Another thing I didn’t realize would be an issue coaching high schoolers: AP exams. Outside of the freshmen, nearly everyone had at least one exam, and a couple of juniors had six. Six! I have seventeen year olds taking the equivalent 1.5 college semesters. I’m starting to think it was a miracle they were ever at practice.
With exams going on this week, attendance at games and practices was pretty slim. Thursday’s night game was the exception, and thank goodness. The threat of a thunderstorm cancellation caused our opponent to bail about 45 minutes before game time (I may not have taken that news as well as I should have). Amusingly enough, they still had 7-9 players show up because they didn’t get the word until late, so we loaned them a few players and had a game.
It was not pretty. I intentionally sent over some of our best defenders to really give us a challenge (The Cog, Take Two, and Bruiser), and they beat us up. Take Two is fast enough to basically shut down any one player on defense, Bruiser is the first guy I’ve seen completely take Mia Hamm out of a game, and The Cog knows our handler movement so well that he regularly anticipated cuts and passes, severely slowing down our disc movement.
On a more positive and exciting note, this game featured the return of The Wrecking Ball from the disabled list. He had literally only been cleared that morning, so his playing time was limited to two or three points, but it was exciting to have him back. It also meant we could do the classic seniors-only line. We did have to add in Teddy Roosevelt to get to seven (he’s a senior at his school, so it counts), but it happened.
I wasn’t keeping track of the score, but I think we lost. It wasn’t important (I wouldn’t have sent over some of our best players otherwise). I was more focused on using this game as an opportunity to challenge players like Master Chief by forcing him to match up with Take Two.
Oh, and it never rained either. There isn’t a literary device that can handle my eye roll right now, so you’ll have to imagine it.
Sunday’s games were tough. We had six players at the Varsity game and five at the JV. As I’ve mentioned before, this is a low-key league, so I jumped in on Varsity, and some other coaches joined me for the JV. Even with that, Varsity was still savage and JV only had a single sub. There was a lot of running involved in these games.
Varsity was playing a Varsity/JV mix from School Y. Their Varsity team placed second in their state and fifth at Southerns, so they are obviously an incredibly talented team. More than anyone else in the region, they’re the team I’ve been trying to model ourselves after.
It was a great game. The Cog and Master Chief led the way for us on both O and D, often taking School Y’s two best players. We took half 6-5, but lost The Ninja to some leg cramps shortly after. This was something like the third time he’s had leg cramps lately. He tries to play through it each time, and each time I need to remind him we need him healthy for States. He’s got a heart the size of the sun, which almost makes me feel bad about sitting him. But States is the ultimate goal here, and these weekend games are unimportant in comparison.
School Y thankfully let us play five on five so we could continue the game with a sub, but it was too late for our legs. (Especially mine. Coaching shape is not game shape.) The kids played fantastically (seriously, there was no complaining and everyone kept running hard. What a tough group.), but eventually we dropped the game at universe point.
Final Score: 10-11
The JV game was against another the JV team of another top tier school in the area. A few other coaches had joined me in playing this one, but to compensate we had a rule that coaches can’t pass to one another. I actually really liked this rule because it made it impossible to play hero-ball (hero-disc?) between the coaches. Not something any of us wanted to do inherently, but we do like winning, and sometimes that can get the better of someone.
The game itself was as awesome as the Varsity game. All five of our kids played their best game of the season, with The Matriarch and Inspector Gadget doing an especially good job handling. There was a lot of disc movement (especially those side-to-side swings), and both were calm and patience with the disc. The Thinker and Tabula Rasa also had some great catches and are starting to really grasp what makes a good cut.
The player of the day (yeah, not just the game, but the entire day) was The Actor. The younger brother of The Matriarch, he joined the team about a month into the season with zero prior experience. He was picking up the key aspects (catching, throwing, cutting, defense) at a good pace, but I was not expecting a game like this. He scored all the points all the ways: deep cuts, in cuts, grabbing deflections, and hospital throws. He kept us in the game until, like Varsity, we were betrayed by legs (but never our heart!).
Final Score: 9 – 13
The Cog – He really showed off his Game IQ this week. Thursday night he read all of our handlers perfectly, making the offense look downright silly. As I was technically coaching against him that night, it was frustrating, but also so cool! He just had such a good read on everything that was going on, and I think it was a big wake up call to some of our freshmen handlers.
Take Two – When it comes to speed (and violent shoulder fakes), no one on our team matches Master Chief. Or so I thought. Take Two flexed his defensive muscle this week, and his best showing was on Thursday night. I don’t think Master Chief has ever had to work as hard as he did when Take Two matched up against him.
The Actor – That breakout JV game where he scored all the points? It wasn’t actually that much of an exaggeration. He set a new team record for most points in a single game with seven. He caught 78% of goals that game. I don’t understand how he kept getting open, but it was the best.
Bruiser – Another foreign exchange student, this time from Italy. If we were picking secondaries in a fight, of maybe people to wrestle bears, Bruiser would probably be my first choice. Trying to body up against him is like bodying up against a train. If he decides to move, there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
Quotes of the Week
“I was high-fiving guys and started saying ‘Stall One’ instead of ‘Good Game’.” – Inspector Gadget
Plays of the Week
Tabula Rasa has had a tough season so far. He’s definitely had the steepest learning curve of any player, but he’s still working hard, showing great attendance, and honestly never complaining or showing anything other than a ‘can-do’ attitude.
Which is why it was especially rewarding to see him make a great deep cut and catch. It wasn’t even a score, but it might have been the most important catch of the game.