Sunday, August 17, 2014

Goodbye and thank you

Saturday or Sunday or whatever day comes six days after finals day. 

It's all over for now for the Colony boys. After a grand year of effort we have completed our World Club Championships 2014 campaign. It is the end of the road for some of our players, and it marks the beginning of a road for some of our hopeful new players. For the club, I guess it is some sort of middle - the end of the beginning perhaps. Colony formed in 2010 and has achieved success at the National Championships and now success of sorts at two World Clubs. 

What happens now will be interesting to see, more of the same or a revamp and shift in direction. The current status quo obviously generates some good play and some quality learning opportunities for new players in Sydney, there is much to be proud of. 

The questions of "is it good enough?" and "how do we bridge the gap above us?" will be asked, and the answers will be interesting for Colony and for Australian Ultimate in general. 

For the men who worked through this year with the team; took the momentum from Nationals 2013, trained on, then travelled to Kiamana for a historic win. Battled through the 2014 season and then kept on training, when it got cold and dark, kept on training. Journeyed to Europe and forged and bonded. Then played in Lecco and demonstrated that we were a cut above 'the rest'. For these men there is pride and satisfaction. 

These is of course a gnawing feeling of discomfort, a niggle of disappointment. It is probably a mix of these feelings, pride, doubt, joy, ambition and optimism that will bring many of us back. It is this universal collection of experiences that bring all players to the game at a high standard. 

This is the journey of anyone who has found a goal to pursue and has marshalled their resources and their courage to go out and chase. We share this journey will everyone who has followed along with this blog. The team has felt the presence of our friends, family and followers on our adventure and we say thank you. Thank you for reading and thank you for adding value to our adventure and pursuit of a goal. 

Enough of the Colony for now, foreign lands and new adventure abound. We'll see you out there sometime. 

Danke richtig. 



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Everest, with Sir Sacha Percival Hilary

 Everest

The Himalayas are the world’s tallest mountain range, driven upwards by the force of the Indian sub-continent slamming into Eurasia.


It seems like a good analogy for Australian efforts in international frisser.  Like Everest, Worlds, in all its forms, is a long way away (even when it was held in Australia).  Getting there is a major undertaking, requiring time, money, lost passports, lost players, and every kind of drama and mischief.

Everest represents the pinnacle of both mountains and mountaineering…but can also be experienced, at least from afar, by relative newbies.  In retrospect, the tours before my generation (rookie in 1996) really were breathless walks on the tourist trails.  Andy Morris remembers an early tour when players were stunned to see other teams throw forehands…the next tour everyone could do it.  In 1996, after a few years of Jim Garvey, Stu Marcoon and Doug Bergensen teaching us how to stack, hold the mark and throw hammers, we were better, but still got no further than Base Camp. 

By degrees we’ve ascended higher and higher, becoming more skilful, stronger, better organised, more focused and more strategic.  In some divisions, for the last decade, we could make a case for being the ‘best of the rest’…the leading challengers to North American, and particularly US, dominance.  To extend the analogy we have been successfully reaching higher and higher camps on the way to the peak.

I’ve day-dreamed for some time about signing off from competitive frisbee with a speech hailing a successful summit – not necessarily by winning and planting the flag, but by being competitive with the best…by seeing the frisbee world all around us…from above. 

We performed brilliantly this tourney, fully utilising our limited preparation time, capitalising on our strong seeding and benefiting from the shortened tournament structure (which made the power-pool a virtual knock-out round).  We have ended up above Iron Side and all Japanese, Canadian and European teams, not to mention the other Australian teams. The frisbee world knows our name.

Our path to the semis was certainly made easier by Phoenix sending Buzz Bullets to the other side of the draw to battle Ironside…and by Heidees knocking out both Mephisto (15-13) and Phoenix (14-11).  But the score sheet shows that besides the chippy Italians, the teams we played until day 5 could not stay with us.  I can’t find point by point stats, but I think they would show we won first half for our first 7 games…mostly easily…a huge credit to the D team.

Day

Opponent

Score

1

Otso (Fin)

15

-

7

2

Lucky Grass (Rus)

15

-

9

2

FĂ©nix (Mex)

15

-

7

3

Ragnarok (Den)

14

-

8

3

CUS Bologna (Ita)

12

-

9

4

Nomadic Tribe (Jap)

17

-

11

4

Heidees (Ger)

17

-

11

5

Sockeye (US)

4

-

17

5

Johnny Bravo (US)

13

-

17

But the dream is unfulfilled, the summit not reached.  Like Masters in 2012 and the Crocs in 2013, we won against other teams but were not competitive against the Seps.  Maybe I’ve got this wrong but I think Sockeye broke us at 2-2 and then must have had a 12 point run from 4-3 to 16-3.

We recovered pride in the 3-4 playoff and the score sheet reflects some great play, but we didn’t really threaten Bravo, still clearly deflated from a close loss to Revolver.

 

Mates

The Marngrook Footy show covers Australian football from an Aboriginal perspective.  In most respects it is like other footy shows but it has an interesting segment where they interview former AFL legends.  Some are doing well, some just alright, but when asked what they miss about the big time, they all say the same thing: ‘just hanging out with the boys’.

It goes without saying that we did some quality hanging out with the boys.  There is a rich Aussie tour history and this fortnight has added to it out of all proportion.

Schnitzel and apfelwein, Cupcake’s Drought, northern evenings, the music festival, the Alpine reveal, cheese soup, The Isola of San Guilio, The Inside Flick of Saint Julio, Tommy Lamar’s first overseas vacation, the triumphant return of Mike Neild, Magneto (Oli D), doppelkopf, Casa Angolo (times 6), Gus’ moustache, Will’s moustache, all the other moustaches, the return of Gus’ angry cutting, Vidler retiring expectedly, Pillar retiring unexpectedly and a party with many moments too memorable to be committed to type.

