Memorial Day Volleyball !!
was a lot of volleyball! My
Thanks to all of you for coming!
The Round Robin started a little after 10:30 am. Not
all of the players were there at the start, but enough made it for the
first game to get off to a good start. We had four teams:
1: John Paliatsos,
Captain, Nakia Harrison, Gillian Tilbury, Michael Brockmyre (no show),
Chris Meyer, and Rocky Kneten.
2: Reza Taherian,
Captain, Deepak Jain, Tracy Gonzalez (no show), Tom Easley, Marty Shea,
3: Steve Frolich,
Captain, Andrew Gordon, Michele Brekke, Angela Alvarado, Brent Barker,
4: Mo Hendrix, Captain,
Glen Hilford, Mike Ruland, Louis Farmacka, Richard Weisberg, Len
Game 1: Team
2 beat Team 1
Game 2: Team 4 beat Team
Game 3: Team 2 beat Team
Game 4: Team 4 beat Team
Game 5: Team 1 beat Team
Game 6: Team 2 beat Team
Tournament MVP: Deepak Jain. Deepak has been on vacation over in the Far East, so we
haven’t seen him at our games in over a month. However his deft
touch on “placement shots” got Team 2 out of one jam after
another. His superb play led Team 2 to an undefeated record.
Team Most Resembling the Astros: Team 3 led in every
game it played, only to see the other team make a remarkable comeback
each time. No, contrary to rumors, Billy Wagner did not play for Team
3. Despite its record, 4 players from this team made the Mega Game,
the most from any team. Don’t ask me to figure it out!
Close But No Cigar: Team 4 was tough! They rallied
to win their first two matches, but got in an early hole in the
Championship Game and started to press… things just got worse
despite a good timeout by Captain Mo. Unfortunately, the Mo wasn’t
reversed. Nevertheless, Second Place had to feel pretty good
considering the caliber of the teams they did beat!
Shoulda, Coulda: An argument could be made that Team
1 was the best team on paper, but my guess was they were hurt by the
no-show of its Number One Draft Choice.
Overall, I thought the Round Robin was fun. It gave
everyone a chance to play some very competitive volleyball for three
hours! Every game except
one was extremely close.
After the Round Robin, the four captains went into
seclusion to pick 4 new teams.
For the Exhibition Game, Gillian Tilbury’s team
included Chris Meyer, Deepak Jain, Glen Hilford, Richard Weisberg, and
a last-minute substitute for Marty (Angela perhaps??) who left to go
watch the Knicks play. Wherever Marty is today, I am sure he has a
smile on his face.
Brent Barker’s team included Andrew Gordon, Mike
Ruland, Tom Easley, a substitute (Mitch Istre I think), and poor Jill
Banta. Jill accidentally got blind-sided trying to set a ball and got
knocked to her knees. She will probably be wearing pants to work today
because she got her left knee skinned pretty badly. Richard Weisberg
was sweet enough to get an ice-pack and he held it personally against
Jill’s knee till the knee felt better. Rumor has it that he either
kissed the bruise to make it feel better or the threat of Richard
kissing it stirred Jill’s amazing recovery to participate in the
Exhibition Game. I never got the full story.
Alas, the Exhibition Game did not go well. The teams
were uneven. I wasn’t paying very good attention, I must admit, but
I think someone on Brent’s team went to use the restroom in the
middle of the game and everyone else used this as an excuse to quit
playing. It was a little bizarre, but no matter.
At this point the guests were starting to arrive. We
had a couple Putzer Games, and then we played a cruel practical joke
on some of the guests. We asked several men if they wouldn’t mind
playing on the Macho Man All-Star team. Surprisingly, every man save
one accepted the offer. Sorrell Warren was very skeptical, but when
the crowd egged him on, he accepted. Other Macho Men besides Sorrell
included Ben Liles, Mitch Istre, Joe Pikas, Richard Bevis, and Tom
Flaherty. The look of consternation that came over their faces when
they saw their opponents was priceless: taking the field opposite them
were 6 women including Mo Hendrix, Nakia Harrison, Jill Banta, Gillian
Tilbury, Michele Brekke, and Angela Alvarado. The Macho Men were
facing a team consisting of six Lady Allstars from our Volleyball
I thought the game might be closer, but I learned my
lesson. No, the game was not close. It was not even kind of close. The
ladies won handily. Their superior ball-handling skills made it “no
contest”. I must say the men took their drubbing pretty gracefully,
although they shot a few daggers in my direction for setting them up
for the kill. The ladies enjoyed themselves thoroughly, even
challenging the Backyard Guys to a match at one point. I doubt they
were serious…or were they?
