Nino Dios (they have a little ~ in their name, but I can’t find the key to put it in place. Forgive me) and Los Quatreros Unitos play, wherein Miguel of LQ proves he’s still at the top of his game. Read more

Spirit of Polo: The Cheap Trip Challenge!

spirit

The only reason I’m able to go the North American Bike Polo Championship is because the readers of this blog made it possible through donations. I’m constantly aware of this, and as such I want to make sure I’m being as prudent as possible with the money forked over to me.

This is precisely why (okay, that’s an outright lie, but it still works) I went with Spirit Airlines as my plane-of-choice to get to Minneapolis. Spirit—for those of you who don’t know—is the airline of bottom-line service. Basically, your ticket gets you a plane ride. Everything else costs lots of money (a regular sized carry-on costs thirty-something bucks, as does checking your bag one way, meaning $60 some dollars in total).

The thing is, Spirit is rated the worst airline by passengers for this very reason: along with the apparent cattle-like experience that passengers say the flight itself is like. But for a guy who is trying to travel on donated money, cheap is cheap, and I’m willing to give it a go.

Really, I feel worse for my travel partner, Horse, who is built like a regular sized human and will surely have cramps by the end of each flight.

But I thought if nothing else, travelling cheaply as possible would provide entertainment for you polokins, and what else am I but a fool for you. So I’m playing a little game called The Spirit of Polo: The Cheap Trip Challenge!

The rules are super simple:

  • I will find every single way to save money on this trip (within the rules of reason)
  • I will try to “live off the land” in Minneapolis (beg/borrow/steal)

So far, I’ve saved money by not buying any baggage space on the Spirit flight (saving myself $60 bucks right from the get-go). I’m planning to hit up a thrift shop/Walmart when I touch down for the cheapest clothes I can find, and perhaps a quilt for sleeping. I’m positive I can spend maybe $30 bucks on enough to get me through the 4 days I’m in Minneapolis, cutting my overall baggage costs in half. Spirit allows me a purse sized carry on for free, so I’ll be able to bring my voice recorder and notebook to do the reporting dance (maybe—and this is a big maybe—I’ll be able to fit my netbook. We’ll see).

I’m truly worried if I’ll be able to fit my Pith helmet in my pursebag. I’m going to try to wear it during check in and get by the restriction that way—but there is a good chance they’ll tell me I can’t wear a helmet on a plane, and then I’ll just have to play it by ear (if worse comes to worse, I can put it in Horse’s checked bag. But that wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining for my readers, so I’m hoping against hope.

In the spirit of bike polo, I’m also planning to eat as cheaply as possible—meaning I foresee a bunch of horrible eating decisions in my near future. 4 days of ramen, here I come!

Anyway, seeing as though it’s the week of North Americans now, I’m getting jazzed about this trip. I hope to meet a bunch of you there (I’ll be the short guy hopefully wearing a pith helmet and carrying a notebook).

 

ESQ 2014: A Lancastrian Report, Part II

2014-06-01 07.27.32

Read Part 1 here

Sunday: Moar Polo, Moar Pain.

I wake up on Sunday a bit early to run off with Sean and get supplies for pancakes (his idea). He’s camped out in my yard via a hammock and when I wake him he’s instantly up and running, which reminds me just how old I’m becoming.

We get pancake mix, maple syrup (which, inexplicably, costs one dollar more in the organic aisle than it does in the regular store aisle) and I pick up a six pack of Gatorade for the day.

Sean takes over my kitchen though I do manage to make some cinnamon rolls. He makes pancakes and I wake up the other house guests for breakfast. It’s good. There is a special Deco pancake and it makes me happy inside.

Not that I ate it–I’m saying it just made me feel special, is all.

Photo Credit: Steve Bourque

Photo Credit: Steve Bourque

Anyway, we get going kind late and make it to the court with a few minutes to spare before our first game against Sweaty Jerkx (Sean, Sara, and Tucker). We realize that we’re the lower team out of the two of us, and we shore ourselves up for a hard game–which it certainly was.

