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

2010 - Hibida Hall of Fame - Scott Hanley

2010 - Scott Hanley

In 2009, the main core of Hib all graduated. For the 2010 season, Scott slid into the role as Hib's main playmaker and captain. Unfortunately, the team at the time didn't have a ton of experienced players beyond him, so he had a huge burden to bear both on the field and as a leader and motivator. 

This was the first year that the team really slipped competitively - moving from regional contention to struggling to qualify for regionals. Scotty put our young group on his back as the only experienced thrower on the team and kept pushing the squad forward - working hard to rebuild the culture and develop the skills we were lacking.  

He consistently played through injury - everything from sprained ankles to back spasms. He had a monster flick huck and could get off his feet at will. What he lacked in size he made up for in effort and technical skill - he really was an every-other type of player. 

We snuck into regionals Scott's senior year and that was a testament to his hard work and commitment to the team and game.

Scott was a Fort Collins club favorite and core player on the new Fort Collins mixed team "Killjoy" in 2009 and 2010, but as the injuries caught up to him he hung up his cleats (for good to my knowledge) and focused on his professional career. 

While barely making regionals may not be the most amazing competitive feat, I truly believe Scott was one of the most important players to ever play on Hib. In a year we knew we weren't going to be very good, Scott instilled in a new generation of players the effort, dedication and heart required to play at the most competitive levels. He laid the foundations for positive growth for the team for years to come. 


Honorable Mention: Paul Coleman

Monday, August 28, 2017

2009 - Hibida Hall of Fame - Andy Stringer

2009 - Andy Stringer

Stringer was our first 'blue chip' recruit, joining the team during the 2005-2006 season. He came from a storied high school career in Rockford, Illinois. My first memory of him was a young kid coming out to visit CSU with his dad and trekking down to Boulder to watch our sectionals game against Mamabird. Despite us getting shellacked like we tended to do back then, Stringer still decided to attend CSU and the rest is history.

As a freshmen, Stringer slid into an O-line cutting role immediately for Hib. He led the team in goals scored that Spring; an impressive feat considering he played on a line with both our 2006 and 2007 Hall of Fame inductees.

He captained alongside Jordan White his third year and alongside David Johnson his fourth, taking on a leadership role and doing a fantastic job motivating the team as a steady handed, but big-play capable force.

Stringer has the distinction of being the only player, until 2017, to make the Bravo roster while still being in college at CSU. He got got invaluable club nationals experience his first summer on Bravo, in 2007, narrowly losing to Sockeye in the finals. He played Bravo until he graduated, then played several several years on Chain Lightning after moving to Atlanta. While living in Georgia he also helped to coach the Kennesaw State college men's team for three years.

Stringer also had a strong presence in the European ultimate scene, playing on the Czech national team several times at the European championships. 

Perhaps most interestingly (ha), he has the unique distinction of the only player who was captained by me, captained me and was coached by me - his and my relationship has seen just about every iteration of power structure and I think there's a healthy respect that goes both ways (even though we both know he can run circles around me).

He's another player I'm proud to call a teammate, friend and alumni and much like Mickey Thompson and Brett Kolinek has made his mark on the world of ultimate as a CSU grad. This was a super difficult year to decide on an inductee as there were five unbelievable graduating players but Stringer is well deserving of this spot. 


Honorable Mentions: David Johnson, David Fjelstad, Sam Plasman, Nick Snuszka

2008 - Hibida Hall of Fame - Jordan White

2008 - Jordan White

Jordan joined the team in the 2004-2005 season just oozing with potential. He had a linebacker's frame at 6'4 and 190 pounds. He was fast, aggressive and could jump through the roof. He came into the sport pretty raw, skill-wise, but immediately became a down field contributor while developing the rest of his game throughout the four years he played on the team. 

Beyond his time on the Ultimate field, Jordan was (is) an avid climber, skier and mountaineer. In May of 2005, between his freshmen and sophomore years, tragedy struck as Jordan and his dad, Kip, fell while climbing in the Maroon Bells. Kip didn't survive the fall and Jordan had to descend another 600 feet, then hike out on a broken leg to report the accident. 

Jordan came back to Hib the next season a humble individual, but he didn't let that heartbreak phase his competitive spirit for ultimate or for climbing. He has since then become the youngest person to climb and ski all the 14ers in Colorado as well as making trips all over the world to climb/ski including Alaska, South America and Mongolia. 

For Hib, Jordan really came into his own as a devastating threat in his third and fourth years. He quickly gained a reputation as a big deep, but didn't let himself be one-dimensional as he also became one of the biggest huckers on the team. It was a true pick your poison for defenders and he was a nightmare match up. 

Jordan and I had spectacular chemistry and I couldn't even begin to guess the number of times we connected on hucks. I think some of my favorite moments were Jordan sneaking hucks to me, rather than the far more common opposite occurrence. Jordan and I just knew what the other was going to do - it was some of the most fun I ever had playing ultimate. 

Jordan captained the team in 2008, in his fourth and final year, and led us to a near upset of Mamabird at sectionals and a huge performance at regionals, narrowly missing nationals.