We had some more free play games, and then came the
Mega Match. The 4 Captains had teamed up and picked the two strongest
teams they could from the Round Robin group of 22.
John Paliatsos and Reza Taherian chose Len Messina,
Michele Brekke, Rocky Kneten, and Angela Alvarado for their team. Mo
Hendrix and Steve Frolich chose Nakia Harrison, Louis Farmacka, Mike
Gerstenberger, and me for the other team.
Alas, John and Reza’s team won both games. The
teams were well-chosen and everyone played hard. I can attest that
there were few cheap points!! Both defenses were terrific.
Unfortunately, the dual firepower of Mega MVP John and his friend Len
were too much for Steve and Mo’s team to combat. In addition, I
thought Rocky Kneten played well – he hit several sneaky cross-court
shots that really took the wind out of our sails. The winners were
very gracious. Several players mentioned to me that they had to play
as hard as they could to eke out two close victories. I might add a
couple of the spectators said that was the best volleyball they had
ever seen!! Nice
Now I am quite aware that the Backyard Gang is not
Level One USVBA as a complete group, but we have several players who
can compete at that level. I would add that if we aren’t the best,
the line ahead of us isn’t very long either. There was some very
good volleyball played on Memorial Day!
And a big Thank you to all of those who were nice enough to
participate in making the day a success… and that includes all you
spectators too! Thanks
The Amazing Mud Volleyball Tournament!
On Saturday, May 20th,
4 wild and crazy members from our Backyard Gang played in the Pasadena
Mud Volleyball tournament. The lunatics included Nakia Harrison, Louis
Farmacka, Mike Gerstenberger, and myself. An artistic success it
wasn’t. None of us resembled Karch Kiraly out there. Now that I
think of it, we didn’t even resemble ourselves either. It was a
fascinating event nonetheless. The psychological benefits alone made
the entire day a growth experience. In fact, I have noticed several
new growths….(just kidding).
Just my luck it was the
Muddiest “Mud Volleyball” tournament of all time. The huge rains
that flooded Liberty the night before stopped just shortly before the
tournament began. As a result the mud pits were twice as deep in
water. Normally the water covers your ankles, but this time it was up
to our knees in places. There was Zero mobility. You could dive, but
you couldn’t really take two steps to get the ball. If you had good
footing you could take perhaps a small step to your left or right, but
that was about it. You were likely to slip if you took more than half
a step. Back-pedaling was out of the question. Moving forward was
possible, but very difficult. Even getting into the mud pit was an
adventure – the sidelines had become quagmire after last night’s
rains. You couldn’t even get to your court without stepping in the
deepest mud imaginable. As I looked for my team, I wondered at what I
had gotten myself into. This was awful!
I got there late for the
first Match. When I arrived, I found my team, “Lock and Load”, had
just dropped the first game. They had only 6 players while the other
team had the proper number of eight. To show “solidarity” I jumped
in and immersed myself up to my neck. I wanted to be sure to get
disgusting early so there wouldn’t be any reason not to dive at a
ball if the opportunity presented itself. I knew only dirty players
were successful in this league. No such thing as a clean victory here.
Just having one more
player made a lot of difference. After losing the first game 11-2, we
turned around and won our last two games to take the match. Nice
comeback!! I quickly learned that spiking and setting were out of the
question. The only play that made any sense at all was to get two
hands on the heavy, wet ball and use all your power to send it back
over the net. Even doing that wasn’t very easy!!
Plus bumping the ball was difficult since the water was right
at the level where the platform would normally work.
I quickly discovered why
the court played 8 instead of the usual 6. Since no one could move,
the only way to cover the court was to have more players. The lack of
enough players would dog us all day. Louis had recruited two excellent
players who suddenly informed him at 5 pm Friday that they had been
ordered to report to work on Saturday. Mike sent out urgent emergency
emails for new players to join us, but like Custer, no one came to our
rescue. Unlike a land court where a quick player can cover extra
territory, losing a player in this game was huge because there was no
mobility to speak of. If the ball was hit to an open area, all we
could do was watch helplessly as it flew by and hit the water with an
irritating splash. After a while, all of us began lunging at balls
other players might have had a better shot at because we figured
anything within reach demanded a desperation try. Playing short-handed
created a lot of mistakes.
