Before modified, before Flipsider, way back when there was firstname.lastname@example.org. I joined that old e-mail mailing list back in January 1998. Since I started writing these stories I've been going back through some of those old posts to make sure I'm not just making this stuff up (unintentionally anyway). Quite a few of the people who used to post a lot have disapeared over the years, but some are still around. Try going through the archives some time, you might be surprised how many names you recognise.
A few of us posted pretty often (I know I didn't know how to shut up back then) and it felt like I really knew them, even though we'd never met. I could recognize individual writing styles and guess who would respond to a given topic and what their opinion was likely to be. One person I really came to respect was Ernest "Scratch" Crvich.
Ernest had a great writing style and wit and an ability most of us lacked, which was to keep perspective. When someone complained that the name "fairy butterfly" was embarassing Ernest suggested we rename butterfly "corpsegrinder." When someone asked how to do a paradox dragon fly, he listed the ingredients as "one (1) pair of shoes (to be worn on the
feet), one (1) footbag, and one-half of a fresh lemon. Clothing optional."
He wrote relatively little directly about freestlye, so it came as a surprise when years after I'd last seen him on the freestyle list in conversation Red asked me if I'd ever heard of him. It turns out "Ernesto" was a very talented freestyler (Red mentioned flurry > paradon swirl) and part of the epic Boulder Shred Crew (read about it here, just scroll down for Outsider's story). Acording to Red, like most of us he had to work for a living, had less and less free time and stoped kicking.
There were quite a few people from back then who I exchanged e-mails with pretty often, but they were footbag relationships. It's easy to mistake something like that for a personal friendship, but after 2002 world's I stepped away from on-line community and that was it, I lost contact with a lot of people. I guess it's kind of sad I didn't get to know more of those people outside of footbag, but that's also kind of the beauty of this community. We're a small enough sport that you can go to a tournament and everyone's aproachable. Even if footbag is all we have in common it can be a surprisingly strong bond. I've had a great time hanging out with other player who, outside of footbag, I have almost nothing in common with. And I have met a lot of people through footbag who have become great friends over the years.
Since I was disconnected from the footbag scene for a few years it's been interesting coming back. Every now and then I'll catch a story of what's happened to someone I used to have contact with. Quite often it's someone I only knew through footbag and hearing about thier life outside of the sport can be a little disorienting.
I was currious what had happened to Ernest so I tried to track him down earlier this year and started following the trail of on-line references. I found his name in a review of Belgian beer, several programmer's forums and of course on some footbag discussions, but then in the last few years the trail grows cold. If anyone knows how to contact him, please tell him I'm a fan.
Lest we forget though, I've compiled a list of some of my favorite posts from Ernest. They're all a good read if you have the time:
Loving footbags too much.
About Footbag.com (you might want to read this post for reference).
The day Bob Green exploded
Shreding with fish
Ernest, where ever you are, you're not forgotten. Thanks for reading.