Revolver is a men's Ultimate Frisbee club based in San Francisco, California. Founded in 2006, Revolver won the World Club Championships in 2010 and the National Club Championships in 2010 and 2011. Revolver represented USA Ultimate in the WFDF 2012 Ultimate Championships for the Open Division in Sakai, Japan bringing home the gold!
On February 8th I received a most unusual email from Satoru Ishii, an employee of Club Jr., inviting me to play in the Dream Cup in Fuji City, Japan: “In 2013 for 15th anniversary, we're trying to form ‘USA all-star team’.” I decided not to question too much where things went right for me (or wrong for Club Jr) in order that I should be invited, and quickly accepted.
The roster was finalized a few days later:
Bart Watson (*captain)
I think most would agree that the roster lived up to it’s billing. This was clearly going to be a fun weekend.
Most arrived as expected in Tokyo Narita Airport by Thursday afternoon; some delays in Bart’s itinerary meant that he would be a day behind the rest of us. The first signs of Club Jr’s, and Sat’s in particular, preparedness and meticulous planning for the event and our participation in it began to show in the way of a chartered bus to our hotel.
Without prior Dream Cup participant and captain Bart, like any beast without it’s head, we proceeded clumsily towards Fuji City that evening, getting to know each other and discussing various timely topics like the AUDL, MLU, and Team USA rostering along the way.
A pit stop during the drive yielded more foreshadowing: we were recognized by a player also traveling to the Dream Cup and had our pictures taken with him.
Finally at 11pm, exhausted from international travel, we arrived outside the hotel and began to unload our bags and proceed to the hotel foyer. Upon entering we found, in what kicked the surreality into high gear, a group of Club Jr staff who applauded when we entered the room. I guess if you’re going to call a team “All-Stars” it makes sense to treat them as such. Another round of classiness expertly played by our hosts Club Jr.
Welcome to Fuji City
We arrived at the fields several hours earlier than our first game to ensure there was enough time for... autograph signing. Although probably more common to the super-stars in our sport, this was a new phenomenon to me and others on the team, but delightful. The requests continued over the course of the weekend, and I estimated that I signed over 100 autographs. At other times there was also palpable, over-the-top excitement at our presence: on several occasions players literally jumped up and down when we said they could throw or take their picture with us. Again, happenings that were totally surreal, but also unique and undeniably flattering.
Ladies love Peter Prial
Taking the Field
Finally, we got to start playing together, still without Bart, on Friday afternoon. We scrimmaged two college teams and built some chemistry. It was remarkable how quickly a team dynamic developed over the weekend: there was the younger cabal, with Dalton being the clear rookie (sorry, Dalton - you know I love you). And then there were a bunch of older veterans swapping war stories (Dylan and I spent the entire flight back to the states doing this - quality stuff), but no real “middle”. We joked that the team was “NextGen + Used-to-be-Gen.” Bart arrived that evening to bolster the old guy crew.
Me with... something
The Japanese style of play
Saturday brought the first tournament games that counted in the single-elimination bracket. As we started off playing the 64 seed, we weren’t expecting huge challenges on the first day but the Japanese teams quickly surprised us. During previous Revolver matches against the Buzz Bullets it was evident had a very distinctive style of play relative to American teams: low, flat hucks to speed and / or across the field, long handler cuts to the break side, quick first steps, and no clear separation between the handler and downfield roles. To my horror, all Japanese teams seem to play this way, and play it well. The U-23 team gave us a great game in the quarters, and we barely survived semis 12-11 with a timely D as the clock expired (hard caps were effective immediately, basically). As I knew Buzz played this style the best, I also knew it’d be a challenge to win the tournament. This, I later learned, was a gross understatement: Buzz had won the tournament 13 out of 14 times, including against Sockeye the year they brought the whole team and one in which they won UPA nationals. No American team had ever won.
The Brodie question
“What’s it’s like playing with Brodie?” This was the most frequently asked question I received after the tournament. However, to answer that question I think you really need to ask a wider question: Who is Brodie Smith and what is his role in the sport? I think it’s fair to say that he’s one of the most talented throwers and players in the game. He’s also, and let’s make no mistake about it, the ambassador for the sport: his youtube.com video view counts sum to over 30 million, and there may be many “pro” ultimate players in the MLU and AUDL these days, but Brodie is the only one I’m aware of who is truly making a living playing the sport.
