TEP Colombia 2017
Shane Sisco (1:15 PM, May 2)
We’ve reached the final update to our South American travels. A handful of us are currently sitting in the Medellin airport playing dominoes, drinking our last lemonade de cocos, and waiting for our 2:30PM flight. The majority of the team departed in the wee hours of the morning, and a few are staying behind to continue to travel around South & Central America. Safe travels, amigos!
Yesterday we were able to watch Phoenix (and Scandal/Molly Brown) ladies take down the combined Colombian women’s teams in finals. We were on the field warming up next to them prior to our finals matchup with Sockeye. The crowd in the stadium was awesome, as were the hundreds of spectators lining the fence. The stadium is surrounded by food and beverage vendors which have tables and chairs set up to watch. The majority of these seats were filled by Colombians drinking and watching the last day of competition.
We did not start off great against Sockeye, yielding two breaks early. We never quite got into any sort of rythym on offense and couldn’t generate many turns on defense. Sockeye was clearly ready to play, and we were not. Our legs were heavy from our long battles in the games from Saturday and we ran out of gas. The final score was 15-7, I believe. Credit to Sockeye, who played a fantastic tournament. They deserved to win, and had great things to say afterwards in the spirit circle. Hopefully we can see them again in the Club series later this season.
After the game, most of us hung out and drank beers around the stadium to watch USA vs Colombia in the mixed final. Boy, was it exciting! The Colombians hung around all game and took a 1 break lead late in the game. They eventually prevailed 16-14, which resulted in the majority Colombian crowd going absolutely bonkers. It was one of their biggest wins they have ever had, especially on their own turf.
The awards ceremony followed, but much of the team didn’t get the memo and walked back to the Hostel. The rest of us ran back to accept our second place medals, take pictures with virtually everyone who had field access, and traded jerseys with the droves of Colombians waiting outside of the stadium for us to exit.
Shane Sisco (12:05 PM, May 1)
Well, after a long and partially wet Sunday, Ring and Phoenix have both made finals in their respective divisions! Most of the Ring guys were dragging for our 9:30AM game against the Colombian U20 game yesterday. It was essentially a crossover game between the pool winners and the last place finisher in the opposite pool. Sockeye had to play Diskongo right next to us. The tournament had these games in place to get extra games for the Colombians against international teams. On top of not being very enthusiastic for an early game that didn’t matter, it was pouring rain during the majority of the game. We jumped out to a comfortable lead early and coasted from there until about 13-8. They rallied several breaks off until they brought it to universe point at 14-14. They came down in zone, which surprised us. We easily worked it down the field with patient disc movement and punched in the winning score. Swilson was voted MVP by the U20 team for his fantastic defense and handler movement throughout the game.
After our crossover game, everyone cabbed back to the Hostel to get dry and take naps. Out next game wasn’t until 2:30PM, which was quarterfinals against Equipo TEP. Laundry was collected to dry our wet stuff before that game. Like usual down here, we came out really flat since we showed up late and couldn’t warm up. For a group of players who had never played together before, they played a near flawless game. They were coming up with everything on 50-50’s and not making many mistakes. We pushed after halftime and got out to a comfortable lead at 13-7 before letting them back into the game 14-13. After giving up a couple breaks late, Tristan ripped a first touch bomb off the pull to Vikram for the game winner. We could rest easy knowing we didn’t blow the game.
Our semifinals game was scheduled for 6PM at the same field site, so everyone hung out there to eat and lay low before our matchup with the Medellin club team Aire. Hunter went out with a mild hamstring injury, and is currently on the shelf for the rest of the tournament. To help with numbers, we reached out to our favorite winged friend, Goose Helton, to pickup with us for the rest of our games. He was down here competing with the Truck/Scandal mixed team, and they had already been eliminated from their division.
As the game got closer to first pull and, it became apparent that the lights on our field were definitely not going to be much help. Half of them were not working, and all of the ones that were working were not powerful enough to do any good. We had to wait until the other semifinal was done on the next field over. They broke to start the game, and we traded for a few points before getting the break back. Halftime came with us up 1 on serve. They had an interesting offensive movement. Typical of Colombian teams, they like to attack from the handler space with quick short cuts, usually up line. But those handlers will keep going deep up the same third of the field and throwers are not afraid to launch. The hucks are about 6 feet off the ground and very flat, and, surprisingly, always found their receiver right in stride.
