Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Photos from the 2012 Indiana State Championship













































Full album HERE.

So it's the end of an era. I'm happy we have the trophy back, but i'm even more grateful for our brothers from Lafayette- Tyler, Tom, and Kevin- and the amazing rivalry we've had over the past few years. Losing to them at state last year was a big motivation for me to keep progressing, and everyone ended up better players because of it. Then of course there's Indianapolis- they finally got a real club, real courts, and a top notch A-team to boot! This may be the end of one chapter, but it's just the beginning of another...

-W.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Louisville BOOndoggle this saturday at the Barret Bar

If you've never been to the Thunderdome behind the Barret Bar in Louisville you should really try and make it out to this. One of the most unique courts in all of polo- a 20x40 cage with corner milk crate goals, all tucked behind an awesome bar that encourages debauchery. What else could you want?!? There will be at least one car coming down from Indiana after the state championship on saturday- watch as Travis defends his title as the Thunderdome's current champion!

-W.

Article on Louisville Bike Polo - "HardCourt HARDCORE"


“MARCO…POLO!” SHOUTED THE BIKE-BORNE COMBATANTS ACROSS THE COURT AND ON EITHER SIDE OF ME. AND THUS THE MATCH BEGAN, AS I AWKWARDLY ACCELERATED TOWARD A RED STREET HOCKEY BALL PLACED AT THE CENTER OF THE CENTRAL AVENUE OVERPASS TUNNEL IN THE PAPA JOHN’S CARDINAL STADIUM PARKING LOT. I ATTEMPTED TO STEER CLEAR OF BOBBING AND WEAVING BIKE FRAMES WITH ONE HAND WHILE MAKING FEEBLE USE OF A HANDMADE MALLET WITH THE OTHER.

I WAS LARGELY INEFFECTIVE, AS MY FELLOW COMPETITORS TWISTED ACROSS THE COURT IN OPPOSING CIRCLES. THE BALL PASSED IN BETWEEN WHEELS AND BOUNCED OFF WALLS. SUDDENLY I WAS CHASING AFTER A BREAKAWAY WITH THE ORANGE STREET-CONE GOAL IN SIGHT, ONLY TO BE CUT-OFF AND SKID TO THE PAVEMENT AS I SQUEEZED MY BRAKES A BIT TOO FEVERISHLY.

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Read the whole article HERE by Chris Ritter of the Louisville Paper.

I really like this article. I meant to post it a few weeks back but just got around too it. You really should read the whole thing. It starts off with the usual synopsis about the format and mechanics of polo, but then it really delves into what makes the Louisville club unique. I'll highlight my favorite three quotes-

Roberts and Flaherty assert that over the past couple of years LHBP has somewhat dialed down their reputation of having a penchant for drink.

“We were definitely the only team in a tournament heckling each other,” said Flaherty.

But they are nonetheless proud that the Louisville game’s basis of friends and fun first has endured, even while they are striving to become more competitive on the national level.

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“It’s crazy how organized they are up there,” said Flaherty about Indiana’s eight or more established clubs around the state. “If there ever was an area of complete polo nerds, it’s Indiana.”

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“You know, there’s straight edge people who play bike polo too,” said Flaherty.

“Yes, just not in Louisville,” said Roberts.

I love it! One of the best polo article i've read in a long time. And thanks for the shout out guys! For me nerd is a badge of honor.

-W.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Indiana State Championship 2012 - this weekend in Indy!

I know this isn't a major tourney that most people pay attention to, but for our five small clubs in the great state of Indiana this is the bee's knees. We have a lot to celebrate this year- first permanent polo court in the state (with 4 ft boards nevertheless), our newest club Muncie will be sending three teams, and we have lots of new and upcoming players to welcome to the family. Saturday will be less like a tourney and more like a family reunion in the park, and i love that. That's not to say there won't be serious polo- in fact Kevin White will be flying back from Phoenix to play in his last tournament as a Hoosier, and it will also mark the final battle in the great rivalry that has been Apolo III vs Tree City. I can't wait!

See y'all there! And don't forget to make some food for the pitch-in lunch!

-W.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Midwest Open 3 final goal - or not?

Golden Goal Midwest Open 3 from Mr.Do on Vimeo.

