From the Jan. 13, 2007 Pioneer Press
Fraquetball's fierce fellowship
A game invented at St. Paul's Open School has spurred rivalries, trash-talking and its own hall of fame.
BY DOUG BELDEN
It has a commissioner, a hall of fame, historic rivalries, pages of stats on the Web, a rulebook with official-sounding language and lots of trash-talking.
And you've never heard of it.
It's Fraquetball, conceived as a cross between foosball and racquetball but more akin to a game you and your friends might make up in the basement if you were bored and it was too cold to go outside.
That's pretty much how it got started, back in 2003 at St. Paul's Open School.
A gym teacher had some pingpong paddles and balls lying around, and "we just started playing around with them," said Liam Shramko, an eighth-grader at the time and now a senior at the K-12 school in the West Seventh neighborhood.
It began in the main hallway of the third floor, but given that it tends to involve large people swinging paddles and sending balls rocketing every which way, it was quickly moved to a narrow side hall with a little-used elevator at one end.
Fraquetball is played only at Open School, as far as anyone knows. Games are held at lunch, and the rules are simple.
Two teams of two players face each other on either side of a line in the middle of the hallway. There are goal lines taped to the floor at each end of the hallway. The object is to hit the ball over your opponent's goal line. First team to seven points wins (but it must win by two).
Because the ability to stop a fast-moving ball with various parts of your body is highly valued, "it really helps being big," said Tim Leone-Getten, who teaches English language learners at the school and has been a competitive Fraquetballer since the beginning.
Doug Anderson is big.
The 2006 Open School grad, who holds the all-time records for goals, aces, steals and blocks and is known as "the Barry Bonds of Fraquetball," was back Wednesday to lead his team, Grease Lightning, to victory over a team called Six-One-Tizzou.
Fraquetball equipment is stored in a locker on the third floor for use at lunchtime at Open School in St. Paul. The game is a cross between foosball and raquetball.
"One of the techniques I pioneered was the pick," Anderson explained after the game, referring to a move in which his teammate runs up to the mid-line to distract the opponent while Anderson slams the ball toward the goal.
If Anderson is the Bonds of Fraquetball and Shramko is seen as its Abner Doubleday, then Nathan Jesson is the sport's Kenesaw Mountain Landis.
Fraquetball's first commissioner and the one who, in his words, "brought Fraquetball out of the Stone Age," Jesson organized the first tournament in February 2003 and developed many of the statistics, scheduling formats and awards that make up the modern-day game.
He also spent hundreds of dollars on pingpong supplies, often buying in bulk. "I'd get the strangest stares from the clerks. One guy asked me if I was making a bomb," he said.
But Jesson is now a freshman in college, and Fraquetball keeps evolving.
This year, for instance, it became illegal for players to use their non-paddle hand to set up a shot.
"It was ruining the integrity of the game," said Shramko, the current commissioner. "We want to keep the competition up."
In a school that doesn't use letter grades, students jump at the chance to compete, Leone-Getten said. And because Open School has no varsity sports (students can join teams at Central High), "this kind of thing becomes a bigger deal," he said. "Their creative juices get put into this sport."
As the name implies, Open School is a product of the progressive "open classroom" movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. It is the district's only K-12 school, and enrollment is a little more than 400 students. Relationships between faculty and students are prized, and first names are used for everyone, even the principal.
"The object is to encourage kids to be internally motivated," said principal Todd Bartholomay. Students feel "empowered to help shape the school."
Shramko said he's confident his contribution to shaping the school will carry on after he graduates this spring.
And both he and Anderson are headed to Evergreen State College in Washington state this fall, so it's possible Fraquetball will one
Doug Anderson makes a save during the first game of Fraquetball of the lunch hour Wednesday.
day be transplanted beyond the third-floor hallway of Open School.
But for now, there's a season to get through.
Thirty-two students in grades seven through 12 and eight staff members are competing this year in a 13-game schedule that started in mid-December and will end sometime in March.
The second featured match Wednesday was Shramko and his Fetal Attraction teammate, Andrew Hoaglund, against Jaime Avila and Jose Garcia of Chivas.
"It's been very intense," Avila, a junior, said of the rivalry between him and Shramko. "We don't like to lose to each other."
"Reigning MVP for a reason!" Avila shouted at Shramko after Chivas beat Fetal Attraction 7-3. Trash-talking is nothing new between those two. Shramko said in the student newspaper last spring that Avila was not the Michael Jordan of Fraquetball but rather "a poor man's Latrell Sprewell."
