The Pitch Bitch, episode two

Jacksonville Armada FC at Indy Eleven Photo: Trevor Ruszkowski

The Jacksonville Armada’s Jack Blake (shown here pressuring Indy Eleven defender Marco Franco) deserves congratulations for his relentless attack in Indy Aug. 26. (Photo courtesy of Trevor Ruszkowski/Indy Eleven)

Jacksonville finds Indy’s soft spots

Hungry for revenge after Indy Eleven’s 2-0 win during their previous meeting on July 15, the Jacksonville Armada took to the field on Aug. 26 in Indianapolis with a weapon — in the form of Jack Blake — locked and loaded to unleash a hat trick before the hosts could respond with two goals of their own.

A beautiful Justin Braun through pass from the Indy midfield split Jacksonville’s defense as Ben Speas sprinted onto the ball, closed in on the goal from left side and eluded Jacksonville’s waiting keeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell by slotting a smooth shot out the keeper’s reach into the far side of the net.

 

Indy’s second goal came in extra time when David Goldsmith, breathing down the weak side of his opponent’s goal, received a cross from Ben Speas streaming up the right flank about 40 yards away and, with one flawless flick of the head, brought the hosts within one goal of a draw.

Those goals marked uplifting moments in a performance that was otherwise defined by a handful of hopeful offensive sparks that failed to materialize in goals and a series of defensive lapses that ultimately left the hosts defeated 3-2.

Goal-fest

All constructive criticism aside, the Armada, in general, deserve credit for showing up ready to play. And both Patterson-Sewell and Blake, specifically, deserve congratulations for their individual performances. Patterson-Sewell absorbed several point-blank scorchers from Indy attackers throughout the match, while Blake began his bonanza at the 28th minute. He who broke to the center of the 18 and received a pass from Bryam Rebellón (who had shaken Daniel Keller in the upper right flank). Blake’s one-touch re-direct bounced off the inside of the left post and ricocheted off the right post into the net.

Jacksonville, 1. Indy, 0.

The crowd’s collective heart skips a beat. There’s still time to equalize, but we weren’t first on the board. Near the end of the first half, Blake’s free kick from about 30 yards out bends into the upper right corner of the net.

Jacksonville, 2. Indy, 0.

Tanner Thompson attacks Aramada by Matt Schlotzhauer

Tanner Thompson kept the Armada’s defense on its heels several times throughout the match. Promising chemistry seems to be building among Thompson, Speas, Goldsmith and Zayed, as well. (Photo courtesy of Matt Schlotzhauer/Indy Eleven)

In an effort to maintain mental toughness, Indy’s players were probably trying not to let thoughts cloud their minds of a game earlier this year in which the Armada beat them  4-1. Indeed, heads held high, the Eleven kept coming at Jacksonville. Throughout the first half, Tanner Thompson charged with impressive and explosive changes in speed and JAX had repeated troubles keeping him marked. In the first half’s stoppage time, Thompson again broke down the flank and launched a cross across the face of the goal about five yards out as Goldsmith again controls it and delivers a shot into Patterson-Sewell’s arms.

Still, at halftime, the visitors maintained a 2-0 lead. And at 62 minutes, Blake earned his hat trick off a free kick.

Though video cannot prove or disprove his observation, the Pitch Bitch’s husband and East Goal correspondent/season ticket holder Clyde Townsend reported that Bush had the kick’s trajectory within his sights, but that an unexpected deflection off a defender’s shoulder shifted it out of the keeper’s reach.

After entering the match as a second-half sub and contributing an assist on his team’s first goal, Braun fell to the ground requesting an immediate sub after what looked to be a fairly innocuous encounter with Blake, but proved to be more serious trouble with his ankle. The resulting medical response took several minutes and Braun was eventually removed on a stretcher. A bummer in the (hopefully temporary) loss of a great forward, but it provided several more minutes of stoppage time in which the Eleven’s offense swarmed the Armada’s goal. But no equalizers emerged.

Justin Braun down

The game was a painful affair in a very literal sense for Justin Braun. (Photo courtesy of Matt Schlotzhauer/Indy Eleven)

Despite the final score, the team’s attacking efforts offered the silver lining of this game. Especially considering proven assets such as Nemanja Vukovic (with his lethal freekicks) and lightning fast wingman Don Smart were both on the bench for the evening (Smart with an injury/Vuko listed as an uncalled substitute), the number of credible threats the team managed to generate engendered the Pitch Bitch’s continued faith in the squad they are building.

Get Miller back in the action

Many of Indy’s players have significant depth and ability to play on both ends of the field. But on the subject of positions, the Bitch is mystified by Coach Hankinson’s use of Daniel Keller on the back line. She likes Keller’s toughness and solid technical ability — but as a midfielder. He is not shining on the backline the way he does further up the field. An honest critique of his defense last night must include a note that his marking was at crucial times too lax and that possession was too often squandered to the opponents — in one case to three attackers who were poised to counter with a 3-1 advantage at the top of the 18.

In terms of ability to mark man-to-man, clear the ball from areas of immediate threat and deny ambitious attackers desirable position, Cory Miller has a proven edge. Last night marked his formal return to the roster after 10 months of nursing an ankle reconstruction. But he remained on the bench — even as Hankinson subbed defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe.

