Sockeye vs. NexGen Ultimate

July 8, 2011

The world’s best college Ultimate players are on tour and they’re coming to Seattle on Saturday July 9. They’ll be taking on Sockeye in an exhibition game that promises to have no shortage of exciting matchups and huge plays. The NexGen roster is loaded with talent and includes current Sockeye players Phil Murray and Simon Montague. This is a rare chance to see Sockeye play right in Seattle. It’s a game you won’t want to miss. We promise.

Saturday, July 9 · 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Interbay Stadium
3027 17th Ave. W
Seattle, WA

Tickets $5 at the gate.

Solstice Finals Video

June 21, 2011

Here is the video of the Solstice finals, which saw Sockeye defeat Furious George 15-10. The guys from the NexGen Ultimate Tour used the Solstice final as a tune-up for their nationwide expedition this summer. The result is some great, high definition video of the Fish. Watch it here, or check it out on Vimeo

Solstice Champions

June 20, 2011

If anything was learned from Solstice this past weekend, it’s that the two-bid Northwest Region is going to be a battle.

This year’s Summer Solstice Tournament in Eugene, Oregon served as Sockeye’s first tournament as a fully rostered team. There were notable absences from the field, including Eddie Feeley, Spencer Wallis, Andrew Fleming, Matt Rehder, Dave Bestock, Alex Nord, and Phil Murray, as well as Erik “The Kraken” Doesburg and Sam Harkness on Sunday.

Saturday was rainy. To begin the action, Sockeye faced an equally new Voodoo team who would use this tourney to find their playing style and identity (quite well, I might add, but I’ll get to that later). This first of undoubtedly many encounters, Sockeye found an early rhythm and capitalized on Voodoo’s mistakes and jitters quickly to the tune of a 13-5 final. This was not Voodoo’s best showing, and it was clear they were unhappy, but they kept their heads up.

This led to Sockeye’s second encounter with Rhino, having seen them two weeks prior in Vancouver’s Flowerbowl. In speaking to Matt “Milkshake” Mastrantuono, he recounted that the list of players out with injuries could potentially beat their current roster – including Jacob Janin, Dylan Freechild, Matt Melius, Cody Bjorklund, himself, and more. This left a great deal of work up to playmakers Tad Jensen, Dan Suppnick, and Mario O’Brien. Sockeye’s downfield defense proves stifling, especially in the hard-to-huck rain, and hard dump defense created numerous late-stall punts (what we call “coverage sacks”). The final score of 13-5 is hardly indicative of the Rhino we will face come Regionals, especially given their injured players are expected to be back in action by then, and this early season PT for their younger players should certainly pay dividends later.

During our Bye, we put our Caddyshack theme to use by hitting foam golf balls and enjoying being a team together for the first time at a tournament.

Next was Boost Mobile, an athletically capable team that seemed a bit disjointed. With hard man D and crisp offense, Sockeye came away victorious 13-3, and could then focus on another Flowerbowl rematch, Furious George.

Still slightly rainy when the last round started, Furious immediately looked different, playing with more swagger and adding Gabe Saunkeah to their roster. Sockeye came into this tournament knowing we had not seen Furious at their best (or even close) at Flowerbowl, noting especially numerous endzone drops that, had they been caught, would have made for a very different game. Furious did not disappoint, earning a break on the first point. It was clear they were hungry. Responding with a good O point, Sockeye broke back on their first D opportunity with a poachy defensive look, and went on to earn another break before half. The addition of Gabe certainly helps Furious, as he made one spectacular layout catch in the endzone, just barely saving it before it hit grass. This game also saw the Kraken begin to find his place on the field, throwing a picture perfect forehand bomb to Ray Illian. Final score, 13-8 Sockeye. Interestingly, this was a very break-filled game, with 8 of Sockeye’s 13 goals coming from their D line.

That evening Sockeye cheered on Riot as they made an epic, highlight-reel-filled comeback against a very strong Traffic team. Riot’s offense looked disconnected between handlers and cutters for much of the game and Traffic was killing it with their fast IO forehands, but once Riot began looking deep, their comeback was sparked by an absolutely incredible skying grab by Keely Dinse, that got the crowd on its feet and was called by numerous people the best play they’d ever seen in Women’s Ultimate.

