Player Profile: Tyler Wood

Photo of Tyler Wood playing kubb.Name: Tyler Wood

Age: 25

Team: PHNQ, The Settlers of Baton

Where are you originally from?

Sturgis, Michigan

What’s your day job?

I am a substitute teacher. Still figuring out what I want to do when I grow up.

What do you like best about kubb?

I like that it is you against the kubbs. Only you can stop yourself from hitting the shot you want.

What’s your kubb specialty? (short, long, king, etc)

I throw the batons hard, so I have gotten better and better at blasting. But I still think my best skill is the 8 meter shot.

What’s your favorite kubb memory?

When I was finally beat my brother in a game one on one. Not that I had tried and failed that many times. But before going to US National Kubb Championship in 2015, I never took kubb that seriously. And after being there and coming home I felt like it was a personal challenge to get better. And after a few weeks a hard practice I had a very good match and was able to beat him, much earlier in my ongoing training then I expected.

What’s your biggest kubb goal?

Play on Sunday in a US National Kubb Championship. Wouldn’t even need to play well but just to get to Sunday and play alongside many of the best in world would make me feel vindicated. Where do you see the future of kubb? I’d love to see kubb become an accepted community event, where leagues take place all over the country, not unlike horseshoes or shuffleboard. And that will start to be realized when there become permanent pitches, and no longer have to use other sports fields.

What are your interests outside of kubb?

I love following entertainment and sports. Particularly I love Baseball, College Football, and the NBA. And enjoy a wide variety of Movies and Television. Also I like video games, Nintendo will always be close to my heart. I could spend all day just surfing the internet and reading reddit about those things.

What is a fun fact about yourself?

I like to walk around in public with earbuds in, even if I’m not listening to anything. Because people are less likely to talk to me, I’m not that anti-social, but very introverted.

Road to Nationals

Hi, I’m Bryan. This is a big year for me. I’ve been playing more Kubb than ever before, honing in on my specialties and improving my skill set. I have definitely seen growth in my game these past few months. My incasting ability is much better than before, and I have a decent long shot. I am also better at two-fers and triple shots.

I get in practice while teaching Kubb to newcomers at the 2015 Relay For Life in Monroe, MI
I got in some practice while teaching Kubb to newcomers at the 2015 Relay For Life in Monroe, MI

Those countless hours of practice will be put to use this weekend. I’ll be competing in the U.S. Kubb Nationals with my team The Settlers of Baton. Nationals will be my first major tournament. While I am a little nervous about major competition, I’m confident this will be a fantastic event. I can’t wait to play against other teams and learn more about this awesome game. When my teammates brought back stories of last year’s tournament, I was determined to make it to the 2015 Nationals. Everything I’ve heard about this event sounds nothing short of amazing; the friendly teams, skilled competition, and networking with generations of Kubb enthusiasts all sounds exciting.

Perhaps what I’m most looking forward to is meeting more people who are crazy for Kubb. Much of this past few months I have been spreading the game of Kubb to newcomers every chance I get. I set up at local events, parks, and backyard parties, and teach the game to anyone and everyone who is curious to learn. Teaching other people about Kubb is something in which I take great pride. If there’s one thing I hope to bring back from Nationals, it’s new knowledge of Kubb that I can pass on to others (of course winning a title would be nice too!).

Kids have a blast learning Kubb at the 2015 Relay For Life in Monroe, MI
These kids had a blast learning Kubb at the 2015 Relay For Life in Monroe, MI

2015 U.S. Nationals Live Team Draw

I recently relocated from Kalamazoo to Minneapolis. I still consider myself part of Kalamazoo Kubb, and I’m still playing (and hope to continue playing) tournaments with fellow Kalamazoo Kubbers. Basically I’m the Minneapolis chapter of Kalamazoo Kubb now, or at least that’s what USA Kubb‘s Eric Anderson called me last weekend.

One of the nice things about moving to the Twin Cities is the proximity to so many Kubb events. That long seven and a half hour drive to Eau Claire is shortened to an hour and a half now. That’s why I was able to head there this past Saturday for the annual live team draw. This is an event held at Lazy Monk Brewing (a great Eau Claire brewery I would highly encourage you to check out). Many people of the Kubb community come together to watch this year’s groups get put together. There is quite literally a bowl of team names being selected and seeded into groups on a big board. You can even tune in live online and be treated to various interviews and discussions led by Eric Anderson.