And herein lies the line Brodie has to walk: for him Dream Cup is not just a weekend for fun and travel. It is a professional obligation and opportunity, and one of many at that. Brodie wants to play well and win, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure to have a highlight reel at the end of it, even at the expense of a few turnovers here and there. It also means that when the team is getting to know one another over beers, Brodie was in his room editing film, nurturing his substantial social-media following and otherwise being the professional that he is.
To get back to the original question, I had a great time playing with Brodie: he was easy to read as a thrower and cutter, and he made a bunch of big plays, saving his best game for the final. But I think he also hasn’t quite figured out how to walk that line between his professionalism and being the ideal ambassador for the sport: there’s one highlight (play #8) from the finals where he makes a great play over his defender, then does a punch-spike from the ground, watches the disc rise and fall in the air, then remembers to try to give his defender, who has walked away at this point, an encouraging hi-five. I think with a little more hi-fiving and a little less punch-spiking he’ll find more success, on and off the field.
Living up to expectations, Buzz gave us one hell of a game in the finals. We were pumped to be the first American team to win the Cup, and they were equally determined to not let that happen. It was back-and-forth for most of the game, with one interesting point where George Stubbs made a heroic greatest attempt. Despite standing 10 yards away on the sideline, and watching the video replay, I’m still not sure if he was in, but the Buzz coach called him out and Satoru came over to mediate the disputed call. “He says he was out,” Sat explained. “So he was out.”
Eventually we pulled to 12-12 and called a quick timeout to muster up a final rally. Subsequently and even more quickly, Buzz rattled off 3 points for the win. Let me just close by saying that they are a very good team. (Their national mixed team also looked extremely strong - team USA and others will have their hands full.)
Closing ceremonies and Dinner with Club Jr.
Opening and closing ceremonies bookended the tournament, with all teams respectfully present along with several city officials and representatives of Japan’s governing body of ultimate (side note - one of them showed me his application to the IOC to make ultimate an olympic sport!!). The language barrier prevented the full impact of the ceremony from reaching us; Dylan Tunnel won some individual award (spirit?) and Dalton tried to collect an award that didn’t exist, much to our amusement. Rookie.
The highlight of the tournament for me was the dinner and shenanigans with the Club Jr staff that evening. We gave away a bunch of swag and toasted to many things while wearing silly hats. It was an incredible cultural experience and one that is impossible to convey in writing, but one that I will never forget. If you ever run into someone from Club Jr or associated with Japan ultimate in any way, please thank them for what they are doing for the sport and generally be helpful. I guarantee you if you travel to Japan the favor will be repaid ten times over.
Thanks to everyone involved and especially Yoshida-san and Satoru-san for the amazing weekend!
Is Mac wearing eyeliner? (photo credits: USA Ultimate)
USA Ultimate announced the selections for the US World Games team after two weekend tryouts, which include four members of Revolver: Beau Kittredge, Ashlin Joye, Mac Taylor, and Russell Wynne. Revolver is proud of these four gentlemen, and we know that they will represent the United States well on the international stage.
Congratulations as well to the other phenomenal players selected for this team. We are honored to have you represent our country in Colombia and will be watching when you guys bring home the gold.
Revolver is excited to announce the beginning of its 2013 season. After 2012's campaign for a third nationaltitle came up just short, Revolver is looking forward to building on past successes--two national championships, two world championships, and three Farricker award winners since the team's establishment in 2006--to continue its growth as a program. In the coming season, Revolver will refocus on our founding core values of intensity, humility, and discipline; and recommit to the development of young talent. This year looks to be an exciting one, and we will be on the lookout for new players who will help the team achieve these goals. For more on Revolver's goals, values, and mission, please visit our History and Values page.
Photo Credit: Hector Garcia Molina
The 2013 season begins with the Bay Area Open Mixer, an event co-hosted by Revolver and other Bay Area open division teams. The mixer will be structured as a hat tournament, and anybody interested in a day of competitive ultimate is encouraged to attend. This event will be held on April 21 from 9:00am to 1:30pm at the South IM fields at Stanford University. If you plan to attend, please fill out this formto help us plan the event and keep you up to date on the details.