It was a great campaign.  But the job ain’t done.

 

The dead zone

Everest is big business now.  You can buy a chance of a summit for $25k if a reasonable mountaineer, $40-60k if a gumbie needing more support. About 500 make it.

But it’s still tough.  It’s very cold, very exposed, quite steep and air pressure is 1/3 sea level.  Above 8,000m climbers can only survive three days maintaining enough energy to manage the descent, even hiding form the weather in a tent.  10 to 15 punters die each season…and few bodies can be retrieved.  Tourists trudge through a narrow grave yard.

Many have failed where you must succeed.  To get to the top you’re going to have to plan very carefully, get very fit, be ready to adapt to new developments at a moment’s notice, and continue to work well as a team…including the leadership which is a team within the team.

I’m sure the young frisbee-frothers can add to this list, but to my eyes the top US teams:

-          are a bit faster and stronger

o   you can easily make too much of this…though it’s certainly true that without threatening speed, a savage chop step (or a handlebar moustache set to angry) you simply can’t get away from these guys

o   all round strength and flexibility is important…but their dudes look ripped rather than huge…go easy on the big weights cvnts…it’s still 90% free running and turning and only 10% basketball wrestling

-          throw better (all the way down the line)

o   rather than having a handful of top throwers who are throwing near the margin of their capability, they have 7 great throwers on field at all time throwing well within their limits

-          are better drilled on

o   quickly breaking the mark (both insides and around backhands…and lefties and overheads to a lesser extent), and

o   quickly hucking…which allows brief opportunities for movement and big gainers to be capitalised on;

o   drills include:

§  really long (50m!!) thrower-marker  

§  upline breakforce dump drill

§  leading pass down line breakforce drill

-          are more physical defending against cutter

o   sockeye drill:

§  defense player maintains contact with offense - ‘offense’ player has to spin and weave to break contact in order to cut

-          have thought more about structures to maximise offensive opportunities - revolver particularly maintained regenerative movement and flow with an arrangement of cutters that is not a simple stack

-          played with a relentless discipline, especially when it was tight.

 

Work out your list for personal and team capabilities. Share it with all Aussie (and Kiwi?) club management and let anyone who’s interested in Dingos or Mundies know. 

You’ve got 2 years including 2 nats campaigns to prepare yourselves for your next few days in the dead zone…days 5, 6 and 7 of world champs 2016.



Friday, August 8, 2014

Happy, sad, massive feelings.

The on field portion of our adventure is over. We played eight good games, one complete dog and finished fourth. 

There is both satisfaction, disappointment and motivation in this result for is. We played some excellent frisbee and there were moments of a golden hope. I think Australian ultimate can be proud and optimistic based on the performance of this Colony team. 

We failed horribly in our semi final against Seattle's Sockeye. It was one of the poorest performances I've been a part of at this level. Imagine rank, then double it. 

Seattle played great and they should be proud of their return to the final. 

It took some doing however the true leaders in our team, the men with big hearts and strong wills got is back up to play again. 

Our play off for third was against Jonny Bravo from Colorado. These guys were good at frisbee too, who isn't at the business end of the tournament. 

We played with passion and confidence, there were some fairly sweet hangers. Our offense however couldn't achieve the extremely high level required to score every single point, and the D while tenacious didn't quite get us out of it this time. 

The final score was 17 to 14 or so. Are fair return really. We were close but not close enough. 

The mood right now is good, we did good. We think next time we will do better. The mood right now is also fairly boozy, I get the sense the boys are going to send it tonight. 

We'll have some wrap up posts coming, it has been a great event for us. Thanks for the support readers. Love to you and, "to Gus' room for the pre party."



The Statue of David, with our statue of Gus guy

Read on for a day 3 report and a cheeky reflection. 

David, the mythical fighter of giants, immortalized in Micheal Angelo's David. A fine specimen of the human form, in perfect proportion even though the statue stands at 5m tall. But one has to wonder what drives a man to take on a giant? Courage? Maybe but its most likely lunacy. Yep, let's face it David was a can short of a six pack.
So after the short tour and musings about great Italian masterpieces, I'll get on to the games we had today. First up was Ragnarok, a Danish team with a few american pickups. Unfortunately I don't usually take to much notice of what's happening on the field (those mountains are pretty distracting) so this will be brief but what I do know is this was a day for D. They stepped it up and we took down the Danes even with a few miss steps from O. 14-8.
Next up was the Italians from Bologna. We knew these boys would be fired up playing on their home ground and especially after we snubbed playing them in Heilbronn. So, a little background on Italian ultimate frisbee. From past match ups we knew they have their own David, or as they pronounce it Davide. Like the statue he has a great physical form and like the myth he has a screw loose .... or maybe 5.
The game started well, D was on fire, soon we were up by 5 breaks. Unfortunately then O got on the field and the Italians started to come back. Next came the calls ... and Davide with screws definitely loose. Shua (abra's bro) was translating his spiel, something about 'you', 'butts' and '@#!!%'. Good thing he left the slingshot at home. Game ended 11-8 after time cap, too much talking to get anymore points in. After a memorable spirit circle with references to fishing we bid the Italians 'arrividiece'. On to day 4 and round of 16. Boom.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Elimination day with Owen

The fourth day of play was business time for the team. A pre-quarterfinal and a quarterfinal. Win and we advance. Lose and there are only placing games. 

Each day we start by sprawling around our hotel lobby, taping, stretching and chatting. Then it is on to the coach with Johnny Encore or Fury or Rogue or Eastern Greys. It's good to share a few tales with other teams. Or learn about your teammates. Such as one outspoken Colony individual: "If I were WFDF president, I would make such good advices". 

