Monday, September 25, 2017

2017 - Hibida Hall of Fame - Easton Archibald

2017 - Easton Archibald

There just aren't enough words to really do this wonderful young man justice. In 2015 Hib went through a significant culture shift, placing an emphasis on supporting each other, an inclusive, positive atmosphere and playing for the joy of the game. The competitive success that followed, culminating in a nationals berth in 2017 (Easton's 5th year on the team), was not a coincidence and Easton championed and embodied the attitude that took us to nationals - he simply was Hib. 

On the field, Easton went from a gangly freshman to a fundamentally flawless super-senior. He could handle. He could cut. He had spectacular fakes. He was always outworking his opponent. If he did happen to get beat defensively you knew a big bid was coming. He executed our offensive and defensive schemes as well as anyone on the team and even in his fifth year was constantly seeking feedback on how he could improve. 

I was lucky enough to both coach Easton for five years and play one season of club with him on Choice City Hops in 2016. That season on Hops, Easton, who had previously had a reputation for mostly being the fundamentally-solid-but-not-flashy guy took the reigns of big-time playmaker. My most distinct memory of this shift came at club sectionals, on the first point of the game against Syndicate from Colorado Springs. A huck went up and Easton closed the ground and made a spectacular layout block on the trailing edge of the disc, knocking it just out of the offense's reach. 

Off the field, Easton was a never ending fountain of encouragement and helpfulness. He took young players under his wing and taught them not just how to play on Hib, but also what it meant to play on Hib - why the team culture was what made (makes) the team successful. 

Easton was our spirit award winner at nationals (pictured above) and there couldn't have been a better candidate. After we had played our final game, we circled up to do end-of-the-season wrap up where it's customary for each player to give props to a teammate. When Easton's turn came up in the circle, he pulled out hand-written notes, not 1-2 sentences, but full on letters, for every single member of the team. I can't speak to the content of anyone's message but my own, but I can say that my letter is currently framed above my work desk at home.

I can truly say the team will not be the same without Easton, and we already miss him dearly. Lucky for us, his spirit will resonate with the team for many years to come and there could be nothing more fitting than inducting him into this Hall of Fame where we can be reminded of that spirit every time we think back on the greats of Hib history. 


Honorable Mentions: Sten Larson, Jordan Trepp, Thomas Theodorescu

Monday, September 18, 2017

2016 - Hibida Hall of Fame - Noah Brown

2016 - Noah Brown

Noah was and is my kind of player. A fundamentally sound guy who's all about working hard, doing the right thing on the field, and maximizing his personal abilities through work at the gym, track and in the film room. 

His freshmen year, in 2013, we went to our first warm-up tournament in Logan, Utah. Noah was the unfortunate victim of a bad bid directly into his knees which I believe tore his MCL and PCL. I've, unfortunately, seen it happen before - a young guy gets a season-ending injury and it's really sad, but that's usually the last we see of them. 

Noah didn't let it phase him. He didn't miss a practice that year. He spent all year learning, absorbing and working on his throws. His sophomore year he developed into a strong handler with excellent on-the-field smarts. In 2015, his junior year, he was elected captain alongside Tanner Gossack. He captained his senior year as well. 

He was always a bit of a gruff individual, but nobody would ever question how much Noah put the team before anything else. He was the captain that kept people accountable on their workouts. He was the captain that kept the team mentally focused when we'd have a run of sloppy play. He was the captain that believed so thoroughly in everything that the team was doing that he poured every bit of himself into it. I can honestly say, the team wouldn't have been the same without him. 

2015 and 2016 were our breakout years after the disappointing 2014 finish and Noah was at the helm for both seasons - a huge part of our success. He also coached our B-team in 2017 - the first year the program has ever had a B-team participate in the USAU series. 

Noah's the kind of person who deflects praise and isn't super comfortable in the spotlight, but I hope he knows how much he meant to Hib, and how much I respected him for his hard work and dedication. Truly a G.o.a.T. for pushing Hib in the right direction. 


Honorable Mentions: Scott Wheeler, Luke "Fitz" Doyle, Marshall Rawley, David Raul Cuellar

2015 - Hibida Hall of Fame - Tanner Gossack

2015 - Tanner Gossack

Tanner was a big athlete - both in actual size and in athletic ability. Hearkening back to the days of Jordan White and the 'linebacker's frame', Tanner had the kind of speed, size, and body control that could dominate on the Ultimate field. 

Tanner joined the team in 2012 as a raw prospect, eager to learn and develop his disc skills. By the 2013-2014 season, as a third year, he'd earned the respect of his peers and was elected captain. His disc skills had developed certainly, but I think what earned Tanner that respect both amongst teammates and opponents was his effort, commitment and dedication. He was fiercely loyal to the team and very protective of his teammates and coaches.

