Thursday, July 29, 2010

One for the Underdogs

2010 Shuttlecock Classic
A couple weekends ago, top athletes from around the Midwest converged on Plattsmouth, Nebraska to compete in the annual Casa Albers Shuttlecock Classic. As highly trained athletes1, CT and I joined forces Wonder Twin style to take on the world. We knew the competition would be fierce, stakes were high, and the odds were stacked against us.

We were unafraid.

We knew we had the tools and we had the talent. Tools being a pair of badminton racquets and a black dress.

CT asked me earlier in the week if I wanted to attend a party / badminton tournament over the weekend...and I did, but I had prior engagements. I told him that I was unable to make it and that he should look for another partner...this was almost a disastrous mistake on my part. Luckily, my plans fell through and no one else was available so I was able to claim the spot of CT's badminton partner. It was at this point that I was informed that the tournament was following North Central Guatemalan Highland rules, therefore each team must consist of at least one female player, however, dressing as a female qualifies as a female player.

I was man enough.
Since it was Cam's invite and knowing that I would make a sexy chick, I agreed to be the female player. Originally, I thought that I would just wear a wig, or wear my normal clothes and claim to be an angry lesbian. I decided that if I was going to do something, that I might as well do it right - Executive Transvestite not weirdo transvestite. I headed to the Salvation Army Thrift Store to shop for a nice dress. Once I got to Salvation Army, I realized that I didn't have any idea what size dress I would wear and didn't want to be there all day trying on dresses as I am pretty lazy. I decided that I think that I am a size 8 and grabbed a nice black dress2 in that size. Good news! I am a size 8. With the dress in hand we picked up a couple Wilson racquets and were on our way.

Before I get to the tournament itself, I have to thank Chad and Ann Albers who host this party/tournament every year. Thanks for letting me come to such a awesome party - great food, great times, great people, and as many shuttlecock jokes that you can imagine. I had a blast! I was amazed at your many flavored array of Jello shots...I don't drink and still I was mightily tempted. Thank you so much for all the time and effort that you put into really did show through. Can't wait to see you guys again next year.

Racquets Clashed
The tournament started off poorly for CT and I. 115 degree heat index - it was so hot, milk was a bad choice3. Our first match was against a pretty good team...they were competitive and psyched up. CT and I hadn't been able to practice together beforehand, so it took a while for our competing styles of 'cock-handling to merge into a successful orgy of domination. This first match was absolutely no fun, besides our own errors, any birdie hit or served over the net was promptly spiked down on our heads. There was never a volley that lasted more than two hits. Hit, spike, serve, spike. With much clashing of racquets, near misses to the head, shots into the net, and nip slips; we lost our first match by a wide margin. Things were not looking good for our heroes. While watching this same team play later in the tournament, we were shocked that they were actually playing more normal badminton with volleys back and forth...evidently they just wanted to start off big and create an air of supremacy. Ultimately, I think this match actually helped CT and I to develop a good playing strategy.

Although still sweating profusely4, we had acclimated somewhat to the heat and felt better during our second match. After our losing our last match so handily, I thought we would probably lose this match and be out of the tournament. We started off slow and the score was always within a point or two. CT and I started coming together more as a team and slowly our confidence grew. We won! Not by much, but it set the stage for our rise to power.

There were a bunch of cocks..
Matches continued throughout the day, each match CT and I would get a little better and win by a few more points. It wasn't easy, but we continued to develop our strategy and each consecutive match went a little more smoothly. We played better and better teams...teams that made it farther and farther in the first bracket. We quickly moved up the ranks of the second bracket (losers bracket since it was a double elimination tournament).

Throughout the day and between matches, many people told me that I could probably take off my dress now. I had made my point and there were a couple other all male teams with neither dressed as a female, but I replied that I wasn't going to lose the tournament due to a technicality. Which was true...I follow the rules, but I also thought it was a little intimidating. All teams would try to talk some smack before the match but after getting beat by a guy in a dress, I think there was more than a little bit of humiliation to the macho ego. It probably didn't help when Ann came out and clipped a small white bow into my chest hair.

Around 9pm, it was a little over midway through the tournament. It was getting dark but the temperature was not really going down. Hot, humid and sticky with bugs and mosquitoes, our resolved started to fail. We thought how nice it would be just to stay inside in the air conditioning and relax...badminton be damned! We forged our courage for one more game and we won again. We decided that it was best to stay outside in the heat as much as possible because going inside into the air conditioning just sapped our will to play.

Spoils of War...
The tournament culminated at about 1:30am. CT and I emerged as the winners of the second bracket to take on the undefeated winner of bracket one. With the other team being undefeated and us having lost one game, we had an up road climb...we had to beat them in two matches (best of 3 games each) in order to win the tournament. I'm not going to lie, we were worried. One of our opponents was huge and had been spiking and ruling the court all day. He had a big enough reach that he could pretty much get most shots without moving. CT and I vs Goliath. The setting was ominous, dark skies with clouds and lightning rolling in. CT and I won the first match but it was close. Play was tough, it was dark and hard to see and the wind was very erratic; taking the birdie out of bounds on the tiniest tap one shot and then blow it backwards the next. We were versatile however and were able to adjust our play style to the conditions. We won the next three games by increasing margins. I really think that struggling in the beginning helped us. We learned and tried different styles allowing us to adapt to conditions and opponents.

At 2am, CT and I were crowned the 2010 Grand Champions of the Casa Albers Shuttlecock Classic. As champions we received golden shuttlecock necklaces/medals, a bottle of Fighting Cock Whiskey, and this awesome trophy:

16 Inches of glorious Eagle Trophy

Waiting to be called up by the USOC
This trophy will soon be engraved with our names. It is a traveling trophy, so we get to enjoy it for a year and then must return to defend it. We will be there...but just in case, I may make a mold of the trophy so that I can always have a copy and remember my glory days. CT and I are now waiting patiently of the US Olympic Committee to contact us for the 2012 Olympic team.

I was going to post this right after the tournament but was hoping to get pictures from the hosts. So far no luck, but if I do get copies, they will be posted. Plus my normal photographer moved to Arizona, so sorry that they trophy picture isn't as awesome as it should be.

1. Highly trained in this case meaning a former high school and college athlete and someone who has never played a sport outside of phys ed class...can you guess which one I am?
2. Every girl should have one.
3. How hot was it? From about 4:30pm to 2:30am, I drank about 15 cans of pop and several glasses of water and ended up urinating a single time all day.
4. Being a lady, I didn't sweat...I glowed.


kelly said...

The picture of the trophy really brings out it's exalted status. As if the welkin parted to imbue it with a deserved otherworldly glow.

*Lesli* said...

I'm not going to lie. I'm jealous that you're a size 8.

Michael said...

Kelly - that is what basically happened, and angels sang in the background.

Lesli - you should be jealous, I looked hawt! (although could have used a little more cleavage).

kelly said...

I'm sure it was just like ToeJam and Earl as the pic was being snapped.