Wednesday's loss stung Shramko, but many Fraquetball insiders expect Fetal Attraction will get another shot at Chivas in this year's finals.
Still, "a loss is a loss," Shramko said. "That's going to hurt us when we get seeded in the playoffs."
An Interview with Fraquetball’s legendary first Commissioner;
Q: First I’d like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with me.
A: Oh, it’s my pleasure.
Q: Now let’s start at the very beginning. What happened those first few days of Fraquetball? There are those that say you weren’t one of the true creators, any truth to these unsubstantiated rumors?
A: Now I’m glad you asked that. Everybody knows that Liam Shramko got some free ping pong balls and paddles from the gym teacher, and that’s what started Fraquetball. Well the first day, he, Emmanuel Mauleon, and Gus Olsen were playing with them in the main hallway, trying to hit the ball past the other person, though they were only standing a few feet apart. Now the second day is when Fraquetball really began. Me, Liam, Devlin Byrne, and another person I don't remember were still in the main hallway the next day messing around, when Tim Leone-Getten told us to get out of everybody's way and move to the side hallway. Now I don't want to get in the game of saying who created what, but this is when I, with the help of Liam, created the back and middle lines the serving and scoring rules, essentially all the bare bones of Fraquetball. So for that reason I'm credited among the creators of the game.
Q: Wow, you certainly aren't short of words. Well, moving on let's talk about those first couple weeks of Fraquetball. Could you tell us how the best team was determined?
A: Certainly, you see back then if your team won you stayed on the court and played again. It was pretty simple, though there were no designated teams, people tended to team up so they would develop something of a chemistry together. Back then Seeman (Liam Shramko and Geoff Freeman) were the team to beat, though they were occasionally challenged by The Jesson Five (Nathan Jesson and Aaron I.S.), Gentle Giants (Cameron Beitler and Sean Keith) and Los Geezers (Tim Leone-Getten and Leo Bickelhaupt). But Seeman rarely lost, and heading into the tournament they were the heavy favorite.
Q: Okay seriously, let's keep those answers under 5000 words okay? Not that difficult a request. But how did Seeman fare in that tournament?
A: They struggled early, which was only a sign of things to come. They barely beat the 8 seed, Nevermind (Doug Anderson and Jim Witt), and they faced Los Geezers in a tough semifinal. Meanwhile, my team lost to Tastes Like Byrning (Devlin and Mackenzie Byrne), and lost in a close series. It was partially because the back line had been moved away from the door, which seriously threw off my game, and partly because we had no offense. Los Geezers went into the finals the favorite, and came out with only one victory to show for it, and Gentle Giants were the champions. Which is something of a recurring theme in Fraquetball history.
Q: Well, you really answered way more than I asked but oh well. Can you talk about the committee the first year, and the role it played?
A: That first year the committee was composed of myself, Liam, Geoff, Aarson I.S, and Gus Olsen. We voted on things like what the sport should be called, and they approved the tournament bracket and divisions for the Forgotten Season.
Q: Now, you mentioned the Forgotten Season. What the hell happened with that?
A: Well Fraquetball was very popular, and I thought that it was what people would always want to do during recess no matter what the weather. I was wrong. Once Frisbee started I tried to keep the season going, and about five games in I finally gave up.
Q: Were there any big surprises during The Forgotten Season?
A: Well, we saw the demise of Seeman being a Fraquetball powerhouse, they were 3-2, losing to Nevermind and Gentle Giants. Other than that things played out as expected. Though it was also the first time Jaime Avila played Fraquetball, and man was his team awful back then. They had to trick one team into thinking they would get paid for losing.
Q:Wow, that's the first borderline interesting thing I've heard you say this entire interview, and you glossed over it. At any rate, moving into the next year, what changed for Fraquetball?
A: Well we replaced Aaron and Geoff on the committeee with Doug and Andrew Hoaglund. I set a more modest goal for the amount of games to be played during the season (8) for fear of the players losing interest. I also started recording stats and games on the computer for the first time. Notable new teams were Jesson 5 (myself and Doug) and Mexico City Sombreros (Liam and Gus).
Q:We all know how meaningless the regular season is, so let's skip to the playoffs. What happened?
