Hodag Love

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Kevin Crowley Spirit Award

Dear Hodag alums,
College regionals is May 4-5 for the Hodags and once it is over we plan to give the graduating seniors an opportunity to elect the first winner of the Kevin Crowley Spirit Award.
There are a number of reasons that alumni have expressed interest in this idea. It’s a chance to reward a Hodag who plays with particular spirit and effort; to give back to the program in a meaningful way; to reconnect to the current team now that we have all moved on; and to celebrate the life of Kevin Crowley, a Hodag who passed at 25 and whose life has been inspiring to many Hodags and alum ever since.
A bunch of alum (most of whom graduated in 2001 or earlier) have been talking about what type of award we’d like to grant, what kind of player we’d like to reward and how to ensure that it lives up to Kevin’s name. Among the people who have played a role are Hodag coach Hector Valdivia, Charlie Reznikoff, Nate Franz, Matt Bruss, Ryan Carrington, Jammin, Chuck Schick, and Rhubis, Kevin’s brother.
First, the award should be given to a returning player, so that it can be passed on from year to year. Second, no player should be able to win the award more than once. Third, the graduating seniors, who know their teammates the best, should choose the winner for the year. The ballots would be filled out after regionals and the winner would be announced at the end of Nationals (ideally after the Hodags have finished celebrating). Then the ballots will be sent to alum so we can learn about the winner and the other players nominated before the award is passed down.
Here is what’s in it for the winner:
-- A fully paid for flight to Nationals. If Nationals does not require a flight (such as this year), a ticket to a tournament next year.
-- A new pair of cleats, of their choosing.
-- Ryan Carrington (co-captain of the 2003 national champions) is a sculptor and has designed a trophy that, like the Stanley Cup, will have each winner’s name added to it. Ryan assures us it will be completed shortly. Charlie Reznikoff, 1998 co-captain, is handling the trophy logistics and has agreed to pay for it. Here are some examples of Ryan's work.
-- The winner will also likely receive a baby blue jersey with the name “Crowley” on the back featuring and a jersey number representing the year that they won (this year’s winner will get jersey no. 13). At the end of each season, the incumbent winner can bestow a jersey upon the new winner (something like the green jacket at the Masters). Nate Franz, 2001 co-captain, has agreed to order and have the jersey delivered.
Hodag Love!
Dear graduating Hodag,
Pretty soon, believe it or not, you will be one of us -- a Hodag alumn. But before you join our ranks, we’d like you to help us give something to back to this year’s team.
Playing for the Hodags has meant so much to so many of us that a large number of alumni decided recently that we’d like to give back to the program in the way of an annual award named for former Hodag Kevin Crowley.
For those who have not heard of him, Kevin Crowley was a UW player from 1990-1993, during which time the team took on the name Hodags. As a player he was highly aggressive and tireless -- often guarding the other team’s best player and excelling at whatever position the team needed on offense. He played the way he lived -- fearlessly -- and with the intent to have as much fun as he and his teammates possibly could.
More important than any of Kevin’s skills was his ability to motivate his teammates through his work habits and his will to win. He never backed down, never gave up and never took off a practice or a game. At the same time, his teammates and opponents remember him as the most spirited player on the field, quick to congratulate an opponent on a great play and never bending the rules to win. He didn't need to. He loved the game and his teammates and he carried that love with him every day.
Kevin Crowley died after a long illness at age 25. His funeral was packed to the brim with people who knew and loved him. The inscription on his gravestone reads “a life lived...in the spirit of the game.”
With the Kevin Crowley Spirit Award, the Hodag alum would like to identify one player each year who best represents the ideals with which Kevin lived and played. You and your classmates will choose this year’s winner from among the Hodags who will return to the team next year. Here’s what we would like to know:
1. If there is one player whose attitude and dedication you would most like to instill in your teammates and future Hodags, who would it be?
2. What about this person motivates you to be a better teammate, competitor or person?
3. Lastly but more importantly, please provide one or more examples of this person’s commitment to playing with exemplary spirit or demonstrating an uncommon commitment to fairness in the midst of intense competition.
Thank you for your help and please enjoy your final time as a Hodag. The memories you make will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Hodag Love

Sunday, May 27, 2012

2012 Alumni Love

I've been thinking a lot about you guys this year - about how high your performance ceiling is, how proud you made me last year at nationals by stepping up and playing balls out - and how much I miss being a Hodag in uniform (once a hodag, always a hodag - easy to remember when etched into one's skin).

