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Boone’s Underground Bike Polo League

first_imgThe Secret World of Bikes Hitting Bikes, Intense Competition and Camaraderie Story by Eric CrewsAs Seen in the High Country PressEvery Monday afternoon around 6:30 p.m., when the weather allows, a small but dedicated group of Boone’s best bike polo players take the field at Junaluska Park. The two teams line up on either end of the old, abandoned baseball field and, with a chorus of yells, charge toward the center of the field. The bikes, and the riders who propel them, collide with one another as the players battle for position and swing wildly with their mallets at the soft, grapefruit-size ball. They ram each other’s bikes, push one another down and yell vicious insults at one another as they rush full-speed across the grass, sparing nothing in hopes of victory.As fierce and intimidating as it sounds, bike polo is how these young men prefer to spend their time after work. Their jobs during the day range from bike shop mechanics, to carpenters, to business owners, but when they share the field none of that matters.“It’s all about going out and having fun,” John Fennell, an employee at Magic Cycles, said before the match on Monday. “We try not to take it too seriously, but,” he said, lingering for a moment, “we definitely play to win.”In different incarnations, Fennell explained, bike polo has been an off-and-on, semi-organized sport in Boone since the 1990s, when Mike Boone of Magic Cycles and Shaw Brown of Boone Bike and Touring bought sets of mallets, organized two teams and began playing.But over the past two years, the play has become more regular, the teams stay more or less the same from week to week and each team has their own jerseys.“Everyone has gotten more organized and consistent for the last two years,” Fennell said. “And, although we don’t have official teams, there are certain people who always play against one another.”“I enjoy the competition and the camaraderie of it,” Sam Hutchens of Boone Bike and Touring said. “It’s one of those things that you don’t have to be the fittest, fastest guy out there to be good at bike polo. It helps, without a doubt. But you can be out there and not be in shape at all and score some points.”In bike polo, points are scored by hitting the ball between the goal—a pair of cones spaced about 10 feet apart from one another—while the charging horde of bikes crowds around in an attempt to block the goal. Most goals—though not all goals—are scored on the breakaway by a fast rider who can out-sprint his competition to the ball and make the clutch shot count while under pressure.The goal on every Monday afternoon is to play three games to seven points; that way there can be a clear winner of the week, and bragging rights can be established. “Basically, our goal is to make sure we get three games in so that we can have a champion,” Hutchens said. “We play on Mondays but we see each other throughout the week so we’re always digging on each other. If one team wins one week then the other team basically gives ‘em hell the next week. It’s just a general good time. Everybody’s got a smile on their face, yet it’s super competitive and just a great time, all around.”When asked if taking bike polo in Boone to the next level with more competitive play and matches against other teams was a future possibility, Hutchens and Fennell both shrugged it off and said that they believe it would take some of the enjoyment away from what they do for fun.“There actually is serious world class play,” Hutchens said. “But the rules that they play by are just too strict. We really get a lot of happiness out of bumping people out of the way. We’re not trying to hurt anybody, but I’m not going to shy away from throwing an elbow or anything. Those guys in leagues are serious though. They play that you lose the ball if you do something like [throw an elbow] and you have to start over. We’ve talked about getting more serious, but, for us, we feel it would just take the fun out of it. We’re happier just doing our own thing and playing with people we know, people that we know if we knock them off their bike they’re not going to get up and try to fight us or anything like that. We’re all just friends having fun.”While having fun and getting exercise is what bike polo is all about for this group, finding a place to play over the years has been difficult.“Basically, we’ve been kicked off of every field in Boone, except for Junaluska Park,” Hutchens said. “When we started playing we played in the field on Greenway Road where the new medical facility is located. After that, we tried playing at Brookshire Park but we got kicked out of there. ASU has forbidden us from playing on any grass surface at State Farm. The only place we haven’t been kicked off of is Junaluska Park.”Although the field at Junaluska Park is not ideal for bike polo because of its irregular shape, the unleveled surface and the consistent muddy area in the center, the bike polo players are happy to have a place to play.“It’s super small, not even level—it pretty much slopes from one end to the other—there’s a huge mud hole that never dries up and it acts as the drain field for the rest of the park, so it stays wet after it rains,” Hutchens said. “But we’ve just kind of taken it on as our own field. And we really like that it is in town. So many of us are coming from town, whether from the bike shops or other places, it’s nice to be able to ride your bike to the field.”On the triangular shaped field—an old baseball diamond that is too small for all types of baseball, except perhaps whiffle ball—the bike polo players are battling it out in game three. The dusk is settling quickly, but from the looks of it, they’ve only just warmed up. The trash talking mixes with words of encouragement from teammates and the clang of bikes hitting bikes. A quick flurry of scores puts the black team ahead 3-0, and a few members of the white team shake their heads and agree that it will take a miracle to come back from this deficit. As the white team puts the ball into play and heads out to try for “the miracle comeback,” it is easy to remember back to the games we played as young kids, and exciting to know that, for some, the thrill and enjoyment of the game lives on.last_img read more

