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Girl Crush Vol. 3: LA6 Edition

June 18, 2014

Ladies Army 666 Team Special Edition!

Ladies Army 666 is this weekend! I thought it would be fun to highlight some of the teams I am looking forward to watching play this year. So get your girl crush score cards ladies and gents, and let’s see who makes it into my top four teams!!!

Let’s start with last year’s winners, the Valkyries!
Valkyries bike polo

Comprised of three powerhouse ladies: Shannon of East Van, Quinn of Lexington, and Elena from Geneva. It is amazing to watch three women who almost never play together, mesh so well on the court; in fact it is damn near frustrating. They stay focused and keep excellent positions on the court while waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. Shannon is like a freaking brick wall in goal, Quinn has a brutal hard shot, and Elena is the female lefty Darth Vader of bike polo. I have to admit though, I would like to see Shannon out of goal a bit more as I think she is a very smart player. All three ladies play to their strengths and I look forward to seeing these ladies defend their title.

Next on my list of ladies I totally boner all over are Hot Honey Biscuits!
hot honey biscuits bike polo

I love watching these ladies play. Jessi (as previously discussed) is a top notch player and continually upping her game! Erica not only was the first female pick of the LA Bench Minor but proved herself to be a freaking badass at defense, for realsies! Tina has that over the handlebar backward shot that I have been working on mimicking to many a whiff all year long. Not only do these ladies have some of the best on court chemistry I have ever seen, but they will smile their way to stuffing a million goals down your throat. And you know what, you won’t even be upset about it. I was super bummed that my team didn’t get to play them last year because I loved watching them play.

The team I am really looking forward to seeing play at LA6 this year is the return of the Cunning Stunts!
cunning stunts bike polo

Last year was my first Ladies Army so I have yet to witness the live slaughtering that ensues when the Cunning Stunts are on the court. With their new teammate Heff (of Toronto) I know these ladies are going to leave a path of destroyed egos in their wake. Maija remains my first ever polo girl crush from the first polo tournament I ever went to in Melbourne. She doesn’t look intimidating at all, but holy hell will she check you right off your bike and out of her fucking way because nothing is getting between her and the goal. To top off their team of baddassery, we have Birdie. She plays hella smart and will be in your way and all over you if the ball is anywhere near you. When playing this team, I suggest a tight passing game because any mistake and they with ride all over you.

Last but certainly not least, Iluminaughti, which name I can’t really say without at least one giggle…ok two.
illuminaughti bike polo

I had the rad pleasure of playing with Johanna for the Ladies Bench tournament and kinda think she’s the bees knees. She just has a great presence on the court and is a total team player, even if she has a hard time playing with lefties. Tiff is an amazing ball handler and really good at figuring out the strengths of her teammates so she can take it to their advantage. Andrea from Saskatoon has been playing great this past year and I think she will be a great contributor to this team. All three players are excellent team players and I really hope they use this to their advantage and expect to see a lot of passing and patience when playing against them. They will find their way to the goal and they won’t rush it.

I better stop while I’m totally drooling over these freaking awesome ladies and get to my predictions for the top four. I think the final game will be between Cunning Stunts and Hot Honey Biscuits and it’s kinda hard to decide between the two but here you go:

  1. Cunning Stunts
  2. Hot Honey Biscuits
  3. Valkyries
  4. Illuminaughti

I can’t wait to play you ladies!  See you in Toronto.

Sam

Player Profile

Girl Crush Vol. 2

January 23, 2014

Back by popular demand!  This round we are crushing all over the awesome Germaustralian (officially claiming that one) ANJA!!!!!!!  After much praise of her baddassery from a mutual friend.  I got to meet her, and keep the giddy girl inside me at bay, March of last year at the Australiasian Nationals in Timaru.  Let the girl crush begin!

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Huggable Factor: 20/20

Hell yeah girl, come give me dat huggggg!!!  One of the sweetest most posie polo players I’ve had the pleasure of meeting!  She’s also plays hella clean, like if Mr. Clean had a lovely ginger counterpart who played polo, that would be Anja.  Which is both a blessing and a curse when you play against her, but more on that later.  Let’s all give Anja hugs!!!!