On Sunday the sky cleared and the sun beat down. It was hot, with little wind. Sockeye had used Saturday night as a team bonding night, loving the massive 70’s style rental house (complete with indoor pool and diving board, amazing 70’s decor and stylings, shag carpet galore), and so many began Sunday in a bit of a haze. First up was Voodoo, and they brought it. Sockeye went up early, taking half 8-4, with good defense and efficient offense. The second half, though, was a completely different story. Voodoo seemed to find their rhythm, and were hitting massive deep shots at will, especially Ted Werbel and Xtehn Titcomb finding receivers Sean Sears, Jacob Spiedel, Todd Sliva, and others. Sockeye also began making uncharacteristic errors and reacting poorly, losing the focus we’d shown in previous games and getting broken back-to-back for the first time this season. Final score 14-13, Sockeye. This game was a wake-up call – we can’t take anything for granted.

Utilizing a bye, Sockeye ate and rested, composing ourselves for the finals, against Furious, who had beaten Rhino after coming back from being down four breaks.

NexGen was filming the finals, so you can watch it for yourselves soon, but I will tell you this – that was an exciting game. Sockeye broke early with a big layout poach block from Tim that nearly separated his shoulder. Furious broke back, and Sockeye broke back. There were big plays galore. Furious’ offense was strong, finding the poached man against Sockeye’s clammy defensive looks, and stringing together three pass bombs against Sockeye’s man defense looks. On D, Furious utilized their own poachy, zonish defenses as well, forcing Adam Holt, Mike Caldwell, and Chris Kosednar to go over the top with hammers and blades multiple times before the offense began to flow. Taking half 8-5, Sockeye felt in control.

But it wouldn’t end that easily. Receiving out of half, Sockeye was broken once, then again. Furious earned some great D’s, but Sockeye also showed some strange turns, turfing two easy throws and doinking a wide open swing pass on our own endzone line. Furious also made great plays themselves, especially Morgan Hibbert going up huge for a huck break goal and giving the crowd a show, to bring the score from an 8-5 half to an 11-10 battle.

However, Sockeye’s D would take control, sparked by a massive Tyler Kinley layout block on a swing pass and a bookends endzone goal. Stopping flow with a poachy downfield and applying tough dump pressure, Sockeye forced a questionable hammer look into a big Reid Koss D and Aly Lenon found TK again in the endzone. To finish the game, a great Nate Castine pull pinned Furious on their own endzone line and after tough D pressure, Sockeye got a short-field turn and TK punched it in to a wide open Aaron Talbot for the win.

Coming into this weekend, Sockeye had a few goals – to build team chemistry and bond with the new group we have, and to use the tournament as a lab to tinker with offensive and defensive looks, to figure out the best team culture and atmosphere, and to find potentially new roles for our players. In the end, we felt very successful in these respects, and go into a mid-season break looking forward to getting better with this new, 2011 Sockeye team.

Solstice 2011 Preview

June 17, 2011

The Fish swim south this weekend for Round 2 against Rhino, Furious George, and other upper-Northwest contenders, and a first against Voodoo, another Emerald City Ultimate team.

However, this is a first for Sockeye’s finalized 2011 roster, and boy are we excited. This year’s roster additions are all polished players, but vary widely in their age, size, and birthplace.

First is the return of a man once known to utterly dominate the sport — Alex Nord. After suffering multiple injuries, seeing the birth of his wonderful baby daughter, and entering new stages of life and work, he once again has time for sport, and he’s committed.

Next comes Danny Karlinsky, another in the line of famous UCSC Slugs to come to Sockeye (Cram, CK, etc), bringing a penchant for handblocks and a wide array of short and long throws.

With him is Chris Kosednar, providing a superbly balanced game on both offense and defense, capable in the air and offering both creative and patient throws. Chris moved to Seattle fresh off a national championship with his alma mater CUT, and following in his footsteps are Simon Montague and Julian Childs-Walker.

Arriving to Seattle late in the tryout process, we gave them a pass, since they were busy winning their own national championship. Simon somehow blends size and quickness to harass handlers and extend their release points, while extending the field with his deep shots and break mark throws. Julian has been dubbed a “mini-CK,” blending speed, quickness, and a relentless engine in the cutting lanes to keep the offense flowing, as well as a strong throwing arsenal.

Finally, The Kraken, Erik Doesburg. Catching Sockeye’s eye in Prague at WUC 2010, and earning the nickname The Kraken with his size and layouts, he came to Seattle for frisbee and has made his presence felt ever since as one of the most versatile players on the field, able to handle, cut, mark, or sit deep.

