It’s amazing how big and strong she’s become. The guys really love her these days. We’re so proud of you.
Breakfast was stale danishes, orange juice, and half-and-half. Cloudy, it hadn’t started raining yet when we got to the fields at 7:50, but it was going to soon. Warm-ups begun, players cycled in and out of drills to take first, second, and third morning shits. Our first game was against ONU, the first seed in our pool and the second seed overall. Ten minutes before the game, our bodies and fingers warm, it begun to rain and we brought it in. A few words, and the team realized we were up against the end of our season. The snow filled cleats, the mud filled shorts, all the times we’d given up making love to someone because of sore calves or a 12 am field house practice. Discounted since the beginning of the season as a non-factor, a non-competitor, our pride was on the line. A fiery speech, a couple of tears, and our best 7 were on the line. We spent the first half getting up to speed, testing our deep game, and having little trouble with ONU’s zone.
A couple of missed opportunities and we were down 5-8 at half. Second half we started on O and won 3 points in a row. The rain got rainier and the mud got muddier, we traded points for a while and then went down again 14-12 (games to 15). A time-out caught our breath and we came out with a quick huck from our star freshman, Remi, to our major deep threat, Bubbles. 14-13, ONU drops the disc in their end zone. We slowly worked it back up field, upwind and drop it in our end zone. ONU takes the disc and hucks it deep 50/50. A turn, and we work it back to our end-zone again, run a handler set and score. 14-14, hard-cap, Double Game Point. We put up our universe D line and ONU makes an unlucky turn. Oberlin picks it up, and puts it in the hole for a win.
Our first game couldn’t have gone better. We were charging the field after every point. One of our freshmen, Evan “On Holiday” Holiday got 5 D’s. Another freshman, Caddyshack Abramowitz, got 2. Chris Canning, a senior ex-swimmer, made numerous huge plays and our unbeatable handle set: Captain Robert Strauss, Remi Schneider, and Aaron Krupp were in flow, made very few mistakes, and were arguably the quickest most talented handler set at the tournament all weekend. One of our seniors, Jerry Hay, was only allowed to play 5 points a game because of a history of concussions, but the points he was on were our easiest points all game. Butter-sweet flicks and zero turns, the whole team could tell that he had a lot to prove, being out all season. The other captain, Raghav, was out for all of sectionals due to a recent concussion at Steakfest, but sophomores Quinn Schiller and Aaron Krupp were there to take in-cut responsibility.
We were pumped and it was in our hearts to make it. We hadn’t seen ONU since an indoor tournament in the fall when they beat us badly, and we felt like a new team. We were giddy, and we were so damn proud. We loved each other as a team, one of the fucking weirdest groups of kids to ever have a common interest since Twister was big.
Our next game was against Dennison. A name we’d been repeating to ourselves all season. We’d never scored more than 5 points on them in the fall. We were nervous, but seemingly ready after a huge win. We opened the game with a sweet break off of a D by one of our freshmen, but spent the rest of the game a little too high from our ONU win. There was no urgency, and we weren’t worried and our sidelines weren’t on fire. The first game made us proud, but it also gave us one less thing to prove and when we went from being up 2-1 to being down 8-4, we realized too late that we had to earn a win. We lost at soft cap 14-8.
Our last game of the day was against Wooster. Losing the game would put us in 4th place in our pool, winning would put us in 2nd. We begun the game by getting broken 4 times in a row, the fields and players soaked, the sidelines silent. The horsecows are a mental team, and our loss to Dennison rattled us. We called a time-out, and no one said anything for a full minute. Coach MC told us to chill out, and then senior Xander Tartter barely speaking told us to wake up, to find the fire, the whatever, and bring it home or it would all be over. While he spoke, Raghav, on the edge of tears, started down to the river to pray as quietly as he could in his prettysweet voice. Xander spoke about candles and fires and metaphors and the song built up around him, arms around shoulders, at the top of our lungs, come on horsecows let’s go down… We broke back 4 times then went down 6-8 going into the second half. We score our first O point quickly to bring it to 7-8. Soft cap went off when were down 8-10. Time-out, Jeremiah Hay the tallest kid on the team, eyes like an angel’s blonde hair beaded with gray water the color of the sky, asked the team to close their eyes. “We passed a cemetery on the way here, and I don’t know about you guys, but I love cemeteries. Horsecows, you’re in one of those coffins, six feet under the ground, you can’t breathe and you’re stuck. Now open your eyes. The entire world is right here around you, and you have to fight for every second of it. ONE TWO THREE…”
We brought the game to 10-10 at soft. Lightning meant a 30 minute break in play. Horsecows went back to their cars and turned on the heat, joking, still high and giddy from all the wanting. Like coming too soon, we were just nervous and felt silly. We get back on the field, freezing cold, and Wooster scores twice in a row in under 2 minutes to win the game. We dropped seed from 3rd to 4th, and had to win every game tomorrow to go to sectionals.
