Daily Photo

Balancing act


Yeah, so, that tightrope of nylon webbing/straps... some of Mischief were more brave than others. In particular, Doyle and Mark.

And maybe Andy.

I know Shirley tried, too, but I don't have any pictures of her attempts. Being the lightest of those who attempted to walk the tightrope, Shirley appeared the most graceful of the bunch.

I'm just glad that no one fell off and hit the 2' rock that was only a meter from the rope/webbing/strap.

Pull up your pants!


After the tournament, Lyndsay (and her roommates) hosted the team (and other teams) at their house in Santa Cruz. As a sidenote, the house (the downstairs being all I had really seen of it) was great, with the grounds spectacular. They have a tightrope made of nylon strapping that was quite entertaining to watch people use.

In the car on the way over, Andy drove me, Steffi, Andy Fisher and Heather over to the house. We used the navigation system in my car, which means we didn't go the most efficient way to the fields. As a matter of fact, we ended up stopping at a slew of stoplights, driving down small streets, and meandering through the neighborhood in a most circuitous way.

At one of these particularly annoying stoplights, I turned to see a couple walking along the sidewalk beside the car. The couple were both heavyset, with glasses and a slouched appearance. They walked arm in arm and seemed quite happy together. Someone, it might have been me even, made the comment that people tend to attract those similar to themselves: ultimate players date ultimate players, Techers date Techers (okay, no one said that), sporty people date sporty people, that sort of thing, leading to the comment that slightly overweight people date slightly overweight people.

The couple, then turned the corner. As they did, I started to roll down my window. Everyone knew I was going to say something to the couple walking by, the timing was too close for anything else.

And so I did.


The guy was walking along with his pants in the style of today's youth, with his pants' crotch in line with his knees. His steps were abbreviated. I find the look incredibly retarded, stupid, inefficient, ugly and dumb. Yes, I repeated myself with three synonyms - that's how annoying that look is. Worse, that look will be back around in 20-30 years. Argh.

After my call, the guy pulled his arm from around his girl friend and lifted up his hand. I, and everyone else in the car, expected the usual response, and the response I certainly would have given had I been in his place.

I expected the finger.

Instead, he reached down, and pulled up his pants.

We were dumbfounded.

The light turned green. Andy accelerated through the street intersection, and we all burst into laughter.

The guy had actually pulled up his pants. Unbelievable.

mischief track workout 080527

form running

25 single leg calf raises
2x20 squats
2x15 lunges (each leg)

2 sets of 100-200-400-200-100 pyramid run

First practice


I went to my first Mischief practice for the season today. It was at Baylands and, well, Baylands kept up its reputation by having just the best, gusty winds. I headed over late because, well, uh, can I just say some stupid game distracted me at an inopportune moment and leave it at that? Yeah, stupid game. I hate it.

So, when I arrived, and saw a big "Park Closed, Private Event" sign, along with a long line of cars out of the park entrance, I was simutaneously annoyed (the park is NEVER closed for a private event, you can reserve the picnic areas, but not the whole park; the sign was deliberately misleading to keep "undesirables" out), and worried (I was late, and needed to get to practice, and I was late, and Andy doesn't like when people are late, and did I mention I was late? Yeah). So, I pulled a yooey (sound it out), parked across the street and ran.

Now, the nice thing about running over is that you're warmed up when you arrive at the fields. I'm reaching here, to find SOME good benefit of being late. On my run over, I decided that, regardless of what happened at this practice, I would forgive myself any errors. Having spent all of these years criticizing myself for bad plays during ultimate, instead of immediately trying to figure out what I should have done instead, visualizing the correct action, and moving onto what I needed to do next offensively or defensively, I've decided that this season I'll be more proactive in what I think, instead of destructive. I figure, what I've been doing hasn't worked, why not try this?

Out of breath, and in a hurry, I dropped my stuff, pulled of my pantaloones and hoodie, exchanged shoes, and dashed out to warm up with the team. I noted the people who crossed the street in front of me, but didn't hussle over, had to do a warmup lap to get their legs going before jumping into the warmups. I admit to being pleased at my hussle-double-duty.

As has been the trend over the last 2-3 seasons, the practice was well organized, thought out and well run. We started with a series of warm-up cuts in a box, then progressed to a review (for returning players, and an introduction for new players) of our pull plays. We then ran them for a while.