During the game I have a teeny weeny crash with a team-mate and land on my shoulder, which make a series of noises that I’ll liken to pouring milk over puffed-rice cereal. After the snap, crackle, and pop, I make it back onto my bike and roll into goal long enough for our team to score another goal, making the score an even 3-3.

I don’t know if it was because of the crash or what, but I forget that there aren’t ties on elimination day. I hop off my bike and let the pain-waves run through my arm. Nick and Sara come to me, as does Blackburn (the ref of the game) I have Nick look at my shoulder and he says it looks fine (which later is concerning to me, as previous to the crash I had a bone poking up from a previously broken collar bone, which I don’t seem to have now). Blackburn explains that if I’m alright, we need to get going–so I get going off the court only to have Eric tell me that it’s a tie.

I remember then that we are in overtime, and sheepishly put my helmet back on and line up again. We end up getting a winning goal and I roll off the court and assess the damage: it hurts.

Photo Credit: Steve Bourque

Photo Credit: Steve Bourque

From that point on, it’s a matter of me trying to figure out just how much I can do with my shoulder. fortunately it’s not my mallet arm–but squeezing the brake is very difficult, and pulling the handlebars even moreso. Our next match is against White Fang and we are expecting a fair wash, which is exactly what happens (5-0 White Fang). I sit in goal most of the time and am thankful when the match is over. I take another handful of ibuprofen and sit down. Read more

And so it begins: ESQ2014 week

poster_1

In just a few short days, polo players from all over the Confederated Clubs of Unilateral Animosity will converge on Lancaster City to take part in the Eastside Qualifier. These are players from all across the mid-to-north Atlantic and beyond, hoping to secure a spot for North Americans and, presumably, Worlds.

This is the first year Lancaster has hosted the qualifier, and we’re very excited to have so many people in-town to try out our whoopie pies and meet our kinfolk. We are likewise excited to get the whole damn thing over with so we can go back to not stressing out about it. TBH.

There are just a few things I’d like to bring up as a service to those players who are coming, and to all players who go to tournaments in general.

1. Join the event Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1452643218312628/ 

Join this page if you’re going to the tournament–it’s going to be where we give last-minute announcements and co-ordinate tourney events. If you’re confused about something, post your question there (or, hopefully, you’ll find some explanations on the page to help clear the air.

cheers2. We’re a big-small town: 

While you aren’t polo-ing there will be lots to see and do (we have a thriving downtown and lots of great bars/foodie places to hit up. That being said–we are also the kind of city where everyone knows everyone.

Basically, if you’re rude, it’s probably the case that you’re being rude to someone one of us knows and likes. Try to be on your good-time behavior. Lancaster is full of very nice, bicycle/bikepolo minded people, and we’d like to leave a good flavor in their mouths about the whole experience. PLEASE DO THIS FOR ME.

3. Lancastrians like to start promptly and as such we will be starting at exactly 9AM on both days. If you aren’t here, we’ll start the match with whoever from your team is. If none of your team is present, we’ll start the match without your team present. That’s just the way it goes. I’d suggest planning on being at the tournament field by 8:30 or so just to be sure.

4. NO DRINKING: no drinking no drinking no drinking no drinking no drinking. No drinking, no drinking. “No,” drinking.

If you can’t not drink on the tournament grounds, I suggest you call these folks here  and get yourself into treatment. After the first night of the tourney (and, chances are, after the second night, too) we’re going to have places for you to go and have a great time drinking to your heart’s content. However, we’d really appreciate if you–again–let us keep the great relationship we have with the city.

Park rangers will be patrolling the park and looking for those breaking the rules. They are rangers, so I mean…they probably have crossbows or something. Don’t force them to use them.

ref5. We will side with the refs 99.5% of the time so don’t try to find us if you don’t like a call some ref made. They are all certified through the NAH’s ref certification course, and their court is their castle.

If they really mess up, then yeah, we’ll address it–but generally speaking, their decision is their decision. If you go freaking out on our poor refs we’ll be happy to eject you from the game. It will make us feel powerful and mighty.

