Wednesday Team Nights

Hi All,

Thanks to some great recruiting and enthusiastic regulars, we’ve been getting huge turnouts at polo, even in January.  With our list of players bigger than it ever has been we’re finally able to try some new things that never would’ve worked before.  I’m happy to announce that starting February 6, we’ll be adding Wednesdays to the polo calendar.

For Wednesdays we’re going to try an experiment by having a scheduled team night.  We’ve had discussions with most of the club and agreed on a few shared goals for this third night.

- Have each team play lots of games and spend less time sitting on the sidelines.
- Build a rapport with the same players over a period of time, so we can find out who we play well with and prepare for tournaments.
- Allow the top players and teams to get experience playing against each other.
- Give developing players a format in which they can contribute, have fun and be competitive.

DC Polo has always benefitted from the fact that newer players can play with and learn from the vets, and that’s not going to change.  Mondays and Thursdays will still be pickup as they always have been.  We just hope that a new night with a little structure can add some value for all levels of the club.  After 6 weeks we’ll re-evaluate and decide what to do next.

Registration info is located HERE.  Registration deadline is 2/2/13.  Games will be Wednesdays starting at 7pm at Brentwood park and will run from 2/6/13 to 3/13/13.

Not every team will play every Wednesday.  There will also be a substitution policy, so don’t hesitate to sign up if you’re worried about missing a Wednesday and letting your team down.

Format and schedule will depend on how many teams sign up. We really encourage everyone interested to register, we’re focused on having this be a good experience for all teams from top to bottom, and that’s easier to do with a lot of teams.

We encourage you to find a team you’d like to play with. But since the registration period is short you can sign up as an individual as well and we’ll suggest teammates for you.

That’s all for now, looking forward to seeing you on Wednesdays.

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DC Courts: Part 2 – Berwyn Heights

We have one court we play on in DC, but I started thinking about where else we play, and if some of these other sites would be worth establishing a relationship with. Some may be fit for regular play, and some might only be good for special events like a visiting club doing a bench minor day. This will be a multi-part series on places to play in DC and the greater Washington metro.

Name: Berwyn Heights Outdoor Skating Rink
Location: Berwyn Heights, MD
Lights: No
Size: 150ft x 75ft
Boards: 4ft tall; beveled corners.

This court near College Park has a great surface, 6′x4′ goals, and three entrances.  I also like the blue color because it provides a high contrast with the red/orange polo (ahem… hockey) balls.  There is nearby street parking, but the court is seated directly in a residential area.  Although situated right on the Anacostia trail, this court is not really polo bike accessible from DC.  The closest metro leaves a 2.2 mile ride from the College Park station.  When I went by on a weekend, I saw the court in use by inline hockey players.  I assume from statements by other older DC Bike Polo players, that this court gets a good deal of use.  The major downside to this court is that it doesn’t have lights.  Probably better used in the long-day part of the year in the summer heat.  No real seating, but good entrances make it a good court for bench style play.  Inter-club play here could be good, but would require finding out what municipality controls the court and what is involved for reservations.

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So Begins the Robo Dynasty

After years of hard work Eric will be standing down from his leadership position (of herding cats) to spend more time with his family, and notably his newborn son!  We wish Eric and his family the best, and thank him (seriously) for all the work he’s done for us locally, the Eastside Region, and the NAH on a national scale.

The club met over drinks at the Looking Glass Lounge and elected Mike “Robocop” as our new fall guy Club Rep.  Robo is perhaps our most traveled player other than Pierre, and is a great front man to take all the blame represent us regionally.  He’s a powerful and skilled player, and a perfect machine person to lead us.

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DC Courts: Part 1 – Raue Pond

We have one court we play on in DC, but I started thinking about where else we play, and if some of these other sites would be worth establishing a relationship with.  Some may be fit for regular play, and some might only be good for special events like a visiting club doing a bench minor day.  This will be a multi-part series on places to play in DC and the greater Washington metro.

Name: Raue Pond
Location:  Alexandria, Virginia (Google Maps)
Lights:  Yes
Size:  175ft x 75ft
Boards:  4ft tall; rounded corners

This court has a great surface, 6′x4′ goals, two entrances, bleachers, and parking.  It’s also located right off of I-395 inside the beltway off exit 6.  It’s ideal for bench style matches. The main challenge with this location is that it is privately operated.  This isn’t a terrible thing, and could actually be a benefit if the relationship established is amiable.  I talked to some of the kids that play futsol and practice lacrosse on the court.  They told me that the local hockey players arrive around 9:00/10:00 pm.  I took this to mean that the location is used to late night play that doesn’t disturb the neighborhood.  In visual range of the court is an apartment complex, an elementary, and a soccer field.  The website for the inline hockey league who uses this court says that they have Wednesday and Sunday leagues.  The optimal day to use this would probably be a Saturday when other clubs come in town.  There’s no real metro accessible route to the court, so a major downside is the need to drive to the court.  This court would be very poor for weekly pick-up games, but could be a great location for special weekend inter-club play.  Some ground work and outreach would need to be done in advance.

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Cheers to Zack

Zack has left DC.  He’s a quiet guy, but a fierce player.  He comes off as a little grumpy, but he has done a lot of DC Bike Polo, so nobody can question his commitment to the group.  He’s not moving permanently  so this isn’t retirement.  We’ll just call it a sabbatical.  He’ll join Pierre and Eric at Turducken next month as our lead DC team.

