The Truck Stops in Medellin
We went to Colombia to play ultimate and it was sweet
Truck Stop was honored to be among a contingent of American teams invited to participate in the TEP Tournament in Colombia from April 2-4. For many of our guys, this was a first chance to play internationally, and it was a first for Truck Stop Ultimate.
For the Colombian teams, TEP is one of the big tournaments of the year on the road to their nationals. The timing is completely different for the American teams. While many players are gearing up for a pro season, the club season is still in hibernation. All of the American open teams (Austin’s Doublewide, Denver’s Johnny Bravo, North Carolina’s Ring of Fire, Portland’s Rhino, Atlanta’s Chain Lightning, Seattle’s Sockeye and us) brought down a small to medium sized roster. We may have had the largest with 17 players at the start. We think Chain at one point was down to 3 guys (Frank Wooten for lyfe!!).
Still, it was a rare opportunity for us to play in a competitive and passionate environment without the results really weighing on us. And we got to play against local opponents eager to prove themselves against us.
Our adventures started on Wednesday with five Truckers working with the Colombian team Diskongo. This is a scrappy, up and coming team who were eager to learn and prove themselves. We spent a fun morning teaching some drills relating to flow cuts, handler defense, short scrimmages working on continue cuts, and finally some sweet zone. Afterward, we took an estimated 50,000 photos.
Truck went 6-1 throughout the tournament. Each American team was placed in a pool with all Colombian teams, many of whom were younger and less experienced, but all bringing 100 percent effort and a strong desire to improve and learn. We won all of our games handedly, but enjoyed the physical push of teams and the maximum effort each gave.
As chance would have it, our last pool play game was against our new friends from DisKongo, a group of guys we’d come to see most days and look forward to sharing some smiles with. That was awesome and many a jersey was traded after.
On Saturday, however, bracket play began and the energy ramped up big time. As did the diarrhea (cha cha cha) which kept a few guys out of games and meant a few others weren’t moving at full speed – other than to the bathroom! Nyucknyucknyuck!
Our quarterfinals game was against Euphoria, the reigning champions of Colombian Club Nationals. In a hard fought game featuring their aggressive handler movement and attacking the backhand side relentlessly, we won, but only by three breaks and thanks to stingy offensive play giving no breaks back to Euphoria.
In the semifinals, we met up with a familiar opponent in Ring of Fire. For you youths, get learnt on the history of these two teams from many regional finals back when the Mid-Atlantic Region was a battleground between Ring and Truck year after year. Everyone knew these two teams had a long history, but this game was probably the most fun of the tournament. Ring only had 13 guys all weekend, so they had honed in on efficient and fast disc movement and still maintained their usual hucking game. A few monster d’s by Cranston helped us score an early break or two and then teams traded until Ring racked up a few second half breaks of their own to take the lead. But Truck struck back late and we took the game 15-13.
All weekend, after games with Colombian teams, we did a joint spirit circle, something you don’t see at competitive club tournaments in the US. We carried on that tradition with Ring and both teams were able to experience something new and offer up some encouragement for the year. Kudos to Ring for how hard they worked with low numbers.
That night, we played Doublewide in the finals and from the beginning, it was clear they were firing on all cylinders. Also playing with low numbers, and having endured a tough Sockeye team in their semi-final game, Doublewide nevertheless came out swinging with lots of on-point hucks to their tall, fast receivers. They punished us when we turned over the disc and the game got out of hand as they ran away to victory. A quick spirit circle smoothed out the frustrations of losing and we got pumped to enjoy the remainder of our time in Colombia.
The crowd was packed into the stands and created an incredible atmosphere, on par with the energy you might find at semis and finals at USAU Club Nationals. There’s no doubt that Colombia loves their ultimate.
Thanks to all organizers for an amazing experience and we hope we represented the US game well.
Truck Player Spanish Skills Power Rankings
- Mark Lin, Glenn, Wodatch, Cranston, B Marsh, Ben Feng, Calvin, Alan, Kocher, Tom Doi (without Natalie), Nam
(UPDATE: Jeff Wodatch is unhappy with his position in the Spanish rankings: ALL I”M SAYING IS YOU PUT ME IN THE SAME CATEGORY AS THE GUY WHO JUST PUT LOS IN FRONT OF ALL ENGLISH WORDS)
Illness Power Rankings
- Markham (Most Intense)
- Alan (Longest Lasting)
- Mark Lin
Injury Power Rankings
- Russ (broken wrist)
- Cranston (he’s fine, but he slid into a concrete wall after making a big d and was slow to get up)
Street Food Power Rankings
- Potato Bombs w/ that dank salsa and sauce
- Raw Fruit
- Bottled Water
- Tournament Provided Tuna Sandwiches. Never again.
Ben Feng Word Count: 0 (he doesn’t speak Spanish!)