Totally surreal


Well, this moment is really surreal.

We are now the 2006 Ultimate Players' Association Mixed Division Club Champions. It's the culmination of who knows how many throws, sprints, squats, lunges, stretches, fakes, cuts, jumps, bruises and sprains.

Last year, we came into the tournament 15th, and finished 13th.

This year, we came into the tournament 2nd.

And finished first.

Feels strange. I played so little in the tournament because of previous injuries, but the team has been working to this for so long. So few people accomplish this goal that actually doing so hasn't sunk in yet.

National Champions.

The best in the nation.


Holy shit.

The real reason Gendors lost in the Semis


The game was close, with no team up by more than one point. When we scored upwind, they answered scoring upwind the next point. If the first four points hadn't taken 35 minutes to complete, with a score of 2-2 at the end of those 35 minutes, the game looked like it would go to 17-16 with the team who took the wind off the flip.

Everything was on pull up until half, with Gendors taking half 8-7, and our tying it back at 8-8. The game was intense with hard marks, strong defense, close calls and unrelenting pressure from both sides. Both sides often disagreed with calls the other made, and so the observers were well used by both teams.

Soon after the second half started, maybe a point or two into the half, a travel call was made on the field by a Mischief teammate. The call went to the observers, and was overruled by the observer on the far side of the field. Since the observer was standing on the far sideline, Adam approached the observer on our sideline who may have had a better view, and suggested that, if he had a better view, he should say something.

An older man who had been walking along our sidelines for the entire game, immediately went up to Adam and bumped him. Adam describes the bump as an attempt to chest bump him, but the old man's camera was in the way. The man was about six feet tall and about twice as heavy as Adam, so bump could knock him over.

After bumping Adam, the old man stood close, looking down at him and said, "You know, going to the observers makes you look weak."

So, here was a guy who no one knows, who was not a player, by all rights shouldn't be standing within 2 yards of the field, much less standing over one of our players attempting to intimidate him.

Wade heard the exchange as he was walking past, and turned on the man. "Are you with Gendors?" he asked in a loud voice. I didn't see the man's reaction (Megan said he answered yes, though), but I definitely heard Wade's. The man attempted to defend himself, but received a barrage of yells in return. "Your team is cheating! They're double teaming and travelling!" "Oh, sure, let's get the parent's involved." "Because the Gendors are perfect, right? And Black Tide has the best spirit." he continued sarcastically. "I didn't know Black Tide was here!" Towards the end, Wade yelled he should watch out, or he'll die of a heart attack.

The old man slinked off to the far side of the shade tents we had on the sidelines as Wade was more and more fired up.

We scored three of the next four points, and went on to outscore the Gendors 7-4 in the second half. Wade was on fire, bringing the rest of the team up in intensity, and we won the game 15-13.

Weak, indeed. It's hard to be weak when the other side is cheating.

Calling the other team cheaters in a sport where mutual respect is a key element of the game may seem disrepectful but consider this: the Gendors would zone by having a marker on the thrower and two players within four feet of the thrower for more than half the time they were on defense. When Wade was unable to punt a disc because a women defender, who was not is marker, was able to touch him during his throw (incidental contact, so no foul, but a double team because Wade is not ten feet long), Kris told the observers they needed to take action. They agreed and told Gendors to step back on their zone cup pointmen. They did, and lost their ability to stop us.

Funny how, when the cheating stops, the better team wins.

Mischief chatter during Nationals '06

From Lisa:

And I'm totally laughing as I read the recap/prediction article.  Here are
some of my fave comments:

"Mischief lives long. Sometimes that living isn't so grand, as their offense
isn't exactly all about control."

"Mischief and Salsa looks like a good game as Salsa has a lot of former Open
players who match up well with Mischief's guys. Not surprisingly, turns

"Mischief continues to rely on the huck, losing a lot of discs to turns, but
then forcing the turn back and eventually scoring."

Heh.  Sounds about right.

