~~The 2014 USQRA National tournament for the Texas Stampede began quicker than anticipated. Entering the tournament as the number 7 seed, the news came early that team member Emily Shryock. was determined "unclassifiable" to play in the sport any longer. Just minutes after the decision the team had to begin the Matterhorn battle against their opponent from Minnesota. The starting lineup of Raff Hendrickson, CJ Brown, Landon Groff, and Jeff Butler tried to overcome some early miscues but eventually saw the game slip away quarter by quarter. "Although the Steelheads lacked a few key players, they showed resiliency with Chuck Aoki on their way to the Championship game" says Landon Groff. Texas rebounded in game 2 against the Lakeshore Demolition to allow Texas to finish day one 1-1.
Unfortunately day two would not be any easier for the team from Texas, an early game against Tampa Bay saw the Stampede misfire on communication and some basic rugby skills. The crossover game against the Shepherd Smash from Atlanta began with a focused group but again some unfortunate passes and miscommunication between the team lead to a tough loss. "We played them close, but with the experience of the Shepherd team, they were able to win out in the end" said Jeff Butler.
After realizing the weekend was all but done the team tried to figure a plan to better pay tribute to friend and teammate Emily Shryock. The Texas Stampede approached all tournament heads of state and requested to forfeit the last game to allow Emily to play one last game. The Stampede would finish an automatic 8th place with the forfeiture, but allowing Emily to play was the only and right choice! "If I could give her the opportunity to play one last game and watch the shoes I will some day fill, I am happy to do it" said CJ Brown "I asked coach to not put me in at all so she could get every deserved minute. " Texas showed heart and class as they fought for one last time with #10 on the court.
An exhausted team flew home late Sunday night for one last time, and we will loose one international player due to his Visa expiring, and one player because of a flawed classification system. "The USQRA has come along way up to this point but some late inconsistencies with the league and its classification system have many frustrated and worried. The team is hopeful with the change in leadership, and we're looking forward to the next year, but some things will need to be fixed," says Gabriel Garcia. "No team deserves to be blindsided by judgement calls, both on and off the court".
Until next season sports fans- Sure Hands Sure Hands.