As a high school athlete, Tanner had knee problems and his doctors had more or less told him, "Stop playing sports." Tanner's stubborn insistence on continuing to participate in athletics was Hib's boon, as he consistently made monster plays for us.

My favorite Tanner memory was a drenched, muddy MLC in 2013. The fields were cold, mud pits. Tanner had a massive bid on an under cut that he just missed, landing square in a puddle with a huge, dramatic splash. Being the concerned coach that I am, I was yelling at him to get up and get on the mark. He flies up, his face completely covered in mud, no ability to see anything whatsoever and starts flailing around trying to block the next pass - which he came within an inch or two of doing despite having no vision. It still brings a smile to my face, to this day.

My saddest Tanner memory is from fall 2014 MLC. There was one particular point, I don't remember who it was against, maybe Kansas. Tanner was flying all over the field - he had a couple nice bids on a defense and the other team scored. Nothing overly notable about the point itself. After the point, I was at the far end of the field from the scoring endzone and I watched Tanner, who hadn't looked in any way shape or form limited during the point, slowly hobble, barely able to walk, towards the bathrooms. His knees finally had given out.

Tanner wasn't able to finish his senior season. The knee problems that had began in high school finally caught up to him. But I can still remember that last point - the last one he ever played - so vividly in mind. He looked like the same athlete I'd coached for four years. I can't imagine the pain he was in and I know how hard he fought to keep playing as long as he could. That spirit and that dedication are why Tanner is in the Hall of Fame and why I'm proud to have gotten to coach him and to still call him a friend.


Honorable Mentions: Iain McConachie, Logan Stagg, Andrew Spada

Monday, September 11, 2017

2014 - Hibida Hall of Fame - Stephen Gross

2014 - Stephen "Stacey" Gross

Stacey was the most skilled freshman we'd had join the team since Andy Stringer in 2006. In his first year, he immediately became an O-line player and top thrower. He had a devastating baseline of speed, size, footwork, throws and a tenacious attitude.  He was a core player and our main thrower in all four years that he played.

One night in late fall 2012, we had an indoor practice in the field house on the campus. Stacey was late, which was pretty unlike him. I didn't think much of it as we began a warmup around the track. Maybe fifteen minutes into practice Stacey snuck in the side door, limping slightly. I'll never forget the look on his face - just so filled with shame, guilt and disappointment. He'd come down awkwardly at indoor league just before practice and torn his ACL. It was a bummer for the team, but it was most disappointing for Stacey - he lived and breathed Hib.

As I outlined in Kyle's entry, we re-tooled the team strategy after Stacey got hurt - we just couldn't replicate what he could do with the disc. Stacey got surgery for his knee as quickly as he could and dove into his rehab with the same tenacious attitude he took on the field. At sectionals, (~6 months after his surgery), he played a couple of the easier games. At regionals, he was back to doing Stacey things, helping us to a 7th place finish, our best since 2008.

For his senior year, Stacey was healthy and at full strength for the entire year, but unfortunately the rest of the team just slogged through a barrage of different injuries. Throughout the entire Spring, we struggled to get the team healthy with Stacey and largely just first years our only consistently healthy players. At sectionals, with 7 starters not playing, we went 0-4, missing out on regionals for the first time since I'd been a part of the team. It was a heartbreaking turn of events, but I felt it most for Stacey; he'd lost most of his junior year to his ACL injury and his senior year, the team just couldn't stay healthy around him - he put everything he had into it.

Stacey played out his fifth year of eligibility at Brandeis University, leading the team to a 2nd place finish at DIII nationals. He returned to Colorado to work on his PhD and bounced around to different club teams including Choice City Hops and Inception. Stacey took the 2017 club season off (mostly) but I look forward to him getting back into the mix next year and displaying his talents on a national level.

To this day, I believe the two most well-rounded players to ever play at CSU during my time here - guys who could literally do anything on the field at exceptional levels - are Brett Kolinek and Stacey. I have such a huge respect for Stacey's dedication to the team, sport, and to always working hard to better himself. I'm really proud of the player he was during his time in school and the player he continues to be.


Honorable Mentions: Oliver Feind, William Haden Chomphosy, Daniel Walker-Murray, Matt Marrapode

2013 - Hibida Hall of Fame - Kyle Enns

2013 - Kyle Enns

It seems almost hard to believe, but Kyle was the first player to play his full five years of eligibility since I had graduated in 2008. He had come onto the team as a plucky freshman in 2009, but as a young player he hadn't really stood out to me as a coach - mostly I just thought he was weird.

Through his early years on the team, and playing club with Killjoy in Fort Collins, Kyle became a rock-solid player. He developed a big flick, a nasty throw-and-go, got off his feet with perfect form and, like Kyle Brochu, had a wonderfully positive attitude and effort. Kyle was elected captain by his teammates for both his fourth and fifth years.