After the game, the Bitch found Miller on the field and remarked the team could have used him. She asked if he’d been given any indication on when he could expect playing time.

Cory Miller exits the field after pre-game warm-ups

Cory Miller returned to the roster, but the experienced defender remained on the bench during Jacksonville’s onslaught. Moving forward, perhaps Coach Hankinson will test Miller’s ability to stop the defensive leaks. (Photo by Rebecca Townsend)

Though he’s known as the Big Bald Assassin, Miller exhibits a stoic calm off the field. He smiled and says he aims not to obsess too much over playing time, that he just focuses on doing the best he can do.

Years ago, in a Q&A that followed Miller offering his personal testimony during an Indy Eleven Christian faith night, the Bitch asked him to cite one of his favorite passages of scripture.

Miller recalled the metaphor Jesus offered his disciples: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit…”

As she prepared to leave the field Aug 26, the Bitch reminded Miller that the quality of his fruit was apparent — and that she hoped others would soon see his proven back-line anchoring abilities.

Parting shots

In addition to tighter tracking, the team can work to improve squandered possessions on the defensive half and sloppy clearances. The Pitch Bitch’s game notes include lines such as: “Who are you passing to?” and “Lapses on D leave incoming balls unchecked as they fall to an attacker’s feet just a few feet from the mouth of the goal.”

Coach Hankinson’s subs for the evening seemed to indicate his search for more offensive juice with Justin Braun, Sinisa Ubiparipovic and Adrian Ables replacing Gerardo Torrado, Kwame Watson-Siriboe and Éamon Zayed, respectively.

Hopefully, hindsight will prove that if he wants a winning scoreline, the place to start subbing is with the back line.

With the evening’s loss, Indy Eleven dropped to the bottom of the North American Soccer League’s eight-place table. The team has accumulated just four points in the fall season. By comparison, league leader, Miami FC, has 12 points (and three former Indy players: University of New Mexico product Blake Smith, attacking great and Indiana native Dylan Mares and the solid Jamaican defender Lovell Palmer).

Indy’s next home game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 2 when the San Francisco Deltas visit.

The Pitch Bitch, episode No. 1

Eamon Zayed

A beautiful first-half strike from forward Eamond Zayed could have changed the momentum of the match against Edmonton. Alas, ’twas not to be. The shot ricocheted off the visitors’ goal frame — and with it went Indy’s hopes of controlling the game. (Photo courtesy of Indy Eleven. P.S. This photo was taken during a previous match, but provides a nice view of Zayed on the attack.)

A sad start to the fall season at home

FC Edmonton creams Indy

Indy Eleven may have been expecting an easy Aug. 5 game against visiting FC Edmonton after a dominant 2-1 win when the two teams met in Canada just six days earlier. Instead, the home team spent much of the first half on its heels, absorbing wave upon wave of attack from an aggressive Edmonton.

By the second half the Eddies were finding so many holes in the Indy field it looked like Swiss cheese — and the visitors walked away victorious with three goals to Indy’s one.

Though match statistics clocked Indy as the dominant possessor during the first half, the home team created few legitimate threats, though a couple shots could have given the home team the first points on the board — and changed the tone of the game to Indy’s favor. Alas for the home team, none of their efforts found the net.

Still, Indy managed to hold the Eddies at bay for the game’s first 45 minutes. But the opening minutes of the second half saw Edmonton’s Tomi Ameobi head a ball inside the 18 to his teammate Pedro Galvao, who managed a perfectly placed shot, forcing Indy goalkeeper Jon Busch to smother the ball as it skidded toward the right corner of the box.

Just minutes later, during another near-range threat from Galvao in which he was brought to the ground, a subsequent penalty kick for the Eddies was ably finished by Dustin Corea (after much fuss among the two teams in the background and an ensuing yellow card issued to Indy midfielder Gerardo Torrado).

The match barely re-started before Edmonton again broke the defense with another goal — this one accomplished as Albert Watson receives a teammate’s corner kick with a powerful on-target header. Busch correctly read the the threat, but it came in with such speed and power that, even as the keeper caught the ball, he received it just inches on the wrong side of the goal line.

Just as the crowd’s collective spirit began to fade, at 67 minutes, Vuko (aka Montenegrin defender Namanja Vukovic) re-energized the hometown crowd and gave his team a shot to get back in the game when he nailed a brilliant, unstoppable freekick from about 25 yards out.

Hope that Indy might shift the tide in its favor lasted about five minutes. A third goal for Edmonton in the 73 minute left the Pitch Bitch wondering why Lovell Palmer (an effective defensive force during the team’s previous match) was left on the bench as swarming Eddies left Busch outnumbered in his box, forced to defend an all-but-impossible situation. The Bitch is happy to see defensive anchor and team captain Colin Falvey back in action after being sidelined to injury, but must it really be an either Falvey or Palmer situation? The team clearly needed more assistance in absorbing Edmonton’s pressure. To be fair to Indy, the third goal was set-up by an illegal play by Ameobi, who used his hands to control the ball before passing it on to Daryl Fordyce. Fordyce’s cross to the far post set up Corea for the final kill shot. The Indy defenders’ frustration at the officials for missing the call probably contributed to this final collapse.

