Come on by on Saturday, May 9th for our Women and Gender Queer Bike Polo Clinic! Bring a bike, a helmet, the ability to laugh at yourself and we’ll bring everything else!
BOSTON BIKE POLO COURT
1 WINNER WALKS AWAY WITH $1,000 CA$$HHHH
AND THE COMMONWEALTH CUP
Registration will begin mid-august.
Opening Party and Raffle – Location TBD
AM Swiss Rounds: 9AM sharp
PM Swiss Rounds: 2PM sharp
Top 9 from each round advance to Sunday
18 Team Double Elimination Bracket
WINNER TAKES ALL!!!
On Saturday May 17th in association with Boston Shines, BBP players spent the day cleaning up Smith Park. The park is the home turf of Boston Bike Polo, and it has been due for a clean up. We picked up bottles, cigarette buts, about a million bottle caps, and some abandoned homeless people encampments. You can safely say Smith Park is a cleaner place this week. Help us keep it clean for the rest of the summer!
Here is a video of the final of the Eastside Thaw. Nick Kruse, James and Yeager beat Jav, Drew and Troy 6-5.
I recommend watching this on mute and pumping your own soundtrack (mostly because it’s embarrassing for me) but I will say that the Jav puns are pretty good – especially around the middle of the video.
When the location change of the 2014 Eastside Thaw was announced I knew I wanted to go. These two courts in Frederick Maryland are probably the nicest on the east coast. I was a little weary of the format. Mixed skill level, shuffled teams? Was I gonna get stuck with a couple duds and just get slaughtered all weekend. I got shit for trying to sandbag on Facebook, but not having played a tourney in almost a year and only a couple pickup sessions under my belt since my injury I really had no idea what level I was playing at and how my body would react to tourney speed polo.
But the courts are so sweet, and I figured at worst I’d get a good early season shellacking to keep me humble.
There were actually two tournaments this weekend. The first was a 3v3 with the twist being teams were drawn from three decks of cards. All the players were split into three groups based on skill level (A,B,C) and each team got one player from each level. For the most part this system worked out and the teams were fairly even. Perhaps instead of A/B/C some teams looked like B/B/C or A/C/C.
Mixing skill levels in this way made for some really interesting polo. Not only were most people playing with teammates they might not know or have ever played with before, they were then given a letter that was supposed to mark their skill level.
It took me two games (a loss and a tie) to realize I could not carry my team on my own. I spent the first two games ball hogging and ignoring my teammates. I was forcing the ball up the court by myself and not finding the back of the net. It was once I relaxed and approached it more like pickup, focusing on passing and good communication that the team turned around.
Luckily I had great teammates who didn’t get pissed off at me, and worked hard to get us to the final. Troy from Lancaster was calm and steady and took it upon himself to hang back in net. When he did come up it was with speed and purpose. He scored the goal to put us into overtime in the semifinal with only a few seconds left. Arguably the most important goal of the day for us. Drew from Philly worked the midfield, winning back possession frequently and disrupting the other team’s offense. It was super rewarding to build a team with these guys over the course of the day.
So while I was very skeptical of this format coming in, I really came around to appreciating it. Did it make for the highest level polo possible? No, but that wasn’t the point. It’s a great format for bringing together people and raising everyone’s level. This is the kind of event that will make our region stronger in the long term.
Sunday was a typical bench tourney. As a top goal scorer I was one of the captains and got to pick Nick Vaughan so we won. That guy is really fucking good. One of my favorite memories of the tourney was watching him play against his teammate Alexis. It really felt like watching two Kung fu masters battling it out with their different styles.
My only complaint about the bench tourney is that ten players on a team is way too many. I was really trying to get everyone in to play, but the clock was running too fast and a lot of times guys would only get in for quick minute long shifts. I almost blew the final when I put in our C line not realizing there were only a few minutes left.
The Scoops (wrist shots)
So they allowed scoop shots at this tourney as they had the year before. I hadn’t played in a tourney where they were allowed since the bench ESPI in NYC a couple years ago. I remembered being very frustrated in that tourney with BBP players constantly scooping balls over the net instead of just taking shots. Aside from that and Lomax and a few others making a couple nice looking ones, they didn’t seem to play a very big role.
