Tag Archive for Bike Polo Tournament

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

To Answer Your LoBP Question: You Are A Brat

brat

On February 26th, a post went live on LoBP (All Hail) which discussed a recent tourney in Arizona (DPI 6). The gist of the post (I invite you to read it here and scurry back) was that the writer expected lots of prizes to be handed out in a particular way, and that didn’t happen.

In particular, many of the items that were given by sponsors to the organizers were raffled away, with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams getting only a few of the prizes overall.

The rest was raffled to whoever wanted to enter for tickets, which resulted in items going to some players, some fans, and a few local folks, too. This frustrated the writer of the post (I don’t know the person other than their handle, Ghabe), as he states:

I recognized a problem and would just like to get to the bottom of it.

I know it seems a bit like I’m being greedy and ungrateful, but come on. It was the first time I podium’d in a tournament. I was looking forward to some sick prizes.

I enjoyed the tournament. I enjoyed playing in Arizona. I enjoyed socializing with fellow southwestern players. This is just something I thought should be brought up.

Was this an actual problem that needed addressing? Or am I just a brat?

 

I’ll go ahead and help you out here: you’re being a brat, and an ungrateful one at that. 

I realize that’s a hard line to take, but I can’t sell papers without being provocative, so just deal with it.

Now, if you want me to build the case, I’ll be happy to do that, too.

You’re going to win, not to win prizes.

champsphTo start with, you are going to a tourney to play in a tourney. Prizes should be the last thing on your mind. Point in fact, if you’re looking forward to prizes more than reaching the podium, I think you would be better served by:

1. saving the money to enter tourneys, buying yourself cool bike stuff

2. giving that bike stuff to your friends

3. having them, randomly, throughout the year, knock on your door and say “congratulations! You reached the podium for pooping in the morning! Here’s a Paul brake lever!”

4. high-fiving yourself repeatedly

Bike polo tournaments have a weird expectation of giving away stuff, and I am likewise happy when I get free goodies, too–but I’m not indignant if a tourney doesn’t have anything other than a well run tourney where I get to hang out with my friends. That’s what I’m paying for: for the experience, to play, and to challenge myself against others.  Read more

WATCH NORTH AMERICANS

bike polo tv

The North American Bike Polo Championships are going to go LIVE in just a few short hours. Watch it right here: http://bikepolo.tv/

(this is going to be the best workday ever).

Great Montage Video of FHBPC 2013

This video is equal parts relaxing and interesting: court construction from start to tourney – really kinda awesome:

Montage terrains FHBPC 2013 from MTP Bike Polo on Vimeo.

Having a Three-Way Courtside.

944430_10201080988808137_1707645110_n

At the Masters tourney, I realized I had feelings for the other two Ms of 3 M.

Dude feelings-bro feelings. Bromance.

It happened right in the middle of the game against Lomax, Russo and Glatfelter: we had  every expectation of losing (and we should have), so we went in with the notion of just playing as best we could and taking the loss.

By Golly, we did play the very best we could, and at the five minute mark, both Horse and Lumberjack looked back at me in goal and had a smirk on their faces. I realized I did, too. We were all loving the game for the sake of loving the game. Then, suddenly: feelings.

It’s kind of a rare thing to really just experience the game of polo while playing it. Sure, you’re there–on the court pedaling around like a madman–but you’re so busy doing that you can’t observe the sport anymore. You’re too deep into it.

But that game in particular, I was just all up in and loving the game. It all felt perfect and natural and amaze-balls.

So then we won, somehow, and as dazed as you please we left the court and huddled up to talk about what happened. It went something like this:

Horse: Uhhh

Lumberjack: Uhhh

Me: Uhhhhhhh

Lumberjack: We just…

Horse: And we…

Me: So then….

All: Uhhhhh

And then we pretty much clapped eachother on the backs and laughed and got some water and laughed a bit more. We experienced top-notch polo in our little team, and it kinda rocked, speaking for myself.

And I guess that’s what you should look for when forming up your teams: do you have that natural cohesion and does the game just unfurl itself in front of you while playing alongside your other two team-mates? Do you struggle to communicate or does it just come naturally and smoothly? Are you able to go into games with the general understanding that you’ll just do your best?

Because that’s the other part of the equation here: once we got knocked out of the tourney, there was absolutely no malice between us. We knew that we played as best we could, and how can you fault someone for that? We just took the rest of the day to enjoy the games, drink some beer, and chit-chat with all the people we never met before.

And on the car-ride back we talked about how we’d be BFFs forever.

For-ev-er.

5 things I learned at Masters

Demuth-Figure5InGold

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.   Read more

158 Pictures from The Masters in Indianapolis 2013

The Masters

Oh, Friends.

I had the most wonderful tourney experience this past weekend, but before I go into the amaze-balls Indianapolis club that put it together, Nick and Krystalynn’s gracious open home, or my general tedium with strategy and lessons learned, I thought  I’d get my pictures up. So here they are! (after the jump, that is)  Read more