During college, Jordan played club for DTL in Fort Collins, then moved on to Bravo after he graduated, despite living up in Aspen and having to commute. Jordan retired from competitive men's and spent a few years playing mixed in Denver before finally hanging up his club cleats to focus more on his mountaineering. 

Jordan remains one of the most physically gifted players to ever come through CSU, but I think the thing I admire most about him, is how much he re-dedicated himself to his mountaineering after his dad's death. That takes such a strong person and that force of will is what made Jordan such a special player for Hib. For anyone interested in reading more about his mountain adventures check out his amazing blog: Elks and Beyond


Honorable Mentions: Tim Kefalas (yup), Derek Arrington, Dan "Rambus" Delude 

2007 - Hibida Hall of Fame - Joe Roza

2007 - Joe Roza

Joe and I started playing for Hib in the 2003-2004 season. Joe had played a year prior somewhere in the northeast - I was never totally sure, either New York or New Jersey. So, while we were both 'rookies' on the squad, he had a very polished skill-set, whereas most of the rest of us youngins were still figuring out the complexities of things like the flick. 

Joe immediately established himself as a core player on the team with buttery throws, a propensity to get off his feet and a super friendly, laid-back demeanor - almost nothing could phase his game. He reminded me a lot of Nick Petraglia in that he was just such an inclusive friend and teammate on and off the field. 

Not only was Joe incredibly skilled, but his likable personality made him, arguably, one of the most influential, culture-defining characters on the team for his entire four year duration. Other young guys (like myself) prided ourselves on 'throwing like Joe', with his extravagant fakes and crisp release.

Need a goofy, fun game to play while we wait for a tournament to start? Joe'll come up with something. Need a ridiculous ro-sham proposal? Joe's got limitless ideas. Need a big lay-out grab in the finals of High Tide? Joe's up to the task. 

I had the pleasure of captaining with Joe for the 2007 season. I was a focused, analytical miscreant - stressing over every tiny detail from travel expenses to elaborate play calling systems (that never caught on). Joe was a perfect foil to that. He balanced out my hyper-focus with more of what he'd done the previous three years: a chill, laid-back attitude - cool in the face of tough game moments and enough levity to keep the team mentally strong throughout the season. 

Joe never really played club during or after college (to my knowledge) - that wasn't really his thing and that was totally understandable. Regardless of that, he was hugely influential in making Hib the fun-loving, inclusive team that it is today and I'm honored to have gotten the chance to captain with him and to have known him as a friend.


Honorable Mention: Dan Roarty, Chris "DA" Cahill

Monday, August 21, 2017

2006 - Hibida Hall of Fame - Brett Kolinek

2006 - Brett Kolinek

2006 was a peak year for Hibida. We had graduated almost nobody from the 2005 squad. We had legitimate nationals aspirations and this group, top to bottom, was the most talented team we ever fielded until the 2017 team. This was, without a doubt, the toughest year to decide on an inductee with so many unbelievably impactful and talented seniors graduating, but Brett's legendary post-Hib playing career gives him something that no Hib alumni can rival.

Brett played on Hib for five years, captaining in his fourth. He played club with DTL (elite mixed) out of Fort Collins in college. After college, Brett played several years on Johnny Bravo (elite men's) then on Machine (elite men's) when he moved back home to the Chicago area. Within that time, Brett also played for the Chicago Wildfire, won beach Worlds (at least once) and just this year won Master's nationals with Johnny Encore. I'm sure there's some stuff I'm missing, but long story short, Brett has been and continues to play at the absolute highest levels of the sport even into his mid 30s. 

On the field, Brett doesn't look overly-imposing with his slight frame and 5'10 height, but he's that guy that always does everything right and makes it look easy. In college, he played almost exclusively down field for Hib, consistently being a threat in all phases of the game. In club, I believe he's largely handled for Bravo and Machine but he's someone who I know is comfortable anywhere on the field. His fundamentals are flawless, he's got breakaway speed and is stellar at maintaining position on deep reads. 

Probably the most dominating performance I've ever seen was in the second half of a college game at Mardi Gras in 2004. We were down at half 3-7 to Tennessee. In the second half, Mickey Thompson threw literally all but one or two scores to Brett in a comeback win - Brett was just uncoverable. 

I wasn't super close with Brett in college, but I respected the heck out of his play and I'm proud to cite him as an example of an alumni making the rounds through the highest levels of the sport. I believe he is extremely deserving of this spot in Hib history.


Honorable Mentions: Adam Zwickl, Chad Pearson, Zach Taylor, Corey Johnson 

2005 - Hibida Hall of Fame - Nick Petraglia

2005- Nick Petraglia

Nick Petraglia, the younger brother of Tony Petraglia, was one of the first in a line of Hib players who truly embodied the inclusive Hib spirit. He always had a positive attitude - he made new players feel welcome and a part of the group, be it from the silly games he taught, stories he told or just his respectful approach to interactions with other people on and off the field. 

I don't think I ever heard anyone speak an ill-word of him. He was just the kind of guy you enjoyed being friends and teammates with.

On the field, much like his older brother, he always put his heart into his play and his body on the line. Small in stature, but not in big play ability, Nick's trademark was active feet. In the two years I had the privilege of playing with him he must have accumulated more than a dozen foot blocks in tournament play. 