But then despite those comments, we still get some votes of confidence:

"It's not clear that the Gendors have the staying power to get through two
tough games and will be in big trouble as the Mischief game will probably go
long, and take a lot out of them (per turnovers galore, and Mischief pulling
away at the end)."

"Slow White has not, however, had to play a team with the consistent
firepower of Mischief."

Damn straight!

Mischief nation loves you!!


From Wes:

Here are some other good ones (all courtesy Bil Elsinger):

"Slow White seems like an unstoppable force. Mischief seems like a force
that could only be stopped by itself."

My favorite: "Mischief has an interesting upwind strategy. Whenever a turn
happens, one of their men sprints to the disc and jacks it. In most cases,
the throw blades, floats, and almost always falls short of its mark. In the
first half, this works against Mischief. In the second half, however, the
chips start to fall into Mischief's knapsack, as errant throws get macked,
blades get caught, and Mischief's men start to make the plays. Tyler Grant,
in a fairly typical upwind point, lays out for the D, then takes off
upfield. Whichever Smith brother is closest runs to the disc, grabs it, and
lets off an upwinder that often, Grant has to lay out for."

"Mischief is the team that Tandem would be if they could."

"In a windy day, Mischief might go to the well (of luck) one time too many.

"Mischief definitely stepped up today with great focus on maintaining
control of the disc. They've gotten better all tournament and it seems that
they peaked at the right time."

And, of course: "Kevin Smith puts up a high throw from the 20 over the top
of the stack and Paul Youn brings in the game winner. Mischief wins.
Mischief wins."


And another from Wes:

Who is playing well? Just about everyone! But some specific shoutouts:

- To Kevie, who made more and more short throws as the tournament went on,
in direct violation of his personal philosophy, yet managed to connect on
several big hucks in the finals.
- To Will and Dan, who were smothering on the mark all weekend. In the first
half of finals, Slow White actually looked their main handler off several
times because of how he'd played in semis, tag-teamed by these guys.
- To Brynne, who got a HUGE layout D (finally!) in the finals that probably
saved an upwind break.
- To Pickett, who was a stabilizing force on offense and managed some
spectacular layout D's, including an absurd, twisting, backwards layout to
save an upwind break in the finals.
- To Tyler, who played both ways in the biggest games, and forced Slow White
to play Teddy on D because nobody else came close to covering him. Oh yeah,
and for his ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS grab, skying the crap out of two Gendors
inclduing their best receiver and toeing the line on the landing to win
- To Mark, who got our semis and finals opponents wrong, but otherwise laid
out our road quite nicely.
- To Lori Eich. All she does is score (over half her catches for goals). It
says something that our finals opponent was her old team and yet she still
managed to score a billion times.
- To Wade, who consistently shut down his guy, got huge D's, ran the D
line's offense, fired us up, and managed to find time in between for calling
efficient, effective lines on D.
- To Crystal and Beth, who stepped up big-time on offense, made tough
catches in traffic, moved the disc efficiently, and embarassed male markers
in the zone early and often.
- To Jess, who caught a 74 mph, 50 yard, cross field, downwind hammer, then
turned upfield and calmly swung the disc for a score.
- To Adam Fagin, who managed to D up his NUTC counselor on a sick upline
layout, and has the picture to prove it.
- To Shwu and the D line ladies, who kept other teams' women very, very
quiet all tournament.
- Double true for Kyle, who often took the other team's biggest offensive
threat, and as you can see in the clip Roshan sent out, made them rue.
- To Adam Brown, who jogged halfway down the field before realizing a huck
went up and STILL beat his guy by five steps, and showed huge heart by
playing like a superstar despite not sleeping and almost dying.
- To Paul, who picked the last point of the season to finally be 6'3",
getting up in the upwind endzone over an old MIT teammate, tipping the disc
to himself, and laying out to pancake the Nationals winner.

(I'm sure I've left out a lot of notable shoutouts; please feel free to add
your own.)

