Regionals, day 1


Today was strange.

I slept like crap last night, to be greeted with an overcast morning, no breakfast items I could really eat as most were bread or wheat-based (oh, waffles, how do I miss thee? Let me count the ways!).

Guy was there to help with the camera work, so I handed him the video cameras, showed him where the tapes were, and sent him off. A few minutes later, I was handing him my hat and my rain jacket, as the weather was crappy. Yay, Regionals in Burlington, Washington, where even the locals ask, "Why again aren't we having Regionals in California?"

We knew we had to be on this weekend, so we had a long warmup before the first game. Based on how the schedule was, and what we knew about the teams, I planned on playing the first two games, maybe the third game, then stand on the sidelines the rest of the tournament.

Our first game was against Shadrach, the second against Sleepover. Both teams were ranked fairly low in the tournament, both managed a few points on us, I played in both, while Guy used the games to practice videoing and Gillian practiced taking stats.

The third game was against Golden Spike, which gave us a game at Labor Day this year, and beat Brass Monkey at the same tournament. I didn't play in the game against them. We lost 13-15. The game was close the whole time, with our biggest lead at 9-6, and their biggest lead 10-13. Yeah, a 1-7 run for them. We faltered. We faltered, and the game was ugly. Almost every goal was called back on a foul, or travel, or pick, or other call. The wind picked up, and the game was ugly, and we lost.

By the time the fourth game started, I had already taken off my cleats. However, instead of playing Brass Monkey as we expected to play, we played Bozos, from Bosemon, Montana, originally seated 10th. The game wasn't really close. We were disheartened, yes, but they had lost before they even began. Crystal suggested I put my cleats back on, and play a few points, so in I went. I caught one throw just outside the endzone on a swing pass from Shirley, but didn't have the confidence to release the low release throw to Warren who had the perfect continue for me for the score. I had another score called back on a pick call that I mostly disagreed with, having seen my defender on my left as I was starting my cut, when I heard the pick call on my right. However, she said she was picked, so I lost my other goal. Sigh.

The bad thing about the last game was the headache that started in the middle of a point. Instead of my usual both sides migraine, this one was the right-side only headache that sent bolts of pain around the side of my head with every minor effort, such as standing up, running, lifting my bag. Two advil, a meal, and two more advil didn't do much to help it, I'm afraid.

So, we we'll go into Sunday without a first round bye. I think this'll work better for us. We're not always a first day team, and having a good game early on will fire us up.

Psych-up buddy made me cry


My psych-up buddy made me cry this morning with last night's email. I told Kris about the crying. His reply went something like, "Are you crying? Are you CRYING? There's no crying in psych-up!" a takeoff of one of our favorite quotes from A League of Their Own when Tom Hanks' character says, "There's no crying in baseball!"

Ah, another baseball reference. My life is full of them.

I hope you've been having too much fun with Ben and Lisa in Seattle to
notice how late this note is. It's still technically Thursday though! And
this one will be longer than the others.

Have I told you that I can see the future? Here is the play-by-play for the
start of this weekend:

It's Saturday. Game day. You're getting ready with the team and you're
feeling...nervous. It's only natural. Regionals is a big weekend; these are
the games that count. Maybe you're worried that those injuries will flare
up. Perhaps you're thinking about how much wheat you've eaten lately. To
make matters worse, it's cold and rainy. Bleagh.

All of a sudden, you snap out of your funk and look around. You are
surrounded by a sea of red. Not a brooding maroon or a frivolous magenta.
No, a bright scarlet. It's in-your-face, take-no-prisoners, no-guts-no-glory
red. The color of blood, of fire engines, ripe apples, fire, life. Red is
not just what we see in anger, but also in passion. And we are nothing if
not passionate. We are Mischief and we are bound together by our insane
passion for ultimate. Every week we spend hours training our bodies,
analyzing the game, practicing our skills and counting down to the next time
we play. Now that is fucking love.

With these thoughts your body starts feeling warmer, softer, like butter
being spread on toast. You feel as if you've put on clothes straight from
the dryer. Yeah, sometimes these people damn near drive you insane but
you're comfortable with them; they are your friends as well as your

A drill begins. Your body hesitates. Have we really finished warming up? Am
I ready?

