As I sat down to make up the official Potlatch awards, I found that there was more to say than which teams won some made-up awards (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Don’t worry, there are still plenty of juicy award absurdities below.
But, first and foremost, I want to apologize. This was not my best Potlatch. I didn’t deliver to a standard that I believe Potlatch and you all deserve. There were plenty of times that I was at peak Potlatch form, but overall, my heart was not in it the same way. I felt it showed. There were several factors which led to this:
- In February, I broke my leg. I got three screws put into in my ankle, meaning I would not get to play the sport I love with the community I love for some time. When I first helped run Potlatch in 2014, I was injured, and still had the time of my life.
This time was different, and it hit a lot harder. I found myself sad throughout the preparation, doubting my self-worth, and questioning my reasons for giving. While there is no other place I would be on Potlatch weekend, being injured made me question that because I wouldn’t get to fully participate.
- Emotional turmoil over the impending changes to Potlatch. Potlatch is a project that I’ve put a lot of time into over the years. With any project that you love, change is a hard pill to swallow, especially if that change comes to head to head with aspects that you’ve personally put time into.
The TDs have been discussing certain changes for a while now (like changing the name of Potlatch to be more culturally sensitive), and trying to come up with potential solutions. As much as I didn’t want to change things initially, it is absolutely the right thing to do. For those who don’t know, Potlatch is a Native American term for a gift giving celebration. While the spirit of what we do is there, the original meaning of this tournament and how it relates to the Native term has been lost over the last 28 years. This is something DiscNW and the TDs have taken very seriously, and that is why we brought it up in the bid submission process and at the captains meeting. Nothing official has been determined, and the conversations are still ongoing. but we all should prepare for a world where this tournament will have a different name.
It was incredibly tough to work through these (and other) issues all at the same time, and still try to ensure everyone else’s Potlatch was fantastic.
Importantly, whenever I was down, the ultimate community was there for me. I was constantly showered in love and affection from members of the ultimate community with simple acts like giving hugs to grander gestures like gifts of hats, jerseys, and even a lucky egg. You all helped lift me back up when I was down. For this, I am grateful. You are all the reason I volunteer for this, you all inspire me to be make this tournament even better. Ultimate community, I love you.
The Legend of Hrair
Lastly, I learned an important lesson this Potlatch from an experience I call the Legend of Hrair “Her-Eye.” I came across an interesting fellow on Night Zero of Potlatch who stood out among all the random ultimate players. There he was, a short, out of shape, hobbit looking guy, with long curly hair, glasses and a Newsies cap. He almost floated around the party. I was fascinated as he walked over in the middle of a rage cage game, and started stacking cups. I knew I had to meet this human, and find out how he discovered Potlatch. I walked over to him and asked him how his night was going. He immediately went into a long rant about how he was having an identity crisis between being a normal person and an artist. Just as I thought, this guy was as odd as I had assumed, didn’t know anyone at the event, and wasn’t signed up to participate at Potlatch. But, seeing as he was harmlessly participating in the celebration, I was curious to see what role he would play.
The next night, as I stumbled to my last campsite gathering to play rage cage before I went to bed, there was the half-man, half-artist hobbit in all his glory. I knew all the other members at the game table, and we all had the same look on our face. “Who the hell is this guy? And what the hell is he doing here?”
I positioned myself next to Hrair, and asked him how his artistry crisis was going. He gave me a similar rant as the evening before, and proceeded to ask the table if we wanted to have a real talk. He asked if we wanted to know the twelve reasons he was upset his wife was leaving him. Things had just gotten very real, but the campsite host decided to step in and escort Hrair away.
Hrair clearly had several issues he was working out. He had somehow made his way to Potlatch, and chose it as an appropriate location to work through those issues. I heard he made an appearance at the same campsite the next night, and was asked again to leave, this time with a little more force and anger. I understand why that happened. There was a big unknown factor here on what this stranger was capable of if he snapped. But if anything, accepting all people is what makes the ultimate community so special, and Hrair should not have been an exception.
On day three of Potlatch, during one of my golf cart drives, I found Hrair posted up in the northwest corner by some tents, with an easel, a canvas and a sign next him with “Weird Freaky Art” written on it. I asked him what he was doing. He explained to me how he had been working on this painting all weekend.
I took a closer look at the canvas. On it was an incredible oil landscape painting that perfectly captured the scene of Potlatch. The fields, teams playing, children playing, spirit games, tents, honey buckets, the trees, the houses on the hills, even the shadows from the trees behind him. This was a magnificent piece of art that perfectly conveys what Potlatch is, and it was through the perspective of a stranger.
My mind was blown. I finally asked Hrair how he had discovered Potlatch. He explained how after volunteering in the neighborhood, he had pulled over in this parking lot to pray and reflect on his life. That is when all these people started showing up, and they kept on coming. Rather than run away, he embraced this unknown group, to see what he could learn about himself. I marveled at this tale, and then went on to share what Potlatch is and what it means to the ultimate community. How we all come from all over the world to Redmond, WA to share memories, good times, and gifts with our friends. I told him a little about my story and role as one of the tournament organizers, and how much seeing his art meant to me. Hrair then turned to me and exclaimed, “I want you to have my painting.”