Also, some good quotes:

"Jasper is officially having a bad game...I'm telling you, that guy is in
his head. He's totally flustered by his mark right now." -- Slow White
captain Mike Miller, watching his main offensive handler being guarded by

"I'm giving you ten seconds. Ten seconds, to be afraid, to be nervous, to be
timid, to be scared. That's all you get." -- Wade, firing us up before semis

"Holy crap, that girl's got a cannon!" -- Slow White sideline, after
watching Crystal jack a 60 yard backhand

"Listen, we're not gonna do anything special. Run our offense, trust our
athletes, let them make plays. That's it." -- Mark

"THROWER! THROWER! THROWER! THROWER!" -- Slow White sideline as the disc
swung from Mark to Beth to Crystal to Tyler

"Who is covering that guy? You have to get on!" -- AMP sideline, watching
Tyler carve up their D

"Nothing hurts in the finals, baby." -- Kris

"The last thing I thought about before I went to sleep last night was going
into the UPA office, stopping at the entranceway, and rubbing my finger over
the Nationals plaque where it says, 'Mischief 2006'." -- Kitt

"Last night I dreamt that Nord was playing with us. And all my swilly
hammers were MONEY! He got to stuff Tyler NEVER would have!" -- Mark

"I swear, that's like, I don't know, four deflections they've caught for
scores. How do they keep doing that? It's ridiculous!" -- Sven from Brass
Monkey, watching our pool play games

"bayba." -- Mirabelle, kinda sorta maybe saying her first word

"Because I'm working my ass off. And I want to win." -- Paul, earlier this
season, getting his wish

Thanks to everyone for their encouragement, excitement, and energy! It was
awesome getting back and having dozens of e-mails chronicling your emotions
and ending in joyous congratulations! Double thanks to all the practice
players who came out and pushed us this season. We couldn't have done it
without you.


And trophy talk on the way home, Kyle relayed the story:

Just to add to some of my favorite post tourney quotes/moments:

1. On Adam B, Kevie and my flight home, one of the woman flight attendants
asks to wear Kevie's medal and makes an announcement (interrupting the FAA
required safety orientation instuctions) explaining how there are 3 very
special people on the plane, that we are "frisbee champions" and that
"Southwest is now the official airline of champions."

2. The same woman proceeds to wear the medal for half the flight while
bringing us free alcohol courtesy of Southwest.

3. We find out that the pilots would have been happy to fly the trophy in
the cockpit.

P.S. How did we get the trophy home?


And more from Kyle and Lori:

Here's a direct quote I just got from my boss's boss after seeing the clip
of the day that was being sent around at work....and I quote:

"You should have put flying on your resume."

Best work ever.


On 10/30/06, Lori Eich  wrote:
> Dear Mischief,
> You rock my face. Thanks for playing such a clean and good-spirited game
> against my Boston buddies, and thanks for rubbing it in their faces, twice,
> that we're better than them, twice. They effing deserve it for not hucking
> to me enough last year.
> Kevin, thanks for hucking to me so I could spike it on Teddy. I should
> have waggled it in front of him before I spiked it.
> Speaking of spiking it, thanks to whoever thought it was a good idea to
> give me the Spirit of the Game award. I wore my new pink fuzzy hat all the
> way home.
> Anti-thanks to the Tampa Airport security officers, who made me throw away
> inocuous hair supplies. Now I'm at work and my hair looks like poo. I hate
> you, 4-oz. bottles. Good thing I have my new pink fuzzy hat.
> Extra special thanks to all the superfans who supported us from all over
> the country. Thanks for all your help this season, you were a huge part of
> this win.
> And thanks to Linnea, who is still undefeated. Best sideline EVER.
> I heart Mischief.
> -L

Why ultimate is still the best


A few months ago, I was talking to Mike about religion. One of my arguments about not being a particular religious person in the Christian sense is the fact that ultimate provides many of the core aspects what traditional religions provide: community, social outlets, a sense of right and wrong, friends anywhere you go. Community being the biggest of that list.

Last night, I was reminded of this fact, once again.

I was the first to arrive in Sarasota, flying into the Sarasota airport directly to avoid needing to travel the extra hour by car or even deal with the red-eye everyone seemed too fond of. Kris can sleep on a plane, at any point. I can stay awake on a plane, at any point. Direct opposites when it comes to flying.

