I generally don’t have a problem with any club, but these two take the cake: Continue Reading…
Today, at 5:45 in the morning, Caleb Walker died as a result of a cancer he’s had in his body for a long, long time. At that time, 5:45, I was asleep or just waking up, and I’ve just now found out.
While Caleb–and indeed all of us–knew that this was coming down the line, it still is a surprise for me, and I’m having some difficulty processing it. It’s hard to think about and to know and accept.
Caleb is one of the newer members of our club. He started playing and loved the sport. He wasn’t the greatest (because he was so damn new, and because he had something in him that limited his balance and everything else), but he was so great to have around. He was one of the keenest shit-talkers and always willing to be helpful and caring about the rest of us.
About halfway through his time with us in the club, he went off of treatment and grew back some of his hair and a pretty good beard (the Walker clan grows good beards. It’s a fact). He was always happy. I remember we were lined up for a joust and I asked him how an event went (this guy started a foundation called A Week Away, which helps people with cancer and their families take time away from treatment/work with all expenses paid–giving them some sense of normalcy and joy) and he told me he’s so incredibly lucky to have the community, family, and friends that he has. And I agreed with him. I agreed with this guy who was dying of brain cancer that he had a good life. Because he did.
Caleb Walker was a joy to know and a good friend. He would have become a really strong polo player because, like all things, he put his whole self into the sport. He became part of our club as quick as you can imagine, and with his passing I think we’re losing someone who would have rapidly become a staple. Hell, he was already becoming that in the short time we as a club got to spend with him.
There really isn’t much I can add to this, but I will point you to his foundation and ask that you consider participating, as it was one of his deepest passions. He was a great man, and leaves the world a better place than when he found it. He will be deeply, deeply missed.
Editor’s Note: A couple weeks ago Ignacio “Nacho” Pelayo of the crowd favorite team Nino Dios contacted me with interest in sharing information about the children’s bike polo school that he was helping organize. After I told him that I would love to have him share all of the info with his, he sent back the following write up. Not only that, he did it in both Spanish and English. So thank you for reaching out to me Ignacio, and I hope you all enjoy his piece:
I’m a sensitive guy. I’ll admit it. I get choked up at some commercials, will blubber at films, and have spent the better part of an afternoon sobbing on my bed after reading the last line of Love in the Time of Cholera. It’s part of my character (the blubbering sensitive part, I guess).
Being as sensitive as all that, I’ll also say that I’m very well aware of when other people are, you know, trying to get under my skin or, probably more likely, just being jerks.
There are many groups within bike polo, so making the ol’ “there are two kinds of people” won’t work here, but I will say this: there is a subculture in our sport that fosters the devil-may-care, I-don’t-give-a-shit-about-you sort. Folks who try to hurt you when playing just to hurt you, who try to make you feel small afterwards, and who, generally, don’t give a damn about your feelings.
But I’m going to lay it on the line, here: you can only be so badass when you’re playing a sport like ours. Let’s get real about this. None of us are that far outside of being a bunch of bike nerds playing a fringe sport. That’s just how it is. To lord yourself over another player because you think they aren’t part of your core group is just silly. It’s middle school antics, and we don’t have time for it.
Out of all the tourneys I’ve been to, it’s probably only happened three times or so: where a small group of people are viciously (not for funsies) yelling at refs or yelling at the other team or being mean spirited. It’s lame, and everyone who isn’t in that small bullying group doesn’t find it all that helpful. It’s also kinda weird for our sport, as we are generally such trusting, lovey-dovey sorts.
Bike polo is evolving, as much as it ever does, and for my part I believe the folks who try to stand in the way of other folks–the folks who try to pull others down–aren’t going to have a place at the table soon enough. Our sport is really big on inclusion and good feelings (we’re all nerds, after all), and those who are against that are going to come up against a pretty significant brick wall in the coming years. Sportsmanship is a huge thing in our sport, lest we forget the first rule of bike polo.
I’m not free in this jaw-waggling attack, either. I have been, at times, the aggressor in situations where someone was new to a group or an easy target, and I attacked. It’s easy to be a jerk, it really is. It’s by far much harder to be friendly.
So if you find you often judge your performance at tourneys by how much you can tear someone else down, go ahead and start a new sport or just make a “We’re cooler than you” version of bike polo to play with the other 20 people who think that way in North America. We’ll wish you well on your way out.
Blazing the trail of hardcourt bike polo photography, Liam Gilson once again wows us with his amazing photos. This time Gilson comes through with amazing shots from the 1st NAH Bench Championship in Lexington, Kentucky. You can find his bench team portraits HERE and his action shots HERE. Enjoy!