6 ways to build a better onboarding program

first_img ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Research has shown time and again that a consumer’s lifetime profitability and value is determined within the first 90 days of their relationship with the organization. For credit unions, this time frame is ideal for uncovering needs and building the type of relationship members will talk about.I’ve been a part of the credit union movement for more than a decade and have seen what works, and what doesn’t, when it comes to building solid relationships. I joined Callahan & Associates as a client engagement specialist nearly one year ago and have since worked to implement a successful onboarding program. Now, I’m taking that knowledge — as well as research I’ve combed from inside and outside the industry — on the road … or, really, online … with “6 Ways To Build A Better Onboarding Program.”What did I miss? What would you add? Leave a comment below.1. Start With Key Performance IndicatorsWhat does a “successfully onboarded member” look like at the credit union? Onboarding, which is essentially relationship-building, can be difficult to quantify. Many organizations use metrics such as loan penetration as a key performance indicator (KPI) for measuring success, but there are pros and cons to that. After all, what if the new member isn’t ready for a loan? continue reading »last_img read more

What’s reopened in our area?

first_imgPhase one allowed manufacturing and construction workers to return to work. It also allowed retail locations to open up of they provide curbside pick-up. The ending of the order initiated the first phase of four in opening New York. Town Hall opening May 18Hickories Park and Hickories Park bathrooms May 18 Additionally, some municipalities have opened their offices, parks and more. Town of Union refuse and recycling service returns to normal collection schedule May 18 (WBNG) — On May 15, the New York On-Pause order ended for the Southern Tier. Owego: Binghamton: Town of Union: Curfew requiring residents to stay home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. except for essential travel ended on May 16Suspension of the City’s blue bag requirement for refuse collection ended on May 16Suspension of parking meter enforcement and code enforcement violations in non-emergency / public safety situations ended on Ma 16 This list will be updated as more information becomes available.last_img read more