By the 80th minute, Pitch Bitch was out of her seat and out of her mind at Indy’s in ability to stop the bleeding as Edmonton continued to unleash threatening plays, including a ball played straight across the full face of the goal.

As the game’s final minutes faded away, an ambulance driving by on New York Street, which runs the length of the stadium, gave cause for pause: Stop here, buddy, she thought. We need help.

Indy Eleven now sit at sixth place in the North American Soccer League’s eight-seat table. The team’s next match will be at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 12 on the road against Miami FC. A road match against the New York Cosmos takes place the following weekend. The teams returns to Indy’s Michael Carroll Stadium Aug. 26 for a 7:30 p.m. matchup against the Jacksonville Armada.

Here are the match highlights courtesy of NASL:

The Pitch Bitch (aka Rebecca Townsend) has two lifelong passions: soccer and journalism. She was pleased to see the establishment of a professional soccer team in her home state of Indiana in 2013 (on her daughter’s 10th birthday, nonetheless) and is honored to contribute to its chronicling.

Boxer Frank Martin is fired up

Indiana’s first National Golden Gloves title holder in 23 years is ready to defend his title.

My interview with Martin is featured in this year’s Indiana Golden Gloves Championship program… It’s a treat to watch talented athletes learn to elevate their game: a solid example for all of us!

Hope friends, media and fun seekers will show up at 7 p.m. tonight, April 6, at Tyndall Armory, 711 N. Pennsylvania St., Downtown Indianapolis, as the championship rounds of Indiana Golden Gloves begin, and again at the same time next Thursday, April 13, to watch Martin get to work in the ring.

National champion exhibits mental, physical toughness in pursuit of boxing dream

Story and Photos By Rebecca Townsend

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Frank Martin, winner of the 2016 National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions in the 141-weight class — the first Indiana representative to win a national Gloves title in 23 years — must defend his state title before he can advance to nationals — and attempt back-to-back national victories — a feat that no one in the elite club of Indiana representatives to win a national title has accomplished except Marvin Johnson. Martin is shown here working out at his local club: Indianapolis Boxing and Grappling in the 2900 block of East Washington Street on Indy’s near-east side.

Going into the Indiana Golden Gloves at this time last year, Frank Martin was hungry — eager to fight his way back to the National Golden Gloves tournament where, in 2015, he was denied a national title in a controversial split decision.

He credits increased mental focus and an uncompromising training regimen as the keys to accomplishing his goal: Martin won the 2016 state title in the 141 weight class, advancing to nationals in Salt Lake City where, after earning victories in five fights in a five-day gauntlet featuring the top amateur fighters in the nation, he carried home the championship belt — the first representative of Indiana Golden Gloves to bring home a national title in 23 years.

The Detroit-born boxer developed his athletic skills as a high schooler in Fort Wayne, Ind., where he played football, wrestled and ran track. The 22-year-old started boxing just before he moved to Indianapolis four years ago, honing his skills at Indianapolis Boxing and Grappling under the tutelage of coaches Pat McPherson, a local police officer, and Ike Boyd, a two-time Indiana Golden Gloves champ. Frank includes his father, also named Frank, as another primary component of his coaching team and he recognizes the importance of the tireless support from his brother, JC.

Though Martin is proud of his accomplishments, he said their full weight has barely registered with him because he continues to focus on the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead. Two weeks prior to his return to the Indiana Golden Gloves ring to defend his title, Martin took some time out to talk about his development as a boxer.

Q: How did it feel heading into that fight for the national championship last year?

A: I was all the way locked and loaded; it was nothing but excitement to show how hard I was working. I was working extra hard at the gym and in conditioning.

Q: Tell us about the fights you experienced to get to the final bout. What stands out?

A: My first fight was a 5-0 decision against a guy from Pennsylvania. He was tough. It was a good fight to get first. Once I got that out of my system, I was ready for anything.

I had five fights. I fought every day. I fought a guy from Cincinnati. That was a good fight — a lot of action. I dropped the guy several times – twice count to 8 counts.

I dropped three of my opponents — knocked three down — including 7-time national champion Virgil Ortiz from Texas. He is now a professional — one of Golden Boy Promotions’ top prospects. I knocked him down in the final.

Q: What was the key to earning that final victory?

A: I was mentally all the way there. I knew I had put in the work, so I knew I was gonna get the fight because I had worked so hard. I had no doubts going in; I didn’t question myself or how hard I’d been training. Nothing like that. I knew I was ready. And getting the knockdown was key. If I wasn’t favored going in, I had to make the judge’s decision as easy as possible.

A loss motivates more than anything. And critics… Any fight I ever lost, I go back and look: What didn’t I do enough? And I fix that the next time out.

Q: What was the key to earning that final victory?

A: I’ve matured in my work ethic. I was honest with myself. I pushed myself to the limit. I could accomplish anything I wanted to, if I pushed. Because I was in the best shape I could be in. That’s where my confidence came in. I was true with myself I didn’t take shortcuts. I was out running — late at night, at 2 in the morning, because it gave me a curve. I knew no one else was doing that. It made me mentally strong knowing that my opponents were not doing that, 9 times out of ten.