At the fields we trudge through mud of varying gooiness to our field - there are 33 of them. We walk across planks acting as bridges over small trenches. And the Alps gaze down upon us. 


First up today was Nomadic Tribe from Japan. 

As the game started, Colony D was a hungry beast. A few high counts lead to a few breaks for our team. We took half 9-3. 

Nomadic Tribe were very judicious with their hucks, only sending a few during the game,  but with great precision. They are shorter than most of us. Their handler iso was super effective - they could have used it more. 

They were also very conservative on D, often playing a loose zone, in the hope that 20+ passes by Colony would provide a turn. However, our O was solid. 


For the Tribe, #1 was dropping 40m pinpoint hammers, smiling throughout the whole game. A worthy MVP.

Colony prevailed 17-11. 

In the post game circle, the Japanese were gracious in their comments and Abra got to take home a DVD on Japanese culture. 

Next we faced Heidees of Heidelberg, Germany. We had played them a week early in Heilbronn and won by a single point. This rematch would be fun. 


A crowd was gathering. Spectators had gathered in the nearby shade (a limited resource). 

We Aussies took confidence in our experience with Aussie summers. Bring on the sweat. 

Both teams were vocal - at times, we had competing chants echoing around simultaneously.  

Once again Colony D stepped up to get some early breaks. 

And our offence intimidated the HeiD - they played a lot of zone for a still day, trying to reduce the threat of our tall deeps. 


Half was 9-6 to Colony. 

Highlights included Julio's sneaky poach block, a big Konrad sky grab and Joel, Abra and Mark orchestrating the offence. 

Colony won 17-11.

Our reward is a semi final match against Seattle Sockeye. Several of the lads have had games against the Fish before on Australian teams. We are hungry for more. 

Lastly we are thinking of Nick who is bedridden with a bug. It lead to "probably the worst night of my life". Get well soon. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bloody English teachers, also day 2 action

Prologue -

If, as Shakespeare so insightfully penned, 'brevity is the soul of wit', then consider me a simpleton, as this is due to be a lengthy diatribe full of twists and turns and adventures; like one of those visit Victoria ball of string adverts. So buckle up and enjoy :) 

Chapter 1 - the magical mystery tour bus trip. 

The boys were excited after a good show on Day 1 or 2 - hard to keep track. Word on the street was that Putin had been 'putin' a lot of funding into Russian sport and our first team, 'Lucky Grass' would be a tough opposition. (Post-script: Abra has already organised a shirt trade with this team; I wonder why...). Some keen banter on the bus showed that the boys were ready for a big day ahead. Abra set himself up early as a shirt broker, claiming he could wheel and deal any shirt trade. Sweet-as' eyes lit up at this prospect, though Sarah seemed unsure of putting her beloved in Abra's debt. Oli D, as ever the international diplomat, decided that Abra's Jewish heritage accounted for his dealing aptitude. No doubt everyone was thinking: 'if you prick us, do we not bleed...'
Abra was not to be outdone by Will, spirit captain, who demonstrated his keen sense of decorum with a joke about a Greek, Italian and an American - and a truckload of casual racism...something, something, punch line: insurance fraud. 
Meanwhile, Cuppers decided that as the team were not lovely enough he would impress with his dulcet tones as he beat out a rendition of 'Lose Yourself' followed by some random squealing in a creative interpretation of death metal. But the true joy came from sharing our first bus trip with Rogue - or at least the half that aren't squared away in the Sector 14 cargo crates. As Kylie held aloft a portable speaker an aura of joy seemed to settle on the bus as one and all the team began singing - 'I wanna dance with somebody, I wanna feel the heat with somebody...with somebody to love...' Spirits were high as we pulled into a slightly drier, but not less churned up and muddy Lecco sport fields. 

Chapter 2 - The artist formerly known as Soviet Union

The sun was out, casting the mountains in an ethereal haze next to spiritual. A peaceful aura was interrupted as Joel debated the pros and cons of observers. Mark agreed he would happily eat shit if everyone agreed it was the done thing. Joel was persuaded to accept the potential benefits of observers due to this profound argument.  
Game 1 in an hour and a half against 'Lucky Grass'. Ironically, there was very little grass on the fields. So the odds seemed in our favor from the start. With an hour to game in humid, verging on sweltering heat, the Russians began warming up. Conditions were slightly different from their Siberian alpine passes, but this did not stop them pumping out a full hour long warm-up. Too much energy. 
The game began with O. The boys looked calm and considered and put it in. Defence took an wary break, Julio pumping it long for Jimmy to run 3/4 field and then layout full stretch to reel in the huck, landing squarely in the mud. Up. Accepted by Defence though photographic evidence after the event suggested down. Observers needed in Ultimate...?
A few highlights involved Konrad getting a poachy layout D on main handler and almost destroying him in the collision. And Calan, virgin on the D line, decided to cement his awesomeness by getting a massive layout D past his player to set up another cheeky break. 
Offence looked solid throughout, finding connections and exploiting the Russians fear of our D game. A slight lag in the middle from O and D allowed 'Grass' a couple of cheap goals, but better effort and choices, and some healthy 'heave ho' saw us steady the Colony machine to take the game 15-9. Much tougher game than day 1, but the team brought great intensity on D and pretty flow on O to seal it out comfortably. 
Fun fact - 1) Will can speak Russian - convincingly - leading the end of game talk fluently.  2) Cuppers can drink Vodka - convincingly - skulling in one a hip flask sized Vodka bottle gifted to him as MVP. Even the Russians were worried for his health and hydration so we know it was an impressive effort. 