I was asked to referee by Nick Dellwo after being knocked out of the double elimination (taking 5th place with Capt Jake and Meg Lee) for the final run of matches. I happily obliged as I have as much experience reffing as anyone in polo and was even a part of the committee that wrote version 2.0 of the ruleset (which has not yet been officially adopted, but now that the season is over that's one of the issues the NAH board is gonna tackle). Usually the higher level the play the less a ref is needed except for the most controversial/subtle calls. Such was the case in this match. YOLO POLO (Kruse/Hill/Dellwo) and Otter Spice (Kremin/Simpson/Schultz) are easily the best players in the Midwest and their skill showed on the court. Often times players will make up for lack of skill with physicality (for which a good ref will penalize them) but that wasn't the case here. If anything it was the excess of skill that led to the controversy.

Put simply- Ben Schultz made that shot.

>Now to elaborate and explain why im sure he did.

(1) The goal judge. Sam Crossley (wearing a red jacket in the video) had been the goal judge for the stretch of final matches and he was doing a great job. A good goal judge will clearly signal when a goal is made or a close shot misses, but a great goal judge signals even on wide misses. Suffice to say Sam was paying very close attention the entire time and doing as good a job as a goal judge can do. I confirmed the goal with him and we even spoke afterwards and agreed on exactly what we saw. He didn't think it was legit- he knew it was. That alone should be enough, but when the stakes are this high i can see why people would want more.

(2) The sound. Did you hear the *kook* sound? That's the unmistakeable sound of a Milk head. Back in February I reviewed the first Milk heads to come stateside. Even then i immediately noticed the unique noise it made when hit off the end. Anyone who's ever played with one can tell you that. It has to do with the milling on the inside of which there's a center ridge and another ridge on the uncapped side. That up and down internal design is what creates the unique acoustical properties, also highlighted by the fact that Unibody heads make a completely different sound. Let's also contrast that sound with the *clank* noise that a shaft shot makes- it's flat, metallic sound that is equally unique. Not only did i see Ben score that goal but i heard it. Watch the video again, it's unmistakable. Hell, Mr.Do even puts that little sound at the end of the video! He knows what's up.

(3) The video. I've watch this over and over and it comes down to a couple frames...

Frame #1

At this point the ball is clearly visible and it appears to be slightly above the face of the mallet, but keep in mind the ball is falling downward directly into the path of the mallet.

Frame #2

See how the ball is extremely blurry in the next frame? That's cause it's now in motion at a higher rate of speed than it was when it was falling. Still, you can see that red blur is now about three inches to the right of where it just was- and still a good six inches from the shaft.

Frame #3

The ball is now blurred even more and slightly further to the right. The mallet follows through and downward while the ball continues towards the goal. The actual point of contact is somewhere between frame 1 and 2, and while i wish the camera would've been even faster and more accurate we're already pretty lucky that Dustin was recording this with the quality and acumen that he brings to the table.

So let's just call it what it was- an amazing fucking shot. It did seem to strike the outer edge of the mallet face but that happens all the time, even for shots on the ground. I know Nick Charlie and Dellwo probably feel like they got robbed, but that was a legit goal and on top of that they had plenty of chances to win that game, especially as they had their fourth goal a good seven minutes before Ben's final shot. Those guys know i love them and i was actually cheering for them to win (Simpson Kremin and Schultz already have plenty of trophies on their mantle) but that doesn't affect my position or change what happened.

I would argue, however, that this whole debacle should make us think long and hard about the rules we set. If some elements of our game are visually indistinguishable by a referee, then how are we to enforce them? We were lucky to have a camera there but that's not always the case. There's a discussion about this on the League of Bike Polo and some people are already bringing back up the idea that "anything that goes in should count". While i wouldn't go that far i think we need to keep the game both skillful AND enforceable. If we can't trust our goal judges or refs then why even have em? And if it is impossible to visually distinguish one thing or the other then the rules should take that into account. Is our current ruleset perfect? Hell no. Is the v2 ruleset perfect? Of course not. But we're getting closer, and we should use controversies like this should help move us forward- not to slide back to the days of traffic cones, play to five and anything goes.

-W.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Photos from the Midwest Open 3 in MPLS





































Full album link HERE. Keep in mind i'm not a photographer, just some guy with a camera. I'm absolutely terrible at action shots but at least i occasionally capture something neat.

What can i say about the open other than it was fucking awesome! Minneapolis i absolutely love you guys! I'm kinda sad that i spent almost as much time in transit as i did in the city, but i'm already eager to go north again as soon as possible! many thanks to Kelli, Ebbin, Bryan, Jeremy, Meg, Jake, Nick, Aren, and all the others that made this trip possible for me! I'd like to say more at the moment but i'm still wiped out for the long trip and having to immediately get back to the grind.