Going into Solstice, the Fish are without Eddie Feeley (work conflict), Dave Bestock (injury), Alex Nord (work conflict), Phil Murray (conflict), and Spencer Wallis (injury).

This will be a first for this new roster, but will be the second time this season Sockeye faces Rhino & Furious, easily the most anticipated games. In addition are California’s Boost Mobile and Voodoo, another Seattle-based ECU team.

First up is Voodoo. This team has been founded under the new Emerald City Ultimate model, and sees the rebirth of an old team name. Further, the team consists of some players who have played on the Voodoo of old, including Vehro and Xtehn Titcomb as well as others. Captaining this squad are Vehro, Wes Simons, and Nevin Root. Sockeye can’t look past this team, and will need to apply pressure defensively early to prevent any momentum from building. This looks to be an interesting game, as it is the first for both teams under the new Emerald City umbrella, and Voodoo will surely come in looking to prove themselves.

Next is Rhino. Both Sockeye splits squads squeaked past Rhino at Flowerbowl, but both were given a run for their money. Rhino’s man defense is very strong — they are an athletic team capable of making big plays on underneath cuts and in the air. Defensively, Sockeye’s pressure slowly chipped away at Rhino and was able to earn certain key turns to earn their previous wins. However, those games also included notable, uncharacteristic drops by Rhino players, and without those, the game is very different. A less-rusty Rhino squad with a tourney and some more chemistry and touches on the disc under its belt should be an interesting matchup for this second round of play.

Given a third round Bye, Sockeye will find shade, eat, and rest up in order to enter its fourth round Boost Mobile matchup sharp. This team was known for their potent deep game last year at Regionals, so look for the Fish to force them underneath and utilize multiple zones and poach defenses to break up set plays and strings.

Finally, yet again, Furious George. The history is long. Those who know, understand that an early season loss — or win, for that matter — mean nothing in the Furious/Sockeye games. In 2006, Sockeye had Furious’ number all year, until Regionals rolled around, and Furious finally brought out their A-game when it mattered and turned the tables. Sockeye knows this, and Furious knows this. Further, the Flowerbowl finals misrepresented Furious as they were playing as a split squad, and with numerous additions to round out their numbers. This Furious squad will undoubtedly raise the bar in terms of size, skill, chemistry, and physicality (in a legit way). The Flowerbowl showcase and finals featured numerous roster add-ons that will not be present, and I’ve heard this game will also see the return of John Norris. Should be an exciting game.

The true beginning to Sockeye’s season with its full, finalized roster — we’re coming for you, Solstice.

Flowerbowl 2011 Recap

June 8, 2011

Saturday morning of Flowerbowl greeted team Black with deceptively sunny skies, as a light wind made the morning cooler than expected. Up first was Beef Shark, a team of mostly young Vancouver players with some notable pickups, most notably Jeremy Norden. Beef Shark’s fresh legs combined with Team Black’s not-so-energetic start to the morning meant it was a close game early. Beef Shark’s hucks were hitting their targets, and while Team Black’s offense was consistently marching it down the field, a 7-6 halftime score was closer than we wanted. Black came out in the second half and set the tone with our 4-man zone. With Alex Nord and Erik Doesburg combining to make an impenetrable cup, and Bren Byerley playing some great handler defense on Norden, Team Black pulled away in the second half.

Game #2 put Black up against Rhino. They had given us tough games throughout the year in 2010, and we knew that this game would be no different. Led by the same strong core of Tad Jensen, Mario O’Brien and Timmy Perston, they ran hard and were able to consistently keep possession with their handlers. Both teams came into this game ready to step up their intensity on defense, and it showed. Each offense was forced to work the disc side-to-side multiple times before an up-field throw opened up, and it was difficult for either team to string together multiple yardage-gaining passes. Long points meant an on serve 7-6 halftime advantage for Black as the soft cap loomed. With the game tied at 8’s, Black received on offense after a Rhino timeout, and was able to march the disc down the field for the game winner as the hard cap went off to end the game.

Meanwhile, Team Red had a first round Bye, and began their day facing 1/2 of Furious George. It was clear both teams were shaking off rust, with many drops, errant passes, and overall sloppy play. While Red made plays, they were unable to capitalize on turnovers and Furious found their groove before Red was able to, earning a solid victory and giving Team Red a strong wake up call.