Q: How was your national victory announced? What was your reaction?

A: It was 3-2 decision. Fighting out of Indiana, we’re not known, not the favorites. When I heard it was a 3-2, I felt like I pulled it out because I’d knocked him down. The guy was supposed to win the whole thing. He had a good team around him. He was more of a favorite. When that 3-2 came, it was a nail biter because it can be about who are are and where you come from — in amateurs and any boxing. I was glad I was able to pull it off, though I feel it should have been a 4-1 not a 3-2, but the judges scored it like they scored it and I’m thankful that God blessed me to get it.

Without him, a lot wouldn’t possible — me even fighting.

Q: How so?

A: People are put in certain situations. I could be paralyzed and have the dream of boxing, but I’m blessed to be 100% healthy. There are people who want to but the can’t walk or move. He blessed me to be able to do everything I want to do, what I love.

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Martin knocks down professional boxer Pablo Sanchez in an April 3 sparring match at IBG. One of his coaches, local Indianapolis police officer Pat McPherson, watches.

Q: How have you developed a knockdown punch?

A: You have to have power, of course. You gotta know how to pinpoint your shots. Power is not everything. Knowing the right time to attack and exactly the right spot.

Q: Do you have anything specific you look for when trying to find that spot?

A: No…

Q: You just know it when you see it open up?

A: Yep, I just know I’ve got that eye.

Q: A lot of young guys will be watching you now. Can you offer them any training tips?

A: To the fighters: Be honest with yourselves about how hard you’re working and working out. Don’t take shortcuts. If you do, when you have to fight, you might have a doubt. Just a little doubt can change a whole game plan. I just feel like a better man will win the fight. You should go into the fight 100 percent ready.

Q: What does it mean to you to be the first fighter in 23 years to bring Indiana a national title?

A: I’m glad and blessed to be the one to break that bar. It really hasn’t hit me. I was excited that I did win, but I just felt that honestly I’d put in so much work that I had to get it. I knew I was 100% all the way in. I’m glad and I’m pretty sure it motivated a lot of other fighters, making them want to do the same thing. I’m glad to be a role model but I still have so much more to do. It hasn’t hit me: I’ve got bigger things in store.

Q: What has happened since winning that title?

A: We won a couple more national championships: Ringside and Title .. and I fought in the USA tournament and got on the USA team. And I’m ranked number two in the country.

It’s like everything is panning out how it’s supposed to.

Q: How have your coaches influenced you?

A: In the beginning, when I first started boxing, I didn’t work to my limit. They were able to get inside my head and help me find my inner self and my work ethic. And now I’m able to motivate myself, pushing myself and my work ethic. They helped me get to that point where I can do my own thing. Like when I’m in the gym by myself, I can get the same intensity as if they were around.

Q: What do they say? Do any of their words stick with you?

A: They say a lot! They would tell me: Don’t get in my own head, or don’t get in my own way. If I’m not in my own way, I can do whatever I want to do.

Q: What’s it been like to be on Team U.S.A.?

A: It’s broadening my perspective. It’s what I need. It’s helping my learning experience. It helps my confidence in learning so many aspects of the boxing game. Boxing is an ongoing learning process as I’ve been on the up and up.

Q: You went to Europe?

A: I fought in Bulgaria against an opponent from Turkey and a guy from Italy, who I knocked out in 15 seconds. Plus, I got to spar with a fighter from Poland.

Frank Martin_0114

Frank Martin and Pablo Sanchez spar at IBG.

Q: What’s the relationship between amateur fighting and your professional prospects?

A: I still have a lot to learn, but even though my style is changing, it’s not really suited for amateurs where they award points for the total number of punches landed and not necessarily how effective the punches are. I’m really a slow-paced fighter —  I’m more into effective shots.  In amateurs, it’s about who is landing more. But I’m more of a power puncher. If he’s hitting with a lot of piddly shots, even if they’re not affecting me, they’ll give it to him because he landed more. In the pros, it’s more about the effective shots. I’m ready for the pros. A lot of these guys I’ve fought have turned pro.

I feel that turning pro would take me to the next level and will motivate me to do things. It will get more serious with us taking trips and getting to work and going to camps.

Q: What is pinnacle of your dream?

A: I want to be more than just a boxer. I do want to be one of the best that laces up their gloves, but that’s not all I want to be. I don’t want people to say, “He’s a good boxer, but that’s about it.”

When somebody asks about me, I tell them a little bit about my story. It’s not to be cocky or show off. I’ve been working so hard. I’m not working this hard to be a nobody. I could be a role model to people without being an athlete and give them stories about how to take a different road. But I’ll have a bigger impact with the story I have now.

I know a lot of people have guidance. Some people don’t. I’ve always had family members tell me things. I’m not one to let things go in one ear and out the other. If someone tells me something, I’ll take it and think about it. You don’t have to go with it. But sit and down and think about it before you don’t agree. And then you choose what you want to do. But always hear a person out. At the end of the day, people will make their own decisions. But I’ve learned a lot by hearing people out. Always listen and give what someone says a chance. And then you decide after you give them chance.