On the flight from San Jose to Atlanta, I saw two Fury players on my flight sitting a few rows forward of me. On the second leg, from Atlanta to Sarasota, I decided I was going to ask them if they were in Siesta Keys and if so, could give me a ride to my villa housing.

A bit later, the flight attendant was handing out drinks, I turned around when I heard the person behind me mumble something about deciding between some drink and another. I smiled when I turned around, because I recognized JD Lobue (Jr.) sitting in the row behind me. He smiled back and asked me what I thought he should get. I immediately said, the second one, which prompted the flight attendant to ask, "Do you know each other?"

I laughed and said I knew of him, but I've only ever seen him on television. She freaked out a little, and JD visibly blushed, which isn't easy to do in a darkened airplane.

We talked about ultimate the entire rest of the flight. We talked about how the mixed division has canibalized the women's division, but the power teams in the women's division are victims of their own success (by becoming so dominant, other women's teams are less likely to form and get crushed by the dominant teams, so the women will be more likely to play mixed).

As the flight was landing, I asked him for a ride to the villas, and he said yes.

To be able to meet someone on a plane, spend the whole flight talking to him, be instant friends and catch a ride with him, knowing every time I see him at a tournament, he'll say hello and we'll chat, is why ultimate is so totally the best.

Speaking to hundreds?


Better than thousands, I expect.

So far, all of the various conferences I've gone to, with the exception of one, have been technology related. From SiGGraph to the Future of Web Apps, it's been tech, tech, tech and, just for fun, science. Okay, one was ultimate related, a UPA league organizers conference. It was small, and not one I had to spend hundreds of dollars to attend.

The next one I attend will be another ultimate related one, but it won't be to just sit in the audience and listen to other people lecturing. Instead, I'll be speaking!

As part of Project Decloak, I'll be standing in front of hundreds of people, imagining each and every one of the completely naked, talking about ultimate.

My talk is titled "Ultimate for the non-gifted athlete." It's basically a list of all the tips, tricks, and training Kris has taught me or I have learned in the last eight years. Well, most of them. The talk is geared toward the beginner and intermediate athlete who isn't on an athletic scholarship, but wants to play ultimate better.

I'm surprisingly not nervous about the talk, and have it outlined and ready to go, including notes about what studies to look up and what video clips to find. Poor Kris is going to have the talk memorized by the time the presentation rolls around.

My plans are to have the presentation available on an ultimate website. I haven't decided which domain to use for it, though: talkdisc.com or recsportdisc.com. I own both domains. I wanted talkdisc.com to be a combination of the rec.sport.disc newsgroup plus articles and snippets, but ultimatetalk.com was launched between my thinking of the idea and now, and I don't want to have a copy-cat domain name, even if I did think of the name waaaaaaay before ultimatetalk launched.

We'll see. I'll put it up on one of the sites.

Goin' to the show!


We've finished the day 4-0, winning our games 15-10, 15-8, 15-6, and 15-10. The second game was ugly, the rest of the games were clean and, for the most part, fun.

The last game was the most satisfying. By winning the cross-over, we clinched our bid to Nationals on the first Day: we play Brass Monkey (over Whorshack) in the finals, tomorrow at 1PM. As last year, we're going to the Show!. Didn't even have to win all of our games to get there, as we had to last year.

I'm glad we're going, but I have to complain about the seedings. It seems I fill the time I'm not playing with complaining, usually about the seedings.

Ugly games


Strangely enough, we're starting to have ugly games. This surprises me, because we don't intend to have bad games: some call or incident will set us off, and snip snip snip, we become little children calling tit-for-tat.

I feel we're becoming the Donner Party of this year: seemingly spirited to outside observers, but horrible to play against.

Today's game was against Night Train started fine. We were on fire, on a roll, and playing hard. If two points can be called a roll, that is.