But since he’ll be gone for a while, I just wanted to say thanks for some of the things you’ve tried to teach me (and I actually learned some of them!)

Here’s a hit list of Zackisms I’ve noticed are effective.

1)  Be available for the pass
Many times I’m temped to get into the fray.  In my mind I think it will help to block or screen the ball carrier.  That might be true sometimes, but more often it feels like we’re just crowding around the ball.  The major downside is that if the ball is taken, you’ve probably rendered yourself useless to stop a break-away.  Zack knows when to run a screen, and when to spread out the offense on the court and be away from the action, but in the shooting gallery.

2)  Going fast is great, but you can save more energy by just being in the right place
I’ve seen Zack pedal hard before, and he’s not slow, but more commonly, Zack has the ball because the pass, missed shot, or rebound lands in his lap.  This isn’t a coincidence.  Zack’s best midfield trait is reading the court.  One thing he said to me that I’ve tried to practice is that a good place to be is between the ball carrier and your goal.  This is true whether you’re on offense or defense (even if the later is more obvious).

3)  If there is a turn over, turn inwards
If your team loses the ball turn inward to the center of the court on your way back to defend your goal.  Turning outward towards the wall makes you very easy to get past.

4)  You can wait until the green to shoot
When I started, I could never dream of shooting from half court (or farther).  I would shoot from very close.  As I learned how to shoot better and from farther away, the temptation has become greater and greater to shoot from distance before the other team has a person in place as a goal keeper.  That’s fine and dandy, but if you do it over and over (like I sometimes do), it gets a little obvious.

So Zack, thanks for these and all the other lessons you shared.  Hopefully you’ll find something fun to do on your sabbatical.  Hopefully we’ll see you a few times over the next year!  You know what would be awesome?  Just hit the gym all year, and come back crazy ripped and mad fierce.  This could be your polo shaolin temple hermit phase.

Good luck!

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GOALHOLE Feature on DC Bike Polo

Australasian bike polo blog and dictionary GOALHOLE reached out to me to do a profile of our club.  You can read the interview and more at their site:  Here

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Helmets: Keeping It Real

Hat tip to John and Alex for this image. ಠ_ಠ

When I explain to people that I have about two or three bike crashes a week, they look horrified. That’s probably because they think that there is a 1:1 ratio of crashes to injuries. In fact, when I see most people’s faces, I can imagine in their mind that bike polo is some sort of mechanical anarchy of violence. It’s more like learning to slow dance in middle school, but with the exception that every time you step on your partner’s feet, they judo throw you to the earth with indifference. Most common injury: Pride, and some minor scratches.

However, there are some wrecks that are really bad, and when they happen to anyone, we should all reflect and evaluate what safety measures we take as players. I had a scary wreck last week, and left some blood and skin on the court. That’s cosmetics. What I didn’t share is that what scared me the most was the paint streak. It was from my helmet–a foot long purple mark on the court. I still had court burn on my face and shoulder, and stretched my neck pretty bad. I don’t remember the wreck itself because it happened so fast. My memory is that I won the joust, then tu–404 error. Lots of crashes happen on the court, but when the world came back into focus and I was surrounded, so I assume what they saw was scary enough, and included phrases like, “I was relieved to see you moving.” But I’m an idiot and I’m too proud, so I pretend to shrug the whole ordeal off. I’m feeling better now, but having had some time to nurse my wounds, I guess it’s time to keep it real.

I was afraid…

…and I can’t stop thinking about what that mark would have been if I didn’t have a helmet on. From here, I’m going to upgrade my safety gear. It’s time to add some face protection. I like my Bern Watts, so maybe I’ll put a cage on it instead of buying a hockey helmet. Now taking suggestions.

I also have thought a lot about how DC Bike Polo came into the court, and that the club was worried. I realize how upset I’d be if one of my friends was hurt, and so I guess I should take this opportunity to say, to any who would listen, your safety strategy is a part of your game strategy. Put a damn helmet on.  Please.  Because I fucking care.

Thank you to those who checked in on me. I think tight bonds make the club strong, and my loyalty to friends makes me want to be the best teammate I can be.

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My Cup Runneth Over

Looking back, it seems so obvious: Put beer a refreshing beverage in a mallet head. I know people have done it before, but now with most prefabricated mallet heads being unibody, it seems like the photo that’s supposed to be taken. So if you’re a manufacturing mallet heads, or if you’re giving mallet heads away as prizes, this seems to be the money shot. It’s the perfect celebration that is so perfectly bike polo. Still waiting for the other brands to jump on board.

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DC Bike Polo is Full of Vitamins

VitaminWater – BIKE POLO from Gil Seltzer on Vimeo.

DC Bike Polo was one of six clubs invited to ESPI 2012, the Bench Minor tournament hosted by NYC Bike Polo. Lot’s of good footage of our club, including a dramatic slow motion shot of Robocop. I like to think that our flashy DC jerseys got us some extra camera time. The video is a pretty good edit, and they should get more involved since we made their drink look so damn cool. If Vitamin Water is interested in bike polo, they should consider sponsoring some future events.

Fun fact: I’m still full of vitamins.

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Hoedown in Carolina

It’s been a hot minute, but it should be written in the book of DC Bike Polo, that a 2/3rd DC team won a tournament! The Carolina Classic, the “Hoedown Throwdown” tournament was held in Charlotte, NC on August 18th-19th, 2012.


Congrats to Robocop, Eric, and Horse (from Lancaster United).

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