6. I will bother the hell out of you. Tourneys are pretty much article gold for me, so you just be on the lookout for some little fellow with a Pith helmet on. I’ll be snapping pictures and pushing my tape recorder in plenty of faces. Just accept fame. Just accept it.

I look forward to meeting you all (again). Best of luck!

2014 Eastside Thaw: A Reporter’s Diary, Day 2

2014-03-09 10.39.06

When I wake up, it’s to the gentle sounds of my phone’s impression of wildlife. From the point I lift my hand up to switch it off, my body is screaming in pain.

My fingers are swollen, my wrists won’t bend, my elbows feel like they’ve been shattered and my shoulders aren’t even pretending to be functional.

My neck is strained, by back aches, and my spine is a’screaming.

My legs are pretty alright, though.

So it’s in this state that I wake up the rest of those staying in the room: Kyle by shaking his shoulder, Horse by Kyle’s exclamations, and Yeager’s already up just by virtue of the noise everyone else makes. Then it’s a round robin of people trying to stretch and realizing their bodies aren’t quite into it, and then staring blankly at the wall or phones or anything and wondering if maybe not playing for 2 months makes the first tourney a bit hard to get through.

The answer, dear reader, is yes.

squidbagBut we trudge to breakfast where I begin to gather the extent of the uselessness of my hands. I can’t quite manipulate the fork or knife, and sitting up straight is difficult. Still, I eat the mysterious yellow sponges and meat circles and head back upstairs to dress for the day.

The 1 minute bike ride from the back of the hotel to my car hurts in ways that I will never be able to express.

The second day is a bench tourney, wherein about 9 players are joined by a captain who chose them. While I had my doubts as to how Alexis perceived my performance the day before, it seems I did well enough to get picked up into his team.

“I think you and I have a good feel for each other now,” he says to me, “so we’ll have a little advantage in there.”

I think about telling him my ailments, but Ben Z. is within earshot and I don’t want him to give me his judgement face.  Read more

Workday Before Tourney: What The Hell Is The Point?

WHY

I spent the better part of my morning before work figuring out how to attach my bike rack to our “new” car. It has a little, useless spoiler and the cut of the trunk made it a longer operation than I care to admit. Still, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the whole frustrating process.

The night before I assembled a backup mallet and organized my polo bag/travel bag. I put together my reporting gear. I got my pith helmet and walked around in it for a while, just so it’d remember my scent.

And then I slept and dreampt of Alias telling me I won the Tri-Wizard Cup the ref tshirt and that I never had to go back to work again, because I was now a celebrity, somehow.

But then I woke up, put that rack on eventually, and came to work.

And what the hell is the point of that.

I keep thinking about travelling down, my mallets in the back of my car popping up over the seat. I’m thinking about picking my card and meeting my team-mates, how disappointed they’ll be when I explain that I’ve only played once in the last two months and I’m entirely out of shape. I’m thinking about my helmet and my gloves and the water bottle I probably should have cleaned out before packing. God that’s going to be ugly inside.

What I’m not thinking about is work. I can’t. I’m here, I guess, but I’m not here. I didn’t need to take the day off but now I’m really thinking I should have just for the sake of not cheating them out on money. Sure, I keep opening and closing documents over and over, but that will only work so long before someone notices that I’ve got 65 open, blank word files on my desktop. Maybe I should try moving over to excel? People seem to stare at empty excel files for hours while they are actually trying to do work.

The workday before the tourney is the most perfect farce. I’m here and I’m somehow not wearing polo tourney clothes, but that’s about all that’s going on. I’m running through the checklist of things I packed/forgot to pack, imagining hitting the ball, and virtually tasting the cool, refreshing, first-PBR-of-the-season gulp I’ll experience at some point this weekend.

Okay, it’s not so bad. only 7 more hours to go.

 

UGHHHH

Shake off the Winter Blues: It’s (almost) Polo Season

Distant Elmo

Friends, we’re almost there.

March is here and that means that polokins everywhere are going to be coming out of their caves and log cabins to crack open a High Life and get to work on the 2014 NAH/Tourney series. While it still might seem like a ways off right now, the truth is it’s just around the corner, and that’s certainly something to get excited about.

