Over the year I’ve played around the world and over many months. In this post I recap March.
Snowplate – Sudbury
As is tradition I start my season (officially) with a snow tournament in Sudbury. In the past I’ve picked up (along with my friend Eric) with two teams made up of locals and those that have studied in the region. In 2009 conflicting schedules necessitated I find another team and I did so with the Western Sharks. We considered ourselves overwhelming favourites going in and we were until we met our match in the finals where a group of Hamilton players handed us our only loss of the tournament. We were dejected but the Sharks went on to win plenty of tournaments later in the season.
This tournament is particularly memorable for a number of reasons. The first being that over the last few years the Sudbury Ultimate folks and I have been good Ultimate friends. The Sudbury folks come to visit for Oktoberfest and I visit them for Snowplate; it’s a good arrangement. We also meet up throughout the year (usually at GB, Harvest, and Gut Rot) and we’ve been friends ever since I spilled Marc’s beer at GB (to be honest I didn’t know there was a full beer in the cup holder in the chair when I knocked it over). This particular tournament suffered from a few mishaps that forced the TDs (Paul and Marc) to take drastic measures with great success.
First the Cardinal Inn where many of the players stay and where the Saturday night party has been held caught on fire the week before the tournament. With the primary party location closed due to smoke damage the TD negotiated the same room rates for the much nicer Holiday Inn just up the hill. Players now had a nicer place to sleep in addition to a pool and hot tub…with sexy results.
The Friday night impromptu full floor parties which resulted in warnings from management, Paul and I wandering from room to room kicking down doors, Paul and I busting into a girls birthday party (totally accidental), and much inadvertent groping. The night was also key in being my first proper introduction to many of the Mayhem players that I would later be invited to play with during the summer league season in Hamilton. The party location change had mixed results as the band started playing a bit too late (“May Contain Nuts” is an awesome Journey cover band in addition to the other tunes that they play) in the evening. The hall at the Holiday Inn also lacks the intimate environment found at the Cardinal.
The second major issue faced by the TDs was the flooding of the washrooms at the fields on Thursday evening. Portalets were quickly ordered and the dignity of players was preserved.
Unfortunately our weather woes continued. With snow averaging a depth of four feet and an air temperature of 6 degrees everybody was soaked on the first day. The field was mauled and deep pits could be found everywhere. None of us thought to the future and how we all wish we did. Overnight a cold chill swept through the area and -20 degree weather froze all of our tracks into razor sharp and rock hard formations. A chilly Sunday morning resulted in injuries for those who still wanted to layout and try playing like they did the day before.
The wind was our biggest enemy and although we didn’t face any issues until the finals it was constantly whipping away any heat we’d manage to accumulate. The finals itself was a mauling with Hamilton staying chilly and nailing every pass whereas our handlers couldn’t handle the wind and kept trying to throw fancy little passes close to the ground which simply skipped along the ice. Terrible pulls by all of us (including me) and in general an inability to cut led Hamilton to an easy victory and we walked away dejected.
It was a fun snow tournament with plenty of mishaps throughout the weekend (Sandy, from Mayhem, laying out and breaking her arm on the ice during the finals and Andrew Watts coming down with an illness that prevented him from wandering away from the powder room for too long) and great memories.
Divine Nines – Hamilton
I’d forgotten about this tournament as 2009 was a busy year but this was an insane tournament and the second time I lost to a team from Hamilton in 2009 (never again!!!…in 2009).
Nines is an interesting Mixed tournament where each team is allowed a roster of exactly 9. The typical setup is 5 guys and 4 ladies and while we adhered to this format not all teams did. Since Nines is so early in the season it’s usually a cold tournament but fortunately for us the weather was warm for the season and we were able to enjoy ourselves in the heat.
I forget who the team captain was but the team we’d put together was pretty much made up of local (Waterloo and Guelph) stars including Darcy Drummond. To say that we were overwhelming favourites would be a huge understatement. We went into the round robin confident and emerged with no team scoring more than four on us. That confidence would be our downfall.
Each tournament I learn something new and in this one the lesson was: “overconfidence leads to great failure.” Having won our morning session handily some on our team decided that early celebrations were in order and before the semifinals several beers and a full bottle of fireball was consumed. Rapid inebriation set in and a disaster was in the making.
Our semifinal was against Boom, a strong Hamilton team that included Jake (top player on Fossil) and a few future Mayhem players (like Shay). Having crushed Boom earlier in the day we came out without a care in the world, they came to win. Boom switched tactics and threw a zone on us immediately. Normally we would have no issue with a zone but playing 7s on a field one third the size of regulation, a bit of wind, and more than half of our team drunk left us without much hope.
While we were drunk it’s not like we weren’t trying and with 10 minutes left in the game Boom hadn’t made half and were only leading 6-2. At that point we sobered up and scored four in a row to take it to Universe (I feel these were the four best points I played in the tournament…although luck helped with one of my throws). We felt that the timing was fishy but being a team that had been complaining loudly since the Fireball our concerns were ignored and Universe point was played out.
Unfortunately this last point was the one where I was required to sit out due to our five man rotation and I watched helplessly as we threw away two chances to score. Boom scored to take the semi and move onto the finals which they also won.
We sat dejected on the sideline not really caring, some of us knowing it was the booze that did us in and the rest consuming what remained of our downfall. We won our consolation without much trouble and watched as two teams we had handily beat earlier battled it out.
What did I learn from this tournament? That I could be a pretty decent primary handler if the situation arose. It’s a position that I played at almost every tournament later in the year with Too Bad, especially at Nationals.