Thursday, May 15, 2008

College Nationals 2008

If you're looking for bracket analysis or predictions, look elsewhere. Match and other blog/rsd luminaries have already covered this stuff in excellent detail. For some reason, this year I am particularly interested in the process/outcome. And I think that is due to the explosion of coverage in the college game.

Back in the day, I was fortunate to be able to compete at 3 college national championships with Princeton in '85, '86, and '87 (freshman-junior years). Our best year was in '87 when we just missed the semifinals by gakking a 10-6 lead to Cornell, losing 15-13. I actually ended up beating Cornell for my one and only time the last time I played them senior year. But that is another story.

For those 3 years at nationals, I'm not even sure we knew who else was going to be there besides the other team from our region. The UPA newsletter (in newspaper pamphlet form like those 'medical marvel' things that clog your mailbox, unlike the current glossy) was of course wildly out of date as always. And interregional travel, especially east/west, was completely non-existent. We did Florida one year during spring break (senior year and I had a screwed up bone in my foot, so we asked Columbia to play zone for one point so I could go in and play. When there was a turnover (not mine), they let me take an injury sub, but at least I could say I played) and maybe DC a few times during my college career, but otherwise it was Mid-Atlantic sectionals and regionals in the fall series (yes, it was that thin back then) and we would actually win a game or two against teams like Periodic Table (of Elements), Lunchmeat, etc., and then Ivies and maybe a few other local tournaments in the spring, and then the college series. We knew nothing about other teams and email was only within the school at best (and was not the attention sink it is now).

With the profusion of blogs, sites like mssui, aggregators like ultimatetalk, and, of course, ultivillage and their 'subsidiary', ultitv, I know more about college ultimate than I do about most professional sports other than names of players. I think that is a great thing, and I'm sure that is helping to contribute to the explosion of high school ultimate, as they now have tangible evidence of something to look forward to once they graduate high school (much less actually having the opportunity to choose where to go based on ultimate programs). That definitely was not where I started. I was planning to play tennis at Princeton until I quickly realized I wouldn't even make the JV squad, and then saw an ultimate frisbee flyer about practices every day during Freshman week. I had played hack ultimate in high school, 10 on 10 style and even back then, I was the guy sitting back and hucking to the tall guy. I don't even think we had a stall count, and I couldn't have played more than 5 times. We played on the lawn at the Presbyterian church.

While I won't do the comparison thing at the Open level (how would vintage DoG compete against the current crop of semifinalist/finalists), I can confidently do this exercise at the college level. The championship winners from the '80s would get smoked by the current crop of elite college teams. Except maybe for the ringer Chabot College team in 1987, which resulted in the first serious eligibility rewrite. I would love to be able to attend college nationals in Colorado this year and just sit and enjoy as a spectator. I remember when 'natties' were held in Boston, which was awesome. I actually took the Friday off to be able to go see some games. I bet that the finals which were held in the Tufts stadium were the most-watched finals ever (definitely to that point) by non-competitors, since they had a very deep ultimate community to draw upon. I don't know who ran that, whether it was the same people that are running the Boston Invite these days, but I would love it if they stepped up to the plate again. I think the attendance compared to the previous outing would balloon significantly.

But lacking that opportunity this year, I will be watching closely on score reporter (another great invention that has made it easier to follow the game, kudos to Rodney) and the various blogs and ultivillage to keep track. So good luck to all the competitors this year, and make it an exciting nationals!

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Dive

Well, I have no idea how this will work, and it isn't very impressive, but I promised.

For those who don't pay CLOSE attention to the minutiae of my blog, this dive at a Costa Rica waterfall is discussed at the end of this entry.

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