Perhaps his best college highlight was a monstrous layout catch against Mamabird at 2004 sectionals, directly into the camera in the back corner of the end zone - the crowning moment of that year's highlight video. 

Nick didn't play much outside of Hib to my knowledge and I believe hung up his cleats for good after he graduated, but his kind, generous and friendly attitude and leave-it-all-on-the-field play reverberated with the team for years after.


Honorable Mentions: Quinton "Porter" McClain

2004 - Hibida Hall of Fame - Mickey Thompson

2004 - Mickey Thompson

This is a pretty tough year to sort through. There were many hugely impactful seniors including fifth years Ben Aldridge, Tony Petraglia and Mickey Thompson. However, Mickey's sheer force of will and personality on and off the field shaped a huge part of what Hib is today. Beyond that, he's had one of the best overall Ultimate careers of any graduate. 

Mickey was a member of the college all-region team in 2004 for the Southwest (the only Hib player to have that distinction until 2015). He was a core player on the Fort Collins club squad, DTL, who attended mixed nationals from 2002-2005. He won club nationals with Shazam Returns out of Seattle in 2007, finished second at club nationals in 2008 and won bronze at Worlds that same year. Mickey has floated around to several different teams since then, competing frequently in club nationals and even making an appearance in the pro leagues on the Chicago Wildfire.

Beyond his playing career, he was instrumental in recruiting and retaining players for Hib as a captain and mentor. Everyone has a person who got them into the sport. That person, for me, was Mickey. My first year playing was Mickey's fifth so we only overlapped for one season, but his influence on my Ultimate career was enormous.  

I don't think I've ever told him this story, but on the drive back from my very first tournament ever, Hoasis, in Arizona, Mickey was navigating for a late night driving shift - I don't specifically remember who was driving, but it was one of the other older players on the team. They were discussing first year players and how to split A and B squads for the Spring. Everyone else was in the back of the van, asleep, but I was awake and listening intently. 

Mickey said something in that conversation that has stuck with me since then and is pretty much the basis of my entire coaching and playing philosophy. I don't remember the quote, word for word, but it was more or less "I don't care who's the best player - I care who's putting the most into it. I'll take someone on A if I just know they'll put in the work." I was definitely not the best first year player on the squad that season, but I made it onto the A team for the first spring tournament. Fifteen years later and I'm still at it because, as Mickey taught me, you get out what you put into it. 


Honorable Mentions: Ben Aldridge, Tony Petraglia, Hayden Strickland

Friday, August 18, 2017

2003 - Hibida Hall of Fame - Josh Tabije

2003 - Josh Tabije

The 2002 and 2003 entries will be structured slightly differently than the other entries. Thanks to Mickey Thompson for spearheading these two seasons. For all the hundreds of questions over the years about the "Hibida" name, it seems appropriate that the big 'reveal' be here. 

"Josh Tabije graduated in 2003, as the real founder and eponymous of "Hibida" He was the true embodiment of what Hibida was all about. His big-boy frame and history in disc golf created monster throws and deceivingly nasty breaks. Tabije could get you the disc no matter where you were on the field. His step around/over backhand was legendary at practices - many tried to replicate it but nobody could ever pull it off as majestically as the big man. Tabije was the first Ultimate player to become CSU Club Sports President [not to be confused with team President] and worked to legitimize our presence in the Club Sports world at CSU - getting us funds, fields and respect. Tabije would prove to be a great teacher for the next generation of Hib players - as a natural mentor he helped guide the future of what Hibida became in future years."

-Mickey Thompson 

"On and off the field Josh is a true leader, he took freshmen under his wing, integrated them as part of the team and taught the values of Ultimate - the Spirit of the Game as best he understood it. He encouraged involvement in the local ultimate community as well as pushed players to participate in club when his playing days stopped. He continued to offer support by coming out to local tournaments in Santa Cruz to watch me play on Bravo and expressing interest while I completed on a high level. Josh was an outstanding leader, mentor and still a friend today."

-Brett Kolinek

"The truth about our team name. For 17 years CSU Ultimate has played under the team name, Hibida. Where did that name come from? What does it mean? Is it an inside joke? Is it a mythical beast? Is it a drink? As a player, I fielded these questions on a regular basis. As an alum, I still get asked about it every now and then.

The answer. It's a made up word. Our Captain, Josh Tabije, made it up. It came from his off-kilter mind. It doesn't mean anything. There's no inside joke. It not a mythical beast, or a drink.

Tabije enjoys a good joke and it wouldn't surprise me if he's kept what Hibida means to himself all this time. The genius of letting Hibida be a made up word, is that it can mean whatever the team wants it to mean.

In the mid 00's, the closest thing to a consensus definition of Hibida was, something that's there, but probably shouldn't be. Like a piece of La Luz burrito that fell onto your shirt. Where Hibida went from there, well, I don't know. It's a made up word.

Shouts to Tabije for gifting the program a team name with such versatility and staying power. Few people can pull a word straight out their butt and 17 years later we are all ecstatic to still be using it.