That was not the case this past weekend. The scoop shot took over games and how people were playing defensively and offensively. I think this was because of a few factors.
– Improved mallet head designs make it easier to grab the ball
– it was a laid back tourney so people were more willing to experiment
– goals were full size 4×6 ft nets so it was pretty easy to find the big gap at the top of the net
I’ll let others discuss the aesthetic merits of the scoop shot. It’s a skill to master, and it’s no surprise that the people with the best scoop shot also tend to be really good players without them.
And no one really knows what would happen to the game five years down the road if we legalized them today.
For me, what’s most interesting is how they affect defenses. A good scooper within a couple meters from net can beat a double goalie fairly consistently. Also if you soft lob a scoop into a double goalie, you are less likely to have a hard rebound to defend. You have to keep strong pressure on the forecheck, which is something people say they want to see. Turtling up and letting a guy pick his corner out isn’t gonna work.
People say goalies would adjust and learn how to block them. I’m not so sure. If you need to keep your mallet down to block your five hole and bottom corners, can you really also use it to protect your top corners? Are goalies really gonna have to be popping wheelies and endoes to block shots? With a shot a goalie can predict trajectory based on the head angle on contact, with a scoop, the shooter can change trajectory during the release. I dunno I guess it could be done.
This tourney was a blast. I got out of the house, got to play polo all weekend with new homies and old buds. The drive there and back wasn’t so bad. I got to travel for the first time with members of BBP’s young guard, Zac, Nick, and Charlotte. They repped Boston so hard both on and off the court. There was an amazingly consistent waffle maker at the hotel which was a big hit. We took a sweet bike ride through the old town of Frederick and saw some sweet historic stuff and forgot to Instagram it. I got in on a couple bad jokes and made my throat sore heckling and shouting at my teammates. And now sitting here looking at all the pics and remembering the good times, it’s like McDonald’s.
Marco (@philthycourier) just ‘gramed his ESPI shirt collection from ESPI, ESPI 2, ESPI 3, and ESPI 4, (the latter having been held here in Boston. Eastside polo history goes back quite a ways relative to other regions, but since “qualifiers” were adopted, there hasn’t been all that much to write home about. Only a small handful of Bostonian poloistas have continued to play since ESPI 4. Can the “new generation” of Eastsiders (looking at you, Sprinks) live up to our wild and crazy past?
Dude, man, Marco, thanks for the shot!
As if you need to read more Lancaster articles about what amateurs we polokins are of not having our shit together (“THANKS” MATT, see here and here … but this time not sarcastically: thanks), but srsly, lets face it: most polo clubs could be a bit more organized. Boston Bike Polo is no exception. We’re lucky to have a solid crew of people coming out to pick-up, and a sizable core that is dedicated to advancing the club in our city and in the Eastside region. And I’m proud to report that we are doing a pretty good job so far of taking advantage of the offseason to further our club and plan for the upcoming year (this may be premature, because lets be real – it’s barely December).
In that spirit, here is my (ideal) list of what every polo club should do this offseason.*
- Have a club meeting. Talk about what your club wants to accomplish in 2014 and how you’re going to do it. Maybe even hold elections for different positions in the club. In fact, polo elections are the only form of democracy where your vote really matters – we had a three-way tie here in Boston for one cabinet position – it then became a 3-man committee. Now that’s democracy at work. And as an added bonus, you can give people some time to ‘campaign’ and see what unfolds. It’ll be guaranteed to be hilarious.
- Do some court maintenance and clean-up. Before the snow falls (… BBP might have missed this deadline…) spend some time cleaning up the area around your court. Maybe even snap some pictures and make a big deal to your local park and rec department about what a nice, upstanding group of citizens you are. This way when you submit applications for permits for the tournaments you planned (see step #1), they’ll be all ‘oh wow! It’s those nice bike polo folks! We should totally grant them a permit. In fact, they’re so nice we’re not even going to charge them!’ (LULZ)
- Speaking of which, do us all a favor and post the dates of your tourneys now. This way we can all book tickets and see a light at the end of these dark, cold, polo-less nights.
- Be jealous of everyone who is going to play hott polo at the tournament in San Juan. Fuck you, you fucking fucks.