A: In a blowout over Ton's O' Fun (Jim and Mackenzie) in the first round, I scored my first official Fraquetball goal. Though it didn't count, because it was the playoffs. Mexico City lost to Gentle Giants in the other semifinal. And we played Los Geezers in ours. In all honesty, this is the last time I went into a series thinking we would lose. Los Geezers were 17-2 when not playing the Gentle Giants at that point, and we'd lost badly to them during the regular season. They won the first two games, but Doug's serve was dominant, and we won the series. That's actually when double back defense on the serve was created, to try to stymie Doug's serve. You don't see that much anymore though. But after that series we could just taste the championship.
Q: You say that, but you didn't exactly start out strong.
A: Yeah, we lost 3 close games to start, Gentle Giants got caught off guard the next two, stepped it up, but couldn't seal the deal and lost games 6 and 7. If you don't know about that Game 7, get yourself one of the many book's written on it. I'm not going to get into it here. Though I was named championship series MVP.
Q: Isn't that the only official award you won?
A: Shut the fuck up! I finished second in gold glove voting twice in a row, in 2006 I led the leagues in stops and saves, in 2005 I-
Q: All right, I get it, it's a touchy issue. Let's move on. That same year you started another Fraquetball season, even though it was already January. Was that a wise decision? Weren't you just asking for another "Forgotten Season."
A: We almost got one. You have to understand the demand for Fraquetball at that time though. Everybody wanted to play.16 teams signed up, and the season started great. The playoffs were where I ran into trouble.
Q: Let's talk about the playoffs a little bit. You beat Geek 2 Chic in the first round, and then played Mexico City Sombreros.
A: It was a hard fought series. There was this general perception that season that we couldn't beat Liam, the Gentle Giants could, but that we could beat the Gentle Giants. We lost that semifinal 3-2, but if we had won I'm positive we would have won it all that year.
Q: What happened in the other semifinal?
A: It didn't happen.
Q: Excuse me?
A: You see, I ran into the Frisbee problem again. The Realists (Brandon Moore and Ed Malone) were supposed to play Gentle Giants, but I gave the Giants a free pass. It was the worst decision in my time as Commissioner. Though it does give you a sense of how inevitable the Gentle Giants seemed. And in a shortened final where Liam wasn't really trying the Gentle Giants swept the three game series.
Q: Wow, you didn't do a very good job as Commissioner that year.
A: Hey, I had to roll with the punches, play the hand I was dealt, insert other generic sports metaphor here.
Q: The next season you had a number of new teams, and one long season.
A: The18 game season was something that had to be tried. You don't know something's not going to work until you try it.
Q: That's pretty crappy logic.
A: Hey, you better be nice, I'm the one conducting the interview.
Q: No, I am. You can tell because I'm asking the questions.
A: Yeah, but we're the same person, I'm clearly writing the questions and answers to this interview.
Q: Good point, but don't go all Matrix on me okay? Getting back to Fraquetball-
A: The regular season doesn't matter.
Q: You're probably saying that because you barely qualified for the playoffs. But first, let's talk about what happened the night of February 3.
A: I remember it like it was a couple months under 3 years ago. It was the night of my seventeenth birthday party. I had invited all the committee members and we were going to vote on the different Fraquetball award. Going into the night everybody knew that Liam was going to win MVP. He had 118 stops, and 100 saves, shattering all sorts of records. Add to that his team went 14-4, winning the conference. And at the party, Doug made it very public that because Liam was going to win anyhow, he would vote for himself, which would have kept it from being unanimous. And I fired Doug. I replaced him with Sean who was also there that night, who served out the remainder of his senior year without incident. And Liam was a unanimous MVP.
Q: My sources say that Doug finished 4th that year in MVP, after winning it the previous two years. What happened?
A: Hey buddy, don't take offense, but this is where the interview ends. It's 3:30, I'm going to try to get to sleep again.
(2 Month hiatus in interview)
A: All right, I'm back.
Q: Hope you enjoyed your brief hibernation. Why was it that Doug was so disappointing that year though?
A: I'm going to have to disagree with the premise of your question there. I don't think he was disappointing, in fact, he had quite the season. It was at the level of his 03 season, though not at the legendary status of his 04 season. Doug suffered from a couple problems in the balloting that year. First, MVP fatigue. The least popular player can only win MVP so many years in a row, as Jaime Avila is about to find out. Also, Liam and Cameron had fantastic years, Liam's rivaling Doug's 04 showing. And the reason he finished behind Jaime is because the rest of the committee didn't think about it very hard, they were too distracted by the free buffet.