For the second match we
snuck in an illegal “eighth” player. This guy was from another
team that was waiting for their next game. Unfortunately he wasn’t
very good. Plus we accidentally chose the bad side (deeper water, more
uneven surface). Even though we won the coin toss, we took the serve.
In retrospect this was a very bad move since it meant we played two of
our three games on the bad side. The team playing on the “good
side” won each time, which meant we lost the Match. This was a
particularly galling loss because we beat them handily when we played
on the good side, so it is likely we would have won this Match if we
had chosen this side. It also turned out this was a pretty good team.
Later that day I found that this team was still undefeated as I left.
Despite all our handicaps, we had played them pretty close. In fact we
should have beaten them.
The pits are dug out by
earth movers. My guess is the careful, scientific leveling of the
surface after the earth removal is ignored. There were a couple spots
where my foot never actually quite discovered the bottom!!
Before each play I would shift around till I found one spot
where my feet were reasonably sure of the footing. Just standing up
was an accomplishment at times.
As Nakia and I sat on the
sidelines fuming from our narrow loss, we were muddy, we were cold,
and we were wondering what had ever possessed us to do this. My hair
was sticky with mud, my white shirt was now brown from being soaked in
the muddy water, and there were little gritty rocks in my wet shoes
that drove me mad! Nakia and I talked openly about how we were glad we lost the
last game because now we could deliberately lose the next match and go
home (double elimination tournament). Plus we had to just sit there
for half an hour or more waiting for our next game. Since the
bleachers had no support for our backs, we got stiff and sore just
sitting there. It was a good thing I had Nakia to sit next to. Misery
Then the sun came out!!
Our spirits lifted noticeably. When the third match presented
itself, I actually had a bounce in my step as I entered the water. Win
or lose, I was getting more comfortable with these strange conditions.
This time we kicked serious butt. Louis had recruited an excellent
player from another team to fill the 8th spot. With our
team’s enormous hole plugged by a talented player, we began to
click. We won both games easily by 11-3 scores. What a difference
having 8 good players made!! Without
a hole to cover, we learned to lay off shots we could barely get to.
Everyone played their position and our team got hot!
So now we had foolishly
lived to play another game. Despite all our grumbling about throwing
the next game, the moment Nakia and I entered the muddy water, some
bizarre Will to Win would mysteriously overcome us. I imagine the
poor, miserable men who won the Revolutionary War went through similar
As we waited on the
bleachers for Match 4, Nakia and I now fully expected to win several
more games after our excellent victory in the previous game. At this
point, something strange was happening in my brain. I had actually
enjoyed playing the previous game. With time on my hands, I looked
around and noticed that as teams got eliminated, some of the mud pits
were not being used. Players from the eliminated teams began jumping
in the open pits and starting playing pick-up games. To my
astonishment, I felt drawn to join them. Only my need to conserve
energy and my desire to watch my bag with its expensive video camera
prevented me from joining them. I realized once you got the hang of
this, Mud Volleyball could be FUN!
I was stunned at this revelation. I couldn’t wait to play the
next game!! I was pumped!
Then bad luck struck
again. The referees discovered both teams were in the area. Their job
was to get the games in as fast as possible. It didn’t matter that
we weren’t scheduled to begin for 10 more minutes. In their minds,
the teams are here so let’s get it on. They ordered us to begin
play. The only problem was our excellent 8th man was still
playing for his regular team in another mud pit. If we had started on
time, his game would have been over and he could have joined us. No
such luck. It would have looked very suspicious to have this dripping,
muddy guy suddenly show up in the middle of the match. We had to play
So we did our best, but
now we had to lunge for balls again and watch other balls hit the
empty spot where there was no player at all. The other team wasn’t
stupid – they knew where the holes were and had the nerve to aim at
them. I played lousy too. I got overconfident and actually thought I
could spike a couple, but the ball was so wet it never went where I
aimed. We played both games close, but went down to a good team 2
straight. The Magnificent Seven stumbled. We were eliminated.