Chapter 3 - Downtime

Lunch. Crucial after a big game in warm and moist Italy. New system required tokens to get food. Tokens required captain. Captain not in sight.  This series of events led to an Abra rampage. After almost curb stomping a volunteer in fury he demanded to be shown to someone of import who he could either vent his anger or perhaps eat in place of his meal. Luckily I managed to find Joel and our tokens before things got bloody. Food was heartily consumed. 
Hot day outside meant most chilled / slept in the player tent while we waited for a 5pm game. A terrible live singer made sleeping challenging, except for one poor girl who was passed out on a couch near us in a less than glamorous fashion... To add insult to injury, the tournament, at the hottest point of the day, seemed to run out of water. Yeah, it's been a bit like that at this tourney. Still, there was free ice tea. Silver linings. 


Chapter 4 - South of the border. 

Like the ever moving glacier we slowly moved towards field 28 at the far end of the complex for our final game of the day. Tommy, Cuppers and Mikey were gifted with an afternoon in the shade, while the rest of us cleared up for the game. 
It was a bit of a scrappy affair. Some uncharacteristic turns early and O looking a bit rushed. However, we reigned in our wayward throws on O and put the foot down on D. In the last three points D determined not to let the O line back on and stayed true to form ending the game with 3 breaks. 15-7. 
Scrappy, muddy but convincing in the end. 
A captain leads by example, and so in the spirit circle Joel put on hold his vegetarianism to shot a mescal worm. A fitting end to a messy game. Meanwhile Jimmy, gifted with an MVP Mexican skill toy proved how inept he was at catching the colourful sphere on a stick, while Marky revealed his Mexican roots doing it in two attempts. Marky would later be rather inconspicuous with the team mescal bottle in hand. Fun night I'm sure. 

Chapter 5 - trade night: waiting for the bus 

We strolled back to a tent full of over-keen young and old trying to offload shitty jerseys. Most of us, confident in the value of our shirts, chilled out drinking bevvies and eating whatever food we could find, while waiting for the 8.30 bus home.  Fun news was that Bad Skid who we expected to play tomorrow were knocked out in a three-way with Italy and Colombia. Word goes that they were up 8-4 on Colombia to lose 11-9. One point shy of getting through the pool. Ouch! Meanwhile our friends at HOS, who we thought out for the count, managed to win a game by 6 point to be up 1 over all in their three way tie to make it through.   They were all smiles, especially Smiley. Two Aussies into next round of Opens. Colony and HOS up; Sublime down. 
Tomorrow we play Ragnarok and Colombia. Big day ahead with a 6.30am bus ride to the fields. Heave, Ho. 

Epilogue -

So ends your epic adventure. But stay tuned, as the Colony machine is just beginning to fire and more stories will follow. Big days ahead. 

Jimmy. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

We played today and it was good.

Day (2) 1 at WUCC with Colony. Here is Konrad to tell us all about it.


Konrad here.  After a leisurely breakfast at our hotel we cruised over to the fields in the Colony bus.  Hype was building and the lads were ready to froth.  Mark and Konrad had finally been dethroned from an epic Fussball winning streak by Rory and Julio, Rory however needing to either celebrate the victory or circum to the heat by removing his upper body undergarments as we clambered onto the bus. As the fields got closer the nervous sense of excitement building from the fact we were to play our actual first game at worlds came to a head.  It’s that first look at the fields of day 1 (well, 2 in our case) as the bus swings round the last corner that goes straight to our veins.  The fields are vast, this tournament is big.  The fields are also water logged.  Apparently vacuum water pumps and helicopters can only do so much.  As they always say though, every team is in the same boat and we still have a job to do: beat the Finnish on the Showcase field and kick off our WUCC tournament with a bang.


It’s warm, the sun is out, there is no wind and the field is trash.  Large mud patches are being temporarily salvaged by piles of sand as we start to throw and fill our water bottles.  Our time draws closer and we loudly pump out our best warm-up yet.  The noise, the intensity and that special glint can be seen and felt around the team.  It felt good and I was stoked to be here with this awesome team and group of guys.  We were also introduced to a very professional seeming ‘game advisor’ who ran us through his role and gave us a watered-down taste of playing under the USAU style of observer.  A few cracks of the whip on some off-side calls aside, all went smoothly.


Our opponents are a team called Otso from Finland.  They are seeded second in our pool so will likely be our toughest opponents of the 3 initial games, but like the other teams we really don’t know anything about them.  The wise gem from the brains trust warns of a tradition of inside breaks to downfield targets, so with the adjustment in mind a fired-up man D-line takes the field.


We generate turns early with big blocks from Julio, Jimmy and Nick D, and set a dominant tone for the game.  On the way to finding our grove we unleash a couple of wayward decisions but ultimately the O lines proves itself too strong and holds on to resist getting broken. 

Some early hucks from the Finnish demand some slight adjustments, but tight D around the muddy field consistently creates the pressure we need to get the disc and score breaks.  Cupcake and Julio serve up some dimes to our big boys deeps, Sweet As having a cracker with 3 huck goals.  Our Yank Tommy Lamar also found a versatile role throwing a hammer for a goal and laying out big late in the game to block one going the other way. 


O line faced an interesting poachy/zone look but were solid and patient working the disc in using all their members.  Henry popped up regularly when we needed him and helped deliver the disc downfield.  Marky cruised around downfield getting some goals including a hammer and massive exciting laser backhand from Cal.   Joel and Abra and Oli Jung rocked it as usual.

It was a solid 15-7 victory and start to Worlds and the lads are in a good space.  After the game we enjoyed a pretty decent serving of tournament food and were able to sneak in some further game viewing as Rogue went down to Bristol after some vigorous sideline passion from Pete and Joel regarding a dicey call from the Brits on an up line cut for a goal.  Sarah Hammer proudly kept her cool. 


