H A W A I ' I     2 0 0 4

November 30, 2004

What is the remedy for fall burnout? Take 2 flights to the Hawaii Invitational Lacrosse Tournament and don't bother calling in the morning. In the weeks and months leading up to the late October ritual I had once again worked up an exhaustion that in most situations would be hard to shake. But there is something about Hawaii that will make all that tiredness and stress just wash away instantaneously. For those who have been on lax tour before, you know that a trip like this isn't what you would call relaxing but it is unquestionably rejuvenating.

2004 Champions!

Our typical MO for the past five years has been to fly in on Monday or Tuesday and hang out in Waikiki for the week before the tournament gets underway on Saturday. This year we decided to mix it up and came in on Thursday night for a Friday start. This eliminated our 4 or 5 nights of team bonding, but had the payoff of 5 days in Maui to lick our wounds.

In the past I had steered clear of the motorized scooters but this year I broke down and rented one and cruised through Waikiki and up the coast, checking out windsurfers and even taking a hike up Diamond Head Crater. There is a pretty sweet view from the top where you can see all of Waikiki and Kapiolani Park where the games are held. I set a new personal best speed walking down the crater and jumped on my scooter for our first game of the weekend against the Japanese team Tokai. We topped Tokai 12-0 then Kanto on Saturday 13-4, but the best part about both those games was the reaction of the Japanese players to some of the action on the field. With stick wizards such as John Grant Jr. and Kevin Leveille, spectators and players alike were treated to an exhibition of trick shots. Following a sky whammy stick fake, it was funny to see the younger Japanese players trying to figure out what they had just witnessed and attempting the maneuver at the opposite end during a break in the action.

Kevin Leveille accepts the MVP award

As always there are 4 or 5 teams stacked with top level club and pro players alike. This year was no exception. Matt Sauri put together a Wimmer Solutions Team based out of the Pacific Northwest with over 10 pro players including: Tilman Johnson, AJ Shannon, Scott Urick, Pat Dutton and Nate Watkins not to mention amateur notables such as Fabio Apolito. We had the pleasurable misfortune of squaring up against them in the semifinals on Sunday morning. We found ourselves down by 2 at the half with Tilman making at least 5 saves that he had no business making including 2 one on nones. Fortunately we had a midfield unit that could start on any MLL team with Josh Sims, Jeff Sonke, Matt Streibel, Gavin Prout and Chad Witman. With horses like that your bound to pull ahead in the stretch. We solved our Tilman Johnson problem and advanced to the finals with a hard fought 12-9 win.

Over the past 7 years Marin and the Monkeys have dominated the winning circle with the Crease Monkeys taking home 3 of the last 4. Last year Marin was uncharacteristically knocked out of the semi's by a tough Long Island based Jester's squad. You just knew Matt Fields would come back strong and that he did with an attack of Jesse Hubbard, Casey, Ryan and Mikey Powell. With triple 22's running around out there we knew we had to be smart with the ball on offense and play exceptional 1 on 1 at the defensive end. I had confidence in our D, but they came together and played as a unit better than I could have imagined. Chris Passavia, Dave Daniecki, Yoshi Hikichi and Tom Ethington at close D swarmed the Marin attack and prevented Hubbard and the Powells from ever gaining any momentum. Once again Erik "Godzilla" Miller and Trevor Tierney were solid between the pipes.

Casey in Hawaii

Not even torrential rains at the conclusion of the game could dampen the aloha spirit as the few hundred players and onlookers stood under tents to witness the award ceremony. Harry Mazaheri and Matt Cone, the founding fathers of the Crease Monkey Nation were presented with the Don Gladstone Award for all they have done to promote the game and camaraderie of lacrosse. There are not two more deserving men. Rookie Kevin "Skip to My Lou" Leveille took home the MVP weapon for his entertaining performance on attack throughout the weekend. I think the essence of this year's CM team was demonstrated on one play in the championship final when Gavin drove to the cage and whipped a behind the back pass to Jr on the left wing. What happened next can only be described as an around the world quick stick to Leveille camped out on the crease who dittoed that with an around the world of his own sticking it stick side on the Marin Goalkeeper. A play like that not only invigorates your team but can't help but drain your opponent.

Well, enough about lacrosse.