One thing that may not have been incredibly visible this year and last is how big the Hodag alum community is, how much we/they care, and how truly lucky it is to be a part of a program like this. The funny thing is, there are probably 20+ alumni who are reading this right now - still too attached to the program to let it go completely - living completely, and utterly, vicariously through your travel arrangements, firey emails, and practice schedules. It probably sounds funny, but it's true... you'll know when you finally graduate (trust me, yes, it does all come to an end at some point) why we feel this way.

What I am driving at is that while many alumni did not make it to the alumni weekend (tip for next year - get it on the schedule 3 months in advance! the real world is unforgiving to semi-short notice), all alumni will be following your exploits. Whether you guys end up over-performing, under-performing, or a mix of both, I guarantee our "dark marks" as we call them will be burning red hot with Hodag Love this memorial day weekend.

When thinking about what kinds of stories would be the best to pass on via email a few days before nationals, I came up with the following - it probably will sound stupid and simple but it became our mantra for 2007 nationals and held onto it in 2008. While you guys are a different team of scary domina3tors (have you seen the look in Wiseman's eyes lately?!) and have to pave your own path, I think this lesson still holds true.

In 2005 the Hodags had sheer power and strength but couldn't seem to pull it together mentally to finish and close out games. This spawned the phrase "the last 20%" - never EVER quitting, slowing down, or getting complacent at ANY point in a game. We repeated this over and over and ended up posting a dominant 2006 season, with only 3 losses. One of those losses was in national finals which was awful of course. So close, but yet infinitely far away.

When the 2007 college series came around, Dan Heijmen and Matt Scallet (sorry Matt if this was just your idea) began a new mantra - The Hodags were to abide by the following directive: "It doesn't matter who we're playing. It doesn't matter what field we're playing on. It doesn't matter what game we're playing in, or who is watching. It doesn't matter what the score is. We're going to play wherever the observer tells us to, against whoever he tells us to play, and WE'RE NOT GOING TO STOP SCORING GOALS UNTIL THE OBSERVER TELLS US TO STOP. Nothing else matters in the end.

Just as Steve PreFontaine ran long after the finish line came and went, the Hodags do not aim to land at the finish; the Hodags aim to score 21 points before the other team makes it to half.

And it takes the entire team. Get fired up. Get crazy. Get that wild energy brewing and boiling so that by the time the D-line takes the field they will literally skull bang the other team before the first pull drops into the soon-to-be-victim's hands. And, if the O-line happens to start the game, give them the support they need to get the D-line out and go ape-shit.

Look, this is all you guys - don't try to be anyone else - not hodags 2003, not 2006, 2007, or any other year. The alumni will love you no matter how you perform out in Boulder, just don't be afraid - of success, of failure, of any other team who you may face.

Have fun and get ready to get intense - the next 5 days are going to come and go in the blink of an eye. So go put the finishing touches on that taper and visualize what you're going to do come Friday and beyond.

See you in Boulder.

Hodag Love,
Hodags '08

I am sitting at work waiting to catch my flight to Boulder at 3:50pm, and all I can think about is how excited I am for you guys this weekend. I want to circle back and reflect on Nationals in Boulder last year. This is the first time I have really put words down on paper and shared my thoughts about the our battle to the championship, loss to Carleton is finals, and the emotions tied into all of it.

In typical fashion, our Hodag squad came out somewhat flat against Washington our first game at 10:30am on Friday morning last year. This is a continued trend that I want you guys to SHATTER this weekend in Boulder:

2008 Hodags vs. Stanford (W 15-13)
2009 Hodags vs. California (W 15-14… 3 breaks to win)
2010 Hodags vs. Michigan (L 12-14)
2011 Hodags vs. Washington (W 14-13)

Squeezing out a 14-13 victory over Washington, we got our blood flowing in time for our game against Florida one hour later. Our ability to get breaks early served huge in the game, and our offensive line was able to fend off a late push by Florida in a 12-10 victory. With that ever important win over the 1 seed in our pool, we lined ourselves up for a game with a Luther team on Saturday that was completely exhausted after a universe point victory of Florida the previous day. Our victory over Team Eric Johnson clinched the pool, and then allowed us to rest our starters and play our depth in our final pool play game against a UC-Santa Cruz squad. All of the ducks aligned perfectly for us to make a rested push into the Championship bracket.

In Quarterfinals, we faced a Harvard squad that had put significant mileage on their legs prior to entering our game. Our strategy in the game was to be aggressive. We took our shots deep, and our defense insisted on making them work up the entire field for any point they were going to get. We focused on minimizing the amount of time the disc spent in the backfield. Once the disc went to our cutters, we wanted to keep it there.