In the spring of 2002 Hibida went to Austin, TX for Centex, a tournament hosted by the University of Texas. At the time, using CSU's Motor-Pool was the best way to travel to a tournament. It was far cheaper than flights and much much easier to organize (aka herd cats). What was not easy in 2002? The internet. Well, unless you wanted to download tons of, "free" music. 2002 internet was stupendous at free music.

2002 internet was not great at directions, but if you knew what you were doing, it was potentially better than an atlas. Our Captain, Josh Tabije, was a true pioneer of technology. Using MapQuest, and a fair amount of computer lab paper, he painstakingly mapped every Dairy Queen, and every Dairy Queen Brazier, from Fort Collins to Austin.

Things like; smart phones, Google Maps, and Yelp would make short work of the same task today. However, this is not a story explaining to the youngsters how tough it was back then. It's really a story illustrating what a character Tabije was. Seriously, who needs to know if it's a DQ Brazier or not? Is it even necessary? The state flag should replace that star with a DQ logo. In other words, DQ has a big footprint in Texas. We were going to run into a few.

A great benefit to being a part of an uncommon sport is the uncommon people you meet. It's doubtful that I'm able to give Tabije his just due, as this is just one of many examples. Maybe though, you got an idea."

-Ben Aldridge

2002 - Hibida Hall of Fame - George J Barthel

2002 - George J Barthel

The 2002 and 2003 entries will be structured slightly differently than the other entries. Thanks to Mickey Thompson for spearheading these two seasons.

The 2002 Spring Season was the first year of Hibida as a team name. This was the year that the team re-branded and refocused on being a "competitive force in the southwest." It is fitting that one of the two captains from that season, Jay Barthel, be honored with the first spot in the Hibida Hall of Fame. 

"Hibida became the idea of a team that whatever you put into it and whatever you wanted out of it could be achieved; it was all encompassing to us to ensure Hib meant we competed and had fun. "The Most Fun Wins" from the Wright Life and general Fort Collins community helped fuel that mantra for change. IMO Hibida would never have existed without Jay... [he] probably deserve[s] credit in the history books as much as anyone.

Jay Barthel graduated in 2002 and was know for his "statue of liberty" fake. Quality disc skills fueled his game as a silky smooth lefty with a crushing backhand, a mastery of squirrelly cuts, and tireless effort - Jay was Hibida's first MVP. I don't think I ever saw Jay in a bad mood, he was always upbeat and trying to progress the team forward while having the most fun doing it.  

Jay went on to play some high level ultimate in the LA area on and off for years, but found his passion in biking and continues to work in the industry as well as ride."

-Mickey Thompson

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

CSU Men's Ultimate - Hall of Fame

Colorado State Hibida - Hall of Fame

This recognition is given to the graduating player who most embodies Hib's core values of hard work, competition and their contributions to the success of the team both on and off the field.

Each Monday*, I'll reveal and have short write-ups for 2-3 new inductees starting on 8/18*/2017.

*EDIT - Within an HOUR of posting this one of the old school players sent me over some selections for 2002 and 2003 - the first two years that Hib was Hib (previously Maddog). I will include those selections in the reveal and we'll get them added to the official plaque next year when we add the 2018 member. This now officially has every single year of Hibida as Hibida.

2007 - Joe Roza
2008 - Jordan White
2009 - Andy Stringer
2010 - Scott Hanley
2011 - Blaine Dunn
2012 - Kyle Brochu
2013 - Kyle Enns
2016 - Noah Brown

How did you decide who received the past years' recognitions?

My own experiences as coach of the team for ten years and a player for the five years prior were the factors. It's not the most objectively fair way to do it, but trying to contact hundreds of alum and have them nominate and select their candidates is just too much of a task. I don't think many people would argue with my selections - there's some healthy debate for sure (2006 - oh my), but all these people are pretty beloved in Hib history. 

In your justifications for the selections, are you factoring in post-Hib playing experiences? 

I couldn't ignore what past players have done since their time on Hib. It's just too much a part of the players they are to me. We've had some amazing players who have finished college and been done with the sport, but we also have some players who are still trucking away, playing everything from rec leagues to elite club - I feel like a players post-college career can also say a lot about that player's commitment and potential in college. 

How will you decide future inductees?

The team will vote for the yearly selection for all future years.

What's special about starting in 2004?

Spring 2004 was my first college series. There were some amazing players prior to my time on the team of course, but I don't have the perspective to appropriately award them. I would absolutely be willing to recognize earlier players, but I'd need help from some old school folks to do that. *UPDATE - I got an almost immediate response for the 2002 and 2003 seasons (see above).

Why only one player per year?

My idea was to select the player who best embodied the team core values for that given year, not to compare year to year. Some years we had several seniors who all fit the criteria. Some years there were single individuals who put the team on their back and kept pushing us forward.

Why are you starting this now?

Hib competed at nationals for the first time in program history in 2017. We won the region for the first time, had the player of the year, coach of the year, freshmen of the year, three players on the all-freshmen team and two all-region players. We have positioned ourselves, not just for a return to the big dance in 2018, but hopefully for many more to come. 

Having been a part of the team for 15 years now, I wanted to put something out there to remind both current and past players that every single one of the young men who has donned the Hib "H" (or one of the many variants) have had a part in the program we've become. It's not just about the guys who stepped onto the field for us this past season, but about everyone who's put a part of themselves into our sport, school and team. 