I’m trying to get the word out there on who I am. If I stay under the radar, I won’t get done what I want to get done. I’m humble but you’ve got to speak up to be heard.

***

Experiencing Hoosier Shangrila

Welcome to my platform: Hoosier Shangrila.

Here we will journey through my life as Rebecca Townsend (aka Coach Willie Mack, aka The Pitch Bitch), an investigative, multimedia journalist and ag specialist, soccer coach/player, massage therapist, mother, wife, friend and sports nut. (My teams include Indy AlleyCats Ultimate Frisbee, Indiana Fever/Pacers, Indy Eleven, the Indianapolis Colts, Indiana University — especially soccer and basketball, Earlham College and Mizzou.) I’m currently writing “Becca’s Balls: A Hoosier reporter goes rogue during Brazil’s 2014 World Cup.”

Hoosier Shangrila represents many levels of experience.

Hoosier Shangrila at the Hash Road Hideaway is a rustic retreat near the Monroe/Brown County line. Magnificent Indiana hardwoods line the hills encircling Lake Alison, a small spring-fed lake. A funky old cabin in which each wing represents a separate era of the property’s history sits at the lake’s edge. I grew up there. It’s not for the faint of heart. But to some, it is paradise.

People seeking solace from the everyday rat race have sought refuge at Hash Road for generations. Folks interested in camping, renting rooms (or the whole place) may email me at hoosierchild at gmail for details. The average rental fee is $100 per person per night.

Hoosier Shangrila also captures the vibe of my massage practice, focused on relaxation, deep tissue, sports massage, trigger point work and stretching to help clients obtain their body work goals and improve their overall quality of life.

Hoosier Shangrila began as a riff on the “Shangrila” literally embedded by the previous owners in a plaque at the property gates of my Midtown Indianapolis estate.

Ultimately, Shangrila represents belief in an idea more wonderful than one can conceive of on one’s own — enlightenment, heaven on earth — a connection to something timeless and eternal. Something I’m looking to achieve here in my home state: Indiana.

Welcome to the journey.

 

Let us be soccer champions of the U.S.

Piddling around waiting to see what the big cheeses of the U.S. Soccer Federation are going to do with the divisional status of the country’s professional soccer teams is driving me crazy!

These guys (I’m assuming it’s guys, right? How many women are actually involved in any of this?) are sitting there, ostensibly wringing their hands, waiting till the last minute, delaying their decision about whether the North American Soccer League will keep its second-division status and if United Soccer League can shed its third-tier moniker — as staff layoffs among some clubs are happening and everyone is in a weird, suspended state, not sure what to do next.

This Hoosier writer’s guts are twisted at the idea that these soccer chiefs will decide whether the world considers Indy Eleven and its NASL peers to be division two — or three! Being forever stuck as second or third tier is puke inducing. We thrive on our drive to taste glory! (Promotion/Relegation makes everything more fun, right?)

Tight-fisted legislators weren’t willing to support a major stadium when lawmakers had only known the team for two seasons, but Indiana fans will rally to meet any first-division demands U.S. soccer chiefs want to make in exchange for considering Indiana in the proper light, which is as a contender for the top prizes in U.S. soccer each and every year. We have the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, thank God, in which Indy Eleven, a so-called second-division team, demonstrated playing ability on-par with its so-called first-tier Major League Soccer rival, Chicago Fire.

Support what we’re doing, soccer chiefs. Don’t kneecap us by pretending we’re third division.

Perhaps the soccer chiefs would like to come to Indiana and settle this on the field. (I’ll play!)

Diplomatic, business-friendly solutions are possible. Building regional rivalries makes sense. We need efficiency and decent travel schedules for players. That’s basic business and effective human resource management. Cooperate, people.

Let’s use the resources we have to pay all our players and front-office staffs as wisely and humanely as possible, regardless of league. (And would someone please make a line item in the budget for Rebecca Townsend Therapeutic Massage?)

Now, if everyone cannot play nicely: Here is my radical proposal for all you North American Soccer League renegade team owners …  hold on. The New York Cosmos and the Tampa Bay Rowdies don’t want to come play us anymore? OK. Let’s ship in all kinds of crazy, fun international teams. JAMAICAN NATIONAL TEAM!!! We could pack a soccer SunSplash at The Mike! Re-open diplomatic talks with T.C. Mazembe … Do positive soccer diplomacy work. Continue to think outside the system and tap underutilized resource channels. Continue to put our best on the field, let’s pack the house, sell tons of shwag and give our visitors a nice cut. Let’s continue to pack big soccer parties no matter what the soccer chiefs say!

Let’s be better than we ever imagined we could be!

I believe that we will win again, again and again!

(P.S. Invest more in women’s soccer. And massage therapy.)

Thanks for reading/indulging.

 

Leadership and the Not-Raging Bull

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My reading continues of The Way of Life: Lao Tzu, a new translation of the Tao Te Ching by R.B. Blakney.

Entries number 67 and 68 resonated especially deeply with me and my ever-evolving concept on what characteristics define a good leader.

Check it out:

#68

A skillful soldier is not violent;

An able fighter does not rage;

A mighty conqueror does not give battle;

A great commander is a humble man.

