Tag Archive for Eastside Thaw

Workday Before Tourney: What The Hell Is The Point?


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.



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

VIDEO: Losers Bracket Final Game, Eastside Thaw 2nd Day


I didn’t get the championship game because I was scared of light, so I instead filmed this final losers bracket game. I’m no Mr. Do, but I think it gets the job done.




The Bruce Hustle



I love it when I get a series of pics like this.


Interview With The Organizer: Alias Seiichi Tagami, Eastside Thaw

Eastside Thaw  (2)

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.

 I wanted to recreate that feeling for others.Eastside Thaw  (5)Next, there was a comment from a newer member of our club who asked if there are bike polo clinics.  As I said there wasn’t, I thought to myself, “why aren’t there any?” Part of what I knew I wanted to create was a educational experience for new players to get paired with more experienced and skilled players who could demonstrate polo in a less pick-up mentality and more of a competitive mentality.

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.

Eastside Thaw  (6)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.

Eastside Thaw  (1)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.

The Thaw will use NAH rules with two caveats:
1 – 3v3 matches will be 10 minutes long, and have no score cap.
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