Subsequently, after byes for both Red and Black, they both entered the stadium for their next pool play games. For Sockeye, this was their first time in the stadium since their 2008 Worlds defeat to Team Canada. Black would have a chance at revenge as they faced up against Furious George’s Offensive split-squad team, led by Nick Menzies, Alex Hughes, and Oscar Pottinger. Black started the game on defense and set the tone early and despite multiple opportunities, Furious couldn’t punch it in on offense and Black was able to break. Going upwind, again the Black D was stifling and they were able to get another break. Furious was able to get on the board next point, but their joy was short-lived, as Black continued to steamroll the monkey with their zone defense, eventually taking half 7-2. Clearly the leadership of Nate and BJ was starting to sink in. The second half went similar to the first, as Black continued to dictate with their defensive intensity to a 11-6 lead at cap, which eventually became a 12-8 victory.

On the next field over, Team Red finally found their groove against Beefshark. Having watched Jeremy Norden bomb huck after huck against Team Black, Red honed in on him, looking to take away the hucks with a flat mark, and prevent upline cuts into any power positions. This, combined with a quick counterattack, led to Red taking, and increasing, a substantial lead throughout the game. Especially notable was the play of many tryouts, including an outstanding grab by Nevin Root over a crowd.

Day 1 ended with a showcase game in front of the fans featuring the combined Sockeye and Furious teams. A quick early break for Furious brought flashbacks to last season’s Flowerbowl final, but Sockeye quickly recovered to take the lead back in strong fashion with great defense and patient offense.

Day 2 was the real showcase for most of Sockeye, as it brought the rematch of Red vs. Black from the previous Monday. Black won the first scrimmage against a short-handed Red in dominating fashion, 13-5, leaving a bitter taste in Red’s mouth that clearly was still there on Sunday. A great catch D by Black’s Todd Sliva on the first point of the game went unconverted, and Red scored first on a huck to MC that Black would look back on as an opportunity missed. Black answered on offense, but another big huck by Nevin Root to MC let Black know that this was a different Red team. From that point on it was all Red. A good poach D by Aly, a jumping in the lane huck D by Ray, and a pointblock by Danny Karlinsky led to a huge run by Red for a 7-2 halftime lead. Black went into halftime frustrated, but not discouraged. They knew that they hadn’t played near their best, and wanted to come out on offense to start the 2nd half strong. Another Red D to start the half and another break took a lot of steam out of their sails though, and while Black was able to rally for a 6-6 2nd half, this only meant a 13-8 win for Red.

With Red on a bye, Black finished up pool play against Blackfish, another mostly young team from Vancouver. It was a rough start for Blackfish, as the Sockeye D forced many early drops and throwaways, leading to Black taking half by a good margin.

At the end of the tournament, Sockeye Red and Black had taken 1st and 2nd place, but decided to combine to play against one of the Furious teams in finals. This game went similarly to the showcase game, as Sockeye set the tone earlier with their defense to run off a string of breaks and build an big 6-1 lead. Furious being who they are though, they came back with 2 breaks to make it a game before Sockeye took half 7-4. Sockeye continued to roll in the second half, winning 13-7.

Sockeye’s own Phil Murray and Sam K-S competing at the USAU College Championships!

May 27, 2011

We’d like to give a quick shout out to our boys competing at the USAU College Championships this weekend. You can follow the action live with Skydmagazine’s unprecedented coverage of the championships.


Full video, Scrimmage against the Russian National Team

May 16, 2011

Thanks to Yuriy of the Flying Steps for the great video: here is a scrimmage between Sockeye players (with 3 campers) against the Russian National Team. A second game, later in the week, should be on video soon. We used this scrimmage, and video, to help develop a list of coaching points for the RNT to focus on in their run towards the European Championships later this year.

Here is the link to the video

Russia, mid-week part 2

May 12, 2011

Tuesday was billed as our first day of tourism but in reality it was consumed by two things: recovering from the sauna night and registering with the police (about a two hour ordeal of endless paperwork all done by our amazing Russian friends Timur, Tanya and Kate).  By the time those were done it was straight to the fields for a two hour pod with while Sam and Skip met a group of captains and coaches in a classroom to talk about team strategy and building.  Outside, the weather finally broke and the rain was hard and muddy.  BJ powered through it to run a set of Zen throwing exercises cribbed from Ben before we talked about the long game and ran some hucking drills.  Done at nine, we sprinted from the fields in torrential rain and headed home.  Meanwhile, Skip and Sam talked forever.  They went through an entire season of putting Sockeye together from tryouts to tournament preparation and held the audience until 11pm.

