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Beast Performances V – Andrew Lugsdin #9

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Beast Performance (def.):

This is a sports competition act defined when a player exceeds athletic expectation and makes himself or herself personally responsible for victory.
Synonymous idioms:
“Getting in the zone”
“Putting the team on your back”

Furious George and Team Canada have scored many unlikely wins over the best in the world since 1995, and it is because at some time or another a player stepped up, and decided they really, wholly wanted to win, or they couldn’t stand the thought of losing.

Andrew Lugsdin #9
7 Canadian Ultimate Championship Titles
3 UPA Titles
2 WUGC Titles
1 WUC Title

To many longtime Ultimate Frisbee followers, Andrew Lugsdin is one of the most recognized people in the sport – as a player, as a leader and as the tallest, loudest and most passionate person on the field. His booming voice commands attention from teammates, opponents and spectators. Lugsdin’s desire to lead his friends to be the best in the world leads me to think of him, at this time of year as the series begins. Once the team moves to evening practices under the lights, it is definitively the autumn ultimate season in Vancouver — it is championship time. It’s time to put the skills you have worked on to broaden your game into refinement mode, to know what you can and cannot do to contribute to the team and to harden your body and mind to execute.

For me, playing with Andrew Lugsdin began in 2005, as part of eight or nine rookies joining the team. Furious had failed to double peak the year prior, winning Worlds in Finland, but falling short in semi-finals against San Fransisco’s Jam in Florida. Having just come off a stinging loss with UBC at UPA College Nationals, I was happy to try out, just to be a player (and not a leader). To get my ass kicked. I was surprised, being new to the team when we huddled after what seemed like the first practice, and at Luggy’s command we repeated to ourselves “Furious George, 2005 UPA Champs.” With so many inexperienced guys (10 rookies!), and in May, this big, loud dynamic personality laid down the law. He made clear what we were aiming for – with just a pile of new rookies, a couple of stars, and the angry monkey.

And for most of that season, by the standards of the past, we sucked. We were beaten handily by Sockeye at Flowerbowl and Summer Solstice, we had a lackluster performance will a full roster at ECC, and then didn’t make too much noise at Labour Day. In the Washington-BC sectionals final against Sockeye, we got hammered. Then we got going at Northwest Regionals in Davis, California, and Sunday came around. We were playing Sockeye — the defending UPA champs — in the regional semi, a game to go to Florida. We warmed up and then huddled before the game.

“This is what we have been working hard for all season, so I want everyone to go out there and play confident. We’ve got the skills, we have talked about the strategic things we want to be doing, but I want everyone to come into this game confident. I want everyone to come into this game aggressive. There is no way we over-respect these guys. You —-ing bump and grind in the lane, you work hard on the —-ing marks, when you’re on offense you work hard to get open. Do not over-respect the player you are playing against. Expect to dominate your one-on-one matchup when you are out there. Let’s play with fire, full sidelines, everybody into it, want this game more than them. These guys are complacent, they are the ones with the target on their back, let’s take these —-ers down. Furious George, on 3.”

one more game to go

With the whole team getting a rush of goosebumps, we went out and won that game. After months of mediocrity, Lugsdin’s sheer will to win flipped a switch in his teammates. Nothing else had changed since Sectionals, or the Labor Day Championships, or the Emerald City Classic. The players were the same; their talents were the same. But Lugsdin showed them the way to the Promised Land.

This occurrence had all the makings of a flash-in-the-pan surprise upset — just a momentary lapse of focus on Sockeye’s part maybe. But Lugsdin’s inner beast showed itself fully a few weeks later. The switch had been flipped.

In our other beast performances series, we have talked about players who put the team on their back, to sacrifice themselves for the team, to find a way, despite adverse circumstances to win. Andrew has done this as a player and as a leader many times, but today, we focus on his 2005 UPA performance. Late in the semi-finals against Jam, San Francisco was mounting a comeback surge. Lugsdin personally stemmed their momentum by stepping onto the D-line and bidding for a Callahan score. In the process, he dislocated his shoulder; Andrew could no longer throw a flick.

Most players suffering such a serious injury would wince, sulk, and go seek out a trainer. Most elite players get frustrated for their bodies for failing them — not being able to cash the cheques that their egos were writing. These are not true beasts.

Entering finals, “the Luggernaut” merely switched from the offense to the defensive line. Out of his element, already considered old by the standards of the time, with a near-useless throwing arm, he matched up against Sockeye superstar Ben Wiggins. He got two game-changing blocks. The versatility to be able to switch lines — for the UPA final no less — is impressive, by itself. Infusing others with the will to win, to shatter their own norms and perceived limitations is outstanding leadership. But overcoming pain and nearly incapacitating injury to make yourself exactly what your team needs to win at any given time is what made Andrew Lugsdin unstoppable — that is a beast performance.

In 2002 and 2003 his job was to initiate plays in the lanes and crank hucks to Mike Grant. At worlds in 2008 he was back on the defensive line. He went and filled whatever role the team needed to both win now, and to prepare for the future. Young upstarts on Furious memorized huddle speeches, how to address the feelings of the team and translate that into victory, especially the unlikely one.

Some people have asked: “What makes Andrew Lugsdin so dangerous?” Whether it is through individual play, or through motivation, he can convince a team that is down 13-8 in a game to 15 that “we got this.” He can convince a dejected teammate who has been struggling, that the past doesn’t matter. That we can decide here and now, in this huddle, that we can go win if we want to. Andrew Lugsdin is a beast for unstoppably doing what the team needed – whether it was a stern talking to, for defining what is acceptable to be “elite”, or getting down and dirty with goals, assists and blocks.

Beast!

by Nick Menzies

Beast Performances I – Mark Roberts
Beast Performances II – Oscar Pottinger
Beast Performances III – Al Nichols
Beast Performances IV – Morgan Hibbert

Alex Davis

2 Responses to “Beast Performances V – Andrew Lugsdin #9”

  1. Dave M. Says:

    Hey Nick, nice article, I just make a change to the flickr photo you were linking to. You should try to re-embed it again so it doesn’t say the “image is not available.”

  2. Butor Says:

    His most famous speech: “i wanna see arms askew and legs a fucking kimbo”