2014: The Year of Rules

As for this humble editor, I’m seeing this year as one that is more or less focused in on the new rule set we’ve been given this year–namely the interference rules and how they’re going to play out in actual game play. A good thing about these new rules is that they seem to be focused on evening the playing field a bit and are likewise some of the most articulate we’ve seen in our sport. A bad part, I fear, is that to actually enforce the rules will take more than just 1 ref.

Consider this: if there is an interference call to make, the infraction needs to occur near the ball carrier or the ref needs to not be watching the ball carrier (which opens them up to more missed calls). Really, I think this can be avoided by giving more power to the goal judges to signal that an interference infraction as occurred (which the ref can then choose to recognize or not), but that level of power doesn’t currently exist for the goal judges.

So, like I said, I think there are going to be some late night meetings and long forum discussions on the interference rule. Furthermore I see at least one helmet thrown in anger per tourney until we get to NORTH AMERICANS JOE RSTROM, where people will either have worked it all out or simply given up.

NAH Qualifiers Feel like Qualifiers

This year I also think we’ll see the rise of more well-run qualifying tourneys. No, I’m not saying every single qualifier in the past was horrible: I’m saying that it’s just a natural matter of course. As we progress, we’ll get better at doing things. This year, we’ll get better at throwing the qualifiers. Clubs are getting more time to prepare, to make inroads with local businesses and motels, and are securing great spots to host. I think it’ll be a banner year for the qualifiers and set the bar for what comes next.

This is also the year that the Mexico Region will host it’s first (I think, right?) Qualifier. Altogether exciting, the Mexico qualifier is going to be a fun one to watch with teams that most of us are relatively unfamiliar with–for now.

 

The Year of The Newbie

Let me qualify that statement: the 2014 season will bring about a heavy focus on gaining more players (and those players going to tournaments). This is more of a wish, I think, but it’s about time we get another big injection of new players into tourneys and clubs, and as a club member, it’s your job to make that happen.

The sport is beginning to get some footing as far as folks recognizing it, and that means it’s time for bike polo clubs to actively recruit players (instead of just accepting them when someone stumbles into a pickup day). Put out flyers, get the slightest bit involved in your community, and you’ll see a drastic influx of newer players.

Yeah, it’s rough for more veteran players to take on new players, but you’re tending to your future, not your present. Without heavy recruitment every once and a while your club is going to falter.

Tourney Interview: Alias and the Eastside Thaw

Thaw 2

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?

It started out a bit touch and go, but eventually I got into a rhythm and things smoothed out.  It was my first tournament in a lead role, and while I was pretty prepared for the known-unknowns, a few of the unknown-unknowns got me.  I definately had a lot of lessons learned, and I’m more prepared for this year.

What surprised you about running the tourney, and what have you learned from it?

Eastside Thaw  (14)You’ll want to be in more than one place at once, and you’ll panic the most when you don’t have something to do.  What I’ve learned is largely about what prep-work can be done beforehand.  Attempting to do early morning court setup, and the card draw was a mistake.  It took too much time, and cut into play time.  The lesson here is to have a check-in event the night before.  This year, we’ll have evening access to the courts on Friday until 10:00pm.  We’ll do the card draw then, and it will have the added benefit of encouraging players to arrive on Friday instead of early Saturday morning.  I think adding this sort of feature to an event gives me as an organizer an administrative buffer to catch any details that slip throu… are you still awake?

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)?

Eastside Thaw  (15)Like I said, card draws on Friday.  This will speed things up on Saturday.  I also have a better plan for how to do the bench team draft.  This should make it easier on the captains.
We are at two identical inline hockey courts, so there’s a better symetry in all the games–no more dead boards.  The courts are very large, so players that are used to tennis court games will find that the games will take more out of them.  This will matter a lot more during the bench games.

What do you think are the essentials for putting on a good tourney?

Eastside Thaw  (49)A good relationship with your parks & recreation department/office (or whatever host location you are using).  No event exists without a place to play.  Everything else is icing.

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.

Lots of what I’m able to provide comes from local bike-shop support and partnership.  Involvement with your local shops goes a long way.

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