A few weeks ago, the strength bid allocations came out for the series, and my region (mid-Atlantic mixed) got one bid. I changed my gchat status to “Well, I got what I wanted” with a link to the official USAU announcement. This triggered a flood of questions of why I would only want one bid to Nationals.
This has been a funny year for me. I spent part of the spring/summer out of the country and moved out of Philly in August. I went from thinking I should take the season off to seriously considering playing with my old team to ending up on a non-practicing mercenary squad. While my current team is a ton of fun (and rather talented), it’s a low investment team. Someday soon, this type of team will be just my speed. But not quite yet. This year, I still wanted to be in the trenches. I want a team I can put a lot of myself into and get a lot out of. And that’s just not possible on a team like this. It’s not that kind of team.
So why is one bid a good thing? Well, it gives more meaning and consequence to Regionals. For most of my club career, if not guaranteed, making Nationals was more likely than not. My focus was to peak at Nationals. But on a team like this, setting lofty goals at Nationals is pointless. We’d do alright and upset some teams, but we wouldn’t be rolling in looking to win it. I’ve used a college football analogy of “Regionals is like our conference championships. Nationals is a bowl game.” Maybe that’s another way of saying we’d “just be happy to be there.” But the key is we’ll have to play not just well, but Really well if we’re gonna qualify. If there were two bids, I’d give us a better than 50% chance of qualifying*. With two bids, we could qualify for nationals and go all season with no meaningful wins in consequential games. With the higher barrier of entry, the challenge is of course greater, and there will almost definitely be consequential games (hopefully meaningful wins too).
Now this is purely a selfish attitude. This team is not one built around meaningful or consequential experiences of this type. It’s built around enjoying the ride and each other’s company for as long as the ride goes. Clearly it would be great if that ride ended in Sarasota rather than Poolesville. Let’s hope we all get what we want.
* I’m saying this with 3-4 regional opponents quite capable of beating us, so that 50% number is purely based on gut feel and over-confidence.