In mixed, Roadkill took on some Germans on one of the more terrible fields and some hearty sideline banter was had.  Over at the Hippo/Black Sheep game a bunch of the boys cheered and heckled members on both sides in what developed into a bit of a huck-fest.

 

Hard to say no to your first day at worlds.  It’s good to be here!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Words from the new man

Colony have been fortunate to be joined by nexgen super star, North Carolina scum bag and general top bloke Tommy Lamar. Tommy has been great to have around and he has some interesting insight into his new team. Here is the man and his thoughts.




The trip of a lifetime. For me, it's hard to describe this experience any other way. The combination of wild personalities, remarkable views, and unending adventures has, at times, made it hard to explain how ridiculously amazing this trip has been. This writeup can't possibly do it justice, but here is a brief summary of what it's like to be a part of the WUCC pretour.

First, I'll start with the wild and welcoming personalities which most of you reading probably already know. After arriving in Frankfurt, Mark and I made our way to "the meeting spot " for the team. There we found Will, Calan, and Rory. While throwing back a couple of beers we chatted it up a bit and got to know each other. They let us in on their 3 day biking trek on cheap rental bikes in pouring down rain. My immediate thoughts were, "Why the hell would you go on a 3 day biking tour before wucc and before playing warmup games in 2 days?" Although, after standing butt naked on top of a rainy mountain in the Alps with 7 other guys,  it really doesn't seem like that crazy of an idea anymore. After a lot of waiting around and small talk we went to the park to throw for while, ate some schnitzel and waited some more. Finally, Henry shows up next and we do some more chatting, beer drinking, and waiting. After realizing no one else is actually going to show up we moved to the next rendezvous point. The atmosphere of this quaint romantic looking restaurant quickly turned to a raging Australian get together. Mark was quick to warn me of Sacha, the food efficienado, who would order you the entire menu if you didn't back out quickly enough. Before I knew it, we were all chowing down on authentic German appetizers and pitchers of disgustingly sour cider. Our group was pretty full from the schnitzel we just devoured about an hour ago, but Sacha wasn't going to let us miss out on the greatest schnitzel in all of Germany. Before we knew it there were schnitzels all around. All it took was some rounds of beers and the finest schnitzel in the land for these guys to warm up. The rest of the restaurant stared with looks of disapproval as if we completely ruined some special dinner they had been planning for the past few months and the waiter started ignoring the table, but we were having a blast and it didn't really matter. I


 knew right away this was a ridiculous group of guys, and this trip was going to be out of control. This type of thing happened pretty much everywhere we went and the theme of, "I dont care we're having a blast" was consistent throughout the whole trip.

I'll preclude the part about amazing views with the fact that I have never been to Europe or anywhere overseas before, but I'm pretty sure that there is no tour guide in the world that could give you an experience like this. I don't know if it was intentional but, to me, the trip has been exponentially getting more and more spectacular. Its started with the terraced toilets in Germany that were mind blowing to both Americans and Australians. On the way to the fields, the winding German country roads were lined with cornfields, apple trees, and grape vines that made for a nice drive to the our field site. Once we made it to Bern, Switzerland the real sight seeing began. The town was filled with cobblestone roads, old fountains, a big talking clocktower, and a massive bridge overlooking the raging brown river below. From there the Swiss Alps. Bright green grass, waterfalls, castles, and one lane roads that seemed undrivable for a 9 person van. After a car train ride and a gondala, we eventually ended up in the clouds. Heavenly.

Next was lago d'orta. This place was absurd. An island in the middle of a crystal clear lake surrounded by mountains. The house we stayed in was more amazing than the island itself. A midevil maze of stone walls and staircases that were never ending. I tried to go through every room and somehow missed the library and dungeon; not to mention the entire other side of the mansion that we weren't allowed in. Each room was filled with historic antiques and artwork that definitely belongs in a musuem. There is really no way to put into words how incredible this place was. I'd be surprised if any of us ever stay in a place as historic amd amazing as this for the rest of our lives.

Finally, the adventures. It can pretty much be summed up by our gps. 1 hour before returning the rental car we determined that the gps had been set on avoid main roads aka "adventure mode" the entire time. At one point after burning out and moving backwards, we literally had to all get out of the van and start pushing while Joel floored it up this sketchy one lane Italian road. There was always a basic plan in place, but it never seemed like it was thought all the way through. It was perfect. Hence how we ended up on the car train, looked for "the only gondala in Switzerland," met the nicest old Italian woman with the hospitality of a saint, took a solo boat ride in reverse to pickup JP and his kids, etc... the stories could go on forever. I know I will remember this trip for the rest of my life, and I'm sure everyone else will, as well. It's a crazy group of guys, a hell of an adventure, and a trip we will never forget.

Richtig.


Friday, August 1, 2014

Chasing a mansion on a lake

Thursday 31st July

Humbling is perhaps the best way to describe it. The place we have found ourselves, and the stories attached to it have been humbling. 

Perhaps I should be careful not to assign my own internal experience to everyone on the team, there has however been a unique shared experience here on Isla de Giulio. 

In the foothills of the Italian alps there is a rolling green country. This country is interspersed with high jagged peaks and low lying lakes. Large still lakes with beautiful homes and lovely little towns hugging their banks. This is the land we have come to play frisbee in, Lecco on lake Como is our final destination. Yet we are not quite there, lake Orta with its clear cool water, picturesque townships and stunning central island hold our attention for a moment longer. 



There has been some direction from the team's leadership in the last few days about shifting our focus out of the spectacular European and mountain environments, and towards the task we set ourselves months ago, World Club success. 