Next up was 8 pull, where each team receives the disc and has one chance to score, the defense having one chance to score on a turn. I think the end score was like 2-4-10 or something for dark / light / and neither scoring.

At this point, I was tired. Not exhausted, but definitely feeling my lack of fitness. The next drill, however, focused on isolation cutting, and whoo-boy, did I not realize I how tired I was until after this drill.

The drill consisted of a receiver and defender in a 8 m x 8 m box, and a thrower about 3 m outside the box with a defender on him. The receiver can cut and move anywhere in the box he wants. The thrower needs to throw to the receiver by the end of a stall count starting on 5. The defender and marker are, of course, trying to prevent the completion.

When partnered up with Adam Leventhal as my thrower, crap, I could do no wrong in my cutting. With Adam as the defender and my marking, he could do no wrong. I had problems throwing to Adam, completing only 2 of my five throws. My iso defense wasn't as strong as I would have liked, blocking only 2 (might have been 3) of the throws. I really liked receiving from Adam, though he did zing one throw in hard enough to leave a nasty bruise. Need to up the vitamin K, I think.

I really liked the drill, as it gave me a chance to throw, throw, throw, granted in somewhat artificial circumstances, but it was still a lot of throwing in tight situations. I'm going to see if I can convince some teammates to continue this drill again some evening this week. Steffi expressed interest, so only 2-4 more people would be needed.

We then played a game to seven. Dark, my team, was up 3-1, before going down 5-3 to light. We brought the score back to 5-6, but eventually lost 5-7. The game was really interesting, though I was remarkably exhausted. I can't believe (well, okay, yes, I can) just how out of ultimate-shape I'm in. It's awful. The extra 20 pounds around my hips are definitely announcing themselves on my knees. I ate a fabulous breakfast this morning (vegetable scramble with cheese and a large odwalla citrus c), so now is a great time to keep up the good eating. Maybe I can get rid of those 20 in 10 weeks.

My hamstring, though announcing itself, wasn't too bad during the practice. A little bit of the topical aspirin, and I was running just fine.

The last part of practice was an elmination marking game. Essentially, two lines of players face each other, with the front of one line receiving, and the front of the other line throwing against a straight up mark. The receiver can't move (much) when receiving the disc from the thrower. Once a thrower throws, she runs to the front of the other line to mark, much like a three man marking drill.

Now, the trick of the game is, if the thrower overthrows, turfs, or is handblocked, she has to prevent a completed throw when she marks next. If she doesn't, she's out. If she does, then she continues to the back of the line. There are no penalties for the marker for a completed throw if she had a completed throw when she threw just before.

I managed to overthrow on my first throw, we were throwing upwind, which was the difficult direction. I then handblocked the woman I was marking, forcing her to block the next woman. Eventually, the chain ended and someone else was the first woman out (we split into men and women lines). I did well in the game, making it to the final 4 (I think, might have been 5), before throwing a crappy upwind throw that just went over my receiver. Liz Gannes won it all, having turfed her very first throw in the game. I really enjoyed this game, too, which should indicate how much I enjoyed practice today.

Though, I'm going to be really, really, really tired tonight. I'm happy.



Went to pickup today. It was Mischief-sponsored pickup, so I certainly expected it to be high level. The wind, the gusty, blustery wind, that greeted me when I stepped out of the car was initially disappointing. The disappointment faded rapidly once I started throwing with Pickett: my throws were initially crazy, but smoothed out quickly. My throws, despite the wind, were no longer a concern.

Fitness and health quickly became a concern.

My sprints and other general activities have not kept me ultimate fit. Way not. The only way to truly be ultimate fit is to play ultimate, which I haven't been doing lately. Much at all, not even at the SCU practices. I've been trying to make sure the focus is on the individuals on the team, which means staying off the field so that I can watch. I do wish I could be playing with them.

I played for about an hour, then decided I was done. I played just fine, I think. I made a couple mistakes (sure, unsurprisingly), but I played much more aggressively than normally (where normal is last season, the season before, any time I'm in my head and not just playing). My first throw was a crap throw into the wind, but the rest of them were good enough. All of them were upfield. Even one I was fouled on was upfield and completed (perhaps I should pivot more? Yes, I should).