During damage control, Lakers give glimpse into their new power structure

first_img Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years EL SEGUNDO — Who is pulling the strings for the Lakers?Since mid-April, that’s been the most significant question for the franchise, whose front office has seemed to be encased in a black box, with the team preferring to remain tight-lipped. Beyond Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss, who is influencing key offseason decisions?At a press conference introducing new head coach Frank Vogel on Monday – and attempting damage control following a morning television interview during which former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson cited “backstabbing and whispering” among the reasons he resigned last month – General Manager Rob Pelinka gave the most insight yet into how the Lakers will look this summer, as they try to chart a course back to competitiveness.The outline that Pelinka gave was a simple one: He reports to Buss. Absent Buss’ input on Monday, that’s the only information the Lakers have put out publicly. In practice, the Lakers’ new model might be a bit murkier. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Finding a functional balance of the voices making decisions might be the challenge for the Lakers – one which Vogel addressed right away in his comments. Since Pelinka now has a hand-picked coach, there’s seemingly more synergy between the front office and coaching staff, and Vogel said he connected well with Pelinka in the interview process.Keeping that connection, he said, will be key to getting back on the right track.“Starting with ownership and the front office to the coaching staff, the players, the trainers, the business side – we are all going to be pulling in the same direction,” Vogel said. “This is something I’ve always preached as a head coach because you can accomplish amazing things if everybody is together.”The past few days have provided a bit of clarity: There are a lot of people within the Lakers organization who are pulling, though the directions still aren’t all that transparent. One of those voices was standing near the wall close to LeBron James and other players during the Monday press conference: Kurt Rambis. The former Lakers player and assistant coach was a longtime fixture in the organization before sojourning to Minnesota and New York, and he has deep ties to the Buss family, as well as former Lakers coach Phil Jackson.Rambis has reportedly gained clout since being hired last September as a special advisor – the same role Johnson held before assuming his front office responsibilities. One of the figures who sat in on a number of interviews, including for Vogel and Jason Kidd, it seemed notable that Rambis was one of the people named-checked by Vogel during his opening comments alongside Pelinka and Buss.Rambis is also husband to Linda Rambis, who is widely considered one of Buss’ closest advisors and friends and someone who often sits with her at Lakers home games. While her title within the organization (she’s worked for the Buss family for 40 years) is director of special projects, Linda Rambis also was part of the group that traveled to Philadelphia during the coaching search for a second interview with candidate Monty Williams.“Linda Rambis is an incredibly trusted colleague and partner for all of the employees here at the Lakers,” Pelinka said. “She’s been here for decades. She has a wisdom in how this business works, how this town operates, and the relationship capital and knowledge and experience she brings to the table is incredibly helpful to all of us.”Other figures who have been more prominent in the wake of Johnson’s departure include Joey Buss, the president of the South Bay Lakers, and Jesse Buss, the director of scouting and assistant general manager. The half-brothers of Jeanie Buss, they’ve helped identify some of the recent draft talent the Lakers have acquired, including Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart. Team COO Tim Harris, who Johnson accused of wedging his way into basketball decisions, has also been working for the team for nearly three decades and was involved in the coaching search.While Pelinka is ultimately accountable for basketball decisions, it’s unclear how much influence this circle has on his decisions, or even above him with Jeanie Buss. Johnson gave the impression that he felt other voices were impinging on his ability to make the calls he wanted to make, leading him to quit.It’s likely that those other voices will play a strong role in how Pelinka and Buss decide to face their consequential choices this summer, including how to use the No. 4 pick in next month’s draft, and how to prioritize which players to pursue in a market where roughly 40 percent of the league is about to hit free agency.Johnson’s mud-slinging put the Lakers in a difficult position on Monday, but it also creates an uncertainty going forward: For potential free agents, Pelinka and the franchise must brush aside the Hall-of-Famer’s assertions about back-stabbing and power-grabbing within the organization. Pelinka tried to smooth this out early in the press conference by saying those within the team know that the pieces to be competitive are still there.“We know the characteristics and qualities we stand for,” he said. “And we know as a staff and feel very strongly that if people judge and evaluate us for who we are as an organization and the vision and path we have going forward, we feel there will be a very, very strong appeal for the great players to come here.”Related Articles AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersThe team let it be known earlier this month that they wouldn’t be hiring a new president of basketball operations to replace Johnson, suggesting that Buss couldn’t see anyone else in those shoes.“She is gonna eliminate that position because it was created entirely for Magic,” Pelinka said. “And no one can really replace what he does.”From a flow-chart perspective, that might be more semantics than structure: The Lakers have had executives in between ownership and the general manager before. But the net effect is that Pelinka makes the basketball recommendations to Buss, which is what Johnson did before he left.“When it comes to a basketball decision, I collaborate with the staff, many of whom are at this press conference today,” he said. “And I make a recommendation to Jeanie, and she blesses that or not. It’s very clear and very simple.”The collaboration aspect is one that might not be as clear and simple as it first appears, particularly in the wake of Johnson’s criticism Monday that there are “too many voices” guiding the Lakers’ direction and influencing Buss’ decision-making and that the team is lacking a clear leader (a role, it’s worth mentioning, which Johnson decided to abdicate).last_img read more