By Sean Kennedy
To mitigate the hunger of a fan base starved for more Kronum League action, we’ll be bringing brief weekly updates of current adult rec league action, in addition to a weekly question-and-answer session. For further Kronum information, you can check out the league’s official website at www.kronum.com.
Kyle McGrath wears a lot of hats within the Kronum League. In addition to captaining the defending champion Night Owls, Kyle is the league’s head of social media, a play-by-play man, co-host of the ‘Around the Round’ podcast, and the voice-over guy for many of the league’s video presentations. That work in addition to his talkative personality has earned Kyle the reputation as the ‘Voice of Kronum’, He sat down with us to discuss league developments, and breaking through the championship barrier.
It came up briefly in last week’s Q&A with Scott [Kennedy], but as a guy integral in the whole process, could you expand on how the new portable goals came into existence and what you think it means for the league?
Yeah, for 5 years this has been what we’ve been working toward. It’s a unique way for a sport to begin, to immediately launch a full-scale, organized semi-professional league with real athletes. We say on my sales floor that you’re always out here when you start something (arms out wide), but you want to be here when you finish (hands in close). We knew that if you’re going to invent a sport, you have to be able to bring it to the backyard and make it affordable. Around December 2012, I started to prospect companies that could make this goal and buy into the idea of Kronum. One of the first companies I found was Bownet. So the league was all about building a foundation for when you’re ready to bring your product around the world, you have that credibility. There’s a lot of good people playing in rec leagues right now, and it only took so long to go from 20-30 guys playing this to where we now have this huge following. Having this goal where people can put it in the backyard, take it to the beach, take it to a friend’s house and set it up and play a modified version of Kronum, it will only help provide a taste of what the game is like and make people want to play a full game.
Right now, is there any projected timeline for when a prototype will be available and when any full roll-out will be?
The word I’ve received from the CEO of Bownet, Jack Lucas, is that the net, as of last Thursday, was in the air and on its way to the Bownet facility in California. After they do some final testing there, we expect the prototype to be coming over sometime in the next few weeks. Once that comes, we’ll bring it to a rec league and set it up on the side and really beat it up with shots to test it.
Moving to your game personally, you’re one of the few guys coming from a baseball background in the league. What sort of adjustments did you have to make when you first started out, given that it’s a different throwing motion?
It’s funny because there’s actually footage of us playing our first games out at Gable Park, and I was a set thrower when I first started playing. So I would catch it and wind up like a pitcher and try to hit a spot, but that’s not an easy thing to do no matter who you are because you’re trying to throw the ball from 13-14 yards away. Once I started trying to do that jump throw and adapt it, I tried to figure out where the arm slot was. I had this conversation with Bill [Gibson] in the office one day, probably in 2010-11. When you pitch a ball, you bring it back as far back as you can because that’s where a lot of your velocity comes from. But with a quarterback throw, because I was a pitcher and a quarterback, you pull the ball in between your ear and your chin and it’s a snap throw like a dart. The Kronum throw is literally in between those two; it’s like a snap throw in that you want to have a quick release but you still need to bring it back far enough to get enough velocity and accuracy when you’re in the air. So that was the struggle. Plus, any time I had ever thrown, my back leg was planted; throwing in the air was a little bit different. You have to use your hips and really torque your whole body.
Other unique thing that you do when you throw, is continuing to jump out to the side as you’re throwing the ball. Is that something you’re conscious of or is that more just your momentum taking you forward?
That’s something I’m conscious of. I remember back on the 70-yard field, you had plenty of room to get open shots, but when a defender was on me, my jump throw wasn’t explosive enough to get a shot off. Then in Season 3, I had Phil [Cavalcante] and Luke [Dougan] to keep the field spread, that was probably the year I worked on throwing against my momentum. Can I jump straight or left and still throw back to the right side? That was what I worked in there, and then in Season 4 I had the throw and the motion down, but I need to be able to score from anywhere on the field. So how can I create space? Well, who says you have to jump straight? So I started going into rec leagues and experimenting with it there.
So that was the thing you workshopped the most in regard to your game while playing in these rec leagues?
Absolutely. We don’t have set practices in Kronum so you have to work on your game in your own time. You know, we hang out these fields for hours, and the more reps I get, the more I can experiment with how to do things. Kronum is still so new and there’s still so many things people haven’t thought of yet as far as how to run offense, strategy, and that’s part of what keeps you coming back. Nearly every game there’s something new happening: oh, that’s a Kronum first. So I figured I could be the first person to think about this or that when it comes to the game. I think that’s what drives a lot of people. Think about what Scott [Kennedy] did last year. He came out in the first preseason game and said I’m going to faceguard a guy. Now half the league is doing it and it’s a base defense people can go to.
Finally, coming off your first championship in the pro league, was there any one thing you could pinpoint as the reason the Night Owls were able to come from the middle of the pack and take down the title?
In the end, everyone needed to choose to buy in. I knew I had the right guys in place and knew they were talented enough to do it. They just needed the motivation. After losing to you guys that game [to the Nimble Jacks in the regular season], I wanted to see us come out and play like a team. I think that loss just made us wake up and say we can’t just show up, we have to be ready to play.
This interview was slightly edited for conciseness and clarity.
Adult Rec League Week 2 Action
(1-2) Farris Wheels 74, (0-2) Ole Miss Alum 52
The Wheels recorded their first win of the season, jumping out to a huge first-half lead by taking advantage of some sloppy turnovers by Ole Miss in the cross zone for easy 4-pointers. Behind the strong wedgeback play of Steve Botta and Luke Pinto, and staunch defensive play from the team as a whole, the Wheels stifled Ole Miss’ offensive attack throughout the game and coasted to an easy victory.
(2-0) nWo 81, (1-1) Urban Legends 68
nWo led by as many as 21 points in the first half and stretched that advantage to 35 after halftime in a convincing victory over the Legends. Matt Charleston, Nick Piccari, Ryan Kirby, and a host of others maintained a balanced attack throughout the contest for nWo. The Legends received 12 consecutive points in the closing minutes on a 4-pointer and an 8-point kronum from Kevin Clark to trim the deficit to 13, but it was too little, too late.
(2-0) The Prospectors 90, (1-1) Twerk Horses 81
The highest-scoring game we’ve seen in the rec league thus far was evenly matched throughout the first half, despite an 8-point kronum from fill-in player Ryan Tressler for the Horses. However, Anthony Barbera answered with a kronum of his midway through the 2nd half to give the Prospectors their first sizable lead of the contest. The Prospectors were able to stretch the advantage to double digits and match the Horse point-for-point in the closing minutes to preserve the victory.
(1-1) Air Pops 86, (1-1) Bronum 76
Led by the offensive firepower of Matt Parsons and a swarm of Quintans boys, the Pops jumped out to an early 20-point lead which ultimately proved too large a hole for Bronum to climb back from. Sean London had a big game scoring the ball to help Bronum pull within 6 points late, but that was as close as they would get on this night.
(1-1) Dirty Mike and the Boys 71, (1-2) Air Pops 70
After the Pops led the majority of the game, the Boys proved the old Kronum adage that no lead is safe when there’s an 8-point shot available. After hitting a kronum off the second half prime rush to climb back into it, the Boys drained another one with 5 seconds left to erase a 7-point deficit and take the air out of the Pops. Only in Kronum.