In Semifinals, we faced Colorado on their home turf. Colorado brought the most intense defense that we had seen all weekend. Our strategy was once again to stay aggressiveand jump on them early. We isolated our best matchups (Colin Camp and David Wiseman), and looked to kill on every opportunity. There is nothing more intimidating for an offensive line than facing a defensive squad that is going to run you immediately on a turnover.

In Finals, we squared off against our Carleton in a game like no one had ever experienced or watched before. In 50mph winds, an early upwind break by Carleton on their first possession appeared to create a mental roadblock for our team. While we had a few decent chances in the upwind end-zone, we were never able to convert.

For those returners on the team, immediately following our loss in Finals, I brought the team in for a huddle just before Carleton received their medals. I expressed how proud I was of our squad, and how I want everyone to remember the feeling of coming up just short. I don’t recall shedding tears or feeling sorry for myself. Instead, my attention immediately shifted to what that experience can do for the program and the returners in 2012. Not many players at Nationals in Boulder this weekend know what is feels like to lose in Finals. Your roster has 20 individuals who understand what defeat tastes like in bowl at Pleasant View during USAU National Finals. There is no other team that can match the desire for revenge and want to succeed this weekend.

Over the past decade, the pain and suffering of a 2nd place finish has lead to positive results the following season for the Hodags (and Carleton). Following a 2002 finals loss to Stanford, the returners led their team to the program first National title in 2003 over Oregon. Following a crushing finals loss to Florida in 2006, the Hodags shredded the competition in 2007 and earned the program’s 2nd National title over Colorado. In 2011, the Hodags came up short in a frustrating wind-driven Finals against a revenge driven Carleton team coming off a runner-up appearance the year before. The 2012 blood seeking Wisconsin squad with 20 returners lead the team back to Nationals and….

I want you to finish the story this weekend.

*Carleton runner-up in 2000, Champions in 2001. Carleton runner-up in 2010, Champions in 2011.

I invested so much love, passion, and energy into the Hodag program during my 5 years at UW-Madison, and that commitment to the team doesn’t end with my graduation. Whether it is refilling water, screaming my head off on the sidelines, or sharing perspectives with Hector as I watch the game, I will be doing everything in my power to help you accomplish your goal; our programs goal; this weekend.

Stay Aggressive. Expect the most out of yourself. Crush this weekend.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Dark Mark Summons!
Is the baby blue the most inked team in ultimate?

1) Nate Franz
2) Ben "Jamin" Cohen
3) Jonathan "Opie" O'Connell
4) Bert Kang (x2)
5) Bryan Paradise
6) Tyler Splinder
7) Hector Valdivia

8) Dean Bolton
9) Tyson Park
10) Brian Frederick
11) Nate Hurst
12) Matt Scallet
13) Dan Heijmen
14) Tom Burkly
15) Bobby Lau
16) Dan Miller
17) Shane Hohenstein
18) Will Lokke
19) Kevin Riley
20) Brandon "Muffin" Malecek
21) Jimmy Foster
22) Matt Rebholz (x2)

23) Andrew Mahowald
24) Tom Annen
25) Jonathan Masler
26) Cullen Geppert (x2)
27) Zach "Turtle" Ehler
28) Alex Simmons
29) Dayu Liu
30) Ben Feldman

1) Pete Rank
2) Jimmy McMurray
3) Matt Ley
4) Matt Pankratz
5) Andy Pohl
6) Jacob Spiro
7) Brad Wendt
8) Grant Zukowski
9) Jason Ludden
10) Ron Kubalanza
11) Mike Lang
12) Will Henry
13) Matt D'Amour

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Hodags have become a premiere college team over the past decade. The team is now looking to amplify its impact on the sport that has allowed it to succeed and to remain an elite competitive presence for the foreseeable future. The team wishes to accelerate this impact on the ultimate community by soliciting the help of its strong Hodag heritage. We request from our dedicated alumni to play a larger role in the team and to protect the long-term vision of the program. A Hodag Alumni Board of Directors is being created in order to provide an opportunity for alumni to maintain involvement with the team and to play a valuable role in the sustainable success of the Hodags.

The Captains, Coaches, and Players are primarily focused on the immediate needs of being competitive in the season they are playing, and that means that some of the long term goals of the team fall by the wayside. We are looking to for this Board of Directors, consisting of alumni, to manage those long term interests of the team so that the current players can stay focused on the Series. The Board provides a voice to the entire Hodag community on how the program is run.

The board members will be voting and executing functions for the long term interest of the team such as:

- Selecting and Evaluating the performance of a Coach(s)

- Equipment that carries over from year to year

- Recruiting

- Sponsorships

- Budgeting

- Endowment

- Alumni presence/relations

- etc

We are looking for 4 Alumni to volunteer for this year. Two will serve 2-year terms and two will serve 1-year terms. Board Members are expected to have one meet per month and to spend the necessary time outside of board meetings to achieve the long-term strategic goals of the program.

