We are pleased to present you with 2010 World Champion, Eric Kremin.
321: How long did it take you to become a competitive player?
Eric Kremin: Well, Milwaukee hosted the midwests (MW III) about a month after I started playing, Zack Reuter and I threw a team together. “Adventures of Men.” We beat some Madison team in our first game. From there I was hooked. So long story short, I guess about two weeks.
321: At what point did you become a part of the Beaver Boys?
EK: The first “A” team I was on was Hero Squad with Joe [Burge] and Jake [Newborn]. We played at ESPI in DC [ESPI III, 2008] and few other tournaments that year. We planned on playing that same team in the Boston ESPI [ESPI IV, 2009] but Jake broke his collar bone so we picked up Brian [Dillman]. Our chemistry was spot on and we were having fun. We ended up getting 2nd. After that we went to Columbia for the Midwest and from then on we decided that this is our team.
321: Do Beaver Boys have a plan before stepping onto the court? What is the pre-game routine for you?
EK: Pre-game consists of, “Brian, we’re up. Where the fuck is Joe”? Haha. We dont really have one, other then the three of us running to the bushes to pee. Always have to before a game. How ever Brian does often say “Let’s go bring the crowd to tears, make grown men cry.”
321: Which teams are the most difficult to play? Which ones do you always look forward to playing?
EK: Hardest team for us to play is one that consists of talented players but they have no game. There is no flow, its just chaos. We have a hard time with that, sure. Almost every tournament we get beat by some B-team due to that. I look forward to games that I know are going to be hard and some tight shit is going to happen.
321: What’s the story behind those pictures online of the Beaver Boys in that sports car?
EK: Hah. So we went to a little tourney in Indiana and at the after party, we went off! Shot-gunning beers in the bar,dancing like fools – just going wild. We were outside unlocking our bikes and we saw this T-top. I started calling it the Beaver Mobile. Next thing I know Brian and Joe were climbing in. It instantly turned into a photo-op. This skinny dude straight out of the 80s came out of the bar yelling in a foreign language. The only thing I could make out was, “This is a classic, you cant do this!” We told him it was an American classic. Deal with it bro, your car’s tight.
321: A video from the World Championship in Berlin  contains much discussion about the American playing style being much rougher than that of Europeans. Was there a big difference in play from the Europeans in 2011 over the previous years? More aggressive?
EK: Euros picked up their game big-time. They were always aggressive, we were just better at it in 2010. I have mad respect for the euro game. We like to cream the ball as hard as we can when we get a break away, euros pull out the side to side “smart shot.”
321: A lot of bike polo videos find you actively promoting the sport. Do you and your club put that kind of emphasis on new players to pick up the sport and stick with it?
EK: For the longest time, we really didn’t. We were so concentrated on getting better ourselves that if you didn’t pick it up the first night we weren’t begging you to come back. That has changed a bit now. This last fall a few of our key players moved or simply quit playing all together. I realized that not everyone is going to play forever so I’ve been really focused on getting our new players better and dedicated to coming out on a regular basis.
321: What do you think the secret is to getting a new players to keep coming back?
EK: Polo has to be fun. You’re not going to waste a Sunday drinking beer with a bunch of dicks playing a game that you suck at. So you have to set them up with plays and get them playing each other. It’s a lot more fun for everyone to play people on the same skill level.
321: Speaking of skill level, beginners and elites are currently lumped in together in the tournament structure. In many instances, it’s like pitting Little League against Major League and it’s often not fun for either camp. Being an elite player, do you see the need for different tournament levels?
EK: NA’s and Worlds are really close to that. There weren’t any terrible teams in Calgary [for the 2011 North American Championship]. Every game we played was competitive, which was strange. We tried to host a “pro” tournament last year but it wasn’t received well. That being said, I would love to go to a pro tourney.
321: Hardcourt bike polo has been described as a sport for non-sports types – a lot of punk rockers, ex-skateboarders and BMX kids, etc. Not your usual hockey or football fans. What’s your sports background?
EK: When I was a little kid I was really into sports. During my elementary years I grew up in a tiny town in Minnesota andthe hockey team was bigger than the football team. I wanted to play hockey so bad but we just couldn’t afford it. Instead I got a skateboard when I was 10 and I got hooked into that. Soon I was saying, “Fuck Farve!” (my hero) and saying right-on to pro skaters. I hated sports up until I got good a polo which is pretty strange. Now I think sports are fucking rad. The shit that athletes do now is just mind blowing and inspiring. So long story short I think polo has an even mix of sport fans and sport haters.
321: Are you wanting to see Hardcourt get proper sports coverage on cable? What would be your ideal scenario on how being on television in handled?
EK: Polo spectators are not politically correct, I don’t think we will be on TV soon. That being said I’d love to be on TV just so my mom can see me.
321: On the message boards of League of Bike Polo (LOBP), you often seem to enter the conversation as a voice of reason. At what point do you abandon a thread and just shake your head?
EK: People are going to hate me for saying this but there are to many small fries with super-sized mouths out there. I used
to check .CA 10 times a day. Now I look at it twice a month. It’s sad. I love that people are stoked on polo and want to be involved but when it comes to making big game changing decisions like rules nets and how tournaments should be run leave it to the people who break the top 10 at tournaments. NAH [North American Hardcourt Bike Polo Association] is on the right track but in my mind it’s moving to slow and is weak. Maybe too many cooks in the kitchen?