The current team's competitive success couldn't have happened without the ground-work layed for many years prior. I'm so proud of all the current and past players! 


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Five Things I Learned at College Nationals

Colorado State attended nationals for the first time this past weekend in Mason, Ohio. Beyond my own club experience from  more than a decade ago, the team had exactly zero members who had played on a stage this large - our closest comparison being several guys with YCC experience.

Results-wise, we didn't have much success, finishing without a win and tied for 17th. After winning our Conference and Region we had some momentum heading into nationals, but the logistics, format and planning were something new to the team and myself - I had only ever attended club nationals as a doofus kid who had no part in the planning or preparation process.

Despite not putting any wins on the board, the team had a wonderful time. We more or less scored and broke the same amount of times each game regardless of opponent (except for UBC when we ran open lines), but other teams consistently made fewer unforced errors and that's really what it came down to - catch and throw better, win the game.

Here are five things I learned as a first time nationals coach:

1) Don't Trust (just) the Film

I watched a lot of film between regionals and nationals. Early on, I set up some seeding projections and tried to watch as much footage of teams I expected to be in our pool. When seedings were finalized, I doubled down on the efforts to game-plan. In general, I take pride in preparedness. If we lose a game, I'd like to think it isn't because someone threw a curve ball we weren't expecting but...

Washington ran a split stack I had never seen on film and we struggled to generate pressure.

Stanford, a team I had expected to be huck-happy and force discs to a couple of big targets, were impressively patient and had several offensive possessions where they threw 25+ throws comfortably.

Umass and SLO largely played as expected.

In general, my film study wasn't overly helpful and in the case of Stanford actually a bit hurtful as we stuck with our FM a few points too long and didn't develop our zone enough to the point where we could challenge and pressure their offense consistently. In hindsight, I should have focused more on making our team more offensively dynamic rather than trying to further disrupt other teams based on incomplete or inconclusive film details from earlier in the season.

2) Player Lines/Observers on Every Field are Wonderful

These two things are lumped into one, but I can't emphasize how much the sideline buffers and observers make a difference. Not having to navigate players/bags and easily having vision of the field from the sideline, especially as a smaller person (I'm little), made life so much easier.

As far as observers, enough can't be said about the work that those folks put in at nationals and in general. I actually appreciate them more for keeping time and for their active calls rather than their rules mediation.

This is a point I made to my team before games on Friday and a point also brought up by other coaches that I think everyone should absolutely keep in mind: Observers should not automatically be referenced when a call goes against your team. The call should be appropriately discussed between players and if an agreement can not be reached then the observers should be brought in to clarify and make a ruling.

I think every competitive game benefits from having observers, but I also believe that if players don't take the time to arbitrate appropriately, we're losing the whole point of self-officiation. Learn the rules! Make the right calls at the right time regardless of whether that outcome benefits or harms your team! If an agreement can't be reached - that's the time for an observer.

Thanks to all of the hard working folks who observed our games over the weekend - wonderfully done!

3) You Have to be Top Heavy...

We'd spent our entire season rotating our whole roster through tournaments. We played three lines deep and purposely made sure we stayed just tight enough that we'd secure a nationals bid for the region. Our depth was solid at nationals but it turns out, with the forgiving nationals format (pool play games spread out over multiple days, huge breaks between games, etc), your depth matters less. You don't grind out wins late in the tournament simply because you're winning the attrition battle - you're seeing fresh, elite players at every phase of the game.

Our team didn't really win games during the regular season at match-ups 1-5, but rather more down towards 17-26. That's really where we shine and that's why we largely had weaker Saturdays and stronger Sundays (see regionals) throughout our season. Unfortunately, winning games late in the tournament at the back end of the roster just does not come in to play at nationals when you can't get out of pool play.

I can say now, from personal experience, playing 25 different players ranging in skills from above average to very solid will net your team consistent 11-15 (or so) losses at nationals.

This isn't to say I don't think our team can't compete at the highest levels with our current personnel. Our core of players is largely young guys lacking in elite reps. Now that the whole team has nationals experience and many guys are seeking out more club playing opportunities this summer, I think we'll develop more and more consistency at the top end of the roster.

4) ...But You Also Need Depth to Truly Contend

I'd venture to say that every men's college champion in the past seven years has been the deepest team in the field. I think Carleton winning this year really affirms that notion. I can't speak to women's as I'm not as familiar with the division, but even the Nethercutt and Mickle led championship teams had such a huge quality of play behind their superstars that they overwhelmed their opponents in the finals.

I'm really excited (as a coach and fan of college ultimate) that while it does seem like you do need a 'superstar' to contend, depth does matter when it comes to deep bracket play. I love a good underdog story, but I think it's appropriate that the teams winning the titles tend to be the best all-around teams, not just the best all-around 2-3 players.

5) Nationals is Fun

The atmosphere. The fans. The parents. The alumni. The commentators. The food (!!!!). The staff. Take your pick, it's fantastic.

Thanks to all the hardworking volunteers and staff members in Ohio this weekend and thank you Hib for working so hard and giving me an opportunity to experience nationals as a coach for the first time!