 

You may call this pacific virtue;

Or say that it is mastery of men;

Or that it is rising to the measure of God,

or to the stature of the ancients.

 

Here’s its more complicated corollary:

#67

Everywhere, they say the Way, our doctrine,

Is so very like detested folly;

But greatness of its own alone explains

Why it should be thus held beyond the pale,

If it were only orthodox, long since

It would have seemed a small and petty thing!

 

I have to keep three treasures well secured:

The first, compassion; next frugality;

And third, I say that never would I once

Presume that I should be the whole world’s chief.

 

Given compassion, I can take courage;

Given frugality, I can abound;

If I can be the world’s most humble man,

Then I can be its highest instrument.

 

Bravery today knows no compassion;

Abundance is, without frugality,

And eminence without humility:

This is the death indeed of all our hope.

 

In battle, ’tis compassion wins the day;

Defending, ’tis compassion that is firm:

Compassion arms the people God would save.

 

Ruminating on The Way of Life: Lao Tzu

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What a delight for the intellectual soul, reading R.B. Blakney’s translation of the Tao Te Ching, a book of 81 poems expressed by Chinese mystics secluded in remote mountain valleys centuries before Christ. Lao Tzu is credited as The Old One who compiled The Way into written form.

This morning, the page was waiting to be devoured: San-shih fu or Thirty Spokes.

Read this beautiful translation, written in 1955:

Thirty spokes converge

In the hub of a wheel;

But the use of the cart

Will depend on the part

Of the hub that is void.

 

With a wall all around

A clay bowl is molded;

But the use of the bowl

Will depend on the part

Of the bowl that is void.

 

Cut out windows and doors

In the house as you build;

But the use of the house

Will depend on the space

In the walls that is void.

 

So advantage is had

From whatever is there;

But usefulness rises

From whatever is not.

 

Insight applicable in so many situations, coaching the philosophy of soccer, for example. Lao Tzu inspires me to wax poetic on the beautiful game:

On a thick field of grass

Players coax encased air;

But the use of the field

Will depend on finding

The space that is void.

 

Ironic how, in the portion of his introduction dedicated to outlining key concepts, Blakney offers the following description of Tao or 陶: “A road, a path, the way by which people travel, the way of nature and finally the Way of ultimate Reality.”

That is Hash Road: Hoosier Shangrila.

Indy Eleven vs. IU, the tradition continues

IU warms up ahead of Indy Eleven match Feb 26 2016

The Hustlin’ Hoosiers of the Indiana University Men’s Soccer Team warm up ahead of a Feb. 26, 2016 exhibition match against the  North American Soccer League’s Indy Eleven at the John Mellencamp Sport Pavilion in Bloomington, Indiana.

The annual tradition that pits Indy Eleven against Indiana University Men’s Soccer, now in its third year, is an excellent opportunity for a group of pros just beginning to coalesce and find their chemistry at the beginning of their preseason to test their collective skills against the products of one of the nation’s strongest collegiate programs.

But it’s more than just a pro versus the varsity starters exhibition, it’s an opportunity for players new to the state of Indiana to learn what it means to be a Hoosier.

When the pros stepped onto the turf at the John Mellencamp Sports Pavilion last night, they saw the words writ large on the walls behind the goals: “Play Hard … Play Smart … Play Physical…” When the whistle blew to start the game, they learned how it felt to see that philosophy in action. The Hoosiers came out hard.

Indy managed to score the first goal, thanks to the hustle of Brad Ring, an Eleven player who played college ball at IU from 2005-2008. As the team’s Tweeted recap explained:

“33′ GOAL INDY! Ring’s stinger from 30 blocked right into path of Smart, whose far post cross is nodded home by Zayed.”

IU continued its aggressive press, however, and managed to score and equalizer within 5 minutes. The first period concluded without any additional goals. The second period ended scoreless, as well. So the series no stands at 1-1-1, with Indy taking the first win in 2014, IU winning last year and the two settling for a tie on Friday.

What can be learned from the experience and put to use for Indy as the team continues in 2016, working though its preseason toward its home opener against the Ottawa Fury on April 9 at Michael Carroll Stadium in Downtown Indianapolis?

Here’s a word they can meditate upon moving forward: Finesse.

The word came to mind Friday as a solid Indy scoring opportunity sailed high and wide of the Hoosier net, the result of a ball blasted that could have used instead finesse.

The word applied to other instances, namely on a couple occasions where players employed showier techniques when simplicity would have work just as well. For instance, why opt for an outside-of-the-foot pass, flicked over a defender’s head with the hope it would be controlled by a rushing attacker when an simple inside-of-the-foot pass delivered with finesse to feet would have been more effective — and included the benefit of maintaining possession? The hopeful flicking (as well as hopeful blasting from deeper) often resulted in the ball stuffed right back down on Indy’s defense.

In a brief exchange after the game, when asked his thoughts about the frantic pace which Indy exhibited in the opening minutes of the match, the Hoosiers’ head coach, Todd Yeagley, said he thought the long ball blasts spoke well of his team’s aggressive efforts to step up.

Paraphrasing Yeagley here: “Most college teams would hold a compact back, trying to absorb what the [more experienced team] brings. But the Hoosiers are fit, we’ve been working out together for two months, while Indy has been back in training for just a few days. Rather than hold back, we decided to press. I don’t think they were anticipating that much pressure.”