I knew that since I was close enough now, I wanted to check it out in person this year. My wife, Abby, and I made the relatively short drive east and settled in with a beer for some good conversation with fellow Kubb fans and to find out where my team was going to end up this year. As the “show” got underway I realized it was a little tough to hear Eric over the crowd so I moved in closer. He saw me and motioned for me to join him at the webcam. Before I knew it, I was having and interview about Kalamazoo Kubb and my nationals team, The Settlers of Baton. It was a lot of fun. Abby and I even got to draw a few teams out of the bowl. To top it off, I got a text shortly after from fellow Kalamazoo Kubber, Jesse Fraim, who was just as excited to watch me online as I was to be there.

Christopher Jones and Eric Anderson talking about Kalamazoo Kubb at the 2015 U.S. National Team Live Draw.

The Kubb community never ceases to amaze me. It’s such a great group of people from all over, from all kinds of backgrounds, coming together for this great game. Kubb really does unite people.

I had a great time at the live draw, but the main event is really next weekend’s national tournament. I can’t wait!

Player Profile: Joey Wood

Photo of Joey Wood.Name: Joey Wood
Age: 30
Team: The Settlers of Baton

Where are you originally from?

Sturgis, Michigan

What’s your day job?

I have the pleasure of working with kids at Battle Creek Central High School as they learn about history, government, and economics.

What do you like best about kubb?

I am a very social person. Kubb is an incredibly social game. What is better than a yard game that encourages you to play a game outside, with friends, where every game is different and everyone can contribute to the team? As much fun as I have at tournaments, I think I have more fun at friendly get togethers  where we are able to convince everyone to play Kubb at some point. Winning is fun, but the face on a “newbie” after they hit a big shot is priceless.

What’s your kubb specialty? (short, long, king, etc)

I always joke during games that any scum-sucking yahoo can inkast 9 kubbs. I am pretty sure that is why I do some of my team’s inkasting. To me, there is nothing more satisfying in than inkasting 8 or 9 kubbs really well. Over the last two years I have tinkered around with my technique and have become more consistent. After attending the U.S. Championship, it became very apparent that the difference between the very good teams and the championship caliber teams was inkasting. I would like to think that someday I could help inkast a group of 8 or 9 that could put our team in a position to win a big game at Nationals.

What’s your favorite kubb memory?

My favorite Kubb memories center around teaching the game to new players.  A few summers ago we were at a baby shower and set up the kubb pitch. The game was a hit as there were quite a few “newbies” who played with us. One of the newcomers was a boy who was around 8 years old. After a few group games, I challenged him to a one on one game. Lo and behold, that kid had me on the ropes the whole game and had the back row cleared with 7 in play before I finally turned the game around and won. Some would consider almost losing to someone a quarter of their age a terrible memory, but that game showed me how much fun you could have with a complete stranger playing the game of Kubb.

What’s your biggest kubb goal?

I would like to throw a perfect game (even though they are not allowed in most tournaments).

Where do you see the future of kubb?

I would like to see variations of kubb take root. For example, last summer we had set up two kubb pitches next to each other (with about 2 meters in the middle). After a few games we decided it would be fun to play a game of MEGAKubb. 12 dowels, 20 kubbs, 2 kings. The rules kind of made themselves up as we went along. Throwing up on one pitch onto the other field became common. When a teammate hit a really cool field / back-line double from the opposite pitch, we all lost it. That is when I knew we were on to something really fun. I would like to see more fun variations of Kubb develop.

What are your interests outside of kubb?

I love reading non-fiction, trying to solve the worlds problems, designing (hopefully) engaging learning opportunities for teenagers, playing board games that require more strategy than luck, hanging out with friends, playing any sort of trivia game, watching or playing baseball, watching college football, running, biking, and helping people move (I like to think of my self as a packing expert).

What is a fun fact about yourself?

I have kept book on every Major League Baseball All Star Game since 1994 – a tradition that started with my father that someday I hope to share with my child.

Player Profile: Christopher Jones

Photo of Christopher Jones.Name: Christopher Jones
Age: 29
Team: The Settlers of Baton

Where are you originally from?