Friday, May 12, 2017

South Central Regionals 2017 - Colorado State

Colorado State Hibida went into regionals as the top overall seed. After upsetting Colorado at conferences and Texas upsetting Texas A&M at their conferences, the path was set.

We were confident in ourselves, certainly, but every team in the top four was threatening. Colorado was "coming back for [their] region." A&M had given us our only bad loss of the entire season at Centex and Texas was finally getting their very talented core of players healthy.

Saturday morning we arrived at the fields extra early to circle up and do some team building - reminding each other why we were there (to support each other) and how we got to that point (by supporting each other).

There was a slight breeze that made the games somewhat upwind/downwind and it stayed a factor throughout the weekend. Here is the full schedule and results.

Game 1 (pool play) vs Saint Louis University

Despite the high energy from team-building, we came out flat in our first game. SLU had a big thrower (#29), some good athletes down field and made nice plays early to jump out to a 4-1 lead. We reeled off three in a row to tie it up 4-4, but they broke us again before halftime and went into the break down 6-8.

There was no need to panic. We were running some new personnel on O together and the chemistry wasn't quite there, yet. Defensively, we planned out some adjustments for their huck-heavy approach.

In the second half we flipped Spicer to D, set a zone, and had Spicer go person-to-person on #29. The strategy proved effective as the rest of the team struggled with their "every-other" guy locked away from the disc. SLU fought admirably but we went on a 9-2 run to close out the game, 15-10.

SLU was a solid crew. They ended up fourth in the pool but played hard through consolation brackets for a seed-breaking, 9th place finish overall.

Game 2 (pool play) vs Baylor

We won the flip I elected to take offense, hoping Baylor would take the upwind endzone so we'd be attacking into the wind. I trusted my thrower-heavy O-line's ability to score upwind and I expected Baylor to struggle in the same situation. Even if we were broken to start, I was confident we'd get the break back out of half - the wind was supposed to pick up as the day went on.

My assessment was correct as we scored the first point upwind, then broke Baylor's first O. The rest of the first half was trades, but our offense scored with ease while their offense battled it out with our two D lines. Our D wasn't able to complete the upwind breaks, but we had the two break buffer and I expected that to increase that with Baylor receiving into the wind in the second.

I specifically steered clear of putting extra handlers onto our D lines to help offensively. With the longer pool play format, we knew we'd have 7 or 8 games, all on very hot turf, and we wanted to have every bit of extra gas available for Sunday bracket play.

The second half played out much like I expected - we broke out of half and Baylor lost a bit of steam. We traded several holds, then finished the game with two breaks - the first on bookends from freshman, Sean Peskin, and the second with our "Grandpas" line (our four graduating seniors and some other, older players) upwind, for the win, 15-9.

Overall, I was impressed with this Baylor squad. They had several very big athletes and spaced themselves well to take good deep shots. They won their crossover after pool play and played Mamabird tight in the quarterfinals, losing 11-14. In the end they finished 8th overall breaking their initial seed significantly.

Game 3 (pool play) vs Wash U

Let me start this with something from my regionals write-up from last year that 100% still holds true: "Wash U is one of our absolute favorite teams to play and I think we've played them every year at least once for the past five [six] years. They're competitive, spirited; they don't ever let calls from either team become a defining part of the game. I will gladly play them every year forever, win or lose."

Wash-U is also always a tight game for us. In 2015 they eliminated us from regionals. At 2016 regionals, they took half and and nearly eliminated us again, before we rallied late to win.

We started the game strong, getting two breaks and a 3-0 lead, but Wash-U fought back. We gave them a short field four or fives times this game and they capitalized every time. We stacked some D lines (the only game all weekend that we did so) to get a couple breaks back before half but they still held a slim 8-7 lead.

I doubled checked the point differential at half between Baylor and Wash U earlier in the day (Baylor had won that game) so I knew exactly the margin we'd need, even if we lost, to still win the pool. We had a bit of a buffer, but not a huge one.

Out of half we broke twice and took the lead back 9-8. I exhaled, figuring we'd gotten over the hump for this particular game, but Wash U again proved their mettle - holding to 9-9 then breaking back to regain the lead 10-9 when we again gave them a short field. We traded out to universe from there, stacking a line to try and win it, but they patiently worked the downwind, and won the game with a crisp break throw and score - final 12-13.

I knew the margin of loss was within our buffer to win the the pool, but this was a disappointing loss and still the only game all weekend we played with kill lines - no excuses. Props to Wash-U for a well-fought game and hard-earned victory. I love their program.

They ended up third in the pool on the point differential but continued on to win their crossover before losing to Texas 13-10 in the quarterfinals and a seed-breaking 6th place overall finish. All four teams from our pool finished in the top 10, with both the 2 and 3 winning their crossovers for a quarterfinals berth - clearly the strongest pool at the tournament.

Game 4 (crossover) vs Texas

This game was for position within the bracket - win or lose we'd be playing against the winner of a 2/3 crossover, so while we certainly wanted to notch a win against a quality Texas program, the pressure of the game wasn't significant, as the consequences of a loss were minimal.

