|Posted by Eric Ingram on December 4, 2013 at 5:40 PM|
WARNING: Long post ahead. I apologize.
November has been a crazy month, featuring a lot of rugby and a lot of exciting things to tell you all about. The month started out with travel to something not rugby related (which almost never happens). I went to Phoenix, AZ for the SpaceVision 2013 conference, hosted by the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) organization. I got to nerd out for 4 straight days and get all the space excitement and networking that I could handle.
The next following weekend, it was back to business. The TIRR Texans and I were on the road for this one, competing in the Boise Bash. An early morning flight took us to our layover in Las Vegas (not that that's a bad thing) where we fueled up on some airport delicacies and enjoyed a little time on the slot machines right near our gate. Fueled and energized on the next leg, we attempted to make friends with anyone on our flight that would talk to us, and I'm fairly sure the flight attendants enjoyed our banter.
The tournament featured a lot of mid to high level D2 teams, mostly from the west coast (and most of them I had never played before). Our first opponent was the host team, the Boise Bombers. They are fairly new and inexperienced, and as such, we were able to best them fairly easily. I will say though they improved greatly over the course of the weekend, and I look forward to reading about their successes in the sport. Our next game was against a Californian team, the Northridge Knights. They put up a good fight against us early on, but our depth won the fight as we ended up pulling ahead a good deal in the second half. The last game of the first day was against the Portland Pounders. The 2013 D1 National Champions weren't nearly as strong as they were last year, since they lost almost all of their starters. They fought hard, but ultimately came up short against us as we finished a majorly exhausting day 3-0.
The second day of the tournament would be much more competitive than the day before. Our first opponent of the day was the Utah Scorpions in the crossover game. They are a solid D2 team which won the national championship a few years ago, so we knew not to take them lightly. They brought speed, good defense and solid team work to the court. The first half was close, as they battled us point for point, but in the second half, their fatigue started to show it's ugly face. Once they started getting tired, we began to pull ahead and get the win. This qualified us for the 1st place game, vs another team from California, the Nor Cal Quake, with only an hour and a half to rest.
I had never seen the Quake play before, so I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. I did know they had two things on their side, a deeper bench and a former Team USA coach. We came out sloppy in the first quarter, and turned the ball over way more than we should and found ourselves down by quite a bit very quickly. This pushed us and put a fire in our belly to do better. We put everything we had on that court and closed their lead as best we could, but unfortunately fell short. We lost the game, but got 2nd place at the tournament, not too bad if you ask me. Here's the scores from the games:
TIRR Texans vs Boise Bombers 52-22
TIRR Texans vs Northridge Knights 52-38
TIRR Texans vs Portland Pounders 42-24
TIRR Texans vs Utah Scorpions 51-30
TIRR Texans vs Nor Cal Quake 38-44
Now as exciting as that tournament was, that was not the end of rugby for the month. The very next weekend I had my first Team Force training camp back at my second home, the Lakeshore facility, in Birmingham, AL. It was amazing to see how well we worked together, even though it was the first time really for most of us. Some lines clicked, some didn't and we got to get a feel for what lines the coaches might run and how the coaches liked to do things. The weekend also gave us time to bond as a team off the court, we all got to interact with one another and figure out which of our teammates were better choices to joke around with (an important social decision, obviously). On the court, we were all focused on what we were there to do. This is our only training camp before our first tournament, the Knock and Roll in January, so we needed to become a team as rapidly as possible. I think we accomplished that quite well.
We got to test our “togetherness” vs the local team, the Lakeshore Demolition, during our final evening session of the camp. Featuring a Paralympic starting lineup of Bryan Kirkland (2.0; former long time Team USA member), Eddie Crouch (easily still one of the best 0.5's in the world, although now he's a 0.0), Bob Lujano (2.0, another former long time Team USA member you might recognize from “Murderball”), and the always destructive Joel Wilmoth (3.5; I'm almost certain he can flip people over by just looking at them). Needless to say, we had our work cut out for us, and I don't want to sugar-coat things, we lost. Both games. But what we did do was play as a team and grow as a team, which was the main point of the camp. I think we'll be ready for the Knock and Roll.
Team Force (Blue) vs the Lakeshore Demolition (White)
Following the camp, I got the rare chance to rest. But that's not all I got. Checking my email revealed that I got invited to try out for Team USA, which is exciting, but it was only 2 weeks from then! Which is actually now tomorrow, crazy how time flies. It is a great honor to be able to attend and I am in the best shape of my life. I really feel as though the stars are aligning and my chance is now. I'm going to work hard, and do my best, and whatever happens, happens. That is basically all I can do. Hopefully I am what the coaches are looking for. We shall see. But enough of the postulating.
Following the tryouts I will actually get a sizable amount of time home and to rest. I am sure my fiance will be happy I am not traveling for a while (and I will be too).
I'm pretty sure that's all for now. If you've made it this far, I applaud you, I probably probably wouldn't have. Actually, this is probably the longest thing I've written since I was in college. I'm happy you took part in this written achievement of mine and look out for some more (short) blog posts soon about updates and upcoming tournaments.
Until next time,