Pokemon Trainers as People is a column in which Chalkey interviews well respected pokemon trainers in the community, but with one rule: they may talk about anything but the Pokemon VGC. Read about your favorite trainers as they talk about other aspects of their lives, and learn something new!
This week, we talk to the veteran Thomas Mifflin, also known as PokemonBattleBrain (PBB). Thomas debuted his pokemon career at the Battle in Seattle, and later went on to place top 16 in JAA, and even qualified for the World Championships in 2008 and 2010. Thomas also was one of the founders of Skarmbliss.com. Read on to hear about one of his favorite non-gaming pastimes: Ultimate Frisbee.
Chalkey Horenstein: So when did you first start playing ultimate frisbee?
Thomas Mifflin: I had never played a game of ultimate frisbee until I went to college. It was in my freshman year that I was invited to play a game on one of the grass arenas at the school. It was before classes had started, so I figured “Why not?” Immediately I was hooked. I played for hours at a time for probably a week straight. Anytime of day or night – there was even one time where I played at 2:00 a.m. just for the fun of it (it was a little hard to see the disc though, so we went and bought a light-up disc to use). Ultimate Frisbee to this day remains one of if not my most favorite sport-game to play.
CH: So what was it that hooked you right away about the game?
TM: It kept me moving and interacting with people and the disc simultaneously. I could talk and joke with people while the disc was downfield – that kept things loose. Plus I was generally the fastest player on the field so someone could toss it long and I could catch it, diving if necessary, and score points for the team. A majority of the time I was guarded by two people instead of the usual one person.
CH: So you were already somewhat athletic prior to college and ultimate?
TM: I played baseball from kindergarten through high school. I would try really anything if a pickup game arose, like basketball or soccer. So, yes.
TM: I’ll always have a special place in my heart for baseball, as I was essentially raised on the sport, but ultimate takes the cake. It’s fun for anyone and everyone, easy to just pick up and place, yet leaves several aspects to be mastered. I suppose the mantra “easy to learn, hard to master” would be appropriate.
CH: Do you think being in college had anything to do with why the game drew you in?
TM: Definitely, yeah! It’s actually very similar to pokemon in this respect. The community is great.
CH: Describe the community a bit, for those who haven’t gotten to college, or for those who haven’t tried ultimate yet.
TM: In college there are a lot of people surrounding you who have somewhat similar interests and goals. After you move into your apartment or dorm, you usually don’t have anything to do for a few days. If you have an open area, all you need is a $10 disc and you can play. Virtually everyone that plays is open and lighthearted. If these people start to play regularly, then they start to bond, like some of the members in the pokemon community have done.
A quick rundown of ultimate would be: two end-zones, a disc, teams of at least 3-4 people or more. You must remain in one position while you have the disc. Throw it to people in your end zone to score. No sore losers allowed.
It’s easy to start games, regardless of weather or time. With baseball, it had to be: not rainy, during the day (unless you had lights), bat, gloves, balls, and teams of nine, among other things.
CH: You mentioned that ultimate players tend to be open and lighthearted. Why do you think that is?
TM: I think it is that way because some of us need a stress release during the semester and it is an easy outlet to burn energy or forget about your 20 page paper due on monday, or flirt with that cute girl or stud of a man that you’ve had your eye on. I also htink that some of us play because we love the game and the intensity that it can bring. It’s like football except rarely are people injured, and it can be co-ed, which brings another facet to the table. One of the best players I know is actually a woman.
CH: I meant to ask this sooner, but did you play in a league or just sort of recreational/intramural? In your opinion, does that change the dynamic of the game or crowd at all?
TM: I have played intramurals and pickup games, but no tournaments. And yes, I do think it changes. When you’re playing pickup, it’s more “for fun.” When it’s intarmurals, and there is a little crowd (or large crowd, like a couple hundred people), the intensity gets ramped up. People are watching, so you have to do well! I think with a crowd, you think more about your decisions and make careful decisions on instinct, since you want to hear them roar when you dive for a catch in the end zone.
With pickup, you can try throwing the disc between your legs and if it works, great, you looked funny, eveyone laughed, and it did what it was supposed to, or catching the disc in your teeth. But in a real game, you don’t do that; it would waste time, and it would let the rest of your team down for goofing off. So yes, I think a crowd makes the players focus more on the game itself and winning, whereas little to no crowd takes some of the pressure off and you can screw around for fun.
CH: Do you think you’ll still play after college?
TM: I am currently in my last semester, graduating in May with a computer science degree. After graduation I am taking a backpacking trip around europe for a few weeks. when I come back, I will hopefully have a job by then. I hope that I can still paly ultimate on the weekends, wherever I end up living. I know there are a few leagues and tournaments for public use, so I hope that I can have enough time to participate in them.
CH: We’ve almost run out of time. Can you think of anything else you want to share with the Pokemon community about ultimate?
TM: If you have never played, and someone offers to play the game with you, you ought to try it. We played a bit at Worlds in San Diego in 2011 and everyone loved it. It’s easy to get started and make friends and have a good time while playing, so why not do it?