Q: All right then, to the playoffs. In the first round, you swept, and I mean swept Hat Trick.
A: Yeah, domination can be a lot of fun when you're playing your little brother. Credit to that team though, they did manage to beat us in the pointless season series.
Q: And then in the semifinals, you played Fetal Attraction, and swept them.
A: Yup, we were looking pretty good-
Q: And then came the finals.
A: Yeah, well the Gentle Giants were a winning, practicing, Fraquetball machine. They actually took up residence in the Fraquetball hallway in the week leading up to the finals, just to get accustomed to the lower oxygen at that altitude.
Q: And you?
A: We didn't practice at all, Doug must have had work, I don't know. I really wanted to practice, but Doug was supremely confident in his ability to win no matter what.
Q: And then you got swept.
Q: Well you had an interesting offseason though didn't you? There were some interesting free agent dynamics going on weren't there?
A: There were indeed. There was one big free agent, Cameron Beitler. After Sean graduated, one of the all time greats was without his partner. Rumors swirled of a 3 player teamup with Cameron and Fetal Attraction, but 3 player teams were banned at the offseason committee retreat. Then there were rumors of a Shramko/Beitler teamup, but Liam didn't want to leave Andrew. Through all of that though, Cameron made it clear to me that he would team up with me if I left Doug.
Q: Why didn't you?
A: Doug made a very convincing argument. He pointed out that without the Gentle Giants nothing could possibly stand in our way. I agreed, especially with Sean and Cameron gone, and with Liam teaming up with Andrew, no one could possibly beat us in the finals.
Q: That regular season, you started out strong.
A: That we did, 6-0, beating conference rivals Laffy Taffy, Los Geezers, Alpha Numericals Rev, I was very confident we would win it all.
Q: Then you slowed down, what caused that?
A: Each individual loss has it's own explanation. The Losers played very well against us, and they were undefeated at the time too, and they won an exciting game. Doug was rather ill during the Brooklyn Extreme loss, and Tim Leone-Getten was subbing for Cheng. Against Alpha Numericals Rev we were reduced to playing with the white ping pong ball, which threw me off because it really blended in with the wall. Laffy Taffy played well and beat us too. But at the end of the season we were 9-4, and had won the division for the regular season.
Q: So you had a bye in the playoffs, who'd you play in the semifinals?
A: Laffy Taffy, with Duane Buck subbing for Maritza. They were a huge underdog in the series, and rightfully so, seeing as Jesson 5 is the second best team in the history of Fraquetball. But the series started poorly, with us barely winning 11-9 in the first game. Then experts were saying that maybe we didn't have a chance against The Losers (who had won their conference and finished 12-1) in the finals after all. And then came the next three games, all of which were extraordinarily close, and all of which Laffy Taffy won, eliminating us.
Q: How did that feel?
A: How do you think it felt, it felt really shitty!
Q: No need to be angry.
A: I'm not being angry! But what kind of question is that?!?
Q: All right then, I'll ask a different question, how did you handle the loss?
A: The worst part of it was realizing there was no next year. I couldn't say, "Well I'll come back next year and win the championship," because I was graduating. My Fraquetball career was over, I was irrelevant. It's not easy to come to terms with that when you've lived and breathed something for 4 years and then it gets taken away from you. Another bad part is that we were supposed to win that series, and it wasn't supposed to be close. The part that made that easier is that Laffy Taffy dominated The Losers in the finals, so take that Jaime!
Q: Anything of note happen that offseason?
A: Well we had the first transition in power. Liam was to become Commissioner. Also 3 committee spots were opening up, and two of my three choices made it, Tim Leone-Getten and Griffin Larson, with John left on the outs. I also wrote the "Jesson Amendment" saying that you can't set up your shot with your hand, which I felt went against the spirit of the game.
Q: And then Fraquetball continued the next winter without you.
A: It's a fucking miracle.
By John Knapp
“Why is he better than me?” some might ask. “Because he’s a mean lean winning machine!” said Myles Alteri. While Jaime is soon to become the all time wins leader in Fraquetball, he would be the last to tell you. Jaime is not only one of the best players of all time, but also one of the most modest.
“I’m out there to have fun,” said Jaime when asked why he liked Fraquetball. Jaime is the best player out there, but he is always polite about it. “I mean even after he beats you 7-0 he still shakes hands and is encouraging” said 11th grader Griffin Larsen.