I was going to write that this final incredible stop has made it difficult to remain focused on frisbee however I'm not sure that is true. We have been exposed to some wonderful history and stories which are certainly attention capturing. There has also been opportunities to compare and reflect, and perhaps in this the team has been able to add value to our own goal, dreams and our shared endeavour.

In 1942 a girl and her family were forced to leave Milano as it was sucked into the carnage of World War Two. Through a series of events the girl's father decided to make a desperate attempt to purchase back his family home. A magnificent house on Isla San Giulio, in the middle of lake Orta. This small island has been a refuge of sorts for people since the fourth century. The basilica San Giulio with its ancient foundations dominates the island, however there is space remaining for a few private homes.
 

When the young girl's father returned here he staked all his moderate fortune, and with the help of the chaotic war time upheaval and seemingly a generous and persuasive serving of wine, he convinced the incumbent owner to sell the large and emotionally significant home back to the family. 

The father was a master piano technician and craftsman. He was vastly committed financially to this rambling and spectacular home, and so he set to work. Forming magnificent musical instruments, almost works of art by hand. Tallone pianos are beautiful objects of music, and in the words of our host can be like a companion and a comfort. The grand piano that stands in the concert hall inside the house is a forty year old masterpiece, and when played by our host and our team elder Sacha, this family piano sounds like time and history and triumph. 

The family grew up here as Europe rose up from the disaster of the war and they struggled like many people to find happiness and achieve their goals. Beautiful pianos continued to be made, and the dream of this island home persevered.  

Now in 2014 that 11 year old girl is a warm hearted Nona called Elisa who welcomed us into her ancient house. She shared her story, and along with her son in law Jean-Philip and his children they opened their island home to us for a night. 


The house is a true mansion on an island in the middle of an Italian lake. Multiple rooms, stacked levels, internal landings and external walkways. A large garden, a four hundred year old kitchen, paintings on every wall of serious brooding intensity and a private stone boat slip. Think 'mansion' and your image my not be far off, the place has a well inside it, yeah, like a stone well with a crank handle. 

It is a grand old living antique building, and it shows the signs of time and wear in every facade, floor board and vista. The mansion is a glorious relic of another time that has been constantly lived in and loved for generations. On a stone wall with a large cascading crack there sits fresh summer drawings by the children who stay here. The precious open space of the private garden is flanked by tall stone walls and arches, and it is littered with snorkels, soccer balls and for this unusual day a team of Aussies.


There is a melancholy here, a fleeting sense of the burden that must exist to be responsible for this spectacular family heirloom. Elisa's father toiled for years crafting spectacular musical pieces to retain this place, and now Elisa struggles with her challenge of retention and care. It feels to us as visitors that this family home of classic community value is a major part of the legacy of these people. Their hope, and their goals have revolved around living on the Isla San Giulio and sharing their story with others. 

I mentioned earlier that the tale of World War disaster and intergenerational perseverance through struggle was in some way humbling. Maybe even that it cast a perspective on our own lives and the highly joyful and care free journey the team is currently on. In some ways that is true, it is not the only experience though. Sitting and listening to Elisa recall a time long gone, and staying in her physical piece of history is informative and influential.  

The message to the team is possibly that struggle and perseverance is universal, and that your best effort in pursuing a dream or a goal is a worthy endeavour and a quality use of your time. 






We arrived on the northern edge of Milano today, the tournament is upon us and our tour is over. We are here together with a goal to pursue. The time together on a rampaging journey down through Europe has been fun, stunningly beautiful, moderately controlled, inspiring and I think significantly informative. 

We know more now than we did a week ago. About each other, ourselves, this historic part of the world and about chasing dreams. It feels to me like the Colony team is ready, ready to strive together and to struggle for a goal. It will be a spectacular experience for us all to find out.




A special thank you from the team to Jens, his international frisbee network of friends and our wonderful hosts on San Giulio.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Men in the mountains

Wednesday 30th of July

What does it all mean people? You take a bunch of guys and put them in a shack in the mountains, then things start happening that maybe wouldn't have otherwise. Its like there is some kind of up the mountain sub sense that rises. It surfaces through layers of civilisation and conditioning, the patterns of society seem to slide away. Next thing you know you are taking a photo of eight guys with their clothes off poised at a cliff face at 2600m in the Swiss alps. 


What a strange thing, standing naked and looking south towards Italy. Right? Pretty strange hey, and yet today on a peak at the half way point of our five hour walk, the boys were blasting some energy down into the peninsular and the photo made a lot of sense. Mountains. 

There has been some spectacular meal work up here in the hills as well. A commercial sized pasta dinner in two cartoon sized pots, gourmet adjacent breakfast and some local themed stinky cheese fondu tonight. It has been some mountain style eating. The drinking you can imagine yourself. 


It might be about spending a week with a team of mates, it might be about the absence of the majority of broad life responsibility, and it might be about being up a big cloudy mountain. Regardless of the reason, it has been a fairly quality sojourn away from frisbee and our standard lives. Colony went to the mountain and tomorrow we will ride down into Italy like the wild mountain tribe we may have become. 

Strange things up on top of this part of the world, strange things and great times with the team. When on earth would this Sacha guy hike for five hours up this mountain wearing these shoes? 


Mountains. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Story time with Abra

Joel’s van- Bernin rapids, cars on trains and the ‘only’ gondola in Switzerland’s Alps…

The day started a little late for Joel’s van but pastries were plentiful and the look on Gus guy's face as he stuffed croissants down like it was his job was priceless. We left our German chapter behind and headed towards the Swiss border. Little did we know the border was well protected, not by dramatic mountains but by a terminator-esk customs officer who was not f*&^%ing around. Oli and Joel did not help the situation with comments like… “Do I look guilty” and “we should have floored it”. 

