Monday, October 27, 2008

Hanford Howl, 2008

This weekend was an absolute blast. I attended the Hanford Howl ultimate frisbee tournament for the second year in a row. It is an all-weekend affair of fun, frisbee, and booze! Unfortunately, I missed out on an impromptu blogger home game at The Chako's residence, and I'm sure I would have had a blast.

I drove down to Tacoma to pick up Josh on Friday around noon, then we drove the 250 miles over to Richland, WA. The drive over was lots of fun. At first, I was perturbed because the Honda Pilot has an Aux button, but no auxiliary jack to plug an iPod into! The Aux button does nothing! Luckily, the Pilot has XM Satellite Radio, so Josh and I messed around with that for the entire drive. We found a rocking XMLM channel that played "liquid metal" from big name bands like "Lamb of God" and "Cattle Decapitation" raaaawwwwwwk! Another favorite channel was the comedy channels up in the 150's, including David Cross, George Carlin and a few other skits that had us rolling. The Fall colors were amazing crossing the Cascades, lots of reds and oranges made the hillsides look like they were on fire.

When we arrived in Richland, the Atomic Alehouse welcomed us with open arms and the drinking began with a sampler while waiting for the rest of the Tacoma crew to show up and check into the hotel. We made a pitstop at the liquor store, then waited in the parking lot while watching "License to Kill." Our team theme was James Bond (w/ Bond girls), so we were researching by watching the kick-ass movie. Eventually the rest of the crew came trickling into town and I honestly don't remember much else from Friday night.

Saturday morning marked the beginning of ultimate for the weekend. Instead of dressing up like Bond, how many of my teammates were dressed--white dress shirt, blank pants/shorts, bowtie--I dressed up like Jaws--tan pants, suspenders, white shirt and a metal mouth of first tinfoil, then duck-tape. During our first game I quickly realized I needed to change the metal mouth somehow, because breathing through my nose while running around on a frisbee field just does not mix. I ended up folding the duct tape over and being able to breathe through my mouth, which made running much easier!

Our team, Moonrakers, went 4-0 on the day Saturday, and I scored a callahan in our last game of the day, which I mac'd to myself a few times before my fingers remembered how to close on the disc. Saturday was one of my best days of ultimate in a long time. I had really been looking forward to this tournament and played great all day long. In our third game of the day we were down 2-4 and called a timeout to collect our thoughts and try to stop the bleeding. We ended up taking half 7-4, then the game 13-6. It was a great timeout call, and for some reason I was keeping track of my personal W/L record (the points I played, and whether we won or lost the point). I was 9-0 that game, which I don't think I've ever done before. Ultimate has 7 people on each team, so it wasn't all me, but I don't think I made any mistakes and had a few D's to help our team through our early deficit.

Saturday night was fairly tame. Most of us were tired from running around in the scorching 65 degree sun all day. I took a nap, watched some Bond, watched the Phillies and Jamie Moyer's all-out performance. We got hooked on a Batman animated tv show for an hour, and were all pretty sluggish in the hotel room all evening. Somehow we made it to SNL time, and all fell asleep halfway through the show.

Sunday we had a first round bye, as the #2 seed in the A-pool of the 25-team tournament. We got to sleep in, which is always nice, and got to the fields around 9:30am. On Saturday, the weather was perfect--60-65 degrees and sunny. Sunday, however, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped. We got to watch Olympia and the UPS team (my alma mater) play in the first round, and the wind was wreaking havoc on both teams. The winner of that game was our next opponent, so getting to scout them out was a big advantage. I noticed that neither team was playing zone defense, which made no sense to me.

Olympia won the tight game and we played them in round 2. We set a nice zone against them and I got to play a lot of cup. They didn't get the disc past half-field for most of the game when they were going up wind, and we started to roll once our offense got accustomed to the wind, winning 11-6 at the hard cap. Our next game was against Resurrection, an older, wilier team, who called a lot more penalties than any other team we had faced--which I find takes a lot of fun out of the game, and is also much more present in higher-level ultimate. I took myself out most of the game, because I didn't enjoy playing in a hotly emotional game where lots of fouls are called. It felt like they had our number, but we fought back for a universe point, 7-7 at hard cap.

Surprisingly, one of our captains called out my name for our final point. We had a huge disadvantage, having to play defense and going into the wind. Odds were not in our favor, but we all vowed to try our best. I got the necessary D, stepping in front of a throw, then I raced deep. Dare tried to huck it to me into the wind, but the wind completely turned the disc over and it fell just out of my reach. We stepped up our defense and got another D, and worked the disc up the field. I made and cut and got the disc, then at stall 5 a pick was called, freezing the action on the field. When play reset, I wasn't confident enough to try and break the mark into the wind on a flick, so I turned back to dump the disc to Sean. As I turned back, my mark tried to deny the dump and Sean raced up the sideline. I was able to swivel back quicker than my defender and got the disc to Sean for the 8-7 victory! It was a blast to be part of the improbable win.

We played Bad Spirits in the finals. It was the Tacoma team's first finals appearance at Hanford, and we were playing the #1 seed. They were comprised of a few very good players from around the Pacific NW. Much like the semi-final game, we fell behind and the game was filled with penalty calls which just sap the fun out of the game for me. I played my share of points in the finals, and we ended up having another universe point at 8-8 for the championship. This time the odds were in our favor. We were defending, but we were going down wind and liked our chances. My number wasn't called this time, and Bad Spirits worked the disc brilliantly up wind for the score and the championship.

It was very odd not to be drinking at the end of a frisbee tournament. I am used to watching the finals and drinking a few beers at the end of a tournament, but this time I got to play in the finals. It was a fun experience, even though most of the 25 teams had already left the fields on their long drives home. We had some fun-spirited hecklers on the sideline from Suspicious Package, the WSU team, who heckled both teams evenly for all the penalty calls being made.

The drive home went quickly and I drove Josh and Stephanie back to Tacoma. Josh's new place has a hot tub in it, so we relaxed there for a bit and finished up another Bond movie. Josh has Rock Band 2 and will be getting Guitar Hero World Tour in the next few weeks, so I'm sure another trip down to Tacoma is in store. Overall, a great weekend, can't wait for next year's Hanford!

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