Player Profile: Blake Waldron & Tom Radcliffe
Meet Nashville's Own Bash Brothers
By Adam Ruffner & Caitlin Cieslik-Miskimen
There are many similarities to the Nashville Nightwatch duo of Tom Radcliffe and Blake Waldron, so it’s fair if you mistook them for long-lost brothers.
For one, they are both tall—6’4” and 6’3,” respectively—with similarly shaggy brown hair. They were both handlers on their (rival) club squads, and for two years guarded one another specifically when their teams faced each other. Like trying to dodge one’s own reflection in the mirror, each player grew frustrated by the other’s striking similarities.
“We didn’t exactly like each other for awhile,” Radcliffe admitted. “It was cordial, but we were always against each other.”
Now teammates, they like to push each other to be better players. They’ve adopted each other’s on-the-field moves: Radcliffe mimics the head bob and upper torso lean Waldron uses to fake out opponents, and Waldron wants to figure out how to throw lefty scoobers and high release backhands just as well as the ambidextrous Radcliffe. They speak with slight southern drawls, have a similar and referential style of humor, and are self-described cut ups. Which is why they decided that if they can’t be blood brothers, they might as well enlist themselves in the long tradition of Bash Bros.
The nickname debuted at the Nashville NightWatch tryout when, after four years of squaring off against each other on the club ultimate circuit, the duo became fast friends. Lining up on the same scrimmage team, Radcliffe noticed Waldron bore a striking resemblance to Adam Devine (of Workaholics, Modern Family and Pitch Perfect fame - “Pitch Perfect came out when I was in an acapella group and didn’t help my cause,” Waldron said), and Waldron figured out they had the same knack for cracking jokes.
“At that tryout, I mentioned something about how Blake looked like Adam from Workaholics,” Radcliffe said. “He laughed it off, and we continued to make a joke about it throughout the scrimmage. We were playing really well together, and started talking about how awesome it would be to actually play with each other, and not against.”
“When we finally got the opportunity to play together, I took Bash Bros and applied it to us,” Waldron added. He noted that they constantly reference the joke on the field and off, and he may or may not text Radcliffe a reference to their signature move once a day (at least).
With the crossing of their forearms, they are the latest duo to join history’s hallowed list of Bash Brothers, a name reserved for the heaviest of hitters. The original duo was the Oakland A’s Mark McGwire-Jose Canseco hitting tandem, who helped the A’s win the 1989 World Series. On the ice, Fulton Reed and Dean Portman made the list when their hard checks and harder attitudes (for a Disney movie) helped crush Team Iceland in D2: The Mighty Ducks; and in Workaholics, the slacker squad of Ders, Blake and Adam routinely draw on their wizardly bro powers to pound past the boring swamp of office life.
“In order to be considered a Bash Bro, you have to be a big player—the crowd pleaser,” Radcliffe said, who has been elevating quickly as one of the biggest and best goal scorers in the league. “You need to play consistently, be quick and able to get up in the air. You need to be committed to grinding, to working hard. That’s where the Bash Bros come from.”
And that’s another thing that Radcliffe and Waldron share in common—the commitment to the grind. They both want to help the Nashville NightWatch make a mark in the AUDL’s South Division. Picked to finish last in the division, and with a roster of unknowns, the NightWatch surprised in Week 3 by upsetting the Jacksonville Cannons 20-18. Radcliffe led the way with seven goals, and 13 different NightWatch players registered a D. For those on the outside, it was the first time that fans got to see what happens when players on one of the league’s most unheralded rosters start clicking.
“The team as a whole—we talked about this really early on—understands the fact that we don’t have a lot of the big names that the ultimate community recognizes, and being able to play as a team in one unit is a big deal for us,” Waldron said. “The slogan this year is ‘Love the Grind.’ If we’re bottom five, that’s just motivation for us. It pushes us to grind a little bit harder to get to the place where we can compete with the top tier teams.”
“Fans haven’t seen us work really well together yet,” Radcliffe added. “We know what we are capable of, and it’d be awesome for fans to latch on to that.”
Radcliffe and Waldron are used to the “nobody believes in us” mentality. Both are veterans of smaller ultimate programs that have gone relatively unnoticed outside the South, although their playing experience and innate talent should make them more well known - both players have cracked the league leaderboards (Radcliffe:goals; Waldron:assists) in recent weeks. Waldron started playing ultimate in middle school, and Radcliffe has the distinction of being one of the game’s best ambidextrous throwers in addition to being a nightmare downfield to guard.
But for the most part, the spotlight has eluded them.
“I’ve been ‘almost there’ so many times—it’s been the story of my life so far,” Radcliffe said, referencing multiple heartbreak losses in college regionals. “We’ve been so close but haven’t been good enough to be recognized. For me personally, I want to see the Nightwatch recognized and respected.”
Waldron expressed a similar sentiment. As a longtime ultimate player, and one who has convinced nearly all of his family members to try it out, he’s put in a lot of work in order to take his skills to the next level, whether that be crossfit training with his family, or going for that extra mile on his runs.
“Maybe this sounds really cheesy, but as a kid, honestly, it was a dream to play a sport at its highest level,” Waldron said. “This is the highest level of ultimate, and I’m super stoked—stoked out of my mind—to see the hard work that I’ve put in pay off.”
Despite dropping five straight since their statement win against Jacksonville, the Nashville NightWatch are starting to get some recognition. They almost claimed a mega-upset at home over the Raleigh Flyers two weeks ago, and the team continues to play tight against the best in their division. The NightWatch is also beginning to build a solid fan base (and a tough one at that—hundreds of fans braved a rainstorm during the NightWatch’s first home game). Slowly, The City of Music is starting to hear the first few notes of recognition.
And so are the Bash Bros.
“After our first game, there were some kids who came up to us asking for an autograph,” Radcliffe said. “I’d be awesome to see more. I’d love to see it catch on.”
Until then, they’ll just keep grinding.