World Ultimate Club Championships – Day 1

All 26 players arrived yesterday at Hotel Rhea and gathered for a team meeting to review logistics, distribute this season’s new Patagonia jerseys, discuss strategy for Sunday’s games, and generally check in about the team’s mental fitness.

This morning we rode the tournament buses across town (if you can call the metro area of nearly two million a “town”) and over the Vltava River to vast Strahov Stadium, which reportedly holds 220,000 people. The plush grass felt really comfortable under bare feet, but the time had come to cleat up. Nick Handler looked anxious to get back into action with the team he founded five years ago, fresh off a year and a half working for a non-profit in Kenya.

Game 1 – Pool play, pool B – 10:30 vs Feldrenner Mainz (Germany)
#11 Nick indeed made an instant impact by starting on the D-line and tallying a layout comeback block to help earn a break. The Germans then confounded us for the next six or seven points with a style that Americans rarely see, namely a reliance on well-placed throws to space released while the intended receiver is either motionless or cutting in another direction entirely. We traded for a period before implementing a different defensive strategy designed to contain the deep threat and turned up the energy. From then we held a 9-4 lead at half and finished 17-6. In the post-game joint huddle the Germans offered a vuvuzela to our own #5 Rocky Beach for his defensive contributions that game and we gave a red Revolver jersey to an enthusiastic
youngster (can’t remember his number, but he wore a soft white helmet) that had made a fabulous stretching layout for a goal in the second half.

We hydrated and ate quesadillas from a stand across from the stadium for lunch and sought out a shady perch in the stands to observed Chain Lightning vs Ultimate Decision (Latvia), which was relatively one-sided after they traded to 3-3. Everyone took turns with the vuvuzela–it’s tougher than it looks! James Herbert and Martin Cochran gave especially strong performances, demonstrating quite a range of sound. We know what you’re thinking… site down vuvuzelas have a range?

Game 2 – Pool play, pool B – 14:30 vs Gigolo (Ukraine)
Several athletic Ds by #7 Russell Wynne and smooth offense after the turn by #27 Ashlin Joye helped power Revolver to a 17-1 victory (9-1 at half) in our second game. #11 on Gigolo earned himself a long-sleeved light blue jersey by virtue of generally gritty defense and a couple of nice offensive contributions including a tight but crisp up-the-line backhand huck. We learned later that Gigolo is a combination of two Ukrainian teams, since they primarily play beach Ultimate, which requires fewer players than proper for a seven-person week-long tournament on grass. A fun game fought hard on both sides.