In an interview with Greg Rakestraw’s Soccer Saturday, Indy midfielder Dylan Mares offered his post-game analysis. He noted that the 9v9 indoor format was challenging for his squad, the field smaller dimensions presented a different dynamic with two fewer players on the field.

“It’s definitely fun playing those guys (Indiana) because they work hard, they’re athletic — and it makes it challenging for us,” Mares said. “It’s not necessarily a walk in the park just because they’re a college team. And you can’t go in there thinking that. I don’t think we did.. I don’t think we came off on the right foot. But, again, it’s preseason. We’ve only been at it a week and half, two weeks now. It helps us learn a little more about ourselves going forward.”

First half notes from the sideline:

Opening minutes, Indy pacing seems rushed. They crashed many long balls.

The first scoring opportunity worth noting: an Indy forward stumbled in front of goal, leaving Brad Ring with what seemed like a good scoring opportunity. Alas, it wasn’t to be.

Then came an Indiana onslaught, a couple Hoosiers succeed in working to the far right corner of the field, bringing a mess of Indy defenders with them, they quickly dropped to a teammate rushing the right corner of the 18. As Indy Coach Tim Hankinson is screaming “Step to the ball!” a Hoosier shot forces keeper Jon Busch into action.

Indy counters, but IU is right back on the attack, forcing another Busch save. Then comes another excellent attack in which a player whose name we should know (Help Me Out Here IU Soccer Media), weaves through what seems like three Indy guys and should have scored. Alas.

Then, yet another potent fast attack from IU.

At least one Indy dude begins grumbling and Hankinson encourages him to “stay in the game (and) not loose cool.”

Don Smart enters, Siniša takes a break.

Brad Ring springs an attack from the right and Don Smart and Eamon Zayed finish the kill  from the left. Goal!!!

Ring and Smart have been leaders from the team’s inaugural season in 2014. Zayed, the League of Ireland’s 2011 Player of the Year, is new to Indy this year. (Among his attacking accolades are many noted hat tricks.)

IU responds with a immediate counter from the left flank, but the shot flies wide.

Then Indiana’s Phil Fives finds a pocket — sensed by Yeagley, who screams, “There it is!” — as the kid presses from the center, then pulls wide and rips a shot from around the right corner of the 18. Scored equalized within five minutes!

Maybe three minutes later, IU shoots again, only denied the inner net because Busch threw himself in harm’s way. The resulting corner results in IU forcing Busch into action yet again. At the 1-minute-mark, IU unleashed another decent shot that sailed wide of the goal.

The second half brought a whole new starting lineup for Indy. [How many changes did the Hoosiers make? We’ll have to wait for IU to fill in the blank on that one.] The Eleven fielded many familiar Indy faces in the second half, just one new team member, Neil Shaffer.

“Possession!” Hankinson instructs.

“Why let him have it?” the coach asks a player he wished stepped up to shut down an IU possession more quickly in the midfield. “Walk forward and keep him to one side!”

To the team he advised, “Hold the ball up, building deeper and moving forward!” Also on several occasions, “Shape! On your block!”

Assistant Indy Coach Tim Regan informed the frontline, “Don’t always be looking to turn by yourself. Trap it and pass it … if it takes you more than two touches, it’s not good enough!”

Aside from IU forcing one last Busch save, Indy pressed hard enough to cause Coach Yeagley to yell at his defenders not to attempt anything fancy when the Eleven’s frontline were swarming the goal like sharks smelling blood in the water. When the pressure gets dangerous on D, Yeagley said, “it’s up and out, there’s no touch!”

His father, also the father of the IU Soccer program, former head coach Jerry Yeagley watched quietly from the sidelines, a subtle grin of what appeared to be satisfaction often spread across this lips.

Scoring Summary and lineups courtesy of the great John Koluder, Indy Eleven’s communications captain:
INDY – Eamon Zayed (Don Smart) 33’
IU – 38’

Indy Eleven 1st Half IX (3-1-3-1): Jon Busch; Lovel Palmer, Colin Falvey, Nemanja Vukovic; Nicki Paterson; Brad Ring, Sinisa Ubiparipovic (Don Smart 30’), Justin Braun; Eamon Zayed

Indy Eleven 2nd Half IX (3-1-3-1): Keith Cardona; Marco Franco (Don Smart 77’), Cory Miller, Neil Shaffer; Daniel Keller; Dragan Stojkov, Dylan Mares, Duke Lacroix; Wojciech Wojcik (Greg Janicki 67’)

How to receive a Rebecca Townsend massage

Thai massage by PYONKO OMEYAMA via Flickr

Visit me at Lift and try Shiatsu Stretching, which blends elements of Thai massage with Shiatsu techniques. Or choose Swedish Bliss, which blends classic Swedish technique with trigger point therapy, acupressure and assisted stretching. (Photo “Thai massage” by Pyonko Omeyama via Flickr Creative Commons)

Everyone should visit the fabulous massage studio, Lift Therapeutic Massage, in Downtown Indy’s Fletcher Place, at least once in their lifetimes.