Interested alumni should email Jake Smart so we can begin organizing the selection process. Board Members will be voted in by the Hodag community (both new and old). If there are any alumni not on this mailing list that you think would be interested, please forward this email along to them.


Jake Smart and Chris Scotto Divetta

Tuesday, April 05, 2011


The Idea
What would happen if the best college programs from the past decade put together all-star teams and battled it out for College Ultimate supremacy?

We want to find out who is the the big boss -- the best of the past ten years.

When & Where
The right way to do this is a part of a huge celebration of Ultimate: Potlatch. We plan to play Muckamuck as a tournament-within-a-tournament-within-a-party, during the first two days of Potlatch 2011 (July 2nd and 3rd in Redmond, Washington). The Potlatch directors are on board with our ideas, and we think this is a unique environment for a one-time-only event.

The Format
The top Men's and Women's College All-star teams will organize during Spring of this year. They'll descend on Potlatch -- some with super-fun Potlatch teams, and some coming solely to play in competitive Muckamuck games.

Day 1 of competition will see the teams drawn into Power Pools. They will play three games to determine seedings for the championship bracket, and a likely Friday night Showcase game in each division.

Day 2 of competition will see quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals played, with the finals being Saturday night's showcase event.

Each team is guaranteed four games (three pool play games Saturday and a quarterfinal game Sunday).

Eligibility and seedings are based on Nationals performance between 2000 and 2010.

1. Wisconsin
2. Colorado
3. Carleton
4. Florida
5. Brown
6. Stanford
7. Oregon
8. Texas

Giving us Power Pools of:
Pool A - Wisconsin, Florida, Brown, Texas
Pool B - Colorado, Carleton, Stanford, Oregon

Teams will decide their own rosters and are encouraged to elect three captains to organize the selection process and make final decisions about roster composition. To be eligible to be selected to a roster, a player must have played the College Series during one season between 2000 and 2010.

This is a once in a lifetime tournament that we think no one should pass up. Get in touch with old teammates and fellow alums.

We’ve accepted the bid and are in the process of fielding a team.

It’s essentially an 8-Team College All-Star Tournament.

“Team of the Decade (2000-2010)” sort of competition. But there will be spots open to guys who graduated before 2000 and also for current or recent college grads, meaning guys who are graduating in 2011 or later. The event is being run in conjunction with Potlatch meaning that people could/should still compete in Potlatch games – but would play a few rounds a day with their college alum teams.

We agreed that the Hodags will compete. We want this to be open to any Hodag who has played a season with the team and who wants to be included. With that said we wanted to share a few things about the event and some items that we talked about.

#1 We are going to win. We want this event to represent the best of Hodag Ultimate, and when we are at our best – we win. Many of us have competed in Ice_Hole events, which are ridiculously fun, yet slightly lacking in the quality of play or an overall competitive mindset. If you decide to play you are saying that your priority is WINNING. Obviously fun will be had but once the games start it is time to Dominate and have a blast doing it.

#2 As said earlier, this tournament takes place in conjunction with Potlatch (July 2-4) and I imagine many of the guys reading this email already have vague plans of attending already. Everyone is free to join a team if they want – but would also be competing with the College Alum team and therefore would probably have to miss a few games with their Potlatch team.

#3 This is going to be seriously awesome. We don’t get the opportunity to play as Hodags very often and I know that I would absolutely love to wear that Baby Blue alongside all of you Hodags out there and kill some of our old rivals. Hodags who choose to compete are committing themselves to represent our Program with effort, grit, skill and balls. They are also committing to be physically and mentally ready to bring it against top-level competition.

Dan Heijmen - Captain
Andrew Brown
Jim Foster

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Do Work.

I just got back from a planning meeting for College Nationals. There are a couple roles that still need filling. As we were trying to think of people to fill the roles, I couldn't help but think some of the alumni would do a good job.

Comment with more nominations, or nomination acceptance.

Twitter point person


Announcer-Showcase game (Central Region vs the World)
Jaydon (Bob Wilcox' suggestion)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

2010 Alumni Game and Party: April 24th

Likely UBay fields.
Young 'Dags talking shit already.
Also will be tethered to my 30th Birthday Party.
Guaranteed to be wilder than last year, which killed several handles of Jameson & Bailey's and a couple kegs of Guiness.

Get here to help ready the kids for Regionals in Carleton and Natties in Madison, and to preview the shitshow that will be College Championships: Madtown 'Oh Ten.

Contact me with questions, I guess.