We traded several points out of half, as each team was not yielding any turnovers. They broke around 9-9, I think. We eventually got that break back after a long, back-and-forth point, which made the game 11-10. We closed the game out with three straight breaks to finish 15-12, even though hard cap had already ensured us that we had won. Since the game had started so late, we quickly departed the fields to get ready for the tournament party later that night in Parque Lleras.
Red lights are essentially meaningless to taxi drivers here. I think I’ve seen upwards of 20 lights get blown by, with the driver only slightly slowing down and looking prior to cruising straight through. Despite taxi drivers trying to kill us, Ring and Phoenix safely made it to party in Parque Lleras. By the time most American teams arrived at the tournament party, it became clear that this was not the place to be. A long line of athletes made their way across the park to grab beers and hang out in front of Gusto, the club that was decided on. The DJ was playing a ton of American party music, and the local Colombians were quite terrified of the USA dance party happening right before their eyes, that had essentially taken over half of the club. Shouts to Howey, who was dripping sweat and cutting a rug the entire time we were there. Once some of us couldn’t hear anymore, we retreated back downstairs to the park for some street meat and beers. Apparently, you can’t drink in the park past 3AM, so those of us who hadn’t finished were kindly asked by the police to leave. It was time to go anyways, so we headed back to the Hostel to pass out.
The Ring guys are heading to the stadium soon to watch Phoenix play in their finals game at 12:50PM. Our game is right after at 2:40PM, so we will be able to warm up and cheer them on while we get ready for finals against Sockeye. All of the guys are bringing extra jerseys to trade after the tournament ends. I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked by other Colombian players if I would be willing to swap jerseys with them. Hopefully I (and we) have enough to go around.
Shane Sisco (12:46 AM, April 30)
We’re back for TEP in 2017! This has been a tournament a lot of us have been looking forward to since we last came two years ago. Sorry for the delay for our first update, but the last few days have been somewhat of a whirlwind. There are a lot of newcomers on the Ring team, as well as the majority of Phoenix who have never competed here.
A handful of us who arrived early spent our Thursday walking around the city and taking the metro up the mountain in these awesome gondolas. The metro is busy regardless of the time, as the people in Medellin are constantly moving around during the day. As non-Colombians, we still stick out like sore thumbs, and are constantly being stared at on the street. Especially when we are wearing our uniforms, leggings, and carrying equipment bags. They are so passionate about sports here though, so once we explain our purpose it is usually greeted with smiles and cheers of good luck.
The majority of the team arrived Thursday night, and we all convened in Parque Lleras for food, drinks, and dancing. The Ring roster is made up of 10 current or former players, and the remaining 5 are friends and pickups that gladly made the trip down. We even have a native Colombian, David Gracia, who was part of the Urutau team we taught a clinic to during our last trip down here.
Some Ring guys had travel issues and were delayed in arriving until Friday morning. Those of us who had already arrived spent early Friday teaching clinics to two Colombian teams: an open team in our pool Diskongo and a mixed team Voltaje. They were both from the same town in the northeast of Colombia, near the border of Venezuela. We helped them with specifics that they had requested ahead of time, which consisted mainly of cutting techniques and defense. Both teams were incredibly eager to learn, and we had a blast teaching them. Like I mentioned earlier, the Colombian teams are so passionate about sports and eager to learn and get better, so it makes our trips down here that much more gratifying.
Both Phoenix and Ring finished undefeated in their pools during Friday and Saturday pool play. Ring had the chance to play the Colombian U24 team on Friday night in the stadium. We came out strong and went up 3-0, although their offensive flow was very tough to stop. Like usual Colombian ultimate, it was geared toward strong handler movement give-and-go’s that are lightning quick. Even though they were young, their discipline with the disc is incredible. After quelling a late push, Ring finished the game 12-9 (?). We all hung out at the stadium afterwards to eat, drink beers, and cheer on the mixed division Team USA, who ended up crushing Team Canada in the showcase game.