Wednesday was better and some of us finally got to enjoy Ramon’s carefully planned cultural itinerary with a trip through Arbat Street and a boat journey along the river giving spectacular views of the Kremlin and other buildings.  The field contingent, BJ, Aaron and I, headed to the field early to do some planning for the day and found twenty campers already there playing 4v3  and throwing around an hour before clinic began.  They’d taken to the fun warm-up and were jumping in and moving the disc faster than on the weekend.  The pod workout went smoothly and energetically with BJ leading some of Idaho’s sprint progressions me taking over the Shadow Marking and a recap of Hollywood squares.  Afterwards we headed home to get the recap of Spencer and Idaho’s strange evening experience with a group of PE teachers who had never seen ultimate before in their lives.

Thursday we finally rallied as a team for some site-seeing, following Ramon to Moscow State University.  Housed in one of Stalin’s Seven Sisters skyscrapers, it’s a spectacular sight and has to be one of the biggest university buildings in the world.  From the top you get panoramic views of Moscow and the Olympic Stadium while surrounded by a museum of natural history and an interesting assortment of Soviet era furnishings and decorations.

That night we met for the final pod of the week, a focus on throwing, marking and watching BJ kick ass in a break mark redemption drill.  Thunder and lightening rolled in shortly after, though, and we had to call the session early and head to the mall for an hour of food, drink and question/answer sessions with all the Sockeye in attendance.  From there, we rolled to the Tequila / Cinco de Mayo party.

The Sockeye Open Combine

May 10, 2011

What: The Sockeye Open Combine
When: Saturday, May 14th, 9am – 5pm
Where: Magnuson Sports Meadow, Fields #3,4

Entering into it’s 7th year, the Sockeye Combine continues to be Seattle’s kick-off event for the new season. Each year around a hundred men from the greater Seattle area (and beyond, we have visitors from Colombia and the Netherlands joining us for this year’s event) converge and play a day’s worth of Ultimate. From there Sockeye selects a group of players to continue with the tryout process.

We expect the caliber of play to be high at this year’s event. In preparation for the Combine, Sockeye has hosted 7 practices, 3 track workouts and 2 open scrimmages for anyone in Seattle. Also in attendance will be the University of Washington Sundodgers as they prepare for the USAU College Championships later this month.

This year’s Combine will be slightly different given the recent shake up in the open community with the establishment of Emerald City Ultimate. One of the fields will be a showcase field, where a panel of representatives from Sockeye and Emerald City Ultimate will observe players under closer scrutiny. Those who are not selected by Sockeye will have the option to continue trying out with ECU. For more information please visit their website.

Anyone planning on attending the Combine should register and pay online by Friday, May 13th. People who show up unannounced will be charged an additional late fee of $10 to participate.

Looking forward to another great event,
Ray, MC, Tyler and Skip

Hello from the Ural Mountains

May 6, 2011

Specifically, Tyler and I are in Ekaterinburg, home of a rapidly growing economy, the doorway to Siberia and a small but enthusiastically growing Ultimate scene.

We spent a brain-taxing 16 hours taking 24 players from the 7 area teams through a long set of drills, situations, and game-variations meant to bring out the best in them. Especially, we want to bring out the best in the many young new players they are teaching. These players come from as far as an 8-hour overnight train ride away to participate, and we had a great evening throwing session in the stunning Ekaterinburg city center last night as well.

We could not have been taken care of better, and we are sad to leave this evening. Ural Ultimate is growing quickly with a championships coming this summer, and we hope these new ways of looking at the game will percolate. As usual for us while in Russia, we’ve been fielding fantastic questions.

Traveling with Tyler is fantastic. He got up at 5am to do a TV interview (and got his makeup done for free) and powered through the day of camp, leading defensive drills and then putting his money where his training-mouth is by nearly jumping clean over a taller player for a sky. I’ve been focusing on the team aspect of the game; Ultimate is in many young communities played like an individual sport and I’ve adjusted a few sets of standard American drill-progressions to work on the teamwork parts of both cutting and handling. The gains are incredibly fun to watch. The tired smiles this afternoon told us that it wasn’t just a blast for us.

Back to Moscow tonight, to old-new friends and a Cinco de Mayo celebration. It’s going to be a cultural piledriver. Next after that is my growing need to sleep for 12-20 hours straight at some point. Or just keep playing Ultimate!

For Tyler, I’m Ben saying ‘Paw kaw’.