One of our favorite tournaments to play is also one of the furthest from us - the Swedish Historical Society tournament in Downtown Rockford, Illinois. Our first shot at the Rockford Tournament was in 2011, and it was a successful trip for us. We won, and it was even more surprising to us that we won that Tournament than the US National Tournament in 2010. Why? We thought the 2010 win could have been a fluke, a happenstance chance of luck. Winning in Rockford made us think maybe we were actually good at something. (This might also be called getting a big head or cockiness.) We went back to Rockford in 2012 and had a blast again. We slowly fought our way to the semifinals and lost in a tough match with Head Slap from Des Moines. Rockford was starting to feel a little bit like home.
This year we knew we wanted to head down again, but there were some potential issues. One was the mystery of Dave's cancer. Would he be well enough to play? And the other was the general chaos of life for me - not everything revolves around kubb and things always come up that can get in the way of a good tournament. So it was with great pleasure that we opened up the Ringers roster and invited our friends Mike and Shannon to join us.
I had other motives, too. Like many athletes, I'm always looking for ways to improve my game and keep the sport interesting. Last fall, I "changed my 8 meter throw." Cliche, but true. And I was seriously working on it. So hard, in fact, that I basically gave up inkasting. After watching Mike toss Kubbs at Kubbfest in town last fall, I knew he had something special in that department - a unique throw and very consistent. And knowing his wife was also pretty good, and that they traveled well as a team, we got them both. Further, with four players on the roster, if one of us had to bail, we were still populated enough to make the trip (Rockford required 3 players per team this year). And so it began, our run for Rockford 2013.
We didn't get many opportunities to practice as a team. I know Mike and Shannon were both nervous and excited. Parents themselves, I saw the sacrifice they had to make in just logistically getting to the tourney sans kids. It may have in fact been the first "vacation" they had ever taken without their kids. And so the pressure came right back to us! We all felt pressure, nerves and excitement for different reasons. Once in Rockford, it all came together for us.
Dave and I were familiar with the dynamics of a four player team (We played as a four player in the 2012 Nationals and made it to Sunday) - using the morning round robins to get familiar with ourselves as a unit. Reliably switching off each turn throwing one, then two batons, no matter how we were performing. Mike locked in the inkast and played consistently, and very well. Shannon used her nervous energy to our advantage and pulled out clutch shot after clutch shot.
As the day wore on, and the matches increased in quality and pressure, we once again used the 4 person team to our best advantage. Communication, four different perspectives, and four different strengths were on our side. We leaned on each other, making our way through some solid teams right up into the semifinals where we lost to fellow Berserkers. We won the next game putting us at Third for the day, but that was secondary to enjoying a fantastic day with friends.
(First 3 photos by Chris from King Kung, not sure about that last one!)