We had a close game in pool play against Double Happiness, who was at Nationals only because Pack of Lies decided they didn’t want to go, but otherwise it was a typical DoG Nationals, back when National champs would go undefeated through pool play.
NY (WUDI) and Ring were playing it out in the other pool for 2nd place. The Condors had come in as the 3rd overall seed, but as it was their first Nationals appearance in a few years, they played down a level and finished 3-3, meaning the 3 vs 4 game on Saturday morning would be for a semis bid. NY was up by 3 in the 2nd half when we got there to watch, but a fired-up Ring came back to take the lead and pulled it out. After the game-winning goal, the scorer flung the disc in the air. The disc rolled directly to me sitting on the backline. I glanced at it, saw it was a “Spirit of the Game” disc, and decided that I should put it in my bag and walk away, the only time in my life I’ve stolen a disc.
A few minutes later (the semis were completely staggered back then and there weren’t any consolation games, so all the elimination rounds had full crowds, except for the women’s semis), we lined up against Ring. And proceeded to get knocked down, bad. We went down 6-1, and were down at half 9-4. However, the mental tide had already begun to turn, as we got some blocks and some scores and it began to look like whatever Ring was doing wasn’t going to continue to work for much longer.
Ring took the pull and scored to start the second half. As I walked to the line, I ever so briefly thought, “Well, the run has been nice. And I guess it’s not so bad to be able to relax and party tonight.” But then I thought, “No. I work too hard, and I’m not going to let this team lose.” I don’t remember a ton of details from the rest of the game, but it was easily the most emotional experience of my life (except possibly watching my son being born). It was different from the “in the zone” experience of the 1995 finals because it had the frothing, an extra three levels of excitement and energy without losing any of the focus. My teammates saw a different man, and fed off it. A series of 2- and 3-point runs put us back on serve, another break put us up, and even though I failed to catch a pass that would have been the game-winner (I thought it was a pretty difficult catch, but some scribe thought it was an easy one), we won and I couldn’t do anything but breathe excitedly and be content with knowing I had something like that inside of me.
PS. No Q&A this week, will have to do another one post-Nationals.