Monroe, Mich.—south of Detroit and north of Toledo

What’s your day job?

I’m a Webmaster at Western Michigan University. I’m also a freelance graphic and Web designer.

What do you like best about kubb?

Kubb is a unique experience each time you play it. There is plenty of strategy and in my mind, that makes it more exciting than other yard games. It’s so simple in theory, but has proven to be very challenging in practice. That said, it’s a very approachable game. I’ve seen seven year olds, 82 year olds and everyone in between play the game (quite well I might add). This approachability also extends to the people. Every kubb event I’ve been to and everyone I’ve met involved in kubb has been extremely positive. Good shots are celebrated by everyone, even your opponent. Everyone’s willing to have a chat and compare tips. That’s a rare find amongst the dog-eat-dog mentality in most of the sports world.

What’s your kubb speciality? (short, long, king, etc)

I’m almost always my team’s king slayer. I’m pretty consistent on hitting the king and while the pressure to hit it is quite high, that just makes knocking it over that much more rewarding.

What’s your favorite kubb memory?

My first tournament was the 2014 U.S. National Kubb Championship. The whole trip was an amazing experience, but the biggest highlight was being in game three against a very good team, Kubb’d, and taking it to 10 kubbs in play. We started the day hoping to win a match, and there we were, just a step away from the round of 16.

What’s your biggest kubb goal?

As a player I want to make it to Sunday at Nationals. On a bigger, kubb-advocate level, I want to make kubb a big deal in Michigan.

Where do you see the future of kubb?

Ideally it becomes an Olympic sport, but in the more near term I see it growing to a wider U.S. audience. I think the pockets of kubb in Michigan, Pennsylvania, etc. will continue to snowball and soon we’ll have kubb all over the country.

What are your interests outside of kubb?

I enjoy disc golf, cool gadgets and good movies. I’m also very passionate about design and technology. When it’s the right time of year you’ll see me at Western Michigan University hockey games (I’m a season ticket holder) or watching my beloved Red Wings.

Name a fun fact about yourself.

I once spent a summer living and interning in Switzerland. If only I had known about kubb back then I could have met up with the community there. I guess I need to go back!

Player Profile: Alan Bobalik

Photo of Alan Bobalik.Name: Alan Bobalik
Age: 30
Team: The Settler’s of Baton

Where are you originally from?

Sturgis, MI

What’s your day job?

Teacher

What do you like best about kubb?

I really enjoy the camaraderie between players and teams. Even though you’re trying to beat the opposing team or individual and the games can be spirited, its always handshakes and high-fives when the games are over. Even during games an opposing player’s great shot is applauded. I really enjoy any big shot that can swing the momentum of a game and the strategy that comes into games.

What’s your kubb speciality? (short, long, king, etc)

I would probably describe myself as a blaster primarily with average skills in the other facets of the game. I need to get my own kubb set to take my game to the next level. I am in awe of great inkastares and 8m snipers.

What’s your favorite kubb memory?

The overall experience of the 2014 kubb championship was really cool. But I would have to say my favorite memory would be the first time I ever played kubb. A friend’s dad introduced us to it at a BBQ. We definitely didn’t know or follow all the rules properly but it was clear from that first time playing that kubb was a game that was captivating in a way unlike other yard games. There was more to it than cornhole or ladder golf, it was an actual game of skill and strategy that could still be played with minimal physical activity that didn’t require me to wear shoes!

What’s your biggest kubb goal?

Win a game of Megakubb! Also we made the final 32 at the 2014 championships, it would be neat to make the final 16 in 2015.

Where do you see the future of kubb?

Though it seems like the popularity is growing steadily, there is probably a ceiling as far as how widespread the game will become due to the fact that it requires a little more focus/skill/sobriety than cornhole and other yard games. I do think that once you get introduced to the game its very easy to become extremely passionate about it, so even if the number of players remains relatively small, it will be a very active community of kubb players.

What are your interests outside of kubb?

Teaching, reading, running, traveling, regularly having over a dozen browser tabs open, preparing for the birth of twins.

Name a fun fact about yourself.

I sit down when I put pants on so I can put both legs on at the same time, that way when someone says “we all put our pants on one leg at a time” I say “not me!”