Jaime has been playing Fraquetball since his 7th grade year. He’s won back-to-back MVP’s and last year he won the championship. “He played his heart out, he always does,” said former Fraquetball player Liam Shramko. Jaime has always been a fair and trusty line judge. He keeps stats when asked. Despite all of this, he was never appointed to the Fraquetball committee. When asked about it Jaime said “I was always hopeful about being on the committee, but hey, it’s not my choice.”
"I remember one time in particular, during a fairly heated match of Fraquetball. I knocked off his (Jaime’s) glasses and broke them in for places while attempting to steal a ball. As I apologized frantically, he simply picked up the remains of his lenses and said "it's no problem". Now there's a man I respect" Gryphon Larson.
Jaime is one of the first to lend a helping hand when it comes to Fraquetball; he’s always willing to buy balls, and to help new players be the best they can be. He encourages the teams that are playing while watching. “When he (Jaime) is watching he always has something constructive to say to the players, and it’s never rude. If he’s giving advice people flock to it faster than young children to an old man telling a story,” said Danny Mauleon.
“While playing with Jaime you can tell he is very serious about the game. That never stops him from having a great time though, he is always nice about winning,” said Fraquetball god Nathan Jesson. Winning does come naturally to Jaime, but so does being a great sport. Jaime is in attendance of almost all the games. He cares about every team in Fraquetball: Girls, Boys, Teachers, Students, no matter who is on the court Jaime can always be found on the third floor watching with an intense look on his face.
Jaime is well on his way to becoming the greatest Fraquetball player ever to play. His team is The Sum of All fears. What Fraquetball really fears is losing such a valuable asset. He plays with 11th grader Damien Bullis; Bullis himself is one of Fraquetball’s top players. “Jaime is critical when he needs to be but also understands mistakes. I mean I’m lucky to play with such a Fraquetball Hero.” said Damien when asked what it was like to play with Jaime. Damien says it best, Jaime is a Fraquetball Hero. Hats off to Jaime!
Los Geezers had high hopes going in to the 2008 fraquetball season, Leo Bickelhaupt had this to say, “I thought we would make the playoffs, I sure didn’t think we would be 2-5 at any point.” With the Geezers struggling in a year in which some predicted them to go 10-1, the Geezers have disappointed everyone in the fraquetball community. “It’s hard to watch the Geezers play after seeing how well they have done in the past, but hope isn’t lost yet,” said 11th grader Danny Mauleon. Danny continued to say how well both members of the Geezers played during this year’s All-Star game. With the playoffs just around the corner the Geezers will need to win the rest of their games if they hope to compete. The Geezers have an easy schedule left to finish out the season, but with the way they’ve been playing anything could happen. Even if the Geezers do make the playoffs they will have a very difficult first round match against HAT TRICK! “The Geezers have always been the measurement of how good the league is. It’s sad to see them struggle so much,” said former fraquetball commissioner Nathan Jesson.
Los Geezers are the most experienced fraquetball team in history. They’ve been playing since the sport was invented in 2002, and they have put up a fight every year. “They have lost their touch, they aren’t what they used to be,” said 12th grader Jaime Avila. While many agree that they are over the hill, the way they play on the court would prove otherwise. With more heart than any team out there, the Geezers can play with anyone.
In 2002 the Geezers went into the tournament as a four seed. “They played so well in the first few rounds of the tournament, they had an amazing series against Seamen. Then to see them lose to the Gentle Giants, it was a great upset,” said Nathan Jesson. After an amazing upset over Seamen, Liam Shramko and Gus Olsen; everyone thought that the Geezers were a sure win in the championship. They came out of the championship with disappointment surrounding them. With a heart breaking, and unexpected loss to the Gentle Giants, a little known team consisting of Sean Keith and Cameron Bietler. With the Geezers hearts set on coming back strong they went into the 2003 regular season with fury in their eyes and passion in their hearts, “I wish I remembered it better,” said Leo, with a fond tone. They finished the season with the best record in the A.F.A. They had breezed through the regular season, but the one question remained in the viewer’s minds, could the Geezers step it up in the playoffs. However, Tim and Leo would come away without anything to show for their amazing regular season. Tim was a top candidate in the M.V.P talks but he failed in that too, losing to Doug Anderson.
