Here are some quick thoughts about my first Club Nationals:
-First, it must be noted that there are a ton of people that work really hard to make this tournament. I was happy to volunteer as an Observer and thought I worked somewhat hard to deserve my UPA sponsored vacation, but all the writers, Ultivillage people, UPA staff, and countless other volenteers put in many more hours to make Nationals the amazing tournament that it is.
-Sarasota heat and humidity is a REAL and LEGITIMATE game changer. As a team from the cold can has a distinct advantage in the rain, those who were accustomed to throwing a sweaty disc while battling the energy-sapping sun had a real leg up. This was most noticeable in my Truck Stop – GOAT game; Hassel&Co just looked sluggish and tired even though this was the second round. Truck pulled off the upset by grinding and grinding for the entire game. One field over I got to watch Streetgang pull off the most likely of upsets vs Ironside. San Diego had been bathed in sun while I bet Boston hadn’t seen sun for a month – this had to be a big factor. Ironside was also on the wrong side of one of the worst timed humidity-caused-turns I saw of the weekend: mounting their late comeback in their Semi vs Revolver, Will Neff has the disc on the breakside and throws a cross field forehand swing but it slips out and goes 10 yards opposite of where his dude was cutting leading to a easy D and another score for Revolver. Its always a heart breaker to watch one of your studs make such an unforced error in a big game. Remember: in the heat and humidity, dry towels for the hands, ice-cold towels for the heads.
-Surprisingly, I did not witness that much intentional fouling at this level. I think the “And-1” function of the foul rules is enough to deter overly aggressive marks AT THIS LEVEL. Some throwers are better at this than others, but when the D knows it gives up a free throw and risk misconduct penalties if it chooses to foul, you get a much cleaner game.
This statement must be qualified twice. First, I was watching mostly Observed games – because I was the observer, and there were many non-observed games where this could have been different. Secondly, its probable that I didn’t see many intentional fouls because throwers played through them as if they weren’t there (or they were just a part of the game). I haven’t finalized my thoughts on this, I must say that I noticed a cleaner game at this high level than at an average mid-level college tourney.
-I talked to Dutchy, Revolver's Captain/Line caller, and despite what I have heard about what Mike Payne said before the game, Dutch told me it was their game plan to let the studs play. They apparently had to "promise they were good for another point" each time. His words: "Its really hard to take Beau and Cahill and Mac off the field when they want to play". Yeah, this weirded me out too.In the same way its impossible to be truely objective in calls when you are deeply invested in the outcome, I can't see those studs being level headed about their playing time. When Im in a big game I forget how tired I am until I have to run down a zipping huck. Chain's D had the perfect answer to Revolver's stud lines - run them into the ground with in-cut D. Even when the studs scored, it was after a shit ton of juking and cutting. Revolver had to grind WAY harder for their in cuts and when those same cutters where put out on D, there was no way they could gaurd the Chain cutters as tightly.
Yeah its cliche, and seeing as this post is a week late this has been said everywhere else on the blogosphere, but its so very true: Chain's victory was truely a team victory.
- Fury is the shit. Georgia and Alex have better throws than many on my college team and Cree would be faster than a few of our guys. In the Fury-Traffic game I observed Cree caught a few goals with the next defender 20 yards away. Plus she's super cute.
-Way to go Troubled Past and especially Ricky Nultemeier who taught me how to play this game. If I had to choose anyone to epitomize "solid with the disc" it would be him.
-A fair number of teams' DOffense was better with the disc than their Offense. Especially TruckStop. I would take that southpaw with the yellow hat hucking to Brian Stout any day.
-Beer Garden. Daquiri Deck. Sieta Keys. Best Ultimate in the world. Yeah, im gonna come back next year.
-And lastly, I finally realized the full extent of my fandom of this sport. Like the ultimate nerd that I am, I went around getting the autographs of all the Team USA members on my Team USA replica jersey. To be honest, I have never felt the intimidation of being in the presence of such celebrity before this. Dorky, I know. I think I am just missing Kathy Dobsona and Gabe Saunkeah.