After our passports were scoured and Joel pulled some Gary on the young lady officer, we were permitted entry into the neutralist nation on Earth. There was a sense of close call for me, but the boys assured me I was a paranoid yank, so I breathed deeply wondering where the alps were and where our day would take us. And what a day it was. 

We had gotten behind the other van, which was far more respectable and made it through customs like a calm summer breath. Our first destination was Bern to check out what Sasha had said was an amazing lazy river experience through a beautiful old city. He explained you could drift down the river and take in the sites. Little did we know the river was beasty and full of icy cold rushing water after some serious rain. In fact it was flooded and as we came around the corner and saw the amazing picturesque old city we crossed a bridge to see the  overflow gates rushing like torrents and the banks flooded to the brim. Some of us were somewhat hesitant at the sight of the not so lazy river pumping through the city, but Oli was full throttle convinced it was a piece of cake. We stopped a German version of Bruce Wayne on his bike and he told us it was not recommended, while struggling to find his English he did tell us to find our way to the public swimming pool and that we could enter there. We neglected the Navigation and followed our nose (which was frequently interrupted by Mark’s ass) to the opposite bank of the river. In finding our way we realized that Bern is a stunning city, with traditional Swiss buildings and a steep landscape densely packed with immaculate gardens and architecture not seen before in neighboring and slightly less outgoing Germany. 


After several Swiss told us not to dare enter the water due to debris and strong currents Oli decided the Swiss and anyone else who dared dissuade us from conquering our mission were simple sissies who did not have an adventurous bone in their bodies, spoilers without backbone. After a test run the ducklings followed Mom into the rapids for an icy dick shrinking 200m joy ride ending in Joel pulling Henry through thorns, saving his life of course. I was the ugly sissy duckling who bailed after committing only to hear a local claim that the ‘professionals’ did not enter when the flow was so high. According to her the recent success of Joel, Cupcake and Oli was a survival story. 

After being the odd one out and burying my pride in a shallow grave, we dried off and headed for food in Bern. It was a mission but we found our way to food just as Mark and others were fading into grumpy desperate hunger. Fueled up we headed back to the Van to find dents and bruises we had not noticed before. Hmmm, we did park in a very tight spot. As we left we got the message that the last Gondola to the Alps Cabin we had ready was at 5:30pm and we were not going to make it there on time. 

Adversity is our bread and butter so after some water off a ducks back nerves about where we would sleep that night we flew into some of the most spectacular valleys with imposing step mountains that just seemed to keep getting bigger. Waterfalls galore and immense rock faces jutting out of forested villages. Big valleys with distant snowy peaks, and then a wrong turn. 

All of a sudden we were on a bridge with a red light and cars backing up behind us. There were odd signs. They seemed to indicate that the car would be on a train and we should keep the car in first gear with the hand break on. No way was I staying in the car so I pleaded to get out to take pictures. When the light went green and we piled into the car at light speed the confusion cleared and we were indeed driving our van onto a train, yes a train. The train went into a mountain just as we called German Oli to find out if this was supposed to occur. He said no, that was not supposed to occur. 15 minutes later and after a stuffy dark tunnel we re-appeared in French Switzerland, or Italy? 

We were back in the daylight at least and the drums from the deep had not swallowed us. With new found enthusiasm and confidence we decided on a whim and a naughty GPS system that we were indeed in the right place, in fact we decided we took a sneaky short cut. We were wrong. After some amazing switchbacks and views of the other side of the mountains we noticed one gondola, it had to be the one we were late to make and the other van had to be there. I mean, there couldn’t be more than on gondola in the Swiss Alps right? We hustled to the gondola to find that it was not the correct place at all and we were still very late for the last Gondola. We reset the navigation and headed down a spectacular valley with stunning peaks on either sides and huge vineyards dominating the valley floor.  


We found our way up the most precarious winding cliff buffeted road in the civilized world and finally found our gondola a good km above the valley floor. German Oli met us with his stoic smile, a freaking good poker face of ambiguous German charm. He reported the Gondola was closed and we had a serious hike ahead of us with the food and gear. Luckily he had waited 2 hours for us while the others had gone up the mountain and he must of pulled some strings because the gondola operator stayed on to get us up there. Yeah we did not have to do the Vercorin death march. A huge sigh of relief as we boarded the gondola and took in the amazing scenery. 


At the top we were met with a sweet Mountain hut and some serious ropes courses. This was a Ski slope under Mt Blanc and other peaks of up to 4500m. We got off half way up the mountain at approx. 2000m and this cabin was sweet. In fact the whole area of wooded mountainside was covered in wild flowers, cross eyed Billy goats and grassy slopes. I wondered into to forest and up the mountain after getting settled to find the other group coming down the mountain form their hike. Rory and Lado were hiking in their underwear, I did not ask because I was so happy to be reunited after conceding defeat and figuring we were spending the night in our stinky van down below in the valley. A great dinner and some stories of past World’s pre-tour campaigns ended the night. Actually Will busted out Roman candles and Cupcake and Mark almost lost an eye each after loosing there one on one battles. Tommy Lamar and Nick D were the victors. What a day!

Alps time

It is starting to get pretty special up here.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Some photos so far

Frankfurt by the river.

Schnitzels!


The old boys. 

An afternoon in the park. 

We are staying in an alpine hut in the Swiss Alps tomorrow night. When next we hit some wifi I'm hopeful there will be some more good shots to share. 

One win, one loss, Ollie's still alive.

