I think my scalp is burnt

The UPA 2002 Club Nationals from a Volunteer Perspective
So I got to the Sarasota Polo Club around 9:45am this morning, after stopping in at Eckerd (like a Pharmasave) to pick up some sunscreen. What a sight when I turned the corner to get to the parking lot!

There were thousands of people with discs! I rolled the car over a small ditch and parked beside one of the 200 other cars in that row. I decided I’d leave my cleats, socks and shirts in the car until I’d surveyed the area.

I headed to a wooden structure raised to give an open air workspace underneath, and a sort of announcer’s lookout on top — dubbed “Frisbee Central”. In the open-air area they had a staff area, as well as a concession to buy all sorts of Ultimate stuff. I bought the event’s commemorative disc (“Club Nationals 2002, UPA, Sarasota Florida Oct 24-27”); a license-plate-holder that says “Ultimate” on the top, and on the bottom, in uppercase, “THIS AIN’T NO BALL GAME!” (flanked on either side by the UPA logo); and of course I *had* to get this bumper sticker: “I’d rather be playing Ultimate” with a picture of a guy laying out.
Unfortunately I was a little short on cash, otherwise I would have also bought one of the “Spirit” discs, which gives a brief explanation of Spirit of the Game. I’m gonna buy one tomorrow and put it up in my office at work!
Anyway, back to the story — last night, it was pointed out to me on bayareaultimate.com that I could contact “Butch” about volunteering. I called him, and he said someone should be able to point him out to me when I arrived. I asked one of the UPA staff where I could find him. He was behind one of the food concession stands. Not wanting to work in food prep, and well, wanting to explore a little more, I walked over to one of the games and started watching. It was Vancouver’s “Furious George“! Looked like they were doing well, too.
A few minutes later I spotted Danny Wood, who I’d met from playing beach ultimate at Siesta Key on Monday nights. He’s one of the head organizers from New College’s intramural Ultimate team. He introduced me to two other folks, Jack (an Ultimate newbie) and Ethan (a not-so-newbie).
The four of us located the volunteer coordinator, Tommy. The day before, Danny had promised Tommy a number of volunteers for today, but it turned out most of these folks, once they had arrived, wanted to watch the games instead of volunteering. Boston’s “Death Or Glory” was playing. They’re something of a legend in Ultimate, having won the club championship every year since 1994 with the exception of 2000 and 2001, where they were knocked out by Santa Barbara’s “Condors”. Guess who they were playing?
So without enough volunteers, Tommy made an executive decision to not keep stats for the quarter final games, and we were free to wander until 11:15am — at which point he needed us back to be field marshals.
Danny’s kru walked back to the Death or Glory vs. Condors game; I watched Furious George routing of Sub-Zero. Furious won 15 to 7; after the game was over I walked back watch the DoG vs. Condors game with Danny & co. Before the end of it, 11:15 rolled around, and Danny, Jack, Ethan and I walked back to Frisbee Central to meet up with Tommy to report for duty.
Tommy no longer needed field marshals (I’m still not sure what one does), and instead needed people to distribute water. I paired up with Ethan, and Danny paired with Jack. As part of the deal, we each got a bright red “UPA 2002 Staff” t-shirt and a meal ticket! Each pair also got a Motorola two-way and a golf cart!!! Kick ass!
It was lunch in short order, so I got a chicken burger, chips and an orange Gatorade; Ethan got a veggie burrito, which was ready so fast he barely had a chance to walk around the table (about 5 feet) to get it. The guys at the food concession have their schiznit together!
It turns out Ethan’s girlfriend lives nearby in Tampa; he lives in Atlanta. She called his cell around noon and accused him of coming down just to watch the tournament, instead of spending time with her — an accusation he vehemently denied. So he left at 4 pm to go see her. hahaah….
So we zipped around the fields in our golf cart. As the day progressed, so did our needs as volunteers; we went from delivering new water bottles and returning old ones, to moving unused water bottles from unused fields to ones that needed them, to gathering cones and later in the day, collecting bagged trash around the fields. The whole time we were also giving people rides as needed. One fun moment involved Ethan driving, and three cute girls hopping in the cart: two hanging off the back and Anna from Atlanta on my lap. Heh heh heh…
At 3:15 we decided it was a good time to take a break. We were getting constant score updates over the 2-ways radios and heard Death or Glory was playing Furious George. Not just playing Furious, but was in heavy competition with Furious, who was leading 13-12 at the time. As we were sitting, though, one of the golf-cartless volunteers — he was taking stats — took off with our golf cart! He also managed to stuff 4 other people into the cart. When the errant cart returned, I discovered that they had gone to the beer truck! Upon noticing this I immediately demanded to be paid a beer tax, which a pleasant girl promptly paid.
Actually, a little while later, while watching the game, said pleasant-girl saw my sandals, and commented “Why do you have sandals that form a Canadian flag? That’s the coolest thing ever! Are you Canadian?”. She explained she was from San Juan Island, and that her mom was from <mysterious voice>Winnipeg</voice>. Oooh, Winnipeg. Yeah, I know where that is. 🙂 I told her I was from Victoria, and she told me she could swim there from her place…. haha..
But back to the game — and what a game it was. Super close! In this tournament, there was a soft cap of 15 points and a hard cap of 17. The “soft cap” means you have to win by two points, and the hard cap means — well — whoever makes it to 17 first wins. Well, Furious George made to 15 points first, but they couldn’t stop there. DoG had 14, and came back to tie it up at 15. Furious scored next, making it 16-15, but DoG did not take “no” as answer! They tied it up and the crowd went crazy! Timeouts were called, plays strategized and the game resumed. As DoG was readied for the pull, the crowd went from total silence to incredibly loud: with the hard cap of 17, this was the final pull of the game! A spectacular full-on Superman layout-D in the corner of DoG’s endzone was matched by an equally impressive layout by a Furious player. The Furious player started his flight a fraction of second earlier, and made the catch to win the game. The crowd went mad — this was certainly a game for them. Just check out the scores.
Anyway, ’round 5:30 I decided to give up the golf cart and relax a bit. So of course I headed straight for the beer truck. I’d seen people paying for the beer earlier, so I got out my wallet — 4 bucks — okay, maybe its enough for a beer. I asked the girl in line behind me how much beer was, and she said it was free. Rock on! And indeed, it was. So I got a plastic cup of Red Hook ESB!
“Grey Expectations” and “Old Sag” were battling it out for the Master’s (35+ years-old) championship (be sure to check out some of the other team names). The final score was 15-13, “Old Sag” — another close game. My fingers were feeling pretty itchy to throw a disc, so I found a few people throwing the disc around and just joined right in. There were some forehands coming from really small children here — like 6 years old. Guess if you go to the nationals you start your kids on the game early! 🙂
So anyway that’s about it — congrats on making it this far! I’m going to head back tomorrow to pick up two Spirit discs (one for Leonard and myself), as well as watch the open, mixed, and women’s finals! It’s gonna rule!!