Saturday was a three game affair for Ring, which started at 11:30. Our first game was against Evolution, one of the local club teams in Medellin. Most games are so tightly packed schedule wise, so we don’t have much field access to warm up prior. Not surprisingly, we came out very flat and Evolution broke two times to start the game. After ramping up the pressure in the second half, we brought a 7-4 halftime deficit to 10-10. Soft cap went on and we broke twice to finish the game at 12-10. It was a wake up call for our low numbers, after some early injuries kept a few players out of participating the remainder of the day. It’s never good when you have injuries to an already low roster. Especially with the heat and elevation difference here.
The last two games of the day were against a local team of middle and high-schoolers, Inder, and the team we taught clinics to, Diskongo. Both games ended up decisive victories for Ring (15-8 and 15-5, respectively) but it was awesome to see how talented the youth team Inder was. The future of Colombian ultimate is very bright.
That pretty much sums up our first few days down here in Colombia from a tournament perspective. Both Phoenix and Ring play cross-over games in the morning against some other local teams before getting into the elimination bracket. Hopefully the group that is out celebrating with David for his 30th birthday aren’t too hungover in the morning.
Some non-tournament highlights thus far include: Hunter’s tank top game is still strong, David’s girlfriend Caterina introduced us to the greatest Colombian beverage ever (lemonada de coco), we still stick out wherever we go to local Colombians, Coleman broke the metro, and I am officially the worst taxi door door slammer in the entire country. I probably have my picture put up at all of the depot stations at this point. Shout out to Mullen, as we are keeping the meat sweat train very much alive during TEP 2017. There are not too many hours that pass between some group of Ring/Phoenix players devouring all of the delicious food this city has to offer.
I’ll update more tomorrow after bracket play gets underway. The path to finals leads us on a collision course with the other American team, Sockeye, in the semifinals. We’re not sure why the #1 pool play finishers would meet in semifinals instead of finals at this point, but we’re taking the day game-by-game. We’re just excited to be competing at this tournament again with a great group of guys. It’s still surreal, after being down here for two different TEP’s, to look up at the surrounding mountains and be humbled at the fact that we are competing against international teams in Medellin, Colombia, a truly beautiful place. Buenos noches!
TEP Colombia 2015
Josh Mullen (5:55 PM, April 3):
In the evening, the temperature drops to around 65 and it is perfect weather for playing. We made it to the Urutau game and they were down 8-7. The game was the most intense game of ultimate we have seen yet. Both teams were playing very physical, especially on the mark, and were moving the disc quickly when they could. I am not sure if it just looked like they were moving exceptionally quick because the sideline was no more than 3 feet from the fence we were watching it through, but the intensity of both teams was impressive.
Urutau lost, I think, on double game point with them trying to work it up in a handler weave. All the Colombians have excellent give-n-go handler moves and a switching D against it that takes some getting use to because they take lanes away that US teams do not when making a give-n-go.
After that game, we played Medellin 1. They were a young team, and, as such, showed a lot of promise but were plagued by execution errors which we took advantage of. After the game and after pictures with the team, we were approached by fans for pictures. some in groups and some individuals. It was a pretty cool experience to have fans like that. Ring hasn;t had that happen to us since we hosted the US Open. We are asked a lot where KP is. KP where are you?
After the game was done, we walked with one of our score keepers since her house was on our way to our hotel. She told us many things about the city and the culture, and she also told us that we are the slowest walkers in the world. A walk that normally takes her 15 minutes was taking 30. We got a lot more stares than usual walking in our uniforms and leggings (the turf here shreds skin…. we have some video of Shane putting iodine on his leg this morning biting down on a go pro handle).
After a quick shower and a change of clothes we went out for food. Our game finished at around 9:30 or 10, so by the time we got food, it was pretty late to begin with. Some of the team went to a Cuban sandwich shop recommended by the scorekeeper, and a handful of us went for meat plates via a street vendor (think of it as the Colombian equivalent of Cookout). The meat plates were the way to go. I like games of chance, and I won that game…. so far.
While waiting for our food, the skies opened and dumped a torrential downpour. The rain here is very cold. It reminds me of the rain in western Pennsylvania. just chills you to the bone. Anyway, after the meat plates were consumed, we sought shelter from the storm in a few bars before making our way back to the hostel and going to sleep.