In 2013, Kyle's fifth year, our offense was designed to largely go through junior Stephen "Stacey" Gross' big array of hucks. Unfortunately, Stacey tore his ACL in the late fall of 2012 so we re-tooled our offense more around Kyle's skill-set of breakmarks, throw-and-goes and power-position hucks. The team blossomed under this new strategy and finished back in top 8 at regionals for the first time since 2008 (Stacey worked his butt off on rehabbing his knee and made it back for the series).

This was an eye-opener for me as a coach. It was the first time I really bought into the idea that movement/break-based offense could be viable in college, and it was Kyle's multifaceted skill-set that showed me how devastating it could be.

In the four years since Kyle graduated, our offense has pushed and evolved more in that direction - we develop breaks before hucks, value possession over big plays, and do our best to take the highest percentage deep shots we can, culminating in our first nationals berth in 2017.

Outside of Hib, Kyle played Killjoy, Choice City Hops, and is currently a captain of "shame." who is, as of this entry, 8th in the country in the mixed division and is poised to make their second consecutive return to club nationals.

Beyond everything I've already mentioned, the thing I most appreciate about Kyle, is he's simply just a good, positive, friendly person. In 8 years knowing him, I've never seen him angry. I've never heard him disparage an opponent. He has the rare ability to play with great intensity and effort, but without an aggressive attitude. He really does embody what makes this sport so wonderful. I'm proud of the player he's become - from goofy orange hat kid who could barely throw a flick to captain of a top 10 club team - Kyle has worked hard, stayed true to himself and had a resounding impact on the club and college community in Fort Collins.


Honorable Mentions: Chris "Bearcat" Gauen, Michael Lin, Andy Brew

Monday, September 4, 2017

2012 - Hibida Hall of Fame - Kyle Brochu

2012 - Kyle Brochu

The 2012 team re-established CSU, maybe not as a nationals contender, but at the very least as a solid mid-tier team, no longer competing just to make regionals, but starting to climb the ladder up the region. This was, in large part, due to our senior captain, Kyle "Brody" Brochu. 

Brody was (is) a goofball. Not like that kid who can't sit still in class, but rather some one who just approaches his day-to-day life with such levity that he infects those around him with positive energy. This isn't to say he wasn't a fantastic player, but he never took himself or the team too seriously and I mean this as a huge compliment. 

We could have been throwing with freshmen at the first practice of the year or we could have been on universe point of our elimination game at regionals and Brody was always Brody - goofy, cracking jokes, spouting jibberish - but never once did I see him take that approach to his play. He was always outworking his opponent, putting his body on the line and being the driving force behind our offense. 

We were playing Oklahoma State one year at a fall tournament and there was a bit of contentious play that culminated in the guy covering Brody literally shoving him down. As a coach, I was livid, ready to charge the field and break my clipboard over the guy's head. But Brody just looked up at him and said "Bro, really?" and that was that. There just wasn't a moment that could take him away from being himself.

Brody lives up in Breckenridge now and founded High Country Ultimate soon after he graduated college. They are a group that, when I've seen them play, embodies Brody to the core - goofy, having a great time and not taking themselves too seriously. 

Scott put the heart into the team, Blaine the fundamentals and Brody, without a doubt, the personality. He was a good captain, a fantastic player and just a great person in general. He taught me a lot about how you can compete at an extremely high level without ever compromising your joy of play and I thank him greatly for that. 


Honorable Mentions: Matt Rekart, Scott "Mammoth" Alton, Rob White, Alex Cash, Andrew Clancy

2011 - Hibida Hall of Fame - Blaine Dunn

2011 - Blaine Dunn

Blaine Dunn, or "Papa Bear," as he was (is) affectionately called, was team captain and President in his senior year. Since 2007, there hadn't been a player who had both captained the team (on the field logistics) and acted as President (off the field logistics). Blaine excelled in both roles - one of those people who is just supremely responsible and organized. 

As a player, Blaine wasn't the flashiest guy, but rock solid across the board. He was great on the mark, had consistent throws, excellent defensive footwork and was deceptively good in the air. He had a spectacular strategic mind for the game and him and I had an excellent coach/captain relationship - bouncing ideas and strategy off of each other constantly - two peas in a pod. 

2011 was another year that the team wasn't the most competitive, heading into the series ranked somewhere in the 150s. However, at a two bid sectionals, Hib easily upset 40th ranked Wyoming to take the second regionals bid behind Mamabird. The team simply played like Blaine - nothing flashy, solid across the board and it paid off in a big upset and an unexpected regionals berth. 

If Scott Hanley began the groundwork for the rebuild in 2010 - showing the effort and heart required for getting the team back into the competitive mix, then Blaine added the next level - demonstrating the value in not just big plays, but in doing the little things right.

Blaine never played any competitive club and hasn't played anything beyond a few summer leagues since he graduated, but his imprint on the team and what he taught me as a coach is some of the most important stuff in Hib history. We're all really proud of you and your family, Papa Bear! 


Honorable Mention: Amiel Bernal