In 2004 Tim and Leo had a below average regular season finishing 6-4, their worst year yet. This would be the first year that the Geezers hadn’t made the playoffs. “I think everyone was sad to see such a good team fail so miserably,” said former committee member Andrew Hoaglund. That off-season Tim was appointed to the A.F.A. committee and became the first teacher to ever reach such rank in fraquetball history. “I felt we needed a teacher on the committee, Tim was the obvious choice, he’s so good with people,” said Jesson.
When 2005 rolled around the Geezers were confident. However, it year would be the most depressing for Tim and Leo yet. Going 11-7, the Geezers failed to make the playoffs, for the second year in a row. “It was bad, the Geezers were so good, I thought they were a lock for the playoffs,” said former commissioner Liam Shramko. With their record tied with Alpha Numericals Revisited the Geezers were regretting losing the season series to them. That year Tim had some of the most impressive numbers seen in fraquetball, with nine steals (fifth in the league), 65 blocks (first in the league), and 74 goals (second in the league), many wondered why the Geezers had failed to succeed on the court. “Many place the blame solely on Leo, I would tend to agree,” said 11th grader Gryphon Larson.
As the Geezers started to stumble through all their games much of the blame was placed on Leo. “I was playing my best, I just looked shaky compared to Tim”, said Leo. With Tim performing the best he ever had, talks of Tim leaving Leo started to swirl around the league. As time went on Tim stayed with Leo, against advice, and offers, from some very talented, and respected, players. Tim has continued to be one of the top players in fraquetball, while Leo hasn’t improved over the last few years he has been very consistent. Leo has shown many flashes of brilliance, most notably his game against Hat Trick! In the 2008 season “I just happened to find the ball. My eyes found the ball for some unknown reason, and everything was working,” said Leo about the Hat Trick! Game. The Geezers careers have no end in sight, so almost all assume that they’ll find that allusive championship eventually. “Sooner or later it’s gonna happen for them,” said Jaime.
08' Girls Playoffs
As the 2008 girls fraquetball season wraps up only a few teams, from a league of 8, are left contending for the championship. With four teams making the playoffs in the girl’s league, the competition is just now getting started. With the regular season showing as much surprise as it did, all hope to see the same twists and turns in the playoffs.
In the Mediterranean division the teams The Fraquett’s, science teachers Megan Hall and Anna Butler, who went 3-4, and 16 Candles, 11th graders Alicia Martinez and Jessie Biedler, who finished 7-0, have clinched their playoff spots. These two teams will play a best two out of three series to see who will advance to the championship.
From the other division in the girls league, the Sub-Saharan, of the total four teams, only Los Lentes De Sol, 8th grader Laura Cefalu and 9th grader Ginger Falksen, and No Brand Girls, 9th graders Mai See Lee and Jennifer Lor, have received playoff berth. These two teams will play for their conferences spot in the championship. With Los Lentes De Sol finishing with a 6-1 record, second best in the league, they will benefit from home court advantage.
With many of these teams having no playoff experience some wonder if they will be able to perform as well as they have throughout the season. “I see Los Lentes De Sol losing, in a close one, but I see them losing,” said well respected fraquetball expert Jaime Avila. With such upsets being predicted many are curious to see the outcome of this highly anticipated series. Recently Jennifer has been on a tear. In her last victory against The Fraquett’s she shot an amazing 7-8. Mai Cee has had consistent back D all season; finishing 3rd in the league in saves. However, you can’t count out skill. Laura Cefalu has a DYN-O-MITE shot, when she’s on. With the combination of her skill and her drive to win, Los Lentes De Sol could be a very hard team to beat. I predict them to win in the minimum two games, 7-3, and 7-4.
On the other side of the bracket, The Fraquett’s go in as huge underdogs to the undefeated 16 Candles. “With Megan having so much experience anything could happen,” said the Fraquetball Holy Spirit, Liam Shramko. The key to this team’s success will be fraquetball IQ. If they notice recurring shot patterns that appear so much in the play of 16 Candles, they have a good chance of an early upset. This is not to say I would discount 16 Candles. Finishing with a perfect 7-0 record, they become only the third team in fraquetball history to have an undefeated season. They have looked strong on both sides of the ball all season long. If they continue that caliber of play no one will be able to stop this bus, sorry Keanu. I see 16 Candles winning in two, 7-3, and 7-5. This will all come down to weather or not Megan and Anna bring their A game.