With the championship in our back pocket it was time to focus on more important issues…namely Halloween. Usually I know weeks or months ahead of time what or who I am going to be. For some reason I had a real costume block this year. While looking at an ESPN the magazine a few weeks earlier I had realized that I could be Johnny Damon pretty easily. I went back and forth and finally decided it would just be too boring. As always while costuming in Hawaii you must take into consideration the following details…

1. It's going to be hot…the fewer clothes the better.

2. Although masks might help your costume, most will make consuming beverages difficult…so loose them.

3. There will be dancing so keep it mobile.

4. If you want to be original, resist the temptation to be Thomas Magnum.

It's really very simple, but every year you get some people who should have known better but dress up as an Eskimo or something. I opted for Sideshow Bob and although I looked suspiciously similar to a hula dancer, I was able to slightly distinguish myself. As always the championship party was at Compadres, a local Mexican restaurant turned night club. The tournament host Mark Tarone brought in powerhouse Ozomatli, named appropriately for a mythological Mexican monkey. Ozomatli is a band out of LA whose songs run the gamut of genres including latin, salsa and hip hop. I made it through the first 30 or 40 minutes before sweating myself to the back deck. I was able to shake everything I had and still get out while the getting was good.

Thomas Magnum is tossed

Upon Compadres' closing I made my way back to Waikiki in the back of a pickup truck and made an executive decision to head back to the hotel. I had an unidentified flight to Maui in the morning that I didn't want to miss.

Maui was an awesome change of pace. As much as I have grown to love Waikiki, staying in Lahaina on Maui's west coast was the perfect way to spend a few days. Lahaina is a small tourist town with plenty to do. On one fine day we commandeered a fishing boat big enough to fit 100. With 20 monkeys in tow we hit the open ocean. I had heard a few horror stories about how rocky the ride can be but it worked out just fine. The scene resembled more a bad hip hop video than a fishing expedition which made it even better. Four hours worth of all you could eat and drink and oh yeah we caught 3 fish…tuna I think. Nothing you would want to mount on the wall of your hunting cabin, but pretty tasty nonetheless. The highlights for me was when we stopped to go swimming, Strohsacker and Taz's Hawaiian line dance,and watching Leveille almost keel over trying to reel in a 3 pound fish.

When we got back I was feeling kind of adventurous so I signed up for a 35 mile sunrise biking trip where I was guaranteed to only have to peddle for 400 yards. Well, it turned out to be true for the most part. The only catch is that we got picked up at 3am! So here is the gig. You stay up till 2am and get an hour of shut eye before being stuffed in a 12 passenger van and taken to the top of Haleakala Crater, a 10,000 foot ancient volcano to watch the sunrise. We got up to the top at 5:30 to witness something right out of a science fiction movie. You are above the clouds looking down into the crater as the sky lightens from a black to blue and eventual a pinkish hue. No matter how tired you are you can't help but be inspired.

Once the sun comes up you hit the road and coast down the mountain for the next 3 or 4 hours before reaching the beach. They call it a bicycle safari, I wanted to call it an extreme coasting expedition, but the reality was that the biking or coasting was pretty laid back. It was the scenery that was spectacular. We stopped early in the trip on the side of the road and I figured I would grab a couple lava rocks for my roommate Wally the biggest rock nut this side of West Baltimore. Anyway I pocket some stones along with Leveille and we continue on down the hill. We get to the National Park entrance and our guide, the Cliff Claven of bicycle tours, tells us about the rock garden they have behind the Information Center from all the people who took rocks from the park and went onto have a bad luck streak. Apparently they receive hundreds of packages a year with rocks that were taken from the park but returned in the hopes of a change in fortune. I'm not taking any chances so I grab the rocks and toss them back, but not before faking to slip them in Passavia's pocket. He freaked out but realized I was just kidding. Leveille took one look at me and chucked his as well.

Our trip came to an end at the beach of a hippy town called Paia. The town had a pretty cool vibe and the beach was your run of the mill paradise. We came back on Saturday before catching our flight home to watch the boogie boarders and maximize our last few hours in Maui. We walked into town to check out some shops and grab a quick bite of Curry chicken. I had started fantasizing about selling all my belongings and moving to Maui a couple days before during the bike trip. Dinner at this quaint restaurant with a Swedish waitress was not suppressing that fantasy. As the 30 year old bus boy cleared our table I asked him how long he had lived in Paia. "You should move here" he said with a smile as he took our dishes away. What… was I that apparent?

I have been back at the grind for a few weeks now, but I can't say that I have stopped thinking about selling all of my belongings, buying a fishing pole and camping on the Maui beaches for a few months. Apparently, if you are fishing, or at least have a pole, you can camp on the beaches of Maui. Well, maybe next year.

Personal Instruction by Pro & College Stars!

Daily Lacrosse Scrimmages

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2004 Summer Trick Stick Tour and much more with TR!