The finals are over, here’s some game summaries:
Open: Furious George takes it 17-12 — their first national ever!
Mixed: Donner Party squeaks by 19-18!
Women’s: Boston’s Godiva wins, 17-16!
Sun (not available as of posting)
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.
Well, this was an exciting weekend!
I spent pretty much all Saturday outside. That made me feel healthy. Mostly.
I spent pretty much all Sunday inside, and have, well, the peace-of-mind to show for it.
First Saturday: I’m going to watch Karen play on the women’s team at the Tampa-Bay Ultimate Sectional’s tournament! I arranged to carpool it up there with her, and she was coming by to pick me up at 8am. I brought my cleats just in case. We zoomed up the #75 highway in her 1999 Pontiac Grand Am (much like the car I drove while I worked for Microsoft). After a couple of stops at nearby gas stations for directions (don’t trust Mapquest any farther than you can throw it), we found ourselves at the University of South Florida, Tampa campus. And there were literally hundreds of people throwing discs around on six different fields. Beautiful! However, in all this beauty it was pretty difficult to locate the first person we needed to speak to. We needed to talk to the captain of Karen’s team, Emily Greenwell — and it took about 10 minutes to get pointed in the correct direction. But she found her team, and introductions were done. I introduced myself as a fan. That was returned with about a 50-50 mix of smiles and funny looks. I was the only guy there — I think that might have had something to do with it.
It was about 9:30am — games were set to start at 10 — so I took off from Karen’s team to see if I could find a team to play with. I went back to close to where we walked onto the fields — near the tables of water, cookies and bananas — and just started asking if I could speak to the captain of whoever I was talking to. Once I found the captain, I’d introduce myself and explain that I was looking “to pickup”. Being the hipster you are, you know that “picking up” is Ulti-lingo for “looking to be an extra player who’s not really on the roster and sometimes doesn’t have to pay fees or sign waivers”. Well, the first captain I spoke to referred me to another captain because he already had 20 people on his team; the second captain I spoke to had too many people as well and directed me to Rick’s team.
Rick’s team, Herniated Discs, is a “masters team”. Of course you know that a masters team is one where each player is least 30 years old, and that masters teams compete within a separate league usually hold separate tournaments. Perhaps what you didn’t know is that sometimes, as was the case at Saturday’s Sectionals tournament, tournament coordinators allow masters teams to play in non-masters tournaments. That was the case for Herniated Discs today.
So most of my teammates were quite a bit older than I was. I think the next youngest was about 32, with an average age around 40. As one of them put it, “with the young kids, they’ve got the speed but not the skills; with masters, we’ve got the skills but not the speed”. I like that — it’s an interesting tradeoff that I imagine you see in a lot of sports, but you can really see in Ultimate in particular.
Our first game was against a young college team named Vicious Circles. They had a lot of players — I imagine the average age was around 22 — and they were intense, doing pushups between points and at half time. Herniated Discs, on the other end, spent the time between points talking about how their knees hurt. We lost that game something like 13-5. It was pretty harsh.
Our second game went much better — we won, 13-11. One fellow on our team — Alex — that guy was superman-laying out for practically everything! He had no fear. He also ended up with a dirty shirt from bleeding elbows, but hey, he was feeling no pain — after all, running for a couple of hours puts you into a bit of strange state — and he, like many other Ultimate players, had prepped for the tournament by taking “vitamin I”, Ibuprofen.
During the 1/2 hr break between games I popped over to see how Karen’s team was doing. “Quite well,” when I checked up on her after my second game, which ended around 3pm. We arranged to meet by the entrance by 4:30pm, regardless of whether our teams had finished playing by then.
We won our third game too, this time 13-7. So I guess masters teams just take a little longer to warm up. 🙂 Around 4:15pm or so, Karen found me. “That was early,” I thought to myself. Turns out that it was indeed early — her team had gotten pummeled, so it was a short game. I was just wrapping up with my team, so I met her at the car, which she already had cooled with the A/C.
We made a pitstop for food and drink at a nearby Eckerds (think London Drugs). Orange Gatorade and Mesquite BBQ Pringles never tasted so good.
After I being dropped at home, I IM’ed Simon and asked if he’d like to watch Ghost World with me. I’d rented the DVD a couple of nights before but had not yet gotten a chance to watch it. We watched it at his place, and it was good — worth the rental — but nothing spectacular. Simon and I were both trying to place where we’d seen the lead actress — Thora Birch — before, without using IMDB. No such luck, our brains have atrophied on broadband. A trip to IMDB the next morning left me wondering how I didn’t remember — but I’ll leave that as an exercise to the reader).
Got up early on Sunday (8:15 am!) and futzed about on my computer for a couple of hours, really just enjoying the fact that I had an awesome night’s sleep. That’s one really great thing about playing ultimate — I always sleep well the night after, with no chance of insomnia. I did discover that he painful skin on the back of my neck and nose was a brutal sunburn! I now respect the Florida sun! Time to buy sunscreen!