Texas, with a healthy Dillon Larberg and Joel Clutton, had ended our 2016 season with a 16-14 win in the backdoor bracket at regionals. We knew that they'd struggled with injuries all season, but the buzz had been that their main players were back and their win over A&M at their conferences seemed to affirm that.

The game started shortly after our loss to Wash U, which had gone to cap, and we carried a little bit of that disappointing finish into the start of this game. Texas jumped out to a quick 3-1 lead before we re-established ourselves mentally and got our breaks back, coming over the top for a 6-5 lead. Texas was doing their Texas thing: feeding Larberg the disc every other throw and sending #29 (Logan Kinney?) deep.

We rotated different defenders onto Larberg, not giving him the full Spicer treatment, as we largely wanted to save the match-up for Sunday if we saw them again in bracket play.

The game went back and forth with both teams breaking the other before we finally arrived at 11-11 with the game capped for universe. We took a timeout and the players picked their own universe line - one player to start, that player taking someone on the line with them and the next player doing the same, so on and so forth. We were pulling with Texas going downwind.

Texas worked the disc to 15 yards out of the endzone before we forced a turn. We began working the upwind but an untimely drop on a tight pass gave them a short field. They capitalized on the transition and scored after several patient swings, 11-12 final.

It was a disappointing loss, but it changed very little - we likely now were just going to hit Colorado in semis rather than finals. In the past that may have been our kryptonite, but after our conferences win, it didn't feel like that big of a deal.

In an unexpected turn of events, A&M pulled off the 15-13 win over CU in their crossover (coming back from 7-2 deficit) to flip their side of the bracket as well - both crossover 'upsets' meant that nothing changed beyond the quarters match-ups - we would hit A&M in semis and CU in finals if all went according to plan.

As far as Texas, it was pretty clear that while their main players were playing, it was a gritty, teeth-clenching effort. Larberg played almost every point, but he threw literally just one flick - a low inside huck that was blocked - I'd guess there were some lingering issues from his broken collar bone. Clutton made some nice plays, but I was pretty sure he wasn't moving at full speed. Even speedy #29 looked like he may have tweaked a hamstring in our game.

It's disappointing for them as they faded out Sunday - getting blown out in semis by CU and losing in the backdoor finals to A&M. I'm pretty confident saying that had their core stayed healthier throughout the year, we'd have been a four bid region.

Saturday Night

Saturday night we debuted Spicer's Callahan Video. The team was really excited and proud of Cody for all the work he's put in these past three years to help bring us into the national picture. The video is wonderful (thanks Chuck!) but still doesn't do Spicer justice - we don't have the pool of footage to truly show the impact he has on the field.

Beyond tasty taco dinners and highlight videos some of the team had to deal with huge blisters covering most of their feet. A few of the guys (including Spicer) who wore thinner socks throughout the day in the hot and humid Texas weather + rubber bits from the turf surface, had feet that were absolutely destroyed. I ran to the store to get needles and moleskin and we went to work fixing up them feet for Sunday morning.

Game 5 (quarterfinals) vs Texas State 

Our blister crew spent most of warm-ups at the trainers getting their feet as ready as they could while we prepped for Texas State. Despite the lingering foot problems we were feeling good. We're built for Sunday, playing deep into our roster all season (one of the ways we've been able to stay as healthy as we have), and the goal is always to ramp up the energy come bracket play and finish as strong or stronger than we started.

Texas State had a small team and couldn't match our energy from the get go. We broke early and often taking an 8-3 lead and not letting up, cruising to a decisive 15-6 win.

Most of the team flipped our sideline to watch Baylor/CU which was tied at 10s when our game finished. Baylor was putting it all on the line, but in the end the cool-headed play from Mamabird prevailed. The final score was a cross field floater to the downwind end-zone.  One of athletic Baylor defenders emerged from the pack to knock the disc away, but Mark Rauls made a huge layout catch on the tipped disc for the 14-11 win.

Game 6 (semis) vs Texas A&M

We wanted this game - like "circle this one on the schedule in big, red marker" wanted it. We've had a few losses this season - one point loss to Minnesota, three point loss to Umass, two point loss to Washington etc - but there's only one game, that we look back on the schedule, and are truly disappointed by the outcome - A&M's 15-6 shellacking of us at Centex. That rainy afternoon in March they had dominated the game from start to finish and this was our chance to prove that no single game would define our season. The winner of this game would secure at least second place and a spot at nationals.

Energy-wise, the team was ready for this one. The wind was picking up and there was a large crowd albeit mostly A&M supporters.

Our pre-game huddle was pretty straight-forward: "A&M has a super high ceiling but they're not consistent. They can go on huge runs in either direction - don't let a big lead or a big deficit change your game. They came back from 7-2 against CU - let them fluctuate - stay consistent, support each other and we'll have success."

We won the flip and I elected to take the upwind end-zone. The wind was stronger for this game and I wasn't sure how exactly we matched up, so we played it safe, taking the wind. A&M chose to pull.

The O punched in the first down-winder with freshman Will McDonald finding deep space on a big flick huck from 2016 south central freshman of the year, Jake Marrapode (ONE YEAR LATER HE'S FINALLY HEALTHY!!!).