We woke up and went to get some breakfast steak and coffee this morning. Coffee here is hard to get in supersized US amounts, but this restaurant gave us coffee in coffee mugs. It was wonderful.
We got to the fields and are to play Disco Stu, who played Euforia very tight last night. We were still stretching when we started to play. We immediately go down 2-0. After a rough start, we start ramping it up on D and take half about 8-4 or 5. We cruise out of half, and then another downpour starts and leads to sloppy play by both teams. We close it out at 14-10 or so. We finally are starting to play some aggressive D, and our O is looking more polished than yesterday, but we still have a long way to go to get to where we need to be.
Leaving the tourney, I was given an orange by a staff member. It was green. My mind was blown. It was orange on the inside and was delicious. It also happens to be the first fruit or vegetable I had eaten in probably 4 days, so that might have swayed my tastes. For our after meal food, most of the team went to a restaurant and got soups (with meat and potatoes, plantains, and bananas in it) and got some fruit and veggies to not get scurvy.
Brian Casey (4:35 PM, April 3):
I want to start by saying that the TD and the Colombian teams that we have played have all been awesome. We have told all the teams we have played that this is the first international tournament in the 25 year history of Ring (pretty sure that’s true, possible exceptions being for worlds). The city of Medellin has been very friendly and welcoming and a big bonus: There is tons of places with free wi-fi, which is great for those without an international plan and groupme/whatsapp is a great easy way to stay in touch. The hostel that TEP set us up with is very affordable and perfect for what we need for the weekend. Hotel Zandalo is in between the two field sites and everything we need is within walking distance. The food here is great and most places are very cheap. We paid 9,000 Colombian pesos (roughly $3.50 USD) for a meal with chorizo, a salad, potato wedges and these delicious little things that were essentially the love child of potatoes and hush puppies. Beers are usually around 3,000 Colombian pesos (roughly $1.20 USD) on the main street and as cheap as 1,500 Colombian pesos near the stadium (roughly $.60 USD). The language barrier is pretty difficult and we usually just end up handing them money and hoping they give us the correct amount back. We are very reliant on Tristan to take control in all communication situations.
Josh Mullen (6:04 PM April 2, 2015, with some minor edits)
Shane Sisco and Brian Casey have been taking go pro videos and pics (to come eventually). We have some amazing ones.
The first day we got into the hotel and went out and explored our side of the city some. We ate steak. It was awesome and cheap.
This is the running theme for our time here. Food here is crazy inexpensive. The portions are big, and the meat is plentiful. We eat like 5 meat meals a day. Most of the team is in a constant state of meat sweats. ….and some local liquor that tastes like less sweet ouzo. It is Easter week here, and I think most people aren’t working and are just hanging out and having fun.
We ran a clinic for two teams. We worked on fundamentals with the first team. Throwing, cutting, bodying on D. They were a lot of fun and fast learners. We threw with them at the end to correct form and work with their throws and it was crazy how much they improved in 10 minutes. Again, Tristan was a huge help because they spoke very little english. Ultimate vocabulary was hard. Inside and around on the mark and communicating it was difficult.
During the second clinic, we were supposed to just teach Urutau but right before we were supposed to start, we were approached by a group of college aged men and women who were here for the tourney and wanted to have a clinic as well. We agreed to run both, and had a lot of fun doing it once we had gotten the hang of communication and how to run an hour long clinic. We again ran fundamentals (surprise!). When I would glance over, there was a lot of athletic layouts on the turf by men and women. Awesome to see.
for Urutau, we ran them through our stations we run at practices (which again, focus on fundamentals). Their coach was great and asked us a lot of questions about the season, our practices, how we structure things. Their players are very talented, a good combination of speed, throws, and height. At the end of the clinic altitude started to take a toll on us. We are roughly 1 mile up and it is around 80 and humid. Athletic activities (and walking up stairs) were making us breathless. A lot of our team are sporting some serious sunburns today.
We are now just resting, getting ready for to go watch Urutau and then play our 8 PM game. We don’t know how good the Medellin team will be. So me teams are all-star teams from the best players of each club team (those players are playing double duty). It should be awesome playing under the lights.