There isn't time to doubt now. Only time to cut, catch and throw. You thrust
yourself onto the field and wait your turn at the drill.

Immediately as you begin running your legs spring away from the ground like
you were stung by get-up-and-go. You feel light and powerful. And best of
all you feel completely in control.

The disc goes up. It's coming hard and fast at your face. A normal person
would duck or put up a hand to block it. But you were never content with
normal, Kitt. Normal doesn't suit you, it bores you. So, using the leg
muscles you've built from those painful mornings at Velocity Sports, you
jump up and reach for the disc.

CLAP! That's the sound of a classic, confident pancake. The disc is in your
hands and you know exactly what to do with it. A split-second after your
beautiful catch, you've let off a marvelous throw for the score. Now that is
veteran decision-making.

TO BE CONTINUED...You'll notice that the scenario above is incomplete. I've
only described the part leading up to the first actual game.

Kitt, I know you will make some magic on the field this weekend and it would
take a gajillion hours to write about all the extraordinary things that
you'll do. So instead of telling you what those things are I'll end by
spelling out the Kitt Rules.

The Kitt Rules
- O: Whenever I am in the game I am running hard, going all-out. Every step
I take is part of a cut, whether in or long. Sure, I'll clear space for
others when it's right...but damnit, most of the time I'll be cutting like a
madwoman so they'd better put it to me.
- D: When I am supposed to be on defense I will play like I am on offense.
The disc belongs to me, not that girl on the other team. And I will make
sure she doesn't get it. It is MINE.
- Me: I will have utter faith in myself. I am always more amazing than I

Go get'em.


More psych-up news


Today I received another awesome email from my psych-up buddy.

Hello Kitt,

The alias "kittrules" means you, Kitt Hodsden, rule.

Top Ten Reasons Why You Rule (They're not all ultimate-related, but let's face it you rule in many ways.)

10. You patiently take stats and organize them for impatient polar bears.
9. Who magically gets ice cream in their freezer?! If that's not a sign of good karma...
8. You get your ass kicked so you can kick ass, voluntarily doing extra training at Velocity Sports at the crack of dawn.
7. You "hire" college boys to do "work" every summer.
6. Your forehand is hot. Seriously.
5. You always encourage your teammates, whether they are up, down or just around.
4. Treasurer, webmaster, general has-her-shit-together person!
3. You push yourself hard, a lot harder than most, and even when you think nobody is watching.
2. You ask smart questions during practice to understand what the drills are supposed to simulate.
1. You are so resilient. At times you've been sidelined because of injuries but then you're back again. And again. Stronger than before and ready to go.

Or in your case, ready to RULE.


I lurve my buddy.

Psych-up buddies


Brynne is lots of fun. I'm not sure she knows that. She's very passionate about topics and items of interest to her, and she inspires the rest of us. Take, for example, our team's "anonymous" psych-up buddies. Just like a Seekrit Santa, we pulled names from out of a hat for a teammate to encourage. Who drew who was supposed to be unknown, but some people need help figuring what helps fire up their teammates, so some of the buddies are known to various people. Some people opted out, and some people are overwhelmingly excited about the opportunity to inspire their teammates.

I'm one of the latter.

But I can't post until we're done psyching up for this weekend's tournament. I'm not sure if we'll continue the process through the end of the month, the results being somewhat uncertain at the moment that people want to continue, but I'm very happy that Brynne started the project. I know it's brought fun for me to the team, fun that I've thought was lacking this season. I think i may have to do it by myself all next season, it's been so much fun.