Our first game was against Xavier. Nothing clicked. The team wasn’t there, and we were beaten slowly by B.L.O.B., and it felt like there was nothing we could do. Man, it just sucks. We weren’t a worse team, and we weren’t even necessarily playing more poorly, we just weren’t winning. We started the game losing and we finished losing 14-6, the most disappointing game of our season, the last game of our season.
Broken, we came together, and Xander (what a guy…) tears in his eyes, “I’m not crying because we’re not going to regionals. I’m crying because this next game is the last game I’m ever going to be a Horsecow.” Silent, our season was over, and all we could do about it was look at our feet and try to cry as quietly as possible.
We won our last game against the last seed overall, JCU. A good group of guys, we played well and never let them take a breath.
The day ended, and we spent an hour sitting in a circle telling each player why we loved him. It was sunny, and we were the last people on the field. We felt badly, but I think I speak for the whole team when I say that I’m no less proud to be a Horsecow than I was after that ONU game or after our Woodside game or any of our games at Steakfest. We didn’t win and we didn’t go to regionals, but, shit, we like each other a lot. We like seeing each other at North Fields, we like getting a little drunk together, we like long car rides together, we like talking to each other about over-the-pants handjobs and under-the-pants blowjobs, and being apart of this team has been the best part of the last four years of my life.
Our team is bottom heavy, and we put up a damn good showing this year. We got 7th (out of 8) at sectionals, but we were not the 7th team at that tournament. We ran with every team we played, and if we had a couple less injuries, and if the stars were shifted just the tiniest bit, we could have taken 4th, 3rd, or 2nd and left unsurprised. We had some unbelievably sweet comebacks, plays, and growth over the course of this year. We had 1 junior, and 4 playing seniors at sectionals. The rest of the team is 7 promising freshmen, and 4 sophomores who’ve had to get better a lot faster because of all the responsibility we’ve put on them. In a year or two, Oberlin will peak, and we will go to regionals, and we will go to nationals, and hopefully MC will stick with us, so we can turn Oberlin back into the Ultimate school it was a decade ago.
Our goals moving forward: getting younger players to play club over summer, take advantage of oberlin’s ExCo program, try to parlay an ExCo program into a functioning intramural league, better internet presence, convincing MC to continue to coach us to get some continuity year to year, and to continue being a group of clowns.
This week the Flying Horsecows began a new practice schedule, holding optional practices on Monday and Wednesday and strict mandatory meetings on Tuesday and Thursday. The new schedule worked and the ‘Cows had good numbers on the two mandatory meetings to practice their defensive zone sets and play some hard, energetic scrimmages. The Horsecows also hosted two teams this Sunday for a friendly day of scrimmaging. They beat John Carroll University and put up 4 points on the dominant Cleveland Club Team Lake Effect. With one more week until Spring Break and the tournaments that await them, the Horsecows still have some work to do but are feeling optimistic and excited.
This weekend a small contingent of Flying Horsecows represented Oberlin College at the prestigious Woodside Invite, an ultimate tournament attended by heavy hitters and D1 contenders such as the University of Maryland and Brandeis. Twelve of the team’s fiery, dedicated individuals and their coach, Shawn “MC” McCarthy, piled into two school vans on Friday afternoon and drove the ten hours to Carrollton, VA. This was not a tournament for the Horsecows to win; they were outnumbered, underrepresented, and playing teams out of their league. Instead, this was a tournament to learn. On the first day, the Horsecows lost their 4 games, losing handily to the ferocious University of Maryland and Yale teams but contesting Swarthmore and Wheaton to within 2 points. The Horsecows played their hearts out and were able to run with these competitive teams, putting points on them and making them work. On the second day the Horsecows won both of their games, shutting out Kettering College and putting down the hosts Woodside at the last point, with a 14-13 victory. The drive back may have been long, but the Horsecows were in high spirits.
The feisty Flying Horsecows have been kicking their normal routine into overdrive in preparation for their upcoming tournament in Virginia. The Woodside Invite will take place on March 3 and 4 and will feature some of the best D1 college ultimate teams in the country. To prepare, the Horsecows have been focusing on positional defense, space passing, and their “red zone”, endzone offense. In addition to playing in the fieldhouse, the team has been taking advantage of the mild weather to practice outside at the Firelands Field. Watch out Virginia.