In the championship I see it coming down to the two top ranked teams in the league, Los Lentes De Sol and 16 Candles. In the one match that these teams played in the regular season, entertainment and amazement triumphed in the eyes of those who witnessed the game. When all was said and done 16 Candles walked away victoriously. Having never looked back from that loss, Los Lentes De Sol completed the regular season allowing only five goals in the remaining three games. “We are going to stay optimistic. I think our chances are good,” said Laura. The championship will be one for the ages with the ferocity of these two squads.
An Introspective look at the Best Team In Fraquetball History: The Gentle Giants
It all began in February 2003. The beginning of a dynasty, when the first ever Fraquetball tournament took place. The Gentle Giants first round opponent was Alpha Numericals, (Alex Ford and Joel Reiss). The series was a challenge for Sean Keith and Cameron Beitler. Although Sean and Cameron were the three seed, Alpha Numericals wouldn’t be dismissed easily. Gentle Giants won the first game, 7-5. The game was tense with the kind of excitement usually accompanied with the playing of a real sport. The second game was not as kind to Gentle Giants. They lost, only scoring 3 goals. Alpha Numericals hit their stride that game, and they played just as well in the deciding third game. It was a game that looked like it would never end. First Alpha Numericals jump ahead, then Gentle Giants tie it. At 9-9 the game was delayed until the next day. They continued right where they left off. This time though, Gentle Giants had an edge. They ended up winning the game, 13-11. It was the longest game in Fraquetball history until December 2004.
The next round they faced Tastes Like Byrning (Mackenzie Byrne and Devlin Byrne), a underdog team, that upset the two seed in the first round. But they provided no challenge, Gentle Giants swept them easily. After that, Gentle Giants advanced to the finals. They played Los Geezers(Leo Bickelhaupt and Tim Leone-Getten). For the first and last time, Gentle Giants would be the underdog. Los Geezers won the first game, although Gentle Giants played with fierce passion. The next four games were hard fought, but they all had the same outcome. Gentle Giants won the first ever Fraquetball finals.
The next year, there was little doubt who the best team was. Gentle Giants finished the season a perfect 8-0. In an interleague match they beat Los Geezers 7-5. That would be the closest anyone came to beating them in the regular season. Since they finished first in the conference, Gentle Giants earned a first round playoff bye. In the conference finals, the played Sonic Team(Liam Shramko and Gus Olsen). After Gentle Giants won the first two games of the series, the lost one pointless game before wrapping it up.
In the Fraquetball Finals Winter 2003, Gentle Giants faced Jesson 5, a new team, comprised of Doug Anderson and Nathan Jesson. Jesson 5 had beaten Los Geezers in the Conference finals, after being down 2-0 in the series. The first three games were all close, the greatest margin of victory being 3, but Gentle Giants won them all. They were just one win away from winning it all once again. But Gentle Giants got cocky. They didn’t try in the fourth game. In fact, they watched the ball roll by on game point. In the fifth game, Gentle Giants did try, until they were down 5-1, then they gave up again, watching the ball roll by on game point. But then Gentle Giants got serious. Game six was quite entertaining. Both teams played well, but Jesson 5 got the best of Sean and Cameron. Jesson 5 won, 7-4. The next game was one for the history books. Gentle Giants played like there was no tomorrow. Point after point, both teams gave up no ground. Both teams refused to lose. Both teams were on their top game, and neither was going to walk away with a loss. Jesson 5 led 6-5. The next point took ten minutes. Games take place in shorter time. Nathan Jesson nor Sean would not let anything past them. Both had six saves on the final point. Then Cameron took a shot. It easily got past Anderson. Jesson didn’t have a shot at stopping it. It looked like the perfect shot. And then it hit the in play water sprinkler. No goal. After that, Anderson took one last shot, and scored. The crowd went crazy. But not nearly as crazy as Jesson and Anderson. They then did ten consecutive chest bumps before shaking Sean or Cameron’s hand. Jesson was voted Championship Series M.V.P. In a recent interview, Jesson had this to say on Game 7, “Whenever I’m feeling down, I think about Game 7, and a smile crosses my face.” This series would haunt Sean and Cameron for all of fourth hour, and would be a permanent taint on their Fraquetball career.
