ON THE ROAD WITH
TOM RYAN

11-9-00

Aloha!

Just back from the latest stop on my 2000 Lax Tour - The Warburg Pincus 10th annual Hawai'i Invitational at Kapi'olani Park, Diamond Head, Oahu. It proved to be a most interesting trip to say the least. To start off, team coordinator, Harry Mazaheri, had to exit our nonstop flight to Honolulu seconds before takeoff due to a cell phone call announcing that Jody had gone into labor, and that he was about to become a dad. Harry was able to make it back to Pennsylvania in time to welcome Harry Jr. into the world. Before departing, Harry slipped me his first class ticket, so I rode in style throughout the 10-hour flight. I was a little behind on my sleep due to Philadelphia Wings tryouts the preceding weekend, a shooting clinic with my friends from Moorestown, NJ, and other pretrip stuff, so I thoroughly enjoyed stretching out. I tried to sleep as much as possible, but was periodically awakened for hot fudge sundaes, and hot towels. Oh, well. I guess I can't complain.






Crease Monkeys stop off at the Bonzai Pipeline on Oahu's North Shore for some wave crashing

                  
                  


Our first stop was Lahaina, Maui for a Halloween Rager deemed the "Mardi Gras of the Pacific." The Crease Monkeys went as the Harlem Globetrotters and the Washington Generals. It turned out to be a classic match-up. Scott Hochstadt presided as guest referee/ Hollywood Pimp. Lahaina is on Maui's west coast and despite being a town of less than 4,000 people, they expected up to 35,000 for the event. The main drag along the coast, which passed through town, was blocked off as Costumed Ravers paraded up and down the strip. It reminded me of something you would see late night on E Television's Wild On E. As the night progressed, the street got more and more entertaining; such as the 25-foot wooden Trojan Horse that was parked in the street at one point and then pushed off into the night. Despite being embarrassed on the court, the Generals proved to be good sports at the post game.

On Left: Referee/Pimp Hollywood Hochstadt starts off the Halloween celebration in Lahaina, Maui with jump ball a between Crease Monkey Goalies Harry Mazaheri and Erik Miller

After returning to Oahu and sleeping for a day, we took a drive around the island, going up the east coast and stopping for a quick snack of star fruit, papaya, and funky bananas. We hung for a "swim" at the North Shore's Bonzai Pipeline. Actually this time of year the beaches are typically closed for swimming unless you have fins, due to the dangerous undertow and rip tides. Coleman Devlin and I smashed into waves for a while which proved to be my exercise for the day. On the way back down to Waikiki we stopped by the Dole Pineapple Shop to have some pineapple soft serve. Proving to be the adventurous ones of the day, Coleman and I took on Guinness Book of World Records' Largest Maze. The course record was 6 minutes for finding all 6 check points in the maze. Our time was 10 minutes, but we were disqualified for not actually finding any of them.

TR stops off at the Dole Pineapple Headquarters
                

We had a pre-tournament press conference at the Hard Rock Cafe, Waikiki on Friday afternoon. Hochy extended his pimp costume-wearing streak to 5 out of 8 days showing up in full garb to take on questions from the media. We proceeded to the playing fields where we took on one of Japan's 20 and under teams. The Japanese Select Teams consisted largely of 19 and 20 year olds who have only been playing for 2 years or so. Despite being understandably a little shaky on their skills, they more than made up for it with their enthusiasm. One of the guys from the Japanese team, Yamada Yousuke, who scored during the scrimmage, came up to us at the Hard Rock Cafe get-together that night. Yosuke (pronounced Yoeechee) sat with us during dinner and clued us in on the Japanese lacrosse scene.

Saturday marked the kick-off of round-robin play. We had an 11:15 face-off against California's Barbary Coast squad, and at 1:45 played Japan East. After cruising through both, we were treated to an exciting match-up in which 2-time defending champion Marin played Japan's top tourney team, Valentia of Tokyo. Valentia, which maintains several of Japan's national team players, had excellent goaltending and a tight defensive unit led by Hidenori Yamaanaka, one of the top defensemen in the tournament. Losing to Marin by only a goal, they brought legitimacy to their team slogan that "Real Man Wears Orange."


   
The games were held at the base of the Diamond Head Volcano and across the street from an extention of Waikiki Beach. Following the afternoon games, we walked across the street to participate in "War Boat Races." The outrigger canoes seat five rowers and one person to steer. During our practice run, we capsized going head-on into a wave. After bailing the boat out and learning to lean left when tipsy (because the outrigger is on the left) we headed back to the starting line.

The race consisted of rowing out to a buoy, about a 1/3 to a 1/2 a mile out, and back. We were in the hunt for second place as we neared the half way buoy. Our coxswain instructed us to pick up the pace because reaching the buoy before the other canoes would put us in a good spot. We did and beat the LaxStore.com and Japanese boats to the buoy, but to our surprise, instead of turning around and heading back, we kept going out into the ocean. The other two boats rounded the buoy and headed back in as we continued "around the barn."

By the time we turned around, we were a good 100 yards behind the second place LaxStore led by owner Chris Haug. We decided to give it the old college try and try and get back in the race. We picked up the pace and started to gain some ground. Then a wave, which could only have been sent by Duke Kahanamoku himself, was spotted on the horizon. In order to catch the mother wave we would have to pick up the pace big time. Matt Schearer and myself kept yelling to the front for Coleman to quicken his rowing count, but finally blurted out "Screw Counting and Just Row!"




