Kaimana bigger and better

The last few weeks have been rather hectic. I worked on a conference proposal for Open Science and attended my department’s annual retreat, in addition to the regular research mumbo jumbo. Planted a bunch of herbs (rather haphazardly, so we’ll see how that works out), rototilled the crap out of my backyard, and started planning my edible circus (70 lb cabbage! tiny eggplants that look like orange watermelons! actual watermelons that look like a starry night sky! purple tomatoes! you get the picture). Had the first planning meeting for Mischief. It’s been busy, so when it came time to pack up and head to Hawaii for Kaimana, I decided it was in my best interest not to bring my laptop, and just focus on chilling and playing intense Ultimate.

This was my 3rd time at Kaimana in the last 4 years – the first time was with the Stanford team, the second time was with mostly California-based team Dirty Dozen Dames, and this time was as a reincarnation of DDD with an infusion of eclectic players from all over the country, called Hot Lava. Brynne and Alice did a great job bringing together a team of really cool people who just happen to be awesome players as well. I think I knew the most people on the team, but for the most part, no one knew everyone else, so it was very exciting to see how well we could work and learn throughout the tournament.

The first day, our inexperience playing together showed when we played the Stanford alum, who threw a tough zone on us that we couldn’t effectively break; however, the next day was markedly different, with a definitive upset against the #1 seed and defending champs Howling Coyotes and double game point win over tri-state area team Phine to take the 1 seed going into quarters. We faced the Santa Barbara alum in the quarters and played a solid game on them, and then rematched against Phine (who defeated 2 seed Ponies with Uzis on double game point) in the semis. This game was similar in intensity to the previous Phine game, except that instead of clawing our way out of a 5-9 hole to win 11-10, we started out with a 2 or 3 point lead which widened at one point to 4 or 5 points, and then closed to the final score of 11-10. I think Phine played a tremendous tournament, having only 11 people, beating the 2 seed, and playing all of their games that I saw to within 1 point differential.

Beating Phine in semis catapulted us into finals against… Howling Coyotes, who beat 3 seed SmokeFireHireLower in the other semi. I’m not really sure what happened here, but we lost to them something like 15-9. They were able to use their roster a little more effectively (big players like Chelsea Dengler, Jody Dozono, and Arly ?) and it could be argued that they played sleepy and underestimated us in our earlier match. Yet when it comes down to it, they didn’t play all that well in the finals, with a lot of throwaways you wouldn’t expect from seasoned club players. We also generated plenty of Ds on them. I think what it came down to was offense. While we had several points with really nice offensive flow, we struggled a bit against the wind and couldn’t convert enough of our Ds into goals, answering with throwaways of our own.

In the end, though, it was a great run for a team that really had never played together before. We had a signature Hot Lava shot, sizzling jerseys and shorts designed by Lori (I’m now a fan of Five Ultimate gear), and everyone on the team played like a rockstar. I can’t even count the number of times Alice, Minh, and Jen Smith laid out. Finding your niche defensively is also really gratifying – discovering that you can match up against really good players, read them, shut them down, and capitalize when they’re tired. There are some players I have yet to figure out, but when you do figure someone out, it’s a revelation. It’s things like these that help rekindle your love for the sport.

One Response to Kaimana bigger and better

  1. e the cat says:

    sigh. oh how i miss ultimate sometimes.

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