The following was written by Raj Prasad, a 2011 captain and founder of the Mid-Atlantic’s Cash Crop and a long-time Ring of Fire player. Raj will be joining the Skyd coverage team in Sarasota.
The final weekend before the show has arrived and your team has had their last practice. More often than not, most players’ minds are focusing on the 3 other teams in their pool, and practice itself is meant to go through the motions, figure out last minute tweaks, and enjoy hanging out with your teammates at the local fields for one last weekend morning this season.
The captain’s packet is reviewed, observer rules are re-hashed, and any last minute logistics are figured out. The captain’s are very careful to minimize all distractions since all the physical work has been put in.
Work on Monday thru Wednesday? Forget about it. More likely visualizing the sick layout D, sky, or for those a little more tempered, completing the team’s offensive and defensive schemes.
Every night dreaming, “Dump, swing, undercut, dump, swing, undercut, dump, swing ,score.”
Rinse and repeat.
Wednesday finally arrives and your flight looks like an ultimate party from earlier in the season. Masters, mixed, women and open teams all giddy to get down to Sarasota, do the all important pre-tournament grocery shopping, check into Siesta Key/tournament hotel, and stick their feet in the white sand.
Thursday morning and your whole team gets to the fields on time, for some it’s the first time all season.
Cleats on, focused, and ready to go.
The morning warm-up jog is silent, teammates with headphones are bobbing their head to the music, your heart starts to pump, and with each step, the fresh dew of Sarasota’s polo fields sticks to your cleats and seeps through your socks.
You make quick eye contact with the opponent and perhaps a head nod, but nothing else.
Dynamic warm-ups, drills with everybody bidding for the disc, and some final scrimmaging before the first pull.
The harmonica national anthem hits, and complete silence comes over all the players and fans.
“O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave…”
One last look at each of your teammates in the huddle and listen to the speech your captain has been saving all season.
You hear the horn to start the first round.