The spirit of the game

I went to my first ultimate frisbee tournament this weekend. Left on Saturday morning to go up to Wenatchee for The Hot Apple Tournament (THAT). Our first game was in the rain, but we were all good-natured. We lost, but the game and the other team were just so much fun that it didn’t matter. That’s the thing that’s so cool about ultimate; ‘the spirit of the game’ is a strong part of the sport, so everything is really relaxed and friendly. There are no umpires and disputes are mediated in a friendly manner. You can introduce yourself to your defender and strike up conversations on the sideline. Of course it’s competitive and we want to win, but it’s all about having a good time, too. After each game both teams give the other team a cheer, which can be a poem or song whose lyrics have been changed, or a miniature friendly game like tag or dodge disc (dodgeball with big foam discs).

Our second game was a horrible defeat, made worse by the opponent’s seeming lack of effort. The third game we barely won, but they were a fun group to play. Our fourth game was a challenge, and it wasn’t until halftime that we discovered a strategy that successfully defended their deep throws. Unfortunately, we discovered it too late. We went out to dinner afterwards, and then to the camp site. After getting appropriately buzzed, we headed over to the lodge for the main festivities. I stayed late dancing, even after the rest of my team had left. At bars I feel very uncomfortable being alone on a dance floor. Here everyone was so friendly and inclusive that I had no problems making friends and dancing with everyone else.

Sunday we were all sore. To make matters worse, we were stuck on a small field with poor drainage. Massive bogs occupied significant chunks of the field, and the smell indicated that it probably wasn’t just water from the sprinklers. We barely lost the game, but had a good time anyway. We should have had a bye, but the other team we were to play wanted to leave early, too, so we found a nearby field and played a short game. Oddly, it was the best field we’d played on at the tournament. It was a good friendly game, and the weather, though drizzly, was not unpleasant. It, too, was close, but fun. Afterwards we went to Rusty Burger (an unknown but extremely popular local burger joint), then drove home.

I had a great time. Everyone was friendly, most people were my age and chill, I got to score a few times and play as much as I wanted, and I learned a lot about ultimate frisbee strategy. I’ll be a while in recovery, but it was worth it.

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