321: On that note, NAH is considering a membership model in order to improve organization and circulate more funds to qualifiers and NAs. How’s that strike you?
EK: NAH needs to provide more [before asking for membership money]. You have to win everyone over. Honestly, other than talking on the internet, NAH hasn’t done shit. Okay, they haven’t done shit, there’s been some organizational and financial help here and there, and the rules, yeah. But NAH needs to provide something more. Concrete, physical things. And not whistles and clipboards. “Okay, you need goals, here are some goals.” You know? “These boards driving to each tournament, this crew goes to every tournament.” Like it or not, that’s what people respond to. Until then, keep using tournament entry fees.Plus I think most of the money should go to NAs. NAH’s goal should be to make NAs the tightest shit possible.
321: Money shouldn’t go to qualifiers?
EK: Nope. I mean, it would be great to subsidize revenue to all tourneys leading up, but NAs should be the focus. If there’s only, say, $2500, that should all go to NAs. If there’s $5000, $2500 should go to NAs and the rest could be divided between the qualifiers. But, bottom line – if [NAs] aren’t blowing those other tourneys out of the water, there’s a problem.
321: Sure. With people traveling from all over, it’s got to be brilliant.
EK: Right. If NAH put all money into NAs, we could do all these smaller tourneys, in-region only – simple, no prizes – and be fine.
321: In Bloomington, IN at the Midwest bench tourney, you mentioned that you liked the bench format but felt it was diluted a bit, that it didn’t have those “mind-blowing moments” you feel more often arise from a tight trio of talented players. Still feel that way after seeing the Eastern Conference Championship in NYC?:
EK: Yeah, it was cool but I feel the same. Well, Richmond changed me a little.
321: What’s the future for the bench-format?
EK: I think it’s fun but I prefer my 3-man team. I think that’s the future. I like the idea of, these are my three guys, we’re going to go out a bang shit up. I don’t think [bench-format] will replace 3v3. Plus, how are you going to give a sponsorship to eight, nine people?
In the spring there should be a regional bench. Then whoever wins goes to compete in a national or whatever. It’d be fun to take all our boys and try to wreck somewhere. And smaller benches – like a bench of four or five people, make the games 30-45 minutes. Anyway, I’m not even thinking about bench right now, I’ve got bigger fish to fry. I’m concentrating on playing in Geneva.
321: Both Bloomington and NYC had a significant ref/rules component. How do you feel about progress in those areas?
EK: Put in any rule – you still don’t have the refs. Refs have got to know delayed penalties, know the penalties you can call – I just don’t see us being there yet, not until we have retired players blowing the whistle. We need consistency. And at least in 3v3 play, a ball turnover should be enough.
321: Are you saying there isn’t a good reason to have an off-court/in-the-box penalty in 3v3?
EK: Yes. It works better in bench-format. We don’t have permanent goalies [in 3v3]. So you notice in Bloomington, anytime there was a penalty, we put in the same two players to kill the penalty. In 3v3, the player that gets a penalty might be the best goalie, but there’s no bench, so you’re stuck. And it’s not hard to score. We score five goals in 10 minutes, 15 minutes all the time, so a box penalty has a bigger impact.
321: What about major infractions?
EK: For something serious, sure. But on the whole, a ball-turnover should be enough.
321: How involved are you in the development of new products for Milwaukee Bike Co.?
EK: I play a pretty big role in MKE products. Everyone in the shop is deep into the realm of cycling, from high-end nerdy touring to fixie tricks. Whenever I have an idea, I bring it up to our ID guy who runs the Internet store and he brings it to life or explains to me why it would never work. Then I test the shit out of it.
321: With as many 1st place spots as you have, are you tired of the free products? Say you are putting on a tournament, what do you do different?
EK: I really do appreciate the stuff we win, don’t get me wrong, but I can’t tell you how much schwag I have. Any player who is winning a tournament doesn’t need the things being given out now. What we really need is plane tickets and gas money. Bottom line – cash is king.
321: Current bike set up? Details please.
- MKE Polo Bruiser
- Thomson seat post
- no-name alloy straight bar
- Victorie Cycles stem
- San Marco Rolls saddle
- Homemade Avid dual lever
- Avid Ultimate V-brakes
- Velocity 48 Deep-Vs
- 35c Rib-Mo rear, 35c Fyxation front
- MKE polo guard
- KMC premium chain
- Cheapo VP head set (Get at me Chris King!)
321: Top 3 polo courts you’ve played worldwide, and why.
EK: Favorite question so far! Palais de Tokyo in Paris. It’s a famous skate spot in front of an art gallery. They used to play in the fountain – good size, super-smooth surface and three-foot-high concrete walls and its across the street from the Eiffel Tower. The Pit (NYC) has to be in there just for the location alone. Next to a corner store, right off the Manhattan Bridge in Chinatown. The Garage in Milwaukee. Its was covered, had lights, in the middle of the city, and we were hidden from every one. I have a lot of really good memories in that shitty parking structure.
321: What can we expect from the Beaver Boys this year?
EK: What we try to do every year. Take over the world.