- Talk to shops and other bike organizations in your area about sponsorship and support. Not only could you potentially get a discount on parts for your bikes, but you’re also building relationships that are helpful when you want prizes for a tournament later in the year or a permit from the city. I think the whole bike polo community can benefit from these types of relationships.
- Have knife fights all the time.
- GET A NEW BIKE
*I agree that there is no real offseason if you bleed polo (like we do in Boston)– but we all gotta admit that we play less when the nights are wicked cold and it gets dark at 3:30pm. As humans, we have a natural inclination to hibernate and spend less time on the courts, so we can spend more time buffing up our collective organization game and our club’s treasury and “emergency” funds (i.e. escapist Hockey Town subsidary fund). -CF
I had a few “holy shit!” moments this weekend. It was never, “holy shit! I’m going to die!” or “holy shit! there’s Obama, where’s my healthcare!” It was more along the lines of, “holy shit! I’m on the road to Lexington, KY and I’m going to poop my pants with excitement!”
I had never been to Kentucky and I was jazzed to get down there. I had heard legends of bourbon-fueled chaos and hardcore polo in Lexington, as the city is clearly the lynchpin that keeps the Eastside and Midwest polo regions together. It goes without saying I was super stoked for the games, the bourbon, and to see all the kids that are as addicted to polo as I am. In the weeks preceding the tournament I had been hearing rumors of brand new fully-lit courts and boards provided by the Lexington Parks Department, which was as baffling as it was tantalizing. Somehow these Lex kids tricked the city into cooperating with them, and I was going to reap the benefits of a fully torqued weekend of high-octane polo.
***I wrote a couple paragraphs about our road trip down to Kentucky, which was eventful but irrelevant. Skip down to the end if you want to read about it ;’) ***
Anyway, back to the polo. Pickup on Friday night was fantastic. I really can’t stress how awesome the new courts and boards are. The surface was incredibly grippy— almost no one slid out and the boards were wicked live, so all the rebounds bounced deep back into the crease. As more friends arrived, it turned into a PBR-crushing party until the lights went out. Afterwards we hit Al’s, the local dive bar, where I drank local beers until I couldn’t see straight and then I passed out on a futon in Irishtown, a small ghetto on the other side of Lexington. I woke up at 8am in a room full of new friends. I blasted What’s New Pussycat? at full volume for several repeats until everyone was awake enough to tuck away their morning erections. Chris Simpson “cooked” a shitty piece of steak and destroyed a fried egg for me, so I was ready to get on the court and smack some balls.
Swiss rounds were awesome, as the morning bracket was full of really impressive talent. My favorite team to watch was Fuck’n Fat Chance, made up of Charlie Sprinkle and Daniel Sebring (Instagram: @sprinkskinks and @rimgrippers, respectively) and they had a great showing. I didn’t get to meet every player on every team, but of the kids I remember, The Grins (Jessi with Nick McLean) and the Green Beards (Hamersly and Nate) were clearly winners bracket contenders. We’re Just Partyin’ (Chris Simpson and Nic Maglio) knocked me around like a pinball on the court, and The Significant Otters (John Hayes and Nic Savage) were some of the most fun opponents I’ve faced in recent memory. The weather was beautiful and spirits were high. No one cried, everyone got laid, and the Spice Girls showed up and made out with everyone– it was crazy, you should have been there.
Later on, everyone ended up at Sidecar, a shitty bar physically attached to Al’s, and we all got shitfaced on $2 PBRs, $3 bud lite lime-a-ritas, and had a crazy karaoke sing-along. Nico Paris (@robo_nico) screamed Bohemian Rhapsody into my face, including the guitar solos, and everyone in the room felt his/her junk wiggle when a kid named AJ sang Let’s Get It On by Marvin Gaye. I considered breaking out my favorite R. Kelly songs, but in a very uncharacteristic move on my part I chickened out like a little bitch and slinked back to my futon in Irishtown to watch VHS tapes, most memorably Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze.
