INTERVIEW: Clavens v. Somolinos

23 Oct

Dave Clavens (3 time EC Champ) and Ken Somolinos (2 time EC Champ) both
recently left the East Coast to move West for work. The two recently
caught up to chat and reminisce about the East Coast footbag scene. I wasn’t part of the interview process and have only edited the content to check spelling, etc. Enjoy.

Ken: Hey man.

Dave: Sup?

Ken: Not much, just exhausted.

Ken: OK, so I have some questions written down, but I’m cool with this being
freeform, and back and forth too, so feel free to change subjects or
interject, etc.

Dave: OK.

Ken: OK, I’ll kick it off. I’m assuming your first footbag tournament
was on the East Coast, true?

Dave: Yes, Funtastik.

Ken: What year? What stood out from it? People you met? Something you hit?

Dave: It was in 2003, right after Prague Worlds. The things that
stood out were just seeing the tricks off of footbag.org in real life
I think. I met Chris Kovacs for the first time who ended up being a
huge motivator. I also met Scoot Bevier and Steve Goldberg for the first time. I
was only there for a day.

Ken: Were you fully guiltless?

Dave: Not at all, I was doing a lot of mirages and I was pretty one sided

Ken: Did you compete?

Dave: I competed in intermediate, made finals, but my dad made me go
home because he had work the next day or something.

Ken: Nice. Do you remember learning anything specifically?

Dave: Not really, I wish I had a journal or something where I wrote
it. I think i just remember wanting to compete more and do better
routines with less drops.

Ken: Being a compulsive journal keeper can be useful, but also embarrassing.

Dave: I remember seeing Johnny and Jorden but I didn’t talk to them at all.

Ken: Well, they are Canadian. Can’t blame you.

Dave: I remember Jorden hitting alpine fear and stuff and Nate
Linscott and Daryl Genz. I remember buying a Carol bag and freaking out.

Ken: Lol.

Ken: Ok, so related question. What is your proudest east coast achievement?

Dave: Hm, that’s a good one.

Ken: The question, the achievement, or both?

Dave: Hm, let me think about this… can I count Montreal 2004 as an
east event? That’s kind of cheating right?

Ken: No, I’d count it

(long pause)

Ken: So, winning poker against Rippin’ and Sunil at Worlds 04 is your
proudest EC achievement?

Dave: Lol no. Okay, then taking first in amateur at intermediate that
year. Wait, Florida is east coast! Ugh! making BAP? 3 rounds dropless?

Ken: Pick one.

Dave: Geeze. Okay, I guess my proudest moment was making BAP. It was
nice to fulfill that dream from years ago.

Ken: Why was making BAP so special to you?

Dave: I think it was just because when Ashley and I were playing back
in the day we would watch videos like just shred 2 and like all these
guys were in bap and it represented something we didn’t think we could
attain.

Ken: I loved that video, mostly for the music. But why was the
affirmation from other players so important to you? At the time you
made BAP surely you knew you were better than most of them. Did you
think you couldn’t attain that level, or did you think you couldn’t
attain the vote of BAP?

Dave: think it was more that I had reached that level… I am not
sure if I needed the affirmation of others or if them doing that just
made me realize i had gotten there…. Hm, it’s not really a concrete
thing

Ken: That’s an interesting point. I see lots of players reach this
incredible level of play, where they are clearly better than anybody
who made BAP as recently as 2004, but despite getting that level, they
feel like they aren’t there until BAP makes it official. I don’t
understand that.

Dave: I don’t either, I wonder if other athletes feel this way, like
baseball players and the hall of fame

Ken: Like, Olaf could eat most of BAP… does he care whether they
induct him or not?

Dave: I’m not sure if he cares or not. It is a weird thing. It depends
on your personality.

Ken: Like, I got invited to BAP 3 times, and each time I wasn’t nearly
as good as some players are now who aren’t in BAP.