A NT throw then went up, and, as it flew out of bounds on a trajectory that would bring it back inbounds to a player streaking deep, it hit an out-of-bound player standing over 8 feet outside the sidelines. The trajectory changed, and the disc landed out of bounds, short of the player running deep. A player on NT freaked out, and immediatelly yelled violation, and demanded the disc back.

Now, any ultimate player who knows the rules (speaking of tenth edition rules) knows that any contact with an out-of-bound object makes the disc out of bounds. That object can be a tree, a fence, the ground or a person. Any contact, even if the disc comes back in bounds, makes the disc out-of-bounds, and possession switches to the other team.

The NT player, who we shall name Mel, because that's her name, however, insisted on the violation, and demanded the disc back. Kyle asked me for my rule book, which I handed to him after showing him the rules, and he dashed over to the sideline, to explain to her she was wrong.

She was insistent. She was upset at the turn-over and, despite the inaccuracy of her call, refused to budge. And that's putting it mildly because I'm trying not to curse. I stayed out of the argument (yay me!), but it was hard.

Hard because of our history.

Six years ago, I was playing on Special K, and she was playing on a team called Mirage. Mirage entered sectionals (of 22 teams) seeded last, even though they knew they should be seeded much higher (they finished ninth). During this game, Mel and I had issues, then words, which turned ugly and I called her a fraggin' biotch (using real words). Her team was up about 12-5 on our team, game to 15 at the point of this altercation.

She flipped out, and spent the next many points on the sideline. I took myself out of the game because I was so unbelievably angry I wouldn't be able to play well. I was silent on the sideline. She was not. She began a litany of verbal abuse, complaining to every teammate who would listen, ranting about how our altercation. I went to the other sideline, fuming,
and stayed out of the game.

After a few points, Mel went back in the game, and proceeded to turn over huck after throw after throw. Our score climbed, while their score stagnated. Before long, we were back in them, and just after that, our score was tied. Two points later, we were up 14-12. I went in.

Play this, play that, Mel on Lisa, Lisa went long for a huck, and I trailed her cut by a few yards. Lisa caught the disc just outside the endzone, and turned to throw an easy pass to me in the endzone. I caught it, then raised my arms up in victory: our team was going to Regionals for the first time! Exciting!

For seasons after this incident, Mel and I ignored each other during games, avoiding anything but the most cordial of "Good game." during the end-of-game line walks. Last year was truly the first season I had no ill feelings to her, or felt any from her. I no longer know if she remembers the incident.

Today, however, was hard, watching her complain about a rule. She's been playing ultimate long enough to know the rules. She should have known better.

We won the game 15-8 in a remaining ugly game of tit-for-tat and unreasonable calls ("You fouled me." "I contest." "You hit my leg, that's a foul." "Yes, I hit your leg. I'm still contesting." "You know the rules say contact is a foul." "I know the rules." "You don't, because you hit my leg." "Yes, I hit your leg, I contest the foul" - actual conversation with another player and Kyle), but the team is now on our ask-for-observers play list.

Day of reckoning


It's early morning, and I'm heading back to the hotel. Several teammates have left jerseys and shoes and other stuff in their hotel rooms, and I'm going to pick them up. I have mixed feelings about this tournament, feelings I need to resolve, preferably quickly.

I went to the fields on time with Kris and Brynne, and thus was remarkably on time. On time to see the frost on the ground and my breath in the air, which, by the way, is a little disturbing when viewed in a port-a-potty. After I made it to the fields we are going to play on all day, I settled in, and watched the team warm up, wishing beyond hope that I could be out there warming up with them, the butterflies in my stomach in anticipation of the game ahead.

Tragedy of the coyotes


Kevin sent out an email a few days ago about the death of two Gendors, Gendors being a coed ultimate team originating from Southern California. We've played the team several times over the last two years, sometimes winning, most recently losing (I call extenuating circumstances surrounding a combination of both our lack of ability to adapt to their style of play and their cheating a little bit (yeah, yeah, yeah, always an excuse, but this time, I think it's somewhat valid when you have players double teaming the marker, then claiming that Kris has a reach of greater than 10 feet, which I assure you is not true)), and I played with several of the players 9+ years ago when I was learning to play in Los Angeles.

