Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Man I love Paga (hey!)

I went to Paganello for the second time in my life. I'm not trying to hit any list, just taking the opportunity to have fun. And boy, was that fun.

It wasn't even on my radar a few months ago. I enjoyed myself when I went previously but apparently didn't capture the full Paga experience (for example, I went to The Barge only once and wasn't even aware that it was The Barge), so hadn't really had any supreme desire to return. I wasn't against the idea, mind you, but it wasn't a top priority.

But then Alex was going, and I had a good team to play on, and airfares got cheap ($400), so what the hell, I asked my wife if I could go, she said, "Sure", so I booked my ticket quickly.

I'll leave most of the details to Alex, since our itinerary was the same and we were on the same team and he likes going into excruciating detail. The summary:
On the field: Solid team. Apparently a few guys couldn't make it because they had World Games practice or had other commitments, so we were stuck with a team of 2008 Open semifinalists and me and Alex. Without putting a lot of effort into laying out strategy, we were nonetheless on the same page and played efficiently throughout the weekend, even when some players were hungover or still drunk (several players blew over the limit in the morning or early afternoon from the night before) (but of course, this didn't bode well for our hard man-to-man D).
Off the field: Solid team. We were very well represented every night at the parties and at the bar, averaging something like 3 or 4 am bedtime each night after starting out with room cocktails after the games (well, after a carbomb at the Barge).
The tournament was built for socializing, with 2-3 hours between games, nightly parties, a stadium field, and a late start time (no more than one game before noon).
I held up pretty well, although I did get a muscle tweak (groin, maybe) on my last point of the finals. In the end, we were just a little worn out to play well in the second half, and watched them score the final five to win. We probably could have used another solid player or two so as to allow for a little more rest in the finals. There was only a brief period for me in between "ah, finally wore off the effects of last night" and "gee, my legs are awfully tired".
blockstack.tv did a 20 minute podcast each night. The final one covered part of our final. Our game was supposed to start at 4, but between the under-14 exhibition game and the gladiator exhibition (a bunch of guys in gladiator costumes had a pretent battle), it was pushed back 20 minutes. The UTI guys had already been out there for 45 minutes getting ready, while we were much more laidback, shall we say, and took the extra 15 minutes and pretty much just sat on the line and waited. (I do have to confess to taking a 10 minute jog at 3:15 in order to get a sweat going, and also did about a quarter of the full active warmup.) Unless not warming up doesn't manifest itself until the second half, I don't think this cost us. We just made some mistakes in the end. Despite not having invested a lot in this tournament or in trying to win it, I was surprisingly disappointed in losing, probably somewhere around #15-20 of my all time losses. Right now, I'm pretty much over it, but it was strong at the moment, even a couple hours later on the medal podium. One of the good organizational things that make this such a popular tournament is that they call each team up on stage one at a time, culminating in the medalists for each division. Standing up there looking out as the penultimate group, well, it felt good but it also hurt a bit.
Asher Roth's "I Love College" white boy rap somehow became the song of the tournament, at least for me. I don't know, it just struck a chord.
Had some good food, too, though didn't do a four hour team dinner like I had the previous time.
And absolutely no sight-seeing. After having spent 11 days in Hawaii, and with some other things planned for the year, it was stretching it even making it to Paga. But boy, am I glad I did.