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View posts by Andrew | Shanti | All

 My personal nemesis

My nick on footbag.org is "nemesis" a move that after more than a decade of trying I still have yet to hit. You could say it's my personal obsession and for as many times as I've gotten shit for having that nick, the move has too much personal meaning for me to ever get rid of it now.

The second footbag tournament I ever went to and my first world's was 1997 in Portland. I guess everyone remembers their first tournaments fondly, but I still believe it was a great tournie. Portland's waterfront is gorgeous in the summer and it was a big year as far as freestyle was concerned. Red, Ryan, Chad Devlahovich and Dave Holden were added to BAP. Brian McKenzie, Stuart Macferson, Adrian Dick, Ellis Piltz, Allan Haggett, Eric Winsor and a lot of other players who would go on to shape freestyle for the next few years were all there.

In retrospect we really didn't know what we were doing back then. A lot of sets and concepts were still new and we really didn't know how to do them or what to do with them yet. I remember seeing Peter Irish hitting blurry legbeater and blurry flux with the second dex being huge and leggy. In some ways I miss those days. There were still a lot of tricks floating around like cloud stall, gimp, pincher and rakes and a lot of player with really unique styles that fell out of use in the next few years.

Back then there were a few moves that were frequent topics of conversation (ocasionally, whether they were even possible). Two in particular were tripple around the world and nemesis. I think tripple around the world vexed people so because so many people were so close. There were persistant rumors about people having hit it (especially this post from 1998. Unfortunately from what I understand the author is dead now.) but nothing on film till Ales finally hit it at the Frankfurt Footbag Open in late 2001 (please correct me if I have this is wrong). But nemesis remained illusive, the craziest move anyone could think up, probably posible but no one was even close to it. Way back in 1997 Paul Munger even offered a bag to anyone who could hit it clean on video (after the Bila Lavice video came out I e-mailed Dexter to say that Vasek should claim his bag from Munger).

While I was talking with Adrian Dick I swore I would hit it by next worlds. Unlike my unintentional prophesy of Vasek this prediction turned out to be completely wrong. I didn't manage to hit nemesis and I didn't make it to the next world's. But that wasn't for a lack of trying.

Durring that year I devoted myself to the trick. I tried to think of ways to hit it. I tried changing the timing, I tried raising and lowering the set, I tried changing the way I did the dexes, I tried just beating it with speed. I managed to get the set, but I couldn't control it or do anything with it. I was cleaning the barraging set above my knee, but the bag was flying all over the place. I even managed to get in all the dexes a few times, but the last two were probably questionable at best and at any rate I never came close to catching it, let alone a seal.

With the value of 10 years of retrospect I realize what an idiot I was. I was so obsessed with trying the move I didn't think to take it one piece at a time. If I'd been a little more methodical you might now all be hitting "Andrew-walkers" but I wasn't, I wasn't even the first person to fail to hit it and Sunil deserves all the credit he gets and then some for pioneering the set. Nevertheless, the obsession never abated.

I'm not even certain what it is about the move that attracts me so, but I have my theories. I think there's something to the straight forwardness of the move. But mainly I think it was just the illusiveness. With most moves I could picture the motion, butt my head against it enough times and crank it out, but nemesis just stayed there, posible but out of reach, taunting me. I came to find the name very fitting. After a while the word itself began to have special meaning for me. Doing an absent minded search for "nemesis" at the library I ended up reading Nemesis: The Death Star a book about the theory that mass extinctions on earth are regular and caused by asteroids displaced by a theoretical twin star, the nemesis. This book may have been the catalyst that eventually convinced me to go back for a degree in physics.

Anyway as we all know, it wasn't me, it was Sunil who first hit the move. When he visited Portland in late 2001 for the Portland Juggling Festival he could hit janiwalker and plasma so logically many of us guessed if he hadn't hit nemesis already he would hit it soon. Originally he was going to stay at my place so I picked him up from the airport. We went for lunch and call it a personallity clash but I think I almost imediately started wierding him out. Anyway when I asked him if he had hit nemesis yet he gave me a very evasive answer that basically said nothing. I went on to partially explain my obsession with the trick and the whole concept of an unbeatable opponent. Sunil then said in an off hand way, and I paraphrase here "You know I really hate how some guys will chose nicknames for themselves of moves they can't hit." Shortly there after people started reporting seeing Sunil cleaning nemesis in circles. So not only had I failed to hit the move first (or at all) I had been dissed by the guy who finally did it.

You'd think that would have been the end of it, but still the move continued to haunt me. Every so often I'd get these flashes of inspiration, just enough to keep me going. Sometime in 2003 Justin Dale and Ricky Moran were visiting Portland. We had a long shred session, then came back to my place where we started drinking Mike's Hard Limonade and decided to have a final session in my garage. I was worn out, out of shape and a little drunk but somehow everything clicked and I started cranking out my biggest moves. That night I managed to get my barraging set up to waist level (Justin and Ricky claimed it was clean) but still I just couldn't hit fucking nemesis.

As I slowly become one of the last active players of my generation I'm more and more convinced the move will finish me. You see I wasn't "the nemesis," although people thinking that was why I got so much shit for the nick, the point was that the trick really was my nemesis. If I quit Footbag tomorrow it'll be the one thing I'll regret and I've sworn I'll hit it before I retire for good. Three years ago Red called for an on-line nemesis headcount. All sorts of people started chiming in I'd never heard of. The sport had moved on to bigger and better things, all it is anymore is my personal nemesis. Anyway, thanks for reading.

Comments (22) | Posted by Andrew on 2007-12-23 12:21:53

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