Weather is something the Flying Horsecows have traditionally been obsessed with. Usually in less than favorable contexts of Oberlin.
The dark shell that constantly pervades the weather patterns over northern Ohio has a name ("the ass-cloud") as well as an unpredictable personality all its own; the four to five day burst of warmth during All-Roads Lead to Oberlin is attributed to supernatural origin.
Bearing this in mind, Oberlin's men's ultimate frisbee team knew that one way or another, the annual Arctic Vogue tournament held in Hamilton, Ohio last weekend would be interesting. Past conditions at Vogue have been everything from seven inches of ice topped snow, to freezing rain, to sunny and nice. The week's worth of rain had just melted the 16 inches of snow lying on the ground and the Nino-esque promise of warmth had the jam-packed cars shivering with expectations and excitement.
Fortunately, once the Horsecows got to Vogue, thought shifted quickly from weather to the competition ahead. Waking up bright and early (on an overcast day) Oberlin proceeded to get to the fields at 8:50 a.m., early enough be there before not only all the other teams, but the tournament organizers as well.
Since Oberlin's time frame is usually 10-30 minutes behind the rest of the world, the anomaly of being early brought about both spontaneous napping, and a carnival like celebration featuring car stereos being pushed to their limit by both the Smashing Pumpkins and "Song 2" by Blur as well as the cinnamon buns first-year Sam Hopkins made the night before. This was a big deal.
The other teams showed up, one at a time, and in true fashion the tournament directors were the last to get to the fields. But once all the logistics were taken care of, the pools of teams were handed down to the captains, Arctic Vogue was finally ready to begin.
The first of Oberlin's four games was against the unknown club team, Dr. Spectro. The Doctor proved to be made up of many random players, most of whom were new to the sport, including one complete tool of a player wearing jeans and sneakers that they had picked up somewhere and given a uniform.
The Flying Horsecows dispatched of Spectro quickly and painlessly, 13-1. The only Spectro point came at the tail end of a 4-1 run by an all-rookie line. The rookies played well, but were quickly all subbed out when Spectro scored. Co-captain seniors Jim Woodroffe and Nachie Castro yanked them all so they could sit on the sidelines and mull over what had just happened for a little while.
Once the rout of the good Doctor was over, business became serious again as Oberlin went up against Ohio State University's Leadbelly. Ohio State's offense has been and is still run by a graduate student player of theirs, lovingly nicknamed "Double-wide" by Oberlin's veteran players, the keystone of their offensive flow. Yet as the name suggests not the most fleet of foot, Oberlin used their faster players (i.e. everyone) to shut him down on the way to a 13-4 victory.
The gray pseudo warmth continued into the third game, this time against the southern Ohio club team, Tutti. Oberlin had gotten the best of Tutti when they had last faced off during club sectionals in the fall, and looked to do the same again. Tutti's offense was quicker and more fluid than those of Spectro and OSU and they posed a long threat as well, from Sean, the bespectacled speed demon. After a see-saw start going point for point, Oberlin wised up with its defensive matches and sophomore Todd Daloz shut Sean down altogether with assistance deep from the previously unknown long ability of junior Sandy Bilus, surprising all and skying Sean in the end zone for one of Oberlin's forced turnovers. The end result was another Oberlin win, this time by a score of 13-7.
Last of the day was college rival Notre Dame University. The 'Cows beat Notre Dame at their own tournament during the spring of '97 and the Fighting Popes were looking for revenge. Both teams came out hard and perhaps overzealous. Many a huck was shot into the air towards the end zones. Few had the precision or presence to find their marks.
Wtih strong defense and Oberlin's mistakes, Notre Dame put themselves up at half by a score of 7-6. Oberlin was able to tie up the game coming out of the half, but as the two progressively tiring teams fought towards a thirteenth point, Notre Dame proved to be able to sustain their half-time lead, and took the game 13-11, ending Oberlin's day with a record of 3-1.
After a long stretch to try and work out the kinks from four straight games, both the men's and women's teams retreated to their two rooms at luxurious Red Roof Inn before hitting the town and discovering the dining options in southern Ohio on a Saturday night posed certain problems. Option A: wait two hours at Chili's or the Macaroni Grill; Option B: hit Bob's Big Boy or the suspiciously Stevenson-esque "Chinese" restaurant; Option C: fall back on McDonald's/Pizza. Adventures were had and everyone was in bed/floor/the nook underneath the sink by midnight (it's hard to fit 10 in a hotel double).
Due to their less than perfect record from day one, Oberlin faced the top team of one of the other pools first game on Sunday. The Hucking Foosiers, a club team from Indiana and last year's tournament champions.
As their name may imply, the Foosiers are a team who like to put the disc long quickly and often, and were able to keep the back of their offensive stack cycling quickly enough to keep Oberlin off guard and provide opportunities to huck for scores often. Despite some hot defensive efforts from Oberlin's starting squad, the Foosiers rolled on to an easy victory by the score of 13-5.
The second day of play was single elimination, but instead of heading off for home, Oberlin stayed a bit longer since executive decisions kept the subbing during the Foosiers game mainly among the veteran players.
Of the 21 of Oberlin's players at the tournament, 11 were rookies. And since there were people itching to play, the sun had finally come out, Woodroffe and Castro used their politicking skills to their utmost with Woodroffe's argument of "Hey, it's February in Ohio, and we're all wearing short sleeved shirts and shorts. C'mon," which convinced the also eliminated OSU to stay and play the Flying Horsecalves in a friendly game to 11.
The rookies jumped on the chance, and showed that the future for the Horsecows will probably be okay. Despite some rash decision making by some of the handlers, Oberlin's new players ran rings around their more experienced foes and showed moments of poise as well.
Most notably during the point where OSU threw a zone defense on Oberlin. The zone forces the offense to make a mass number of short throws, banking on the offense to self-destruct. Oberlin did the opposite, and the handler team of first-years Jamie Merchant, Josh Adler and Sam Greenberg slowly took the disc upfield yard by yard, finally exploiting a hole in the zone to first-year Kristian Whittset and into the end zone.
Mass hysteria and cries of "you're all grownsed up" ensued among the sidelines from the veterans. Unfortunately, the 'Calves couldn't hold the lead, and adage of "the operation was a success but the patient died" proved true and the rookies fell to OSU by a score of 11-9.
Oberlin now has time to work out the kinks of the offensive flow and continue their top-secret conditioning regiment looking forward to two large tournaments over spring break in Wilmington, NC and Clemson, SC respectively.
-Nachie Castro is co-captain of the Oberlin Ultimate club team, the Flying Horsecows.
Copyright © 1998, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 126, Number 16, February 27, 1998
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