Sunday 27th July, Karlsruhe

The second day of games continued at the same lovely venue. The two lush green playing fields sit at the bottom of a medium sized hill that is coated in early season grapes. The aesthetically pleasing relationship between the order and geometric nature of the rows of vines and the unruly organic flow of the hillside creates a beautiful backdrop. Looking up at a vineyard from a frisbee field also taps into the imagination, and draws the mind towards playing in Italy.

The fields are flanked on their other side by a wide river, and crowned by a long two lane bridge that spans the fields and river alike. Complete with schnitzel serving club house and crisp painted lines, this was an excellent location for a mini pre-tournament tournament. Congratulations to Stephan and the local teams for hosting a quality opportunity for the six teams to prepare.

In the morning we played another Swiss team called Freespeed. From their own evaluation they played better than the day before, it seems all the teams are excited by the opportunity to play a team from Australia. The game was close the whole way through with a few micro swings of momentum. It probably felt fairly in control for the majority of the time, and we closed it out at 17 - 15.

The second game of the day was marked by the arrival of another Colony traveller, Lado competed an epic fourteen hour overnight rail trek from the Juniors tournament in Lecco to arrive just in time for a late lunch and the final game.

Picture this if you will; the whole Colony team is spread out in a post lunch/pre game sprawl in the location previously described. Guys are lying down with their heads on bags, some in the shade, some in the sun with hats on faces. There is a bit of chat going on, however in general it is a pretty casual scene. In the middle of all this classic frisbee mess is one guy sitting upright on the grass with a large porcelain plate, metal knife and fork and a generous chicken schnitzel and chips. Lado had arrived and was rejoining the team in solid German style.

The game began not long after against the local team Bad Skid. They are young and drilled and were looking pretty keen for the game. The Colony D line got a block in the first point through some tight early pressure and aerial agency of Ollie D. We failed to convert and then the O line turned a huck in the next point and we were in a 2-0 hole pretty quickly.

The first half continued in that vein with their O scoring quickly and ours struggling, the half time score was 9 to 5 Bad Skid. Though some affective, but possibly a little slow adjustments we began to gain some traction on D and some fluency on O. After a few chances to get back to even we ended up going down 15 to 17. It was a good win for those enthusiastic guys, and for us either a required wake up call or a strong cue that we should go to bed.

The feeling is pretty good in the team, it is great to have clear ideas about what we need to work on. This is always a key goal of any pre-tournament game play, and it feels like we will be better at Worlds for our games here in Germany.

We finished the weekend by attending a large festival in town, some live music and plenty to eat and drink. The Sonntag festival attracted over 300 000 people over the weekend. Our local fixer and scrap catching O line handler Ollie J has been on fire herding this team of strong opinions and loose behaviour around.

Next we spend a final day here in Karlsruhe before we head up into the snow caps and green grass of the Swiss hills. It should be a nice relaxing time for the team.

Oh, also Ollie jumped off the bridge into the river, he is still alive.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Saturday night 26th, July

Here is a quick recap of day one before I fall into the sweet embrace of sleep. It has been a fairly sharp welcome to Europe as most of the team virtually walked off the plane and straight into two games.

For Tulett and Dousett I think it could almost be described as literally. Tom ran from the car after getting off a train that carried Ollie and he from the plane. He was in time for the first warm up, impressive.

We played two games today, first against some plucky Germans in team Heidees. These guys were fired right up and managed to stay tight and then return a break to take the game to double game point, 16 all. What is the deal with games to 17 at worlds? Long games hey.

Anyway we started on O and worked it around for a bit before Tulett pulled the trigger on a spectator and we won our first game. The result was pleasing however the learning, refining and general preparing was the real point of value.

The second game was against the Flying Angels of Bern. It also started pretty tight before the D team got a good hold and found some systems to turn up the pressure. The final score got out to something like 17 to 8. It was a pretty good effort.

Big Tommy from North Carolina had a strong first day with the team, and it was very good to have Mark back in the Colony again. Pretty good contributors across the team today, and tonight as the fatigue and refreshments take hold I think most of the boys can drift off feeling pretty happy about their day and about being here with the team.

Back at it tomorrow with some more Swiss and some more Germans to play. Feels pretty good.

Saturday 26th July, Frankfurt

"It alternates between bumper to bumper and 170km/h on the autobahn... " Joel Pillar, team captain.

And isn't that just one of life's truths? The bulk of the Colony team met in Frankfurt yesterday. For the most part the day was like a pleasant drive on the Autobahn, cruising at European highway speed as we collected ourselves together throughout the day.

However much like Joel twelve hour drive from Milano to meet the team with a van, there were plenty of dead still, bumper to bumper moments. Here are some of the minor calamitous moments:

British airways fails to deliver Sacha's bags and box of team hoodies to the continent.
The end of school term Friday afternoon traffic added multiple hours to the eta of Joel and Gus with the team vans.
Joel arrived in Germany with the team shorts, Mark arrived with team hats, however no one arrived with the team shirts.
Abra lost his important bag with lap top, personal delicates, etc. He then found it under the next bench in the pub.
Finally and most significantly, Tom 'Cupcake' Tulett and Ollie 'O.D. Overdose' Dousset found themselves stranded in London through some combination extremely cheep flight purchasing and peak summer travel chaos.

These were the bumper to bumper grid lock moments of the day, however there was plenty of 170km an hour sections. Walking in the sun down by the river. German beer for lunch, life changing schnitzel for dinner, Sacha has been talking these up since 2004.



There was plenty of laughs and good times and through the good work of Sacha, Joel and Ollie Jung pretty much everything got sorted out. We'll see if those clowns make it over from London this morning.

Today we play. The Bad Skid boys from Heilbronn are hosting a tournament and we are getting pretty pumped to play. That is it from the Colony in Europe for now. Plenty more to com, to the Autobahn!