We forced a turn on the subsequent point with A&M struggling to find space offensively and our D line handlers, Hudson Martin and Jack Hinchsliff, relentlessly attacked the break side from behind the disc to complete the break.

Jack got a layout block on the next point we secured the second break downwind and a 3-0 lead. We traded downwind O points before breaking again on a perfect upwind huck from Hudson to big man, Sten Larson. A&M again struggled with their upwind O and we completed the second break to make it 6-1.

A&M took a timeout to regroup and we stayed calm - "Be ruthless. Don't let up. They came back in this situation yesterday."

After the timeout, we traded to half, but our offense felt effortless and their offense still looked phased. We didn't play perfect, but Spicer had the deep space absolutely locked down after the turn. A&M clearly felt comfortable airing it out to certain match-ups and they didn't complete a single one with Spicer on the field - it didn't matter if it was his guy or not. "Stop throwing it to 34 [Spicer]" echoed from their sidelines.

The final point to take half we ran a simple deep iso for our Callahan nominee and freshman Mo Scott put out a perfectly placed huck for the layout two-handed score for Spice and the 8-3 halftime lead.

Early in the second half we traded holds with Spicer getting a huge bookends on a deep sky into a monstrous layout score going the other way.

They came close to an upwind break shortly thereafter, but missed an opportunity in the redzone as our defense clamped down on the short field. We held that point to make it 10-5, broke twice immediately after for a 12-5 lead, then traded downwind points to a 15-8 final and nationals berth.

There were a lot of stellar performances in this game, but Spicer's stat line was one for the ages. He scored seven times, had two assists, tallied up four blocks and players he covered combined for ONE single touch for the entire game. He did this playing all the O points and only two D points. The final, most gratifying part of his performance, was that despite four fouls being called on him by A&M, every single one of them was overruled by the observer - there was no overly physical play from our best player (a criticism of him in the past and something he's working to improve) - he just exerted his will all over the field.

In the other semis, CU dismantled Texas 14-6, and the stage was set for finals rematch - CU was ready to avenge their loss at conferences.

Game 7 (finals) vs Colorado

There was supposed to be a bye before finals and we had cleats off, with a few guys already having left the complex to grab some food. After CU finished off Texas their captains came over and asked if we wanted to skip the bye and we absolutely did - we had a 16 hour drive ahead of us. We secured a field, confirmed with Calvin, the regional coordinator, and prepped to finish up our regionals. The only real problem with doing a round early, was Spicer had already taken off all of his blister prep, anticipating the two hour break. When I told him we were playing in 15 he gave me the "How much do you want to play in this one, coach?" puppy dog face. I glared at him and he hobbled over to the trainers to get everything re-done.

The plan for this game was no different than what we planned to do in the conference finals. If we won, we were going to do it with every member of our 25 person roster (Cole Turner broke his thumb in A&M game and had been to go to the ER) contributing on the field. Strategically, we had a few tricks up our sleeves, as I assumed they'd be better prepared for our defenses than they had been at conferences. However, they seemed pretty content to stick to their game-plan and we kept the extra tricks in the bag for nationals.

We started the game on fire - receiving downwind and punching in a quick O before trading holds then breaking them twice for a 4-1 lead. Spicer spent those first five points at the trainer still getting his feet prepped but it didn't matter - the team was too energized to even realize he was gone.

Mamabird held to 4-2 with Spicer finally getting onto the field on D to get his legs back on under him. We traded out several points before they broke us to make it bring it within one 6-5. The O-line easily punched in the upwinder after that however which allowed our energetic D-line to get back on the field and break for half 8-5. Bird looked deflated. They had some of their usual fire, and Rauls was making some impressive plays on the field, but they just didn't have the energy we did. We had our sideline channeling our inner Wombles - getting loud (annoying), crazy and keeping the field energy high.

In these second half we held to 9-7 before Bird gritted out a couple of good break points to tie it up at 9-9 - back on serve. We traded to 11-10 before putting together two more breaks (yes the upwind was still significant) and a 13-10 lead. We traded to 14-11 then tried to win it on D with the Grandpas. Bird wasn't having it as they cleanly punched in their score. Our O would score the next point for the 15-12 victory.

For those who thought the conference finals were a fluke or an off game for Boulder, sure, conferences upsets are often that way and you may have just thought my conferences piece was a proud coach of a mid-tier team who finally got a big win. But I'll just say this: I'm an objectively fair person to a fault (ask my wife). This game was not an upset. We controlled the game from start to finish. Bird never led and only tied the game up once. No one player carried us to victory - this was our whole squad capping off a solid weekend with a win against another very good team.

For those of you that still want to doubt, let me throw some information your way:

We're 5-5 against the nationals field this season with a +/-  in those games of +3 (with a 9 point loss to A&M dragging that number down). All five losses were early season. Five of those games were against likely top 10 seeds. Our best player can match up on anyone. Our team is close to 100% healthy. Our team only has four graduating seniors (Spicer is not one of them). Our O line is largely first and second year players who are still figuring out their chemistry. We may not win a game at nationals (we're still working on consistency) or we may win quite a few - honestly that's not our focus or concern. The point is, Colorado State is here to stay.