But they couldn’t stay down for long. The next Fraquetball season started only two weeks later. Gentle Giants played very well. In the ten game season they started out 9-0, before losing one meaningless game to Spik 2 Mik. In the regular season they had victories against both Los Geezers and Jesson 5. In the first round of the playoffs they played Loveable Little People(Jaime Avila and Andrew Hoaglund). Loveable Little People had single handedly kept Los Geezers out of the playoffs. Deep in the jungle of Loveable Little People the mighty tiger lies. Sean and Cameron were taken by surprise. But Gentle Giants zapped them right between the eyes. And all the children sang. After dropping the first game, Gentle Giants came back to win the next two games and the series. After advancing to the finals, Sean and Cameron were up against Mexico City Sombreros(Liam Shramko and Gus Olsen). Mexico City had eliminated Jesson 5 in a hard fought Conference final match. The series was shortened to three games to accommodate Frisbee season. Gentle Giants won the first game 7-5, and the second game, 7-3. Once again, Sean and Cameron were champions.
The next season began with good news. Cameron was to be appointed to the all powerful Fraquetball committee. Finally, after being with Fraquetball since the very beginning, a Gentle Giant was on the committee. In fact, Cameron pushed some of the most daring Fraquetball agenda ever. But the Gentle Giants didn’t start the season on a good note. On the first day of the season, they barely beat the rookie team D-Unit, 8-6. (D-Unit finished the season 2-16.) And after losses to Los Geezers and The Losers, (Jaime Avila and Tim Fiero) the Gentle Giants were 4-2. And while 4-2 may be good for your run of the mill Fraquetball team, Sean and Cameron knew they were held to a higher standard. They went on a eight game winning streak, which included wins over Jesson 5, Los Geezers, and The Losers. Then Gentle Giants had a mental lapse in a loss against Y.O.U. (Y.O.U. finished 3-15.) Gentle Giants finished the season 15-3, the best in Fraquetball, and once again, they had a first round playoff bye.
And right before the playoffs started, following Doug Andersons resignation, Sean was finally appointed to the Fraquetball Committee. In the conference finals, Sean and Cameron were set to play Alpha Numericals Revisited (Tom Totushek and Carl Olson.) Alpha Numericals Revisited had kept Los Geezers out of the playoffs, and upset The Losers in the first round. Sean and Cameron walked circles around Totushek and Olson in the first game, winning 7-2. The next two games were closer, but no different. Gentle Giants swept Alpha Numericals Revisited. And in the 2005 Fraquetball Finals, Sean and Cameron faced a familiar foe.
Jesson 5 had endured a trying, streaky year. At times nothing worked, and at times they were invincible. They started the season 2-3, before going on a seven game winning streak. But on the last day of the season, they were 10-7, fighting for a playoff spot. They faced Ultimate Sonning(Antonio Rosario and Kieran Gallagher.) But Anderson and Jesson performed like crazed, victory obsessed veterans to win the game, 7-2. In the first round, Jesson 5 exacted revenge on Hat Trick, (Griffin Larson and John Knapp) by sweeping them. Then in the conference finals Jesson 5 played Fetal Attraction (Liam Shramko and Andrew Hoaglund.) Jesson 5 swept Fetal Attraction, behind Anderson’s rottwiler esque performance on front defense, and Jesson’s vicious, over the top picks.
So once again, the two titans were to clash. Both teams knew that whoever won the series would go down in history as the better Fraquetball team. The first game lived up to the billing, and much to everyone’s delight, Sean and Cameron won. The next game Gentle Giants performed their brilliant strategy perfectly. With a wide array of shots, and tremendous defensive effort, Sean and Cameron won games two and three, with ease. And game four looked to be no different. Sean and Cameron led, 6-2, and everything seemed to be set. But then, Jesson and Anderson showed signs of life. Jesson 5 won the next two points, and Cameron looked concerned. But he had no reason to. Gentle Giants won the next point, and the championship. Anderson threw his paddle on the ground, and walked away in disgust. Jesson acted cool, and shook Sean and Cameron’s hands, but was later heard saying, “I feel so empty inside.”
The following year the Giants went their separate ways. Sean graduated, and is now attending Beloit College in Wisconsin. Cameron stays active in his committee role, but now, he is only a coach, but of a rather familiar team, Jesson 5.
So the legacy was complete. Sean and Cameron had won all but one Fraquetball championships. They retired with a 63-12 all time record. 21 more wins then the next team. Sean was voted into the Hall of Fame last March. One thing is for certain though, Fraquetball will never see a team like this again.