It’s the end of an era. For the first time since 1994, the historic Boston team Death or Glory — generally known as DoG — will not be in Sarasota competing for a title after they lost in the game-to-go in Northeast Regionals, playing in the Masters Division.
One of Ultimate’s most storied teams, DoG has done something no other team has: won a national championship in the first year of their existence in each division.
The team formed in 1994 after Titanic, the Boston A team in the early ’90s, couldn’t quite get to the top, losing in the finals to New York in 1992 and dropping in the semifinals in 1993. Something of a merger happened in the Boston scene, with B team players joining up with Titanic players to form a new team, better able to compete. In their first year as a team, DoG won a National title, adding five more in a row after that to become one of the greatest dynasties in Ultimate.
Jim Parinella, the founder and captain of DoG, talked to Ultiworld about how the team evolved over time. “We had fairly low turnover, losing a couple of guys each year,” he said. “In 1999, there was something of a merger. We didn’t win again after that but we were still really good some years.”
But by 2005, the original core of DoG was down to just Parinella and Alex de Frondeville. The two have been playing together since 1989. “We’ve set some kind of record,” said Parinella. “He and I are attached at the hip and I like to call him my sidekick.”
After the 2006 season, Parinella said they had both grown tired of playing Open. “It was a combination of a lot of things,” he explained. “Life, we didn’t know people on the team as well. We also wanted to get the old guard back together before everybody was dead.”
So in 2007, almost the entire original DoG team signed up again for a run at Masters (where the minimum player age is 33). They won the title. They continued to play, but did worse each year as their team slowly aged. In 2009, in the first year of Grandmasters (minimum age 40), they played — and won.
In 2011, with most of the team well into their 40s, DoG missed the quarterfinals of Masters. “I thought it would be harder to do worse than last year’s eleventh place, but we found a way to do it,” said Parinella.
Missing Nationals has been a tough pill to swallow. Parinella is still going to be in attendance, but for the first time not as a player. Is this the end of DoG?
“Personally this was my ninth straight final season,” said Parinella. “I’ve only really thought that about three of those years, the other years I just said it.” He added there is still “sort of an interest” in playing, but said it “would be too weird” to play with another team in the Series.
DoG is famous in Ultimate for a number of reasons. One the offensive side, they were known for their efficiency. “‘Take what they give you’ was one of our mantras,” said Parinella. “We would let you decide which way you wanted to get beat.” On D, they helped create the hybrid man-zone and were very innovative in the early formative years for higher level strategy.
“Our other legacy was openness,” said Parinella. ” We made it easier for teams to learn…by giving insights into our training methods.” Parinella has written extensively about Ultimate strategy for USA Ultimate (formerly the Ultimate Players Association) and on his personal blog. In 2004, he wrote “Ultimate Techniques and Tactics,” a popular book.
He may keep writing in the future, but his playing is up in the air. “I kind of think the old guys are way too old now, even for Grandmasters,” he said. “I don’t know what to do in the fall. Pick up with Ironside, I guess.”