My psych-up buddy started by sending me poetry:

Hi Kitt,

Every day until regionals please expect at least one email from this
address. We begin today with three haiku and a limerick:

Kitt makes savvy cuts
Will she go in or bust long
Defense falters, rues

Kitt plays shut-down D
Think you'll get the disc today?
Try again, sucker

Every time she's in
She plays with verve, style and smarts
That Kitt has gumption

I have a sweet teammate named Kitt
Who besides her peerless wit
Brings zeal and tenacity in every capacity
She's too legit to quit

Your Secret Psyche-Up Buddy (henceforth "spub")

There was a follow up email poem, hinting at who my psych-up buddy might be, but without confirmation, I'm still in the dark. Especially since Doyle made nearly the same statement just before I received the poem:

you might think this is ------------
but i am sneakier than she
and far more daring
that was a red herring

I'm excited for these emails (even if I won't be playing much at Regionals). I'll play the first two days of Saturday for sure. After that, I suspect it'll be slim pickings for me.

Fortunately, I'm good with this career turn of events. Guy is coming up to Seattle to help us with stats and taking videos of the harder competition. I also have an advanced system for taking stats. We'll get the usual stats, but also more defensive stats, as well as location based pass completion information.

Is it bad that I'm as excited about my statistics as I am about playing?


Ego limits


At dinner last night, Kris, Brynne, Beth and I talked about various Mischief recruits. There are a couple women recruits who would fit really well on the team, both in terms of skill sets, as well as personality, the latter being one of the big traits for the team: haters need not apply.

One woman in particular had come out to a practice a month or so ago, but hadn't come back. The captains, and by captains, I mean Shirley, had contacted her via email several times, asking what's up, what's her schedule, what is she thinking, was she still looking for a team to play with? The recruit was remarkably poor at communicating back, so Brynne decided to take matters into her own hand and go to dinner with the recruit, ask her face to face what was up.

Turns out, this particular recruit wasn't interested in playing with Mischief because she 1. felt if she joined, she'd be the top women player on the team, 2. thought the team was full of egos and 3. didn't think we throw to our women. That water I was trying to drink? Yeah, I nearly choked on it when I heard this.

That the team doesn't throw to the women players is clear bunk, just watch the various Nationals videos. This is a myth that's perpetuated as near as I can tell by the other local elite Mixed team in their recruiting attempts. I find it hard to believe when we play four women in the semis at Nationals that the women wouldn't receive the disc. That, and as the person who recorded every single pass at every game at Nationals, I can say with confidence that our women not only received the disc, they also threw the disc and had their own share of turnovers.

Personally, I don't know how good the recruit is, but to say she'd be our top woman player without having actually played more than a practice with us sort fulfills the second part of her concerns: she'd definitely bring an ego onto the team if she joined.

Most of these thoughts were reactionary. Recognizing them as such, I tried to see the team from an outsider's perspective. If I didn't know the group of players, these people with whom I've shared a large portion of my daily life for the last four years, would I think of them as full of egos? Would I consider them unfair in their sharing of playing time? Would I really think our woman suck so bad that a random woman could come in and dominate?

Clearly not on the last one. It's hard to win Nationals playing just over half our players, and if they sucked that would happen. The level of play at Nationals is high enough that everyone on the field has to carry his own weight. There were a couple teams who played their men nearly exclusively, who didn't have strong women. They did poorly at Nationals. Their playing style was called out, a men's team with token women. I'm confident that the top half of our women's roster would play just fine against most of the women's teams at Nationals. But, perhaps that's just ego.

Thinking about the egos further, however, I had to wonder how accurate this stranger's opinion was. I thought about Donner Party and tried to make the comparison of Mischief to them. I hated playing against Donner. I thought they were unfriendly, unspirited, aggrogant players. Any call that went for them on the field was "Good call! Good spirit! Good spirit!" Any call that went against them was "What?!? That's wrong! That's bad spirit!" They muttered under their breath on the sideline about how the other team wasn't playing fair. They didn't interact as players with any other team, they stayed with their clique. They were poor ambassadors for the sport of ultimate, which is unfortunate as they represented ultimate at Worlds.

Now, this is my perspective as an outsider, as an opponent. In ultimate, a call is a call. It's a statement of fact of the play, of a potential violation of the rules. If a player breaks a rule, calling him on it doesn't make the opponent unspirited. Spirit has nothing to do with making the call. One could, though I never do, argue that not making the call allows the opponent to continue to break the rules, thereby violating the spirit of the game. Making the call is therefore the spirited action, done to preserve the quality of the sport.