Dave: i can’t speak for anyone else. It just felt good to be in a
group of top players. I wish I had the independence that you have and
can just say “No biggie, it’s all good, I don’t need to be in it.”

Ken: I dunno, I mean, I’m happy to play at the level I do. There are
people in BAP who have games that I respect and admire, but if
tomorrow they told me I suck, it’s not like I’d play any differently.

(Lots of off-the-record trash talk from Ken)

Dave: Okay, let me say this. I don’t have a greatest accomplishment.
They all mean something. I know that getting beaten by Jorden at one
of the circle contests in Cornell was a big deal to me. I know that
one Funtastiks with you and Scott busting and then I came out and went
dropless, that was a big moment for me, being able to get in that
zone.

Ken: I think that was Funtastiks 08.

Dave: It’s happened a bunch of times, this year too. Just people
busting and then me performing well in the moment. I feel proud when I
do that.

Ken: OK, this is a good segue. This year at Worlds you had the top
seed, went dropless, but got beat by the bottom seed. How did that
feel? Did you go conservative with your routine?

Dave: I didn’t watch any routines, I just stayed in the hallway. I
wanted to come out and do my thing and not drop. I tried to balance
tech and artistic. I think when I stood there in front of the audience
and saw a lot of people I didn’t know I just wanted to do a good show.
I really would’ve been upset ifIi dropped. So I’m glad I didn’t. In
retrospect, maybe I should’ve gone harder, maybe I should’ve done a
different song for round 2… But it’s water under the bridge. These
things do not mean as much to me as they used to.

Ken: It looked more conservative than the one you did at Euros finals,
was that intentional?

Dave: I don’t think it’s that much different actually, is it? I didn’t
go back and watch recently. At euros I was just in a different frame
of mind.

Ken: The beard?

Dave: The footbag stuff was all a bonus there, like, I was going to
see Europe and taking top 3 would’ve just been a nice thing to add.
With worlds I just didn’t want to drop. I just wanted to do a nice show
and I was fine with wherever I placed. Euros was a gym with 50
freestylers.

Dave: Worlds was maybe 200 and maybe half that weren’t die hard
footbag players. I think I just wanted to do a good job for them, and
whatever the judges thought would be up to them.

Ken: Are you motivated to finish #1 in the World ever?

Dave: I don’t know, I go in waves. Some days I care, and I’ll play
really hard. Some days I want it so bad.

Ken: That’s interesting. For me, I want to be as good as I can be. If
I were you, I’d know that being #1 in the world is possible, so I’d go
for it.

Dave: Some days I’d rather be good at magic, good at my job, talk to my
girlfriend. I’m number one at circle, that means something to me.

Ken: What’s your mindset in circle? And this isn’t just me asking,
cause you always beat me in circle…

Dave: Don’t drop. Do dynamic stuff that makes people yell midstring.
but balance it, because people forget cool links if you drop on trick
four.

Ken: I yell midstring all the time, but that’s the Tourettes…

Dave: ….

Ken: OK, next question — who is your favorite current style on the East Coast?

Dave: Johnny Suderman. And Jorden. Tied.

Ken: Nice. I think I’d split my vote between Chris Dean and Johnny.

Dave: Yeah, Dean is sick.

Ken: You just moved West, and you play regularly with Stanford, which
is a great crew. That said, what do you miss most about the East Coast
scene?

Dave: I miss the times when I was first coming up and had so many
awesome people so close. Like, Peter, Sunil, Bevier. I miss skooling
with Bevier every day. That was like, the best part of being on the
East Coast. Just sweating away in my dorm all winter.

Ken: Yeah, that must have been a treat. I’ve never lived anywhere
where I had somebody better than me to learn from.

Dave: That’s tough. I’ve been blessed with good mentors in the game
whether it’s through actual tricks or just how to think about the game.

Ken: Yeah, it’s always a challenge to find new motivation, but I’ve
played over 13 years, so I’m doing something right.

