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Beast Performances I

Team Canada, Videos

Team Canada Beast Performances: Marc Roberts #69

This is the first entry in a continuing five-part series we have humbly labelled “Beast Performances” to honour certain veterans and alumni of Furious and Team Canada. These are career-defining performances, demonstrated when a player puts the team on his back and thus leads them to the Promised Land. They surpass the apparent constraints of athletic potential. They exceed mortal expectations. They are the stuff of legend among peers, talked about and repeated on late nights over drinks.

Furious George and Team Canada have enjoyed many unlikely wins over the years, over the best teams in the world, and it is often because some player stepped forward and elevated himself: he either really wanted to win, or perhaps he just couldn’t stand the thought of losing. Marc Roberts is on such monkey. He is the first of Furious George’s beasts of the past to whom we pay tribute.

A speedy offensive lane cutter, Marc has scored an innumerable and obscene pile of goals, historically on the receiving end of Mauro Ortiz’s and Mike Grant’s hucks. His cutting style closely resembles the obsessive, irrational purposefulness of a border collie intent on a tennis ball. This dog’s entire universe exists within the singular repetition of fetching a ball, dropping it at your feet, chasing it down, sprinting back with it. That dog’s will, athleticism, and most of its basal nervous system is unswervingly focused on that ball. We all know one of these dogs. They are uncomplicated, almost robotic, and annoying. Likewise, Marc Roberts can be extremely annoying. Marc cuts with a pure, canine focus on scoring goals.

Roberts at WUGC2008

Marc rose to the position of goal-scoring-robot on the fields of Sarasota, but his true beast performances have come while wearing the maple leaf. In 2004, in Finland, Marc dislocated his shoulder in an freak, off-field accident during the tournament. No one knew. He hid this catastrophic information from his captains to play in the tournament final. He played spectacularly well and won the gold.

In 2008, while playing defense against Sweden in pool play, Marc jumped up and handblocked a hammer. His old injury resurfaced: his shoulder dislocated on the instant. A typical ultimate player would drop to the ground, crying or swearing as the mood struck him. A typical Furious George player would calmly call an injury, put a healthy, more capable substitute on the field in his stead and then retire to the sideline to cuss and to punch or kick things. An uncaring, battle-hardened beast, though, would pop his shoulder back in himself, watch Mauro Ortiz pick up the disc and then strike for the endzone. We all saw what had happened, and Andrew Lugsdin intervened, stopped play and personally dragged Marc off the field.

Roberts vs Team USA

For a normal elite player, that story in itself would certainly raise an eyebrow. You would know in your fluttering heart that you have yourself a tough competitor on your hands — possibly impervious to pain, seemingly irrational, and definitely uncompromising. You would wonder, “What is wrong with this man, and what will happen should I get in his way?” However, this alone is not enough for the lofty distinction of the true beast. What determines the beast performance is the standout act of putting your team on your back, rising above pain and adversity, and the bare, revealing results: personally elevating them to victory.

A couple of days later, the 2008 WUGC final took place: Team Canada vs Team USA. We had lost the last few meetings with the strong American squad, and were considered the underdog in the match, and — it was thought — unlikely to win. Marc Roberts walked onto that field, rose above his injuries and personally scored 6 goals, including the game winner. He walked off the field and walked into our private, mental halls of fame.

Alex Davis

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