I spent the last weekend and a few days preceding it in Vancouver running around in gorges, leaping from boulder to boulder, falling into rivers, and in general messing around as much as possible.
During my time I was able to get a bit of throwing in and also got a chance to watch Traffic and Furious practice on Sunday morning.
A few years ago one of my friend’s girlfriends started playing WODS Fall Hat League as a beginner. Turned out she was a pretty good athlete, she played Soccer semi-pro, and more than decent at Ultimate. While her throwing wasn’t good at first (she’d just started!) she worked her way through the ranks and was for a few weeks on Lotus. Personal reasons took her back to Vancouver and she’s been there since. Over the last two years we’ve run into each other at Nationals (Winnipeg), World’s (Prague), and this past weekend she invited me to catchup at Traffic practice (yes…three years from starting to throw to Traffic, some people are gifted).
I arrived at the fields during the mid-afternoon to find Traffic warming up while Furious was already into their drills. Much like the few days before it the morning was cool for Vancouver standards (16 C in the shade) but comfortable in the sun. After introductions I settled into observing both teams as they prepped for the USA Club Championships Series. For Furious it’s an important year as they’ve missed out on the past two Championships and didn’t finish well in 2007 after a bad first day.
For Traffic it’s also a tough year as the NW lost a wild cart spot in a region with four very capable teams (Fury, Riot, Zeitgeist, and Traffic) competing for three spots to Finals. While there might be some preseason kinks for Traffic to work out they’re confident they can take the #2 spot out of the region. ECC 2010 results show a 13-11 victory over Zeitgeist and a decently close match against Riot (13-8) that was much closer at half. An unexpected loss to Pop (14-12 after being down 7-1) shook the ladies up and taught them that they’ll have to concentrate no matter what.
In general the focus that Traffic had at practice was mixed. Many of the big names were playing hard and laying out despite shoulder injuries and broken arms with an intensity that caught on as the practice progressed. Coach Cruikshank adjusted defense and brought marked improvement to the team through the morning and into early afternoon. Every time that he took the time to explain a particular strategy I strained to listen despite my distance on the sideline not to steal information but to improve my own game. Just the moments on the sideline have given me a month’s worth of practice material.
From what I’ve seen (and I won’t share too much) the efficiency of both the O and the D should be a cause for concern in any team that will play the ladies right into Finals.
Compared to the ladies the intensity of Furious was off the scale. Every throw was followed by a foul call, there was bumping at stall 1 on stationary throwers by stationary marks, there were layouts, elbows being thrown, defensive players being shoved off their feet, and some great Ultimate. With little rest the team transitioned from game to drills and back. They practiced until Andrew Lugsden told them to take a break and he yelled at them when they doddled. The team was focused and it unlike other teams they weren’t so much focused on playing with friends but each vying to be the starting 7.
I wandered the fields after practice and quietly remarked at how quickly they’d torn the field up. Question is, will they be able to tear their way through into the finals?