Dave: everyone has something to offer when you think about it. I
think that everyone is important. There are so few of us. I regret
things I may have said about peoples’ styles – it’s stupid, really.
Like, even if you look like crap, at least you’re trying.

Ken: I hear you. People talked shit on my style for SOOOOO long. If
I had listened or cared, I would have dropped out. I only started
liking or even tolerating my style like, 3 years ago?

Dave: How hard was it to fix your style quirks?

Ken: Some were a lot easier than others, and obviously I still have
some. I remember Age (Dukes) put out a video a couple years ago,
where I hit all sorts of stuff I was proud of, and Abe Santana’s only
comment was: “Way too many pdx mirages.” There was stuff on there like
double spinning eclipse, blurry flurry, toe flurry-toebius, etc., and
somebody’s only comment is that I overused my strong pdx mirage.

Dave: He’s pretty blunt.

Ken: In this case, he was totally right too. I made the adjustment,
and now I am much happier with how my game looks. But that was an
easy adjustment, other things, like learning to spin, was a long
arduous process that just involved being relentless and dedicated to
ironing out kinks. It wasn’t fun, but I’m glad I did it.

Dave: Word.

Ken: On a similar note, my next question is — what’s the biggest mistake you
see new players making these days?

Dave: Not having a good foundation. They just try way too hard of stuff
and get props on hard stuff, and not on tiltless, which is key.

Ken: Agreed. If you could go back in your career and change one thing,
or tell yourself one thing, what would it be?

Dave: I think I would’ve tried to promote it more.

Ken: How?

Dave: Just start a more formal club, hand out flyers, etc. I just
never had the energy.

Ken: Did you ever host a tourney?

Dave: Nope.

Ken: OK, next question — what’s your favorite routine you’ve done, and seen,
both on the East Coast?

Dave: Done- finals of worlds 07. Seen-Jere Linanennen semi-finals
worlds 2004, where he was just ripping and everyone went nuts. I didn’t
think footbag could have that kind of power.

Ken: Cool.

Dave: were you at that routine?

Ken: I don’t remember.

Dave: Lol. Guess it wasn’t that good.

Ken: when I compete, I don’t get to watch a lot of routines before me.
I dunno, I love those moments in footbag when you realize you’re
witnessing something special like, when at Worlds 09 Vasek had a 160+
contact run in Circle comp. I remember watching that, and after 100
contacts looking at the people next to me in disbelief (are you seeing
this too?!?), and then around contact 140,m just laughing. That was a
special moment.

Dave: Yeah, I wish I was there for that.

Ken: Next question — you suffer a magical injury which means you can’t
freestyle anymore, but can do any other sport (even using your legs).
What takes freestyle’s place?

Dave: I do more magic now than footbag. Like, a lot more. There is a
great group by where I work and we meet on Fridays.
Dave: Would you play basketball?

Ken: Yes, I’m almost 100% that’d be my replacement. Maaaaaaaybe
footbag net. But like, I’d probably focus more energy on getting good
at bball than net.

Dave: Eh, I hate starting things from scratch. That first period of
learning is a bummer. I’m not sure why I was so into doing it when I was 15.

Ken: Dude, I joined a 9ball (billiards) league, and let me tell you
it sucks to start from scratch.

Dave: No pun intended?

Ken: True.

Dave: I was just curious what are your next goals in footbag?

Ken: Hmm, tough to say. The short term goal is to finish my beast
video and release it in the next few days. Long term? Maybe make
routine finals at Worlds. Stay at an Open level of freestyle for at
least 2 more years. And then there are a bunch of random single trick
and combo goals I have. You?

Dave: I think just keep playing, Help the sport if I can.

One Response to “INTERVIEW: Clavens v. Somolinos”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Footbag Player Profile - Ken Somolinos - Sport/Life - May 20, 2022

    […] Symposium Podcast Ken Somolinos interview with David Clavens A Dialog With Ken […]

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