Intimidation Factor: 18/20

You should probably be shaking in your boots, and if you aren’t wearing boots stop reading now and go put on a pair.  I’ll give you a minute……

Now that you’re back, be afraid, be very afraid.  Of the two female players who made it into the double elimination tournament at Worlds this year, Anja was one of them.  Her team, Melbourne Anchor, has been one of the top Australian teams for the two years Anja has lived in Australia.  Needless to say:  H-E-L-L F-U-C-K-I-N-G Y-E-S.  Her baddassery sneaks up on you much like her playing style of being all over an opponent like a dirty shirt.

Scoring Factor: 17/20

While defense seems to be her strong suit, Anja has a certain way of making you do a facepalm in goal.  I mean you see her coming, you know she’s going to take a shot and then you just end up looking like this:
3She’s kinda like a silent killer as she gracefully makes her way around the court and then….KABLOOEY you’re scored on again. What makes her scoring factor so good is her smart plays and killer passes.  She has definitely honed the art of being a team player, which let’s admit it, we all struggle with right?  No just me…please say it’s not just me.

Defense Factor: 19/20

Dude…for reals, mad defensive skills.  Crap I can usually get away with in games being a jerkoff lefty, I can’t get away with playing against Anja.  She’s got my number and she probably has your too.  She is the dream player we all wish we could be; she’s conscience of which of her teammates is hanging back and is more than willing to put herself in the goal if need be (even though we both know she can score, out play and in general outsmart many of her opposing players).  You may have heard a few of us chanting “Release Anja” toward Damon (her teammate) during Australasians or Worlds because, for reals, you’re wasting her talent keeping that fine lady in goal.

Should I be Worried?: 19/20

If you aren’t worried by now, then you may have Van Damme like nerves of steel..
tumblr_mw9vdntekI1s02vreo1_400The rest of us should remember that she did better than most of us at Worlds this year on a borrowed bike that she didn’t even play on until she got to Florida.  She may not be the most vocal, heaviest checker, or even highest scorer but Anja should certainly be on your list of top female players to be intimidated by.  She plays smart, putting herself in great position on the court, and plays some of the best defense I have ever seen.  Just when you think you’ve shaken her BAM she’s right on top of you messing up your petty idea of a play.

Crushable Score: 93/100

Well Hot Damn do we here at 3-2-1 Polo! have a crazy girl crush on Anja!  From playing on the all ladies team Poloholica (see the image below) in Munich, Germany to playing on one of the top teams in Australia.  Anja is lovely to have a beer or two with and mainly just rules at life in general.  Congrats Anja!  You have just girl crushed your way into our hearts.

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NOTE: If you have a special female player in your life that you’d like to see crushed, email me at Salama514@gmail.com with your chosen player and how they fit into the characteristics above.  Holla at ya Sam

Player Profile

Girl Crush Vol. 1

December 9, 2013

For those who don’t know, a ‘girl crush’ is kinda like the ladies version of ‘bromance’.  Since Polo is full of bromance, I thought it would be fun to profile some of the killer ladies of polo.  I have broken up the girl crush into five categories with a score given for each just to see how crushable these ladies really are. Let’s start with my first girl crush pick….

JESSI!!!!!!!

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Huggable Factor: 20/20

You can’t help it.  Even when you try to resist, you get one of Jessi’s adorable smiles and you just gotta wrap your arms around her.  Even on the court when she’s taking the ball away from you, the sudden urge to take your hands off the handlebars and go in for a hug arises and you’re not even upset about it.  It’s almost hypnotic, and I’m now dubbing it the Jessi maneuver.  (Feel free in the future to say things like “I just got Jessied!” or “She’s going in for a Jessi.”)

Intimidation Factor: 13/20

Perhaps you are thinking because of Jessi’s high caliber of play her intimidation factor might be hirer.  Alas, Jessi is just to smiley and positive to be too intimidating (sorry girl).  When attempting to check her into the boards she just smiles and tell you how good you’re doing.  ARGH!!!  I’m supposed to be scaring you with my huge guns Jessi!  She also plays a very clean game with few checks to other players on the court.  The real intimidating factor to Jessi is how much of a girl crush we all have on her!  Even in this photo, I’m not intimidated one bit…
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Scoring Factor: 19/20

Jessi is just like a Stretch Armstrong!:
stretch_armstrong1You may think you have her covered and your front wheel may even be in front of hers, but somehow Jessi stretches her arm out a bit and scores.  WHAAAAAT?!?!?!  How’d that even happen.  Don’t worry dear reader, that’s the reaction a lot of us have when playing against her.  Jessi is the type of player that reminds me that I don’t need to hit the ball as hard as I can into the net (even though I want to cause it’s super fun), and accuracy is key.

