Chicago Machine and GLUE Ultimate partnered this past weekend to provide a Guest Coaching program for teams attending Meltdown. GLUE is a recently formed midwest tournament management organization, with Meltdown being their inaugural spring tournament for College and High School mens/women's teams. The Guest Coaching program involved pairing a Machine player with a specific team for the weekend, providing an outside set of eyes to answer questions, give customized advice to captains, and share feedback with individual players.
Machine approached GLUE to trial-run the Guest Coaching program, in hopes of creating more opportunities for team members to give back to the local ultimate community. The program itself was largely inspired by Without Limits, a tournament management organization who has historically offered a similar program at Women's Centex in Austin, TX.
The program drew greater interest than anticipated, receiving more applications than there were available Guest Coaches. With this knowledge, it is Machine's hope to offer more coaches in future years, in order to accommodate every team that applies.
The weekend itself was wet, windy, and cold (typical Rockford, IL weather), but that did not prevent teams from battling it out on the newly installed turf fields at Rockford's Sportscore 2 athletic complex. Nor did the dense fog that rolled through on Sunday morning.
Overall, all of Machine's guest coaches were welcomingly embraced by their teams, and the feedback from both players and coaches was tremendously positive. We were humbled to share the experience with these bright up-and-coming players. We look forward to building upon this initial trial-run in future years and future events.
Machine's 2016 USAU Nationals Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qsfh5gJ9fRM
Additionally, bonus highlights are available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_rOy0e722g
ICYMI: Special guest contributor, Hickory Johnston, provided Machine with the post-game video recaps for the team Twitter account while at Nationals (below you can see those tweets). In lieu of a formal tournament recap, we asked Hickory to provide a video recap vlog:
Chicago Machine will make a short trek to Rockford, IL next week for the USAU Club National Championship Tournament. The tournament features the top 16 teams in the country from the Men's, Women's, and Mixed divisions, and takes place over the course of 4 days (Thursday September 30th - Sunday October 3rd).
Machine enters as the 5th overall seed, putting them in a pool with Denver's Johnny Bravo (#4), Houston's HIP (#9), and Vancouver's Furious George (#16). Pool play games kick off on Thursday, followed by bracket play on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. (Full USAU Score Reporter Page)
Within the pool, Machine has only played Johnny Bravo previously in 2016. Bravo won that matchup 13-10 at the Pro-Elite challenge in Denver in early August.
New for 2016, the Nationals tournament format has been adjusted so that the First place finisher in each pool receives a bye directly to quarterfinals. Second and Third place finishers advance to pre-quarters, and Fourth place finishers are eliminated from the championship bracket.
Machine will be bushwhacking 27 deep, as the full roster is in good health and expected to attend.
Given the proximity to Chicago, spectators are encouraged to come out and watch the best men's, women's, and mixed teams compete. The field complex is at Mercy Sportscore 2 in Rockford, and tickets can be purchased in advance: https://www.ticketriver.com/event/21036.
Machine plans to have team flags marking their fields for spectators, and will be selling discs on our sidelines and Machine gear/jerseys through DiscStore's merchandise tent. In the meantime, if you would like purchase gear beforehand, you can do so online via our team store at DiscStore.
None of Machine's game's are currently slated for live streaming, but select Semi-Final matches, and all Finals games will be streamed by USAU through ESPN3.
For those interested in attending the tournament party, details can be found below:
This past weekend, Machine ventured out to Rockford, Illinois for the 2016 Great Lakes Regional Championship. Rockford, also known as the Oasis of the Midwest, provided weather that challenged every aspect of a team. Wind and rain on Saturday, followed by calm and sunny skies on Sunday, made for an exciting weekend of ultimate that resulted in Machine winning the region, and securing another consecutive bid to Club Nationals.
Strong performances by Machine and Michigan High Five in the regular season secured two bids to Nationals for the Great Lakes. This allowed for a 16 team, double elimination bracket format. That is, win it all and you’re going to nationals. Lose once, and you’re still in contention for the second place bid. With everyone available this weekend except for Brett Matzuka, Machine looked poised to make a run to Sunday’s Final.
As Machine made it to the fields Saturday, they were met with cloudy skies and moderate wind. Their first game was against Ascension, a new team hailing from Bradley, Illinois. Offensive handlers Bob Liu, Pawel Janas, Ron Kubalanza, and Brett Kolinek worked quickly and efficiently, throwing strikes deep and under to build an early lead. Taking half 8-1, Machine’s defense sought to capitalize on turns and made it a quick second half with a final score of 15-3. This gave Machine extra time to eat and rehydrate, while also learning more about their fellow teammates.
REGIONALS 2016 FACT #1: - Jonathan “Goose” Helton hates the Top Gun soundtrack. Who knew.
The second team Machine faced was Cinncinnati’s own Schweingeist. German for “Pig Ghost” Schweingeist looked to take quick strikes deep against Machine’s cutter defenders. Defensive line veterans Kevin Kelly, Michael Schwenk, Jack Shey, and Von Alanguilan did not allow this tactic to work. A combination of hucks and shorts passes on the turn allowed Machine to take half 8-3, and then finish the game 15-6, pushing them into semifinals and two wins away from a spot at Nationals.
REGIONALS 2016 FACT #2: - Percy Stogdon hopes to be a motivational speaker one day.
Beachfront Property, another men’s team based in Chicago, met Machine in semifinals ready to fight. Beachfront came out swinging, taking advantage of an early turn and punching it in to start the game 0-1. Offense quickly readjusted to work the disc up the field and found their first score of the game to make it 1s. Beachfront displayed great speed and athleticism, but Machine’s defense dictated how the rest of the game would be played. Creating turns with layouts helped Machine take half 8-1, and strong sideline energy helped a quick repeat in the second for the eventual 15-1 win, and a meeting with High Five Sunday in the Championship.