While the mixer is open to anybody interested in a day of competitive ultimate, it will also be Revolver's only open tryout for the 2013 team. Following this event, Revolver will be holding a series of invitation-only tryouts across several weekends in May before finalizing its 2013 roster in early June. If you are interested in an opportunity to try out but cannot attend the mixer, please contact the Revolver leadership directly at email@example.com.
The title of this is a nod to Lou's series of articles on SkyD about men's ultimate. To help people add some facts to their various league models we will talk about the costs of running a high level men's team these days. This post is meant to inform the public of our season and is not an endorsement or attack on any particular system.
Lou's articles are a summary of the variety of changes that are being discussed via the proposals for TCT, NexGen, AUDL and MLU. His four part series is a great read for anybody that wants a short-hand version of the months after the finals in Sarasota.
The charts below show Revolver's season expenses for 2012 as a breakdown by event as we well as category. Worlds will have it's own cost post later this week. It is important to note that none of this is subsidized by anybody other than the efforts of the 26 members of the team.
Excluding Worlds & Flowerbowl
ECC @ Burlington, Washington
Labor Day @ Santa Cruz, CA
Sectionals @ Stanford
Regionals @ Ripon, CA
Nationals @ Sarasota, FL
You can quickly see that tournaments requiring travel make up a massive chunk of the annual expenses. Regionals was cheap because it was a "home" year.** Worlds is an unusual expense although non-trivial and in a non-worlds year Revolver takes July off from tournaments so the above set of events is a normal season. Practices get a fair chunk of the expenses because like many teams in major metro areas to secure time on non-injury inducing fields we have to pay for them.
If you further break it down by category you will see that flights are a major cost driver. For competitive reasons our team provides food during the tournament because we have found that younger players don't always know how to manage their day and if left to their own devices they will sometimes fail to supply correctly or be too cost conscious in the moment to be athletically successful. We also does group meals at tournaments to simplify logistics and make sure people are well rested and refueled.
The cost of a tournaments* has risen in recent years to $350-550 but rising field costs, better availability of trainers and having more games with observers creates value that is generally worth it. Being a competitive men's team means that we are looking for value at the event itself and not something more widely community oriented or social as was traditional 10 years ago, it is all about the games.
Note that the team only flies to two tournaments in a normal season and avoids holiday flights because they are more expensive. Revolver is lucky to have Labor Day be a home tournament since Memorial Day, July 4th & Labor Day are the peak travel cost weekends during the season. You can see the charts below from FareDetective.
The total cost of the season with the home regionals came out to $40,820 or $1,570 per player.***
In addition to the explicit costs above it is worth noting that players also have to take vacation when traveling across the country. Making an assumption of $25 an hour jobs and 26 players the implicit costs of a full day off work for the team are just over $5k. In a normal season this is only relevant for nationals but various proposals in 2013 create the need for more PTO due to games on Friday or extra travel days. Again this implicit cost is worth noting for people who want to be informed.
Revolver is a group of 26 young men who play Ultimate for the reasons we outline in our values. Lots of people are very excited about the future of Ultimate and Revolver is no exception but as one of the stakeholders affected by all of these decisions/discussions we want to make sure that everybody remembers the reality of today.
*Note tournament bid + "nationals player fees" make up over 50% of the costs for tournaments which is above and beyond the $50 annual USA U membership fee.
** Regionals was hosted in the Bay Area so there was no flight, a year with a flight costs $5K more based on 2011 data.
***2011 mirrored these costs but with an extra $5K or $200 per player in flights due to "away" regionals. We expect to be "home" once every three years.
Revolver would like to announce that the captains for 2013 have been selected. The team has a long tradition of excellent leaders who play the right way and lead in IHD by example as well as their voice. It is important to have continuity year over year as well as allow younger players to have a voice in the future direction of the team.
The team would like to thank out going captains Martin & Beau for all of their efforts in 2012 as Revolver achieved an additional world championship and made finals in the club tournament. Their leadership, along with Ryo, was critical in a long, challenging year physically and mentally. A pair of photos to commemorate their efforts.
The 2013 season is already shaping up to be a very exciting year that is sure to bring its own challenges and changes. Once again thanks to the 2012 guys and good luck to the new captains!