All Faiths 2006

So once again I trundled up to St Pete for the annual All Faiths [Ultimate Frisbee] Hat tournament. “All Faiths” being the name of a local charity, and “Hat” referring to how the teams are drawn randomly from “hats”, each containing pools of equally skilled players. That is to say, players rank their skill level when they register, and the tournament organizer creates equally skilled teams composed of new and experienced players alike. It’s a great way to learn how to play the game, and meet some new faces in the process. Hat tournaments are the best part of Ultimate!
And this one was definitely one of the better ones I’ve been to. Not only were all the teams already made up when I arrived, thanks to online registration — all I had to do was fork over my $20 — but games started within minutes of their schedule time! Pretty amazing with 120 players, 8 teams and 5 skill levels to manage. There was a bit of a foulup with the shirt printing (they couldn’t get all the colours they wanted); as a result everyone ended up with two t-shirts, one coloured, representing their team, and the other a white shirt, with the tournament’s design. The design itself was quite something, taking one of the banned Danish cartoons, which I’m not going to link to here, and modifying it, replacing a sword with a disc, with the slogan “Frisbee Fanatic”. I’m still kind of surprised they did it. Is there such a thing as satire for Muslims?
Controversial shirt designs aside, the tournament was run beautifully. Games were to 11 points, or to a time cap, signaled by an air horn, at which point the current point gets finished, or, if between points, the next point gets played. If a team is up by one point at that point, then game over. Simple rules. Simple rules!
I can’t even remember team Navy’s record for the day. I think it was two and three; regardless, after our fourth game we were relegated to the beer bracket and took it easy after that. Perfect timing, since it happened to be exactly when Helen — recovering from laparoscopic surgery and hence not playing — arrived with the apple pie shooters. Ahhh. 🙂
After our final game we all headed back to disc central under the giant oaks and enjoyed BBQed brats and veggie dogs, an awesome bean salad, potato salad, complemented with great kettle-style potato chips and a keg of Heineken, which watching the two top teams duke it out in a 13-point final. Darren, Mike, Winton and Stephen Poulous were all playing on the White team. I don’t think I knew anyone on the opposing, Green team. I will say I need to take heckling lessons from Eric G, who was in top form that evening. 🙂
Earlier in the day, an old friend Lisa, who I knew from a former Savannah trip, spotted me on the field and got me to agree to be a “counter” for bat races (you might know them as spinning races): essentially you run from a starting line, reach your destination point, drink a beverage, rotate around a bat — one end of which is on your forehead, the other on the ground — ten times, and try to race back to your point of origin. The sprint back typically results in people falling over. The job of the counter is to let the crowd and the spinner know how many times he or she has spun. Lisa even had a special shirt made up just for the occasion. Leonard and I helped out. It was pretty special.
The game ended up being much closer than I thought it would be; Green had nice flow, and they had a girl who could catch anything. But it just wasn’t enough, and the straw hats and champagne went to the fine folks on White.
Hung out with Eric J and Sonia a bit afterwards, which was fun and something I need to do more often! Darren, it was good to have you for company on the way back too, always makes the drive shorter.
For some pictures, have a look at Josh Smith‘s excellent photos (see if you can spot me!). I have a few of my own to add to the mix too.. I’ll be adding them below when I get a moment.

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