REGIONALS 2016 FACT #3: - Jack Shey CANNOT eat a whole potato in under 75 seconds.
Even off the field, Machine likes to do things as a team. One of the main attractions in Rockford is the Machine Shed, a country style restaurant that provides home cooked meals at a convenient price. Needless to say, Machine had to make a visit. Maybe it was a combination of the day’s results, or maybe it was the feeling of being in Rockford Paradise, but things started to get rowdy. Rockford Rowdy.
REGIONALS 2016 FACT #4: - Alex Evangelides can convince anyone to play Credit Card Roulette.
Before anyone knew it, Alex had 13 cards in a hat and High Five’s Sam Greenwood pulling one card out at a time. With 3 cards being insured by Andrew Sheehan, and at least 1 card that was certain to get declined, the pressure was on.
Is Credit Card Roulette a dangerous game to play? Absolutely. Should you avoid it if you’re financially unstable? Probably. Has anyone called Machine the smartest team in club? Definitely not.
One by one, cards are removed from the hat and fist pumps are thrown in the air. First it was Jeff Zhao, then Jack Shey, then Buchsbaum, and so on. Yet, it was Machine rookie heartthrob Trent Kuhl who found himself matched against salty veteran captain Cullen Geppert for the final drawing.
“Trent put his card in knowing he wouldn’t even have enough money to buy his own meal, let alone 12 of his teammates.” Von Alanguilan joked as he grasped Kuhl before the final standoff.
Greenwood took his time mixing the last two cards in the hat. Some say he took seconds, Trent would say he took hours. Finally, his hand went still, and Greenwood retrieved a single card from within.
Do you believe in fate? Or do you believe everything is a coincidence?
As the words “It’s Trent” left Sam Greenwood’s mouth, the very public restaurant erupted in cheers. Kuhl promptly left the restaurant, shouting “I’m going to live forever” as he disappeared into the darkness, leaving Geppert with a receipt to sign. That same confidence seemed to carry over into Sunday when Machine faced off High Five in the regional final.
REGIONAL 2016 FACT #5: - Von Alanguilan is a bad, bad man.
Michigan High Five is a team that will challenge you in every facet of the game. They can huck deep with strong consistency, and they can work the disc to any side of the field. They have the defense to wear you down, and to also contest your deep looks. Machine and High Five both had their fair share of turns to start the game, but it was Machine that jumped out to an early 3-1 lead with multiple breaks by the defense. High Five went on a break train of their own to grab the lead and extend it to 3-5, but Machine used it’s handler core and the skying abilities of AJ Nelson and Jesse Buchsbaum to bring it to 7s. It was
High Five that brought it to half, after catching a tipped disc in the end zone. Luckily, that wasn’t the end of the game. High Five continued the momentum to 11-9 until Von Alanguilan made one of the best layout Callahan catches this world has ever seen. Taking an inside route on a routine swing, Alanguilan made an unreal left handed catch, landing into the endzone. Unfortunately, a foul was called and the point was replayed. It seemed the damage had been done, though. Machine’s energy cascaded to unprecedented levels, captain Walden Nelson responded with a hand mack and break, bringing it back to 11s. Cap proceeded to go off, and the game would be decided at 13. High Five drew first blood, but Machine was able to score on offense, and get the final deciding break to win on double game point, and earn a bid to Nationals 13-12.
3 weekends from now, Machine will find themselves back in Rockford, playing more CCR and playing for a national title. Come out and see us play September 29th through October 2nd.
Lastly, Machine wants to give huge ups to Nemesis (Chicago's Elite Women's Team) and UPA (Chicago's Elite Mixed Team). Both teams made it to finals at Regionals and came up just short. Nemesis busted their asses all season and have been great supporters of Machine throughout the season. A tough Columbus Rival team was able to knock them out, but we are very proud of their efforts throughout this season. Similarly, UPA came together to valiantly fight until universe point against a Columbus Steamboat that was ranked 5th in the country.
The USAU Club Series is in full swing, as Machine looks to qualify for Nationals this weekend at the Great Lakes Regionals in Rockford, IL.
Based on Machine's top 4 finish at Club Nationals in 2015, and their attendance at two USAU Triple Crown Tour event's (the US Open & Pro-Elite Challenge), they were able to advance directly to Regionals without attending Sectionals.
The Great Lakes Region has two bids to Nationals up for grabs after both Machine and Michigan's High Five finished in the top 16 of the USAU Regular Season Rankings.
Machine enters the tournament as the overall number 1 seed, and will dive straight into a double elimination bracket to determine first and second place.
Full Game Schedule: http://play.usaultimate.org/events/Great-Lakes-Mens-Regionals-2016/ or here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1BpXOR8SHgTeCgMSjf8ad42DuCuif9AaATYmbxF1cwRg/edit#gid=1841845737
Machine expects to have their full roster healthy and in attendance for the first time this season, with all 27 players expected to dress. Machine will also be keeping close tabs on the Women's and Mixed division play over the weekend, which takes place at the same complex. Chicago's elite women's team Nemesis and "elite" mixed "team" UPA are both fighting for a single bid to Nationals, entering the weekend as the number two seed in their division's behind respective teams from Columbus, OH.
To follow along for live updates: http://twitter.com/machineultimate
Check back after the tournament for a recap, highlight video, and much more throughout the season!