As a result of my dislike of Donner, I try very hard not to be the horrible player on the sideline who mutters, who views the other team as the enemy, and not just as an opponent. I recognize the other team loves this sport just as much as I do, and that, contrary to my gut reaction, they are not deliberately cheating. I try to keep my mouth shut, my perspective may not be the best one, and my opinion doesn't count for anything when I'm on the sideline.

I fail sometimes. The heat of the moment, I'll call out what I saw on the field. I manage to get into arguments on the field, still. If I'm not a player, I'll remind myself to shut up. I'll bring out the rulebook and offer it if requested, but I try very, very hard to both keep the discussion on the field, as well as between the players directly involved.

It's the rulebook I think that bothers some people. Our team knows the rules. We know where to find the rules in the rulebook. We will use the rules to our advantage, just as we expect our opponent to use the rules to their advantage, never breaking them, but always knowing them. I think this also intimidates other teams. Some action may not seem "fair," but it's well within the bounds of the rules, often both the letter and spirit. Speaking of fair, the 11th edition pick rule is the most retarded rule change ever. My tournaments will be 11th edition rules with the 10th edition pick rules until it changes back to something reasonable where reasonable is defined as play goes back to when the pick happened, not when the thrower acknowledges the pick.

So, perhaps the recruit's opinion isn't really that dissimilar to what mine was for Donner Party.

Though, if she's really good enough to be the top woman on our team, she'd recognize that she's just bitter her team never won it all.

Fartlek, my foot!


Tonight's track workout was all of forty minutes of fartlek running: around the track for forty minutes sprinting the first forty yards of each straight and jogging the remaining 320 yards of the track. I managed fifteen minutes before my insides turned to intense jelly balls of pain. I stopped for a minute to let the balls disappate before running around the fields and finding a couple dogs to chase for my sprinting - much easier and far more fun to chase.

I'm not sure what's so special about the first fifteen minutes of a long distance run. I had a very similar problem last week, running the dish: bad cramps at the beginning of the run, only to have them disappear after a minute break, and a good run following. This has to get easier. I can't keep running like this and not have it get any easier.

Clearly twice as sexy


Roshan heard that babies are chick magnets. In an attempt to realize this potential, he walks around with Danger and Mirabelle every chance he gets.

My only suggestion would be to ask non-married women to enhance his chick-magnet technique.

First practice of the season


Today was the first practice of the season. We played at Baylands, where it was unbelievably windy. Not quite hurricane winds, but fairly crappy conditions none-the-less.

Unsurprisingly, my entire focus was on my hamstring. I warmed it up well, but it was still uncomfortable. I played fairly well in the drills, but didn't touch the disc once in scrimmage. Part of me was okay with that, but part of me was completely frustrated, as expected. Unfortunately, I played not to play as well as I could, but rather played not to look bad, not to make a fool of mtself. In other words, I played badly.

I talked to Tyler about it briefly near the end of practice. We were both working on the barbecue pit, his not playing because of a bronchial infection, my not playing because of hamstring exhaustion. I mentioned to Tyler my goal was to actually play at Nationals.

Tyler responded, "Kitt, start with playing at Sectionals."

He has a point.

Totally crushing on Andy


We won DUI today. I didn't play very much, opting to watch instead of fighting for line space with nine other women. I'm frustrated that I was one of five players to play with Mischief the whole weekend, while the women who went to tryout with a women's team show up for the semis and finals after they were knocked out of the women's tournament, and expect full playing time with Mischief. They didn't ask if we needed women, they just assumed they could play. I'm frustrated, because I had psyched myself up to play, I had mentally prepared to play well, and then felt beat down when they showed up and rushed the lines.

On the other hand, I'm totally crushing on Andy.

Now, this would normally be a problem, but for two reasons: 1. Kris knows about it, and 2. the entire team has a crush on him, too. The women are all swooning and the men, well, the men all have man crushes on Andy.

I'm clearly one of two dozen people in this crush.