And yes, i do have something to say about that final goal. I'll save that for tomorrow though.

-W.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bike polo loves DZR

Or is it DZR loves bike polo? Either way i've been seeing tons of new kicks on the court this year, myself included. When i finally made the switch to playing clipped in i wanted a normal looking shoe that i could wear everyday- not any of that spacey plastic road racing bullshit. I'm sure those types of shoes work fine, but i ain't carrying around an extra pair every time i wanna ride my bike. Hell, my polo bag is already so full of gear i'm about ready to upgrade to a hockey bag!

Pictured about are the Dice Black's worn by the world famous Chris Simpson. DZR started sponsoring the Milwaukee polo club this year and all those guys have been trying out the different models. I've been wearing the all black Minna's for about 5 months now and after Minneapolis this weekend i'll be posting my full review. It's not a circlejerk if that's what you're expecting- I've had some real issues with em, but i wanna put em through this final test before i make my judgment.

And who knows, maybe DZR will start making doggy boots for all those fly pups that are already sporting hoodies ;)

-W.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Friendship, hardship, and why i love bike polo

I knew these guys would win from the moment GM Dillman picked his best mate Kremin. While other teams had disjointed picks all across the board, Brian picked midwestern steadies and familiar slayers. Congrats to everyone on Team Adonis! That MKE trophycase must be getting pretty damn crowded at this point..

Which brings me to these two fine gentlemen. Brian and Kremin are undoubtedly two of the best players in the world (with world's '10 and '11 MVP titles to prove it). And the fact that they're longtime teammates just further bundles the awesomeness known to most as "the Beaver Boys". This pic says it all. Two big smiles sharing one bike riding through the darkness on the other side of the world. What's better than a best friend that will literally carry you home? Of course i particularly like this photo cause Brian did the same thing for me riding home from the Atlas in Bloomington, but (pardon the sentimentality) it beautifully illustrates what i like to refer to as the best bromance in polo.

but why do i bring this up now?

..cause Brian has finally left the midwest, moving to San Francisco. I knew it was happening, but when Simpson posted this photo it struck a chord. I wish Brian all the best, and i'll miss seeing his smiling face at every tourney, but it's onward and upward for him. It's reminded me that while change is inevitable, but growth is optional.

- - -


So goes everything in life. Polo has changed my life for the better in so many ways, but then that cruel mistress fortune always seems to balance everything out. In the past two week i've had my best friend move away due to financial issues, loaded another best friend into an ambulance thinking he might be dead, my polo team with two said friends is breaking up, split with my girlfriend when we both realized there was no future, and to top it all off yesterday i found out my grandmother died. Life is hard sometimes, i'm ok with that, but it's times like these where i try to look forward and take solace in all the good i've experienced in my life and all the good yet to come.

That's where polo comes in. I'm gonna go to Minneapolis this weekend and lay it all on the court. I'm gonna enjoy the good times, commiserate for the bad times, and look forward. For some polo is just a sport, for some it's a good way to pass the time- while both those are true for me, it's also exorcism and transcendence all in one. It's sweat, focus, timing, blood, teamwork, concentration, glory, agony, and so much more. That's why i love polo.

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I apologize for the tangent, but this site is and should be more than just reposts of shit you guys have already seen. I like posting original content (like my crappy photos), but this is also a journal of sorts for me. It catalogs my journey with polo and it's ebb and flow that always seems to mimic life. Torrid love affair seems more and more appropriate every day. I'm gonna keep posting, but exactly what and how i post is a mystery even to me. The internet has fundamentally changed the way we all communicate, and while this site has a purpose, there's always plenty of ways to get your daily polo fix.

For example- are you following Kevin Walsh (kev_walsh) on instagram?? WHY NOT!?!

You get to see amazing photos like the top two above...


..plus amazing on the scene shots like this...



..and the occasional mountaintop, backpacking, or fine dining shot.


Then of course there's also the feed of the one and only Chris Simpson (1mallet), bringing you every facet of the high life that is world class polo!


Beers on a cathedral lawn whilst touring Europe? Check.



Personal forays into every aspect of polo? Check.



Debauchery with friends? Well, add a bitchin' camaro and the biggest bestest gay bar ever then we're getting somewhere!

But yeah, suffice to say- i really do love bike polo. Here's to the good, the bad, the ugly, and many more years of mallets and mayhem!

-W.