The fun stopped temporarily on Sunday when it started to rain. There were tornado warnings screeching and the skies opened up and poured out like God’s vagina, so we all knew some serious shit was about to go down. Everyone got soaked, and not in a fun way. I didn’t pack at all for the rain and I was freezing my shaft off all morning. The games were too infrequent to keep my blood pumping so I hid out in the nearby rec center with the hot coffee. I got several cups and some dank maple bacon doughnuts with Kiki of Toronto (@kikiknots) from the local bakery / coffee roasters, North Lime coffee shop across the street from Al’s. The doughnuts were so dank that I felt the need to put it in writing; thinking about those doughnuts makes my peen swell. After my team was eliminated I reffed and timed a bunch of games, reminding everyone that we still had to be friends after this tournament’s winner was decided. It got chippy on the court, but it never got out of hand. You’re welcome, Lexington.
Unfortunately, we all know how this story ends: two Lexington-led teams ended up in the final match. The Grins forced a double final, and Drew of The Green Beards let in a heartbreaking own-goal in the second final game, forcing an overtime re-joust for a golden goal. The tournament ended when Nick McLean ripped a perfect shot, bulging the net, costing Nate’s team the trophy, the glory, and the fame (for the second time in three weeks). Everyone was very gracious, no one acted like a dick, and we made a solemn promise never to forget the events that transpired this weekend. It was very special.
I don’t mean to get all sentimental but I just don’t know how else to sum up this trip. Personally, I felt like I connected with a bunch of people that I didn’t give a fair chance in the past. And that’s really what I love about bike polo; I feel like we’re all constantly growing up and balancing out. This sport has forced me to become more understanding of myself and more in tune with others. I can more effectively balance out my aggression and passion, and I can see what connects my friends to each other and to their friends in other clubs. Ok, now that all that mushy bullshit is out of my system, I’m going to go to pickup and knock some rookies off their bikes. See you next time, Lexington! -ZS
THESE ARE THE MISSING PARAGRAPHS ABOUT MY ROAD TRIP DOWN TO KY
***At 11:30pm on a Thursday, Colin Scott Dees (@CSDEES) picked me up in his ancient 1990 Audi and we hauled ass out of Boston. As a newly appointed NAH Eastside Rep, I was exhausted from my responsibilities so I fell asleep pretty much instantly. After a few wrong turns in New Jersey, we made it to Crown Heights in Brooklyn around 4am where we bodysnatched Nate Mumford (@nate_mumford) and all his gear. So now that all three of us were in the same car, we kicked off our bro-road-trip towards Kentucky. We were the only three Northerners heading to Lexington for this tournament and that was about all that we had in common. It was nice to pick their brains about how their clubs work, how they approach the game, and what they look for in teammates. However, as soon they started talking about cyclocross I fell the fuck asleep and drooled all over myself, because that shit is boring.
Now I am not a religious man, but I thank God for troopers like Colin. This dude drove 18 straight hours all the way from Boston to Lexington, stopping only a few times to roll a splif and eat a banana. I was astonished that he didn’t ask me or Nate for any help with the driving at all, and believe me, we offered. To be fair, his shitty old car was full of quirks— our phones kept dying as there was no place to stick in a phone charger, and we ran out of gas on the goddamn highway because of a faulty gas gauge. But Colin took full responsibility: he assembled one of the bikes in the trunk, rode the wrong way down the highway for a mile to the nearest gas station, and filled an emptied gallon jug water bottle with enough fuel to get us back on the road. He’s a peach, and I wish him nothing but happiness and wealth for the rest of his days. Also I hope he gets a better car.***
Despite the remnants of the NEMO blizzard still lingering, our little Boston polo scene is still hustling.
We had 5 teams make it to hockeytown last Sunday for our first ever “team night”. See the videos down below.
That was good warm up for Tyler and Zac who are road tripping from Boston to Austin for the
And Jav was getting fired up to play with Lomax (pitt) and Paul (new york) at the Great Lake Winter Classic By now Jav is the first seed going into Sundays double elimination rounds.
Boston bike polo is flocking to the suburbs tonight, Saugus to be exact, for some indoor winter polo. We want to play polo real bad but our courts are covered in an few inches of ice and snow (see the picture?). It would be too much work to clear off the courts manually, so we are opting to travel and rent some court time from our friends at Hockeytown USA. We also get the bonus of a Hooters right next door for a DANK polo/wings combo! Look forward to some sweet instagrams tonight, and hopefully some pro pictures from Gus later on