At Saturday's flyball practice my friend Matty, who has been running Demo for me at recent tournaments, said he is going to write a book about flyball and he has already picked the title. From Fly Fishing to Perfect Starts. This made me laugh as it is Matt's first two flyball tournaments in a nut shell.
In March I put out a call on my facebook page that I needed someone to run one of my dogs in a tournament in April because two of my dogs would need to be on the same team and I can't run two dogs at the same time. Matty, who had been to a tournament in Januray for a few hours said "That sounds like fun, I'll do it!" He made it to one practice, the week before the tournament, where he learned the basic mechanics of how flyball runs: releasing Demo, when to call him, how to catch him and get the hell out of the way of the other dogs.
His first race was... interesting. We were almost late and almost missed warmups. It was less than ideal, but we survived. Matt survived, and is now excelling at starting Demo.
As a semi-regular feature we will be sharing Matty's story. Which is the story of flyball from the perspective of a total noob. Flyball from the perspective of someone who was just about thrown into the ring blind. Someone who went from fly fishing with a tug, to having a perfect start in just two tournaments. Take it away Matty.
|That's Matt in the Blue, and Jbiz running up the lane.|
As Lex said, I knew the basics of how flyball runs, and let me stress this, I knew BASICS. I knew on which light I should let go of Demo, I knew roughly where I needed to run up to with the tug that Demo loves so much and I knew to run back and get the hell out of the way of everything else. So we go in and the warm up timer is counting down so we make a mad dash to the box to do run outs and and get that out of the way [Lexi's note: Just so you get the amount of pressure we were under, all three of my dogs ended up on the same team due to a last minute lineup change where one of our team members pulled her dog. I was coming off of an injury where a dog had bitten my hand and I had to fight off a huge infection, and I had JUST been cleared to full use of my hand the day before - it was still VERY sore. We had two green handlers, Matt running Demo and Jbiz running Trophy and I was running Pan. Jbiz had some more practice time under her belt, but we don't practice with as much runback as in a tournament so this was her first time doing actual passes... and we didn't have a practice run. We had just enough time for a run out, but not enough time for a full warm up run. AGAIN: We had a run out... and then game time. Talk about pressure, there was a lot of it riding on their shoulders. My account of this first tournament can be read here.]. An experienced flyballer would have known what was going on and that time is of the essence here. And there was moi, so being the noob that I was (am?), I just tried to keep up with everything. As anyone who isn't normally in these situations can attest to, having someone yell at you can be a bit startling so when they yelled "RUN!" at me it took me a second to process. but after a moment I kicked it into gear and away I went down the lane.
Now, there is something I was told after that first race. When I am being 'yelled' at, its not yelling per say. No one is necessarily mad at me and pissed off. They are yelling for a few reasons. Mainly its loud and people need to be heard so they have to yell. Also, they need to emphasize speed is of the essence and you need to move fast because I swear everything at a flyball tournament is on a timer.
So my very first race: there I am, lined up with Demo, kinda half squatted half crouched over, waiting for the the lights to start the count down. I believe I was somewhere around the 48' mark... or something close to that. The lights start and I see, one yellow.... "Demo readyyyyyy".... two yellow.... "Go!" and away he went, doing his thing. I take off after him doing as I was told. Running down towards the start line I pull the tug from around my neck, Demo gets the ball from the box and that's my cue. I swing the tug down on the ground and begin to run toward the back of the lane waiting for Demo to grab it. Now two things happened in the whopping 2 seconds from me swinging the tug to Demo grabbing it that I did wrong. First off, what I had thought was perfectly fine tug swinging mechanics, was actually a laughable imitation at fly fishing as the rest of the team described it. I got up to my position and (as I was told later) "gently tossed the tug up and out in an arc, then gently swung it down with a flourish and ran back".
VIDEO PROOF of Matt's horrible Tug skillz at 0:06 seconds. ;-) Compare to Deb's Tug skills at 0:16seconds.
|Just before the fly fishing began...|
So I was one heat of my debut flyball race in and already I had been made fun of, and injured. Both of which I fully deserved.
Pausing for a moment to clarify, MY TUG MECHANICS DON'T LOOK LIKE THAT ANYMORE! The advise given to me from the all mighty flyball teacher known as Lex were to "take all your demons out on that floor" so I tried that. My mission was to beat the floor into submission and my weapon of choice was a 4' long fleece tug.... Bring it on.
|It was raining Sunday, so we carried Pan and Demo to the |
building and back to try to save their boots.
I am going to say that first initial time I was allowed to move Demo forward and try some starts on my own with where I placed him is the moment I caught the flyball bug.
From there I became all about getting the best start for my team. It clicked with me that my starts are my contribution to the team and that is what makes me feel apart of the team. Cue the mushy gushy stuff.
Moving on to the second tournament that I had ever participated in. With one practice and one tournament under my belt I naturally felt like a pro. This tournament brought out more members of the team than the previous tournament, so I got to meet more people; and let me tell you something, the peeps on this team are hil-freaking-larious. Better still, Lex decided to take a backseat at this tournament and let other people run all 3 of her dogs. Most importantly, this meant I got to run Demo a lot. Like, A LOT A LOT. Lex ran Demo for two of the eleven-ish races he ended up running in that weekend, one because he did something we can't remember but she wanted to run him to try and fix it and the second was because he was going to get his FDCH-G. She's sentimental like that. But all the other races, that shit was all me. [Lexi's note: Demo got so many races because we ended up pulling Pan from a few as she was having major problems on the box - her back feet slipping off and such so to save her body we gave her a rest and put Demo in.]
We did pretty darn well all day Saturday, the average starting time was .0 something something and I was quite pleased with myself. We ran fast and we ran clean. You couldn't ask for a better tournament!
|Snuggling before Sunday Race Day!|
Kandice: You got a perfect start!
Me: Seriously?! Awesome!! I didn't even look at the clock!!
Dude from other team: It doesn't count if you don't see it, haha!
Me: I'll take what I can get...LEX!!!! I GOT A PERFECT START!!!! (She was calling passes that race so she wasn't tooooo far away and ran back and gave me a high five)
While all this is happening on the outside, on the inside I am all "BOOM BITCHES!!! I GOT A PERFECT START MOTHERFUCKERS!!! POINT ZERO ZERO ZERO! FUCK YEAH!"
After the race the guy from the other team bro fisted me and we got Tasha's reaction to it (she was taking down times so she was too far away for the initial celebratoriness between heats). She said "I was taking times and then I saw 000 and I thought it was broken. I looked at it, then I looked at the other side, and I just decided oh well and just wrote it down."
That pretty much sums up my second tournament, we got some schwanky glasses for being there, I got two because I ran Demo and box loaded. But we'll save box loading for chapter 2...
Matt will be back (hopefully) soon with Chatper 2 and how we literally threw him into boxloading, in the mean time show him some love by commenting on the blog and sharing it with your friends! Maybe we really will publish it some day! ;)