After playing for a while, I stopped to watch the games. Unsurprising to everyone, I started watching Andy play.

Also surprising to none, he played well. As cliche as it sounds, watching him play is a joy. He claims he's in shape but out of practice. I couldn't tell about the out-of-practice part. All of the throws I saw were well placed, well timed, well executed. Might of been I wasn't watching long enough, but he seemed to be playing very well.

Watching him reminded me of a conversation we had had recently. I had commented something to the effect that, well, I thought I would have done something great by now. Instead, I'm just me. I haven't done the Spectacular Feats I, as a child, teen, young adult and no-longer-young adult, thought I would do. Somehow, I felt more of a waste than a success or failure.

He said that many of us feel this way. We have double standards for ourselves, and expect Great Things from ourselves, while granting others a normal, average, completely ordinary life. Or, at least both of us do. I don't know, looking back on his ultimate career, hearing all the stories his teammates tell about him, spending time with him, I have to say he's done Great Things in ultimate. Might not be in science and technology where we went to school, but it's something.

Not that he said that. He said, sure, many of us have the expectation of greatness, but, "I'm not sure it's a reasonable one."

He went on. "It's important to be able to accept the world and yourself the way it is. Of course, that's a fine line because you also need to expect great things out of yourself before you can achieve them."

The word "expectations" has always seemed to be a stress inducing word to me. Others have expectations of you. You have expectations of yourself. Expectations of behavior. Expectations of this and expectations of that.

Somehow, Andy turned it around. I'm not sure how, but that last line of his seems to sum up my perception of him. He expects great things out of himself.

I like that idea. I like it very much.



Well, it's official and all now. For the first time since 1993, I am no longer on an ultimate team roster for the season. I requested a practice player spot for Mischief this season and heard the news this morning that, yay!, the rest of the team is good with the change. So that's now my official standing with the team.

The change means I'm still with my friends for the season. I'll still practice with them three times a week. I'll still run track with them on Tuesdays (provided the track workouts don't interfere with my current sprint workouts or my soon to be started even-better-plan-to-get-in-shape workouts: Having spent the last 10 years running different get-in-shape workouts, I've decided that, even though others may have ideas for what builds good ultimate fitness, I know what's best for my body. And I know what has worked in the past and what hasn't worked in the past, through Kris' and Chris' various track workouts, with Velocity Sports now, and ASA Baseball then. Certain workouts work, others don't. I'm done wasting time on the ones that don't work for me).

Being a practice player admittedly feels weird, though. It's the right decision, and I know it is. I'd been playing worse and worse over the last three years as I stop playing for the joy of the sport and the thrill of success, and started playing not to lose, not to throw it away, not to embarrass myself. What the hell is that about?

I think a lot of it had to do with the 2004 season, where I trained and trained and trained, managed the best amount of fitness, skills and mental preparation and toughness (fighting through self-doubt and questioning my desire to compete, all while continuing to push), only to be schmooshed and fail.

Kris says I didn't fail. I was injured due to an unfortunate accident on the field. Okay. Sure. I didn't succeed that season. I had four broken ribs when I played at Regionals that year.

Okay, fine, I didn't fail. Looking back, it felt like failure to me. As the team has done better each year since then, I've done worse. I know the problem is mental. Things like Andy intimidates the hell out of me, like I worry more about what other people are doing instead of how I'm doing, like it's so easy to make up an excuse on why I failed instead of working hard not to fail.

It's hard sometimes doing what's right, and I know this was the right decision: to walk away from a guaranteed roster spot. I'd have that roster spot not because I was the best fit for the team, but because I was grandfathered in. I dont' want that. Neither do I want to lose the contact I have with the friends I have on the team.

I think this is a really good compromise between the two: I can continue to play with my friends, have my weekends back since I won't be travelling to tournaments, all while finally starting to grow again as a player. So what if I throw away the disc trying a throw I haven't mastered yet? People will just roll their eyes, mutter something like, "practice players, sheesh," under their collective breaths, and I'll get the chance to try the plays, throws, moves that I thought I'd lost the courage to attempt.

Yeah, this will be a good season.

Even if it's a little uncomfortable in the beginning.