We were flying on top of this wave, blowing by the Japanese like they were standing still. We started to literally head right for LaxStore as if we were going to rub them off course. Our outrigger slammed into the side of their boat, skimmed up the side and right off the shoulders of the front three rowers nearly spearing them in the head. The outrigger grazed Chris Haug's ear. He pushed us off in order to protect himself, which capsized us for the second time in 15 minutes. I grabbed my sunglasses as we went under, more than a little bit perturbed that we had blown the race.

After we came up our coxswain apologized for his inept steering. We bailed the canoe out and headed back. We were greeted with sarcastic cheers from our teammates wading in the surf. It was later discovered that our coxswain was an unknown who was recruited to participate in the competition. A rookie, I presume.

The Crease Monkeys had a team dinner and then headed over to Indigo for the tournament-sponsored party. This being the tournament's 10th year anniversary, Mark Tarone the Event Coordinator and Host Extraordinaire, put on quite a show all weekend. Saturday night's entertainment included live music, by the Plush Nuggets, an eight-piece funk and groove band. I got my groove on along with a good portion of the other tournament participants. I kept the dance party going at Zanzabar, a hopping nightclub in Waikiki.

   
Schearer and Reese congratulate Yosuke after an exciting overtime win against the Hawaiian squad Ho'ohule   
Sunday we had three games, the first versus GB Lax starting at 10:30. Following our game we watched our buddy Yosuke's Japan West squad battle Hawaii's Ho'ohule squad. Despite some punishing hits by the Ho'ohule defense, Japan hung in there, scoring 3 goals in the last 5 minutes to send the game to sudden death. The Japanese team scored first, sending the Crease Monkey squad storming on to the field in celebration. Brian Reese raised the winning goalie onto his shoulders and carried him off the field. It was the first win for the Western Japan team in Hawai'i Invitational competition.

Our final round robin match was against the host Hawai'i. Our team and Hawai'i were both undefeated, so it would shape up as a semi-final of sorts. Hawai'i came out fired up, but a few goals by the Monkeys set the tone, and we soon put the game out of reach. Reese had a couple nice goals from his defensive position including a fast break goal in which he got in close faked two or three times and dunked it, showing off his newly acquired indoor offensive skills. His second of the game came with a short stick on a man up. He wound up for an outside shot and let off a change up which took an odd hop, due to the spin on it, and found it's way into the back of the net.




      
The final pitted the 2X defending champion Marin vs WALax/Crease Monkeys. Many of the members of our team have had a storied history playing against Marin. Matt Cone, one of our team organizers was 0-22 lifetime against Marin in tournament and club play. I myself had lost to them in disappointing fashion in the Vegas finals last month. We came out flying and pumped in a few quickies on Hopkins grad Brian Carcaterra. Our attack, led by Scott Hochstadt, Dave Maguire, and Joe Hope were ripping their shots, and it seemed as if we couldn't miss.







        

The game got a bit out of hand with our lead stretching to as many as eight or so. I was on the receiving end of a Joe Christie flying cross-check to the head, but was able to keep my cool, and resisted the urge to retaliate with a two hander. Despite a late rally, we finished Marin off in a very satisfying manner 13-7. As always, Erik Miller, stood tall in net allowing only 12 goals in 5 games splitting time with Harry in all but the final. Matt Schearer was awarded Tournament MVP which included an authentic Hawaiian two handed wooden "dagger"...pretty cool. For positional awards, Brian Reese won a one handed dagger as best defenseman while I received the award for midfield.



Team Crease Monkeys in front of a Hawaiian Banyan Tree


   
The Tournament sponsored dinner celebration was a buffet, much to Hochy's approval, at Duke's on the beach in Waikiki. After dinner, we rounded up the troops, including Yosuke, and headed to the Tournament wrap-up party. Mark Tarone came through again with Bud Cerio & The Now. The highlights included a 20-minute bottle dance, and Yosuke's "sombrero dance." Yosuke said that this was "the most exciting party" that he had ever been too, that he felt like he was in a movie, and concluded with: "how you say...I go home now."


On Left: Tournament MVP Matt Schearer celebrates his Canadian heritage with fellow canuck groupies.

Before our flights on Monday, we cruised up to the North Shore to check out the swell of 10 to 15 foot waves. Matty Schearer had won a surf lesson, but we decided to leave the surfing to the pros after one of the surfers walked by us with his board in three pieces. The twelve-hour trip back was a nice chance to get some rest.



2000 Hawai'i Invitational Champions Team WALAX.com/Crease Monkeys


This year's tournament also included 5 women's teams including WALax, headed up by Steph Cone and the Hawai'i Lacrosse Club with Baltimore transplant, Jen Breakey. The Hawai'i squad had done some hard-core recruiting in the weeks leading up to the tourney, picking up the likes of New Orleans native, Suzanne Tierney (#29), a promising lacrosse newcomer.

Laxstore.com was vending at the fields and people could order lax gear online right from the park. I myself have returned with some new experiences. I eat raw fish now, can use chopsticks, know how to speak a couple Japanese and Hawaiian words, and have a slew of new friends. Mahalo Nui Loa to Harry Mazaheri, Matt Cone, Mark Tarone and everyone else that made my trip a blast. And as Harry likes to say...even the Monkey got Lei'd.



Meadowlark Lemon does the old hidden ball trick
much to the bewilderment of Washington General onlookers.





Harlem Globetrotter TRyan shows excellent form
as he defends Washington General Brian Reese.




TOM RYAN AT LAX VEGAS AND MORE!