Thursday, July 15, 2010

Club Worlds, Prague, Czech Republic

Team huddle before our first scrimmage.

My first Club Worlds has come and gone. It was an experience that I'll treasure for a long time to come. It is also like a first marathon, where you are left wanting to go back and do it again, but better.

Spence and Emma.


My team, Credo out of Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand, was seeded 14th. We opened up big against Estonia and the Czech team. Unfortunately, day two was a little rougher for us. We had a double game point loss to Newcastle, Australia and a four point loss to a team out of Montana, USA. While the teams were good, we mostly beat ourselves by making errors. We were improving with every game, but too little too late to get the wins. The Australia game was especially tough since we had fought back from being down by 4-5 points to tie it up before losing it by one. On the other hand, an En Sabah Nur player, Robert Dulabon, was on their team. It was great to see him play so well.

Warming up sumo style.

After pool play, we were 2-2. That kept us alive and in six team power pools (3 from our pool, 3 from another). The top four from power pools would advance to the top 16. We played teams from Philadelphia, USA, the UK champion from Brighton, and Austria. We didn't bring our best game and dropped the first two. We finally started to play well again against Austria and beat them by two. This put us in a 3-way tie for 4th which could advance us to the top 16. We lost that tie. The team we beat got 4th and went on to quarterfinals. We'd like to think we would have done the same, but what ifs don't count.

Arnie makes a tough catch.

Karl gets the poach layout D.

We were regulated to the 21st place bracket where we were playing well again. We beat teams from the Canary Islands in Spain, Netherlands, and Bologna, Italy. That left us at 6-4 for the weekend and in 21st place. We finished playing well. We finished on a win. We finished smiling and having fun. I think we were all pretty happy about it even though we missed our team goal.

I use poor form to layout and land on my knee. Boo!

My personal play was lacking. I came out too jittery for my first game at Worlds and played poorly. I think that shook my confidence and affected my other games. When I was finally getting myself back, I tore something in my shoulder on a layout in the fourth game. I didn't play much in the 5th game, but was back and ready for 6 and 7 where I used my worse layout form in two years to land on my knee which pretty much ended my tournament. I played a couple points on it to let other players rest, but I wasn't able to be the impact and utility player on the team that I was supposed to be. I just wanted to give a lot more, but luckily it is a team sport and others were able to pick up my slack. I'm sure the other guys were happy for the extra playing time too.

Karl and Arnie celebrate a return to our winning ways.

Strahov stadium, the second biggest in the world.

Karl wants this throw back.

On a more important and memorable note, Worlds is amazing. There are a lot of good arguments about how US nationals is actually more competitive (every US team was seeded 12th or higher and I believe they did win every division). However, worlds is something more. It builds community. It brings together different ultimate styles. We learn from each other. From trade night, to spirit circles, to celebrating our individual countries, so much about worlds is different than US nationals. It has more spirit. It is more fun, though I do enjoy the hard play at US nationals more. I can't recommend it enough.

Playing against Canary Islands, Spain at Strahov Stadium.

Mike goes in for the catch.

Columbia gets down.

I feel so fortunate to have been given the chance to help represent Canterbury, NZ, especially after I had planned to retire. Lucky for me, they suckered me back into this game and reminded me I love it enough to dedicate most of this year to training for and playing at Worlds. A special thank you to Mike and Mel for pressuring me into playing New Zealand nationals back in 2008 and then organizing our team's Worlds bid this year. An extra thank you to all of the members of my team who made Worlds so unique, so special, so New Zealand.

Pin markers for all the teams at Club Worlds.

The showcase stadium at Versovice.

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