Better yet, get on a monthly or quarterly wellness schedule. It’s high-class, first-rate service. I’m honored to work with a very talented group of people.

Beautiful irony that we still fix bodies in a refurbished auto garage. The acclaimed diner Milktooth occupies 75% of the building we share. Book with me at LiftIndy.com or call us at 317/964-0788.

If you’d prefer in-home massage service, contact me directly.

My technique ranges in pressure depending on a client’s needs and can include acupressure, targeted deep work, trigger point therapy, assisted stretching and sports massage.

And remember this holiday season: You can put me under the tree — with a massage gift certificate. Would monthly massage enrich your life and the lives of the people you love? Yep. Guaranteed.

Hope to see you on my table soon.

— Rebecca Townsend, licensed massage therapist, sports and medical massage

Email: hoosierchild at gmail.com

Call: 317/509-0939.

A first in Indiana futbol — the Higher Ed Head-To-Head alumni soccer challenge

An Earlham College Hustlin' Quaker works the ball in 2010. E.C. will be hosting a tailgate party and celebrating the career of long-time soccer coach Roy Messer, who in May passed his coaching torch on to Sam Byrd, '03. The party is on! (Photo courtesy of Earlham College via Flickr Creative Commons)

An Earlham College Hustlin’ Quaker works the ball in 2010. E.C. will be hosting a tailgate party and celebrating the career of long-time soccer coach Roy Messer, who in May, after 34 years of tutoring hundreds of players in the beautiful game, passed his coaching torch on to Sam Byrd, ’03. The party is on! (Photo courtesy of Earlham College via Flickr Creative Commons)

Organizing Teams for a One-of-a-Kind Tournament
Alumni from all 37 of Indiana’s collegiate soccer programs invited to play

As an exercise in building the state’s soccer community, I started to think about how to engage people statewide who are passionate about the sport.

The idea occurred to me to bring alumni of the state’s different soccer programs together for an afternoon of games and socializing, followed by an Indy Eleven game. The idea became more compelling upon discovering that Indiana has 37 collegiate soccer programs! These programs are divided over several different leagues and are scattered in every corner of the state; they never see each other in the same place at the same time. How fun to bring everyone together for once!

So that’s what we’re doing.

On Saturday, Aug. 1, beginning at 2 p.m. at IUPUI’s Michael Carroll Stadium, the inaugural Indy Eleven Higher Ed Head-To-Head will kick off. Men’s, women’s and co-ed matches will be played. These games will be followed by the Indy Eleven v. Atlanta Silverbacks match. Jamaica Reggae Grill has donated food at cost so that we can sell meat and vegetarian plates to support local soccer charities.

Player registration (which includes the Indy Eleven game) is $18; friends and family registration (which includes the Indy game) is $10. Indy Eleven will launch online registration on July 20 and welcomes questions at any time at 317-685-1100. The team has established the following Facebook Event page so people can track logistical details as we move close to game day: https://www.facebook.com/events/951037728251570/

If we want a stadium so that we can accommodate professional men’s and women’s programs and host world-class matches, if we want Futsol for Indiana initiative to provide training courts to underprivileged communities, if we want to build on our existing foundation of producing champion soccer players by providing the best coaching and player support, coming together in a fun, soccer-centered environment will help us accomplish these goals.

Many schools have greeted my calls and emails with enthusiasm; several others have yet to get involved — mostly because coaches are overwhelmed with traveling, scouting and camps in the summer. The key to engagement is finding players to step up and organize their fellow alumni, thus removing what may seem too overwhelming a task from harried coaches to-do lists.

This is a call to action: If you played or know players from schools who are organizing or have yet to organize, it is not too late to join us for our inaugural tournament. Just drop me a line or post a note to the Facebook page and organizers will help get you situated.

The following schools are working on building their teams; former players are welcome to join them:

Ball State (women/exploring)

Bethel College (men)

Butler University (men)

DePauw (men)

Earlham College (men’s and women’s)

Franklin College (men)

Indiana State (women)

Indiana Tech (polling players for interest)

IPFW (IU/Purdue Fort Wayne)

IU Bloomington (men)

Marian University (men’s and women’s)

Oakland City University (men)

University of Evansville (men)

Schools that still need alumni players to step up and lead include:

Anderson (men/women)

Bethel College (women)

Butler (women)

Calumet College of St. Joseph (men/women)

DePauw (women)

Franklin College (women)

Goshen College (men/women)

Grace College and Theological Seminary (men/women)

Hanover men (Hanover women declined to participate because they have an additional event)

Holy Cross College at Notre Dame (men/women)

Huntington University (men/women)

Indiana Tech (women)

IUFW (women)

IUPUI (women)

IU (women)

Indiana Weslyn (men/women)

Manchester College (men/women)

Oakland City (women)

Purdue (women)

Rose-Hulman (men/women)

St. Josephs College (men/women)

St. Mary’s College in South Bend (women)

St. Mary of Woods (women)

Taylor (men/women)

University of Evansville (women)

University of Indianapolis (men/women)

University of Notre Dame (men/women)

University of St. Francis (men/women)

University of Southern Indiana (men/women)

Valparaiso University (men/women)

Wabash (men)