It's one thing to know of someone, to watch a video of someone playing, to see the highlight reels of some spectacular plays. It's another thing to see him in person, talk with him on the sidelines, realize that, even if for only this tournament, this legend is on my team, playing on the same line as I am, calling out to me from the sidelines, encouraging me. I played few enough points that I remember most of them, which is probably bad, but I lost count of the number of spectacular plays he had.

During the weekend, as during most ultimate weekends, each of us told stories about various highlight moments of our careers. The stories from Kris and me weren't older than about five years, which is about when we started playing for higher level teams, with our eyes looking at playing at Nationals. Andy's stories all started over ten years ago, and nearly always ended in victory. He's used to being on top, having been part of the King of the Mountain for a while, but also knows the effort involved to be there. Kris and I just arrived, and we will have very little time there. We learned only recently the effort involved in being there, and the sacrifices and commitment that comes with that effort. A very different perspective.

Admittedly, I googled for more info on Andy after I found a wireless connection. Well, I googled for information on his ultimate career, figuring the number of different Andys in google would make any non-ultimate information both difficult to find and suspect at the same time. I'm not crushing that much. It's his ultimate prowess I find so compelling.

I am, however, sorta torn. Andy has known of me longer than any of my ultimate friends, has known of me since college. I can't say I'm particularly proud of those years. I often wonder what he thinks of me, how much of that past affects his current opinion. I'm not that person, but it's often hard to know how much someone has changed when you've seen them only really twice in the intervening decade.

Ultimately (heh), I do hope he decides to play with us, in some capacity. I know he's worried about some things, but it's always exciting to see an accomplished athlete perform. And if it's with my team, even better.

Especially if I'm crushing on him.

You know, I'm really glad Kris can laugh at me about this, because it is funny.

As funny as his man crush.

Fitness by fire


Today was the second day of Fools Fest West, at Santa Cruz. I missed day one yesterday at the UPA coaching clinic, but the clinic, and meeting John made missing day one worth the loss.

I asked Kris if I could be on his team when the tryout committee was creating teams for the tournament, so I was on Mischief X, which had won all of its games yesterday, and remained seated first in its pool. Mischief Y, however, lost to Pleasuretown, so was seated second in its pool, and was our first competitor of the day.

I struggled in this game. I wasn't completely ready for the game mentally, and physically my hamstring was aching from the stretching. I've been psyching myself up for playing ultimate, going out with a bang, so I tried to play well, Mark's words of encouragement and praise of my play against Team USA a year and a half ago playing in my head.

I had one particular play in the game where a disc was thrown behind me. I had only a step on my defender, so any bad placement was going to make the catch difficult. When I saw the disc go up, I immediately adjusted my path and went hard to the disc. I wish I knew how to layout. I missed the disc by barely a centimeter, my defender having longer arms than I do. My aggressiveness to the disc, however, really impressed and pleased Kris. He complimented me on it several times later in the day.

We lost the game, giving Mischief Y a rematch against Pleasuretown in the finals. Mischief X and Pleasuretown wanted to switch the pools around, meet new teams, but Mischief Y wanted a rematch, so the scheduled stayed unaltered. Mischief Y won their game.

Our second game was against Batwing, which Kevin told me was really Schmatwing. I finally warmed up, and thankfully both started cutting hard and in the correct places. In one point, a breakmark throw went up to my woman who was way too far in front of me to the break side. I managed to run a full sprint to catch up, going 100%. I'm happy to say my hamstring bothered me only a little bit after that run, so it is healing and becoming stronger.

My defense is starting to clean up, also. I was punched in the face by their woman hucker who put up a lot of crap, more so after punching me in the face, but I can live with a punch and crap because our downfield defenders are so strong. I had some down moments in the game, (when I missed a high throw from Kris, and missed another couple throws: one from Lori, one from Roshan who was fouled, one from DanO), but I did have at least one brilliant dump defense where my woman went the wrong way and I sprinted to the endzone alone for a good ten seconds. No love, though, as a teammate overthrew a covered teammate on the opposite side of the endzone. I tell you, no love.

The end of the day, I was tired. Nothing like playing ultimate to get into ultimate shape. Fitness by fire.