Defense Factor: 18/20

Geez Jessi get out of my way!!!!  Just when you think you have shook her off, she comes charging at you and BAM ball is now hers.  (I’m shaking my fist at you right now Jessi!)

Should I be Worried: 20/20

Oh my glory YES!!!!  She may not be all that intimidating but oh glory will she just crush the pants off you and then you will be without pants!  She has been MVP of both the International Ladies Bench AND Ladies Army V, where she selflessly offered her frame prize to Shannon who had her bike stolen that very weekend.  She is definitely one of the top lady players in the World and hot dang that just plain scary.

Crushable score:  90/100

If you didn’t already have a crush on Jessi, well then I sure hope I was able to convince you how totally Girl Crush worthy she is.  I’m focusing on my game for Ladies Army next year in hopes of trying to get to her level, but part of me feels like it’s super futile.

Jessi, you are one Crushable Babe!

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Editorial, Interview, Player Profile

Meet Your World’s Refs: Joe Rstom

November 18, 2013

The fourth and final ref that we would like to introduce you to is actually the head of the NAH Reffing Committee. After seeing him handle reffing duties at North Americans and then Worlds, anyone can clearly see why he is the prefect candidate for this position. He is a simple man with a lot of heart dedicated to the growth of hardcourt bike polo. In the countless personal conversations that I’ve had with him, I know he has a game plan to better the state of reffing for the 2014 season. Not only that, he has the drive to actually put the game plan into action so that hardcourt reffing, and the sport as a whole, can take two giant leaps forward! Everyone, I proudly introduce to you Joe Rstom.

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321Polo: What is your home club?
Rstom: Mankato, MN

321Polo: How long have you been playing bike polo?

Rstom: 4 years

321Polo: When was the first time you reffed at a tournament?
Rstom: I refereed a bit at the Midwest Open 3, but the Battle for the Midwest was the first tournament I felt confident refereeing. Then Midwest Champeenships, North Americans and now Worlds.

321Polo: What do you think of fans heckling you?
Rstom: The fan heckling never really bothers me, and overall it was much better at Worlds than any other tournament. The spectators that bothered me would come up and tap me on the shoulder in the middle of a game and say “Hey, hey, hey, hey ref, hey, you need to watch for that steering arm and mallet hack and toppling over in the corner”. You can imagine my responses…

Anyway, I’d like to note that the respect coming from the players was noticeably improved. When I saw a new team I would introduce myself and set the expectation for respectful dialogue. I think this combined with confident whistling dictated the overall dynamic of the game; from the way players treated me to the way they treated one another. There were exceptions to this, but I saw a lot less bickering amongst players and referees than in the past. That is something to be proud of as a community.

321Polo: Are there any major changes you hope to see in the reffing world next year?
Rstom:  There are 3 major changes I’d like to see for tournaments next year:

1. An organized Referee Association and Certified Referees – Online certification is going to be my big project over this off-season. The system was built this year to simply get people ready for a fully developed certification test. There will be videos, there will be graded testing. We will see how this goes, but the idea is that if you are hosting an NAH tournament, you will be required to have a certain number of certified referees. This leads me to my next desired change:

2. Incentivized Volunteering – Referees simply need to be paid for standing in the sun (or rain) and maintaining this level of focus for hours on end. Even with scheduled and assigned goal judges, they still disappeared without notice, which means the other volunteers need some incentive too. Tournament Organizers should start budgeting for this, because you will see an immediate return on the investment. (On a side note, I think cash prizes should become the norm too, but that’s a different issue).

3. A Scalable, Multiple Referee System – The first 2 days of these large tournaments should have 2 referees on each court, all day long. It can be done with 6 people if the two take turns with the whistle. The 1st referee watches on-ball play, or the most important off-ball play, and the 2nd referee tracks peripheral off-ball play. As you cut out courts, you add referees. A 3-4 referee system, mirrored on the other side, or goal judges who can actually signal for infractions would be the way to go. Also, we shouldn’t have to sit on fences and stand on boards, but being on the court is something I have yet to experiment with. Maybe in 2014!