Good lord, have I really been here that long? Ugh.

According to the first article Kevin sent out, the players died while trying to avoid hitting a coyote driving home from Regionals in Scottsdale, Arizona. The driver and the front seat passenger were both killed, the two passengers in the back survived with scratches. All four passengers were wearing seatbelts.

Over the next few days, more details were told about the accident. The driver swerved to miss coyote, sending the car broadside into the guardrail, causing the vehicle to roll.

The driver swerved to miss a coyote.

As I read the words, I paused. Kris and I had hit a coyote several weeks ago, and as I read the words, I couldn't help but think if Kris had reacted differently, would we have died?

Our plan after spending part of the week with Kris' family, his parents, his sister and his sister's family, was to head to Phoenix to fly to Albuquerque, New Mexico for Kyle Smith's wedding. Our flight out from Phoenix was around 9:00, so we needed to be at the airport around 8. I recalled Mom saying Flagstaff was about three hours from Phoenix, so we figured leaving by five would be plenty of time for the drive down.

Problem was, we were at the Grand Canyon.

The Grand Canyon is another 80 miles north of Flagstaff.

So, instead of 146 miles in three hours, we had 226 miles to go in three hours.

We left by 4:45 AM, but didn't realize the extra 80 miles until we were leaving the park and saw the signs. We immediately began trying to figure out if we could make the flight, or if we should just start driving to Albuquerque. We could make the wedding if we started driving immediately, the flight was questionable. I pulled out the map, told Kris which way to go, and off we went, in an attempt to make the flight.

Unfortunately, I told Kris wrong. The map was misleading, and the road I asked him to drive along wasn't a multi-lane freeway-like road, but a forest-lined two-lane highway, He drove as fast as he dared along the road.

At one point, a coyote jumped out in front of the car.

Kris slammed on the brakes when he first saw the coyote, but was unable to stop in time. The car struck the coyote. We killed it. We believe it died instantly, based on the lack of movement looking back, but that may have just been wishful thinking, we don't know.

My reaction was much different. I screamed and brought my hands to my face, covering, perhaps to ward off the impact, much the way a mother throws an arm out to stop the passenger from flinging forward. I started crying. I cried for the coyote. I cried in frustration of the events of the previous week. I cried for the rabbit I struck driving 15 years ago. I cried and cried, and Kris couldn't do anything but drive, reach out to touch me and watch.

Ten minutes later, a migraine started and I began to lose my sight.

I told Kris what was happening, crawled into the back of the car and fell asleep.

Three hours later, I woke up 10 miles away from the Phoenix International Airport. Kris managed to get us to the airport in record time. He may have been driving over 100, I don't know, I was asleep, but it was a fantastic drive made while I was sleeping.

We made the flight, and made it to the wedding (which was awesome with the lightning and thunder punctuating the ceremony).

The image of the coyote, its final moments of life, are still remarkably, tragically fresh in my mind. The loss of two ultimate players reminded me of that moment. I believe the loss of their lives, two young men in their early twenties, is far more tragic than the loss of the coyote.

Would the driver had swerved if he knew the outcome? If Kris had swerved, would that have been our fate?

Jump like Shirley, not like Paul


Spent today in Davis, at this year's (here's the full name again) Northern California Mixed Club Division Sectionals of the Ultimate Players Association Club Championship Series. Oddly enough, in a recurring theme, I didn't play this year because of the ankle injury. I thought I was three years out of playing in sectionals, but I was wrong. I played last year, but not the year before. The year before that I played half the tournament, twisting my right ankle in the middle of the finals game against Donner Party.

We finished the day 4-0, eeking a win over King Kong 13-12 (yeah, yeah, double game point). Turns out, if we had lost that game, we still would have won the pool (assuming all the other games went the same), as three teams would have been 3-1, and we would have won on point differential.

Waaaaaay better to win outright.

I just wish I had been able to play. It's hard watching everyone else play, thinking you want to be out there running, throwing, catching, too.

I've given up on this season.

But, like all true ultimate players, there's always next season.