I cleaned off and trudged
home. As I drove down I-10, I fumed at how good we could have been.
Both losses were narrow and could easily have been reversed had we
played at full strength. The one game where we had 8 good players, we
were awesome. “Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda” was the day’s fight
song. I was a Mud Dud.
Next year I want the
Backyard Gang to field a team, maybe even two teams!! The tournament
has 112 teams. Our goal will be to meet in the Finals. I have to tell
you, 8 solid players from our Backyard Gang would have made it VERY
far into this tournament. There were no teams I saw that we couldn’t
have handled. My guess is there might have been a few teams with 8
actual volleyball players somewhere, but I never saw them. Or maybe
the mud hid their talents. However, based on what I saw, the Backyard
Gang would have made a formidable opponent for anyone. Plus we would
have had a ball going into battle together!!
The mud would have bonded us together…perhaps even
I want Revenge. Next
year, we take Pasadena!! Circle
the third Saturday in May, 2001, on your calendar right now. We can
advertise our match at the dance studio and have people come to root
for us and throw dirt balls at the other team. We can videotape the
games and make a big documentary about our triumphant juggernaut. We
will Twostep into the Mud Pits and call ourselves the “Urban Mud
Volleyball Cowboys.” Sounds
By the way, our next
Saturday Volleyball event will be a Water Volleyball day at Tom
Easley’s house. Unlike mud volleyball, water volleyball is clean,
cool, and fun in Tom’s beautiful sparkling pool. Nakia and I won’t
know how to behave. If we start digging up Tom’s flower bed and
tossing dirt in the pool, don’t hurt us – it is a plea for help.
Bram Weisman is a Father!
Student and 1999 Groom, Bram Weisman emails us:
Lyu Weisman was born on March 25, 2000 @ 6:08 am. 6 lbs 11
oz and 19.5 inches long. Joseph is Hebrew meaning "God
will increase" and is my father's god father's name.
Lyu (Prounounce the Ly like the Le in Leo) is Japanese and means
Dragon. This is the first picture taken on the day ofhis
birth. Joseph had to be re-admitted to the hospital due to
extreme Jaundice (seems to run in both families), but he's OK
now. My Wife Katsumi is doing fine.
Best Wishes, Bram
Note: Congratulations! My only regret is this stupid cigar custom. I
think a first-time Dad should give out tickets to Rockets Games or
perhaps tickets to the next Olympics!)
is a new Grand Dad ?!?
well-known member of the SSQQ Community is a first-time Grandfather
as of Monday, May 08. However I am sworn to absolute secrecy as to
the Grandfather's name or I am in big trouble. Sorry.
Conrad Anderson dies
in Tragic Accident
Anderson took several Whip and Western classes at SSQQ in 1999. In
addition, Robert Curtis remembers him as a frequent attendee of our
Tuesday Longhorn events. I remember Conrad as a ruggedly handsome,
likeable guy. He worked out a lot and had a physique reminiscent of
Sylvester Stallone with big shoulders and a narrow waist. He was
also an accomplished Martial Arts practitioner. In fact, I heard he
was either an expert or close to it. An engineer, he was currently
working for Paragon Engineering here in Houston at the time of his
was tragically killed in a Car/Bicycle accident. As related in the
Houston Chronicle, on Sunday, May 7th, Conrad and his friend were
out riding their bicycles Sunday morning at 8:15 am when they were
both struck by a vehicle traveling a high rate of speed in northwest
accident occurred along FM 2920, Waller-Tomball Road. Conrad was
dead at the scene and Cynthia suffered a broken leg. She is
hospitalized at Memorial Hermann Hospital in fair condition.
16-year-old Tomball boy was driving the car that struck the
cyclists. The teen's Cadillac was traveling at a high rate of speed
when it approached a curve and spun out of control.
Elliott was another of Conrad's friends here at the studio. As she
wrote to me, his death served as a serious "reality check"
for her. We are reminded once again that whether it's going good or
going bad, it could all be over in a matter of seconds.
survived by at least one daughter - Amanda Curtis. Oddly, his last
message to her was an email regarding GRACE and an acrostic he had
made up based on those letters...GRACE =
God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.
I did not know Conrad well, his passing is indeed very tragic
because he was a good man who was in the prime of his life. His loss
of course is yet another painful reminder to cherish our lives and
to embrace those who are close to us.
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