We got to work around 11:45am, and Simon was prompty met with a chair that wouldn’t pull out from his desk. Turns out Hugo (a coworker of mine in the software group) and Van (our IT guy, totally pro-Mac) had been into work on Saturday and had used a few of those plastic fasteners to attach one of the legs of Simon’s chair to the powerbar underneath his computer table. Some of his food was missing from his cubicle, too. Simon got Hugo back by unplugging all his network cables just a tiny little bit. 🙂
I agreed to go into work on Sunday at the request of my boss — Carlos — to make sure the installer I was putting together was going to work properly. Late Friday night, I discovered that because of my lack of inclusion of two folders in the installer that were regularly included with the product, the installer deleted these folders from the destination machine — not my intention at all, which was simply to not touch them.
Anyway, Simon and I got that problem rectified at about 7:30pm on Friday, but it needed to be tested, so that’s what I did today. The software group at METI has never done a “system level” software test after an upgrade, so I was breaking new ground here. That felt good. It’s hard to believe, but until this point, all of METI’s system testing had been done in an ad-hoc, on-the-fly kind of way. I recorded all the tests I did on form I created using Word.
It was so nice being at work today — I was able to get so much work done! Simon found the same thing, so he wrote an email to Carlos asking if we could work Saturday and Sunday instead of Monday and Tuesday. We’ll see what happens. 🙂
I find this utterly hilarious. Passed along by Simon:
Wow! I’m still hopped-up on all the endorphins.
After driving an hour on the highway, Simon and finally got to our destination: the Undertow Beach Bar, directly adjacent the Gulf of Mexico.
It seems like Ultimate frisbee players are never on time, so Simon and I played catch for about 15 minutes. Then Karen Susalla arrived. Karen just moved to Sarasota last week from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and was referred to me by Emily Greenwell, who knew I was trying to organize Ultimate players in Sarasota. Emily is a Greenwell through marriage. Dad contacted Emily’s husband, Jeff Greenwell, and it turns out we may have shared a common ancestor about 5 or 6 generations ago! Crazy.
Next to show up was a girl named Carrie, who lived in Miami and who recently moved up to Tampa for work. Demaurice — she’s from Cuba, I think — showed up next, followed shortly by Emily, Jeff, and their 11-month old son Nicholas. Sidney showed up, and we had enough players get a little game of hot-box going. That was fun, but man was it tiring. Hot-box is tough, because you’re always trying to relate your position relative to other players and a small area in the center of a field. So you’re never really sure what shoulder you should be looking over to keep an eye on your check. The teams were Carrie, Demaurice and I against Sidney, Emily and Karen, with Simon swapping in, between points, with Karen. My check, Sidney — that girl is fast. I couldn’t keep up with her half the time, leaving Demaurice to cover both Karen and Sid.
A little bit later, Leonard showed up and we had enough people to play a 4 on 4 game of Ultimate! Yeah! Jeff recommended we set up the field size to be 30×40 with 10-yard deep endzones. That was just about perfect. We decided to play a game to 7. I was back in my element. We kept the same teams as we had for hot-box, with Leonard playing with Simon, Sidney, Karen and Emily.
Scoring went 1-0 them, 1-1, 2-1 them, 3-1, 3-2, 4-2, 5-2 and then I decided we should start our big comeback! 5-3, 5-4, 5-5. They scored the next point, and we tried valiantly to tie it up at 6-6, but it didn’t happen and they won it 7-5. Not a bad game!
After washing off sand off my arms and legs with the shower provided at the beach, Jeff, Emily, Simon, Leonard and I had a drink at the Undertow Beach Bar — a neat, tiny little open-air place with live music. They had a special on! $2/bottle for a Japanese beer with “Ichiban” in its name. It sure tasted good! Then again, I think *any* kind of beer would have tasted good at that point. Even though I went through about litre of water, hot-box and Ultimate left me pretty dehydrated.
Jeff and Emily left after finishing their beer (time to get Nicholas home!). Leonard gave Simon a brief overview of why Ultimate is so different than the other games out there. He talked about how Ultimate is self-refereed (all the way up to the world championships), about how fights are systemically avoided through the “foul/contest” construct, about the underlying concept of Spirit of The Game and about the general friendliness of the people who play the sport. Oh yeah, he also mentioned how Ultimate players love to party. It’s true. As he relayed to Simon, “You can lose the tournament but win the party!” Out of the three years he’s been playing Ultimate, he says, he’s seen two fights. You’d have a hard time finding another sport with that kind of record. I can back up everything he’s said. I love Ultimate — I left the beach today on a sort of spiritual high.
- Listen to a talk about Spirit of The Game, courtesy the Ultimate Handbook. (RealPlayer required, get the (very good) Mac OS X version here).
Curious? There’s a great guide for beginners over at The Ultimate Handbook.
I just found this incredible page of Ultimate movies through www.canultimate.com [link will open in new window].
John “Wheels” Hurlbut took seven months off work to travel the world and play ulti. He’s made a sort of video diary — it must be seen!
Check it out at www.ultimate-trip.com [link will open in new window].