A Bike Polo Tournament

Vic Winter Mixer 2013

If you play bike polo, you have to have a tournament once in a while.

We were talking about it since Jawn Fawn put one on in spring, in Nanaimo. Around October Ryan started getting serious about doing it. I got put in charge the usual way – no one else wanted the job. But I’m mainly surprised at how little work I actually had to do, and how many problems solved themselves.

Anna got as a venue and insurance, and gave me a lot of tips.
Brett volunteered to help, so I put him in charge of food. That was probably the best decision I made, because he locked it down real good. Potato soup, huge loaves of bread, snacks, corporate sponsors.
Greg was captain of the boards without any intervention from me, and Ryan H. hired a truck to move the boards. The boards were beautiful.
Jawn kept score and ran the competition, an unexpectedly (to me) big job.
Ryan H. also helped by supplying a lot of money for tshirts and beer at the after party. And by being calm and chill when I was panicking.
Cordelia was incredibly encouraging, and opened her house up to visitors.

The boards, assembled the night before, by hands and feet that were like bricks of ice in -8 degree weather.
The boards, assembled the night before, by hands and feet that were like bricks of ice in -8 degree weather.

Some things that went really well: there were no fights or drama at any point during the planning or the actual tournament. Or if there was, I didn’t know about it.
Volunteers showed up to move the boards… it was a hella big job.

Greg handled his job and Brett handled his. I’m sure I did a lot of things wrong or insufficiently, but everyone was incredibly encouraging. People had fun! They kept telling me so. And I learned a ton, and met so many cool people.

Some things I’d do differently next time:

  • Have people pre-register/pre-pay to save on running around collecting cash from people.
  • Give people a discount on tshirts if they buy them at the same time as their registration.
  • Maybe don’t get quite so many tshirts.
  • Make sure all the little items like balls, whiteboard markers, timers, and so on, are accounted for.
  • Figure out the competition style and schedule beforehand. Figure out prized beforehand too.
  • Have a cashbox, and appoint someone to be in charge of it.
  • Have a megaphone.
  • Get more people to commit to volunteering – though it’s hard to do. I’m so grateful to the people who did help in the freezing cold, but boy hardy it was one full ton of wood. The more hands the better.
  • Do a better job with the social media stuff – an Instagram handle is a great way of getting all the photos into one place. Live tweets are awesome.
  • Followpodium.com was an amazing resource that I had no idea existed until days before the tournament began. It’s polo-specific tournament software that’s tied into the League of Bike Polo website, so everyone’s names are already in it.
"Call me baby", I don't care what you call yourselves, that's your name now.
“Call Me Baby”, I don’t care what you call yourselves, that’s your name now.

Most of all, I wish I’d played more pickup and talked to more people. I did talk to a lot of them, but the more the better. I’m always too shy. All the people I met from Vancouver and Seattle were super cool and nice, and I only managed to hang on to maybe 1 name out of 5. In some cases I mistook Victorians for Vancouverites and vice versa.

One of the cool people I met was Max from Seattle (hi Max!) great guy, and interestingly, has 2 cochlear implants (I have one) so he’s deaf the same way I am. That is, he can hear quite a lot… enough to fool people a lot of the time. But I could tell when he had only heard maybe 3 words out of 20, and attempted to piece together a whole conversation from that little information.

I do the same thing, often. When I’m feeling shy or tired, it’s often easier to just guess and fake my way through the conversation – but though my guesses are very good considering how little information I’m working with, they are often a little off. It tends to ruin the flow of conversation. Better to come clean and give people instructions on how to talk to me. But still… it’s exhausting.

Max gave me a chance to see what that’s like from the other person’s point of view. He also came second in the tournament, thus demonstrating that being deaf still isn’t an excuse for not being excellent.

The List.
The List.

The tournament was really great experience, and though it will take me quite some time to muster up enough mental energy for the next one, I want to do it again. But only if I’m backed up by a crew as amazing as the one we had this time.

 

Published by

Shannon Graham

Shannon has been writing brief essays and occasional how-to articles at Rocketships, Unaffiliated (.ca) whenever inspiration strikes, since 2012. She is interested in your opinion.

7 thoughts on “A Bike Polo Tournament”

  1. Great thinking about logistics and the stuff that tournaments usually need in order to work. You handled it well and I was glad to be able to help unload the truck and felt a little shitty for leaving before the board takedown could occur. I hope you all stay warm and get everything loaded safely. I also had amazing teammates and really really really wanted that trophy! no excuses though! I look forward to seeing you again sometime shannon! Come visit Seattle!! and stay safe! I hope you will keep playing for many years. Also one last thing: Being deaf doesn’t mean you can’t still talk to your teammates and tell them exactly what is going on. I usually yell things like “cross” (as in, cross court pass) or “I’m up/back” because they need to know that you are covering their butt or going forward. Keep it simple for them to understand quickly and say it loudly because you never know how they are going to react but at least if you are heard you will be understood. and from a deaf perspective, being understood is the most important thing. anyways, email me sometime! thanks for hosting such a fun event. I’ll come back in the summer if I can! -Max

  2. that was my 3rd tourney to play in. Gotta say it was a blast.Thought you people from Vic where well organized.!!Still learning how to play,but loving every minute of it! Love the community! the openness of everyone to make new friends, and to see people ive met in other tourneys(like old friends) lookin forward to the new year and hope to see yall soon! Daniel..

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