I was dumbfounded yet again. I told him I couldn’t possibly take this, but he insisted, stating, “You all accepted me as one of your own this weekend.” He went on to share how by expressing himself this way, it was helping him work through his troubles, and gave him more of a meaning. “If this is an event about gift giving, then this is my gift to you.” With tears in my eyes, I hugged Hrair. This is the greatest gift I have ever received at Potlatch, and it came from someone who I originally thought shouldn’t be there.
I learned a very valuable lesson from Hrair. We all have struggles to work out in life, like overcoming an injury, losing loved ones, or confronting a big change. Potlatch is all about embracing your community, being inspired to create something spectacular, and showing your love through giving a gift. Whatever the future holds for this tournament, I hope that those ideals and values are preserved.
And now a moment for the true heroes of Potlatch, the tournament directors. Rusty, it was a pleasure to watch you step up in many ways this year, especially as a leader. These may have been the best match ups and brackets I have ever seen. I especially enjoyed how you could attend the party for the first time in 8 years.
Kate, you are the queen of communication. You rose to the occasion time and time again, and helped make some incredibly positive changes. Plus, you were a great Loreli from Gilmore Girls!
Mel, this was my first chance getting to work with you, and I was impressed. I enjoyed your sense of humor that you seamlessly tied into your community interactions. I believe you will do great things as the new Executive Director of DiscNW.
Kong, you are the string that holds Potlatch together. Thank you very much for all you have done during these past 11 years. I hope we are all lucky to have you stick around for 11 more.
Finally, Kat, when I was down, you inspired me to do something special. Thank you for helping drive our social media campaign, and making my dreams a reality. It was your work that kept me involved during all the times I wanted to walk away. Thank you all for helping me remember what it I bring to Potlatch.
And now the Potlatch Awards. Presenting Twenty-eight categories for each year of Potlatch:
Runner Up: Team Canada
Won Potlatch Spirit Trophy
Runner Up: Stretch
Choco Steak House’s VIP Dinner
Runner Up: Homegrown’s Buffer Massages
Song of Potlatch 2017
CAN’T STOP THE FEELING – Justin Timberlake
Runner Up: YMCA – The Village People
Best Potlatch Bid Submission Video
Wham-OOO’s Potlatch Macklemore Song
Runner Up: Tie – Brunchkin’s Brunch Infomercial and Friends’ Show Intro
Best Potlatch Bid Submission Physical Item
Human Powered Submarine’s Submarine Piñata
Runner Up: Beach Owl’s Owl About Me posters
Best National Team Theme
Team Canada’s Disney costumes
Runner Up: Team USA’s frosted tips
Best Team Theme
Twincest’s Khaki Scouts
Runner Up: Natural 20’s Hamilton
Best Team Representation of Potlatch’s Throwback Theme
Runner Up: Wham-OOO
Best Male Costume at the Fields
Kyle Harper’s Mad Hatter from Alice and Huckerland
Runner Up: Mike Caldwell’s Joker from Worlds Collide: DC vs Capcom
Best Female Costume at the Fields
Rachel Moens’ Hunchback of Notre Dame from the Canadian National Team
Runner Up: Karie Holst’s Catwoman from Worlds Collide: DC vs Capcom
Best Team Jerseys
!ZAZ CULERO!’S Mariachi uniforms
Runner UP: Wham-OOO’s Dixie Solo Cup jerseys
Funniest Costumes Based Match Up
Balls to the Wall-do Vs Shut Up We’re Wizards
Runner Up: Natural Twenties’ Hamilton vs Desert Lorax’s Steam Punk
Best Campsite Dance Party
Nutria’s non-campsite imposing dance tent.
Runner Up: PODO’s Fun Tunnel aka the Funnel
Best Late Night Entertainment Activity
T’was the Night Bacon Christmas’ Jokes for Bacon
Runner Up: Nobaerang’s Karaoke Booth
Best Meal served from a Meal Themed Team
Dinner by Choco Steak House
Runner Up: Brunch by Brunchkins
Who Won the Party
Everyone who dressed up in spandex, neon, or other aerobics attire
Runner Up: Everyone who didn’t
Best DTF Parody Song
Daniel Krass’ “Part of Your World” about Potlatch
Runner Up: Left Ball’s “Party in the USA” about Lei Out
Best DTF act
Stretch’s aerobics routine to “Love Shack”
Runner Up: Amy Krog’s Glow Stick Dance
Best Constructed Spirit Game Prop
Beach Owl’s Baywatch Tower
Runner Up: Desert Lorax’s Frisbee Launching Truffela Tree
Best Crowd Engagement Spirit Game
Entropy Punch’s WWF Compliment Throwdown
Runner Up: Have Yourself a Jazzy Little Christmas’ 12 Days of Christmas
Most Electric Spirit Game
Cannibals’ Shock Collar Operation
Runner Up: Natural 20’s Hamilton Potato Cannon
Team that Brought the Most Thunder
Runner Up: Shut Up We’re Wizards
Best Team Application of Glitter
Runner Up: PODO
Best Pioneer Themed Team
Corps of Discovery
Runner Up: Pioneer Cut
Best Golf Cart Decorations
Wet Hot AmerORCAn Summer’s Mystery Machine
Runner Up: I Love You Tutu’s Golf Cart Tutu
Best Golf Cart Co-Pilot
Coit Stevenson from PODO
Runner Up: Thomas Oliver from T’was the Night Bacon Christmas
I Love You Tutu midnight tutu golf cart addition
Runner Up: Alex Duffel’s Midnight Lyft and Scatter