2012 US National Tournament – team selection



Dave pulls the family line and goes barefoot, toe to the line.

In 2012 the Ringers took a leap of faith in the future of kubb. In the transition to three person teams, Aaron and Dave had a list of folks who wanted to join up with us, the 2010 National Champions, to make another run to the top.


Aaron Ellringer tosses one pin, while Sy waits to throw two. Throughout the entire tournament, each kid was asked whether they wanted one or two pins. They were very democratic and highly strategic.

But as a father/son team we felt an obligation to look inward to our family. Dave comes from a large farm family in southern Minnesota, and having introduced nearly all of them to the game, we had a natural list of Ellringer family members that had the same natural talent and fitting last name. But the first person we asked to join us lived in the same house as Aaron – his 7 year old son Sy.


Sy takes the high view to help analyze the pitch. Two minds are better than one, and things look different from above.

Sy is named after his great grandfather (Aaron’s grandpa, Dave’s dad). The name means “forest” in a loose translation, and Sy has been watching and playing kubb as long as the rest of us. It was not an easy decision to add Sy to the roster, though. Being an all-day tournament, the US Championship is no picnic (or pizza farm as we say here). And some would say its no place for a kid if you are really serious about making it to the end in a respectable position.

The first task was for the adults of the team to get over their egos and ageism and admit that given the opportunity, young humans are capable of amazing things. The next task was to patiently but consistently “talk up” the young teammate. You see, when this young mans only regular exposure to kubb is scrimmaging against the nation’s top players, it can get quite frustrating and intimidating.

It turns out the key to our practice regimen was to never play against our teammates, ever. Or to put it another way, we only ever play as a team. Aaron never plays against Sy, only with him. Same goes for Dave and Aaron. We only team up together, never across, always side by side. This put Sy in the winning position, and allowed him to feel good every time anyone knocks on wood. This is crucial, because small ones can be fragile, and too much competition and a sense of loss can quickly spiral downward.

We had the family Deere down at the tournament to promote Kubb Farm. Kids liked it.

The next big team decision for 2012 came quick and easy. We had an opportunity to invite Sy’s older cousin Colton onto the team. While Colton lives halfway across the country, he was scheduled to be visiting grandpa Dave during tournament time. It was a no-brainer for us to add Colton to the lineup, even though we were questioned and criticized for adding a fourth player in a three person tournament. Adding Colton rounded out our team, evened up the ages, and took just enough pressure off of Sy to allow us a more relaxed and focused team.

This is where it all happens. Kubb paradise. No neighbors to bother…

Colton arrived on Friday night, just hours before the tournament would start. We immediately threw the switch on the outdoor pitch and played kubb in our skivvies. So there we had it. The 2012 Ringers team was together. Just a few hours later, I would rise well before dawn, fire up the John Deere and start the Berserker invasion…


5 thoughts on “2012 US National Tournament – team selection

  1. Jamie Thingelstad

    At the end of the day when you guys were playing to get into the quarterfinals at Nationals every single person I know was in awe with The Ringers and the cheers when Cy and Colton threw were awesome. Great team, and great spirit! Thanks for sharing the story behind it.

  2. Jamie Thingelstad

    The quarterfinals games with The Ringers were scored as well.

    1. US Nationals 2012, Quarterfinals, Kubbits v. The Ringers, July 15 (Game 1)
    2. US Nationals 2012, Quarterfinals, Kubbits v. The Ringers, July 15 (Game 2)

    The first game was brutal, but little The Ringers young and old could have done about it. They only threw 6 batons in the whole game.

    The second game though is epic with all 10 kubbs in play for four turns. Turn 9 in that game was an awesome showing by Cy and Colton, and a little less awesome for The Ringers inkastare. 🙂

  3. michael borg

    The largest misconception in any sport is that it is good to win. No it is good to participate and as long or early as you can do that – you will always remain the true winner…

    1. ringerjr Post author

      Thanks Jamie. It was great to have so many people watching, and particularly gratifying when the kids knocked over the king to send us to Sunday. Unforgettable.

      Michael – thank you for this observation. I agree completely. If we play only to win, we are disappointed because most do not win. We redefine win to mean “fun”, we go to have fun and win every time!


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