Dream Lessons: #13 – One Man Team

Lesson #13

If you’re playing ultimate single-handedly, even getting a big handblock isn’t enough – you need someone to pass to if you want to score!

[For the uninitiated among you, a handblock is when you block a pass by the other team with your hand as they throw it. Of course, as you score by catching the disc in the endzone, and you can’t throw to yourself, even this ‘big play’ from me wasn’t helpful.]

[Belated Happy Easter!]

Mystery 

After such a battle 

Comes reconciliation 

It’s only right we soften

And get a little closer

The matchups likely different

The reasons could be many:

Humour, or attraction

Or random ‘just to trick them’

Lying, blind, defenceless

Expecting gentle actions

Then once the deed is done

Ponder – time to match them

Was there stubble, a caress?

How much of them in total?

The accused all stood in line

Hoping you don’t know

Guesses made and truth confirmed

The roles will then reverse

And after say we must play again soon,

my favourite call: Mystery Spoon

 

[More drama with no intro, it could of course only be another ultimate call! See the previous like-themed piece Look Up/Look Down for a more complete explanation. Basically, you each anonymously spoon a member of the opposite team and then they play detective. Fun if, like many frisbee players, you’re overly tactile, sexually repressed or just generally cuddly.]

Look Up/Look Down

And so it starts…
eyes down, hushed
mind games or blind luck?
can I still count on friends
or am I surrounded by enemies?

Look Up
safe – for now
the screams of those less fortunate
pierce my ears

Look Down
comrades fallen
fewer targets
nowhere to hide

Look Up
scrape by,
again
but soon
will come
the end

Look Down
sweat drips
bodies shuffle
where now can I turn?

Look Up
into their eyes:
instant, dramatic
death.

 

[Well wasn’t that exciting! This gripping tale of survival and betrayal is actually just the game Look Up Look Down, which I know of from often playing it with opponents after matches at ultimate tournaments (we call these post-match games ‘calls’ and I’ve no idea why). It’s one of my faves. Hope you enjoyed this piece of silliness anyway.]

[To all my regular readers and friends on here, it’s good to be back! I seem to have managed a post most weekdays for the past fortnight or so, after a little quiet spell, and the reception back into the WP community has been as great as ever. Much love to all of you.]

The Ultimate Hangover

The feeling that back-to-normal life is falling over itself, flailing, failing to play catch-up.

It can only be Monday morning.

Aching limbs, tired eyes, a brain that buzzes with action, none of it relevant anymore…

Post tournament, of course. Who needs alcohol to feel like this?

Twitching index and middle fingers on my dominant hand and a half-curled fist on the other side.

There’s the giveaway that it’s ultimate as I ghost throwing actions. I’ve been working on my lefties, but only with the simpler backhand grip.

New friends to ‘add’, photos to look out for, far-away smiles with memories of victories or my jaw set, regretful, looking back on the nearly moments.

Plenty of friend requests to be sent as I’ve just finished my first Mixed (gender) season with a new club side and many highlights to look back on after winning six of our seven games over the weekend.

More than anything, the sense of digging deep, of working hard, of playing, fighting and cheering for each other and achieving something as a team is the one that stays with me…

And makes the Mondays that follow seem to lack that same spark. Still, I’ve been reminded why I love my favourite pastime, and that’s no bad thing.

[I’m sure you’re well aware that it’s not Monday morning as I publish this – my brain wasn’t functioning well enough to get this posted yesterday!]

My Dirty Little Secret and All Consuming Hobby

I play ultimate.

I shan’t clarify that with the appending of a genericised Wham-O trademark, won’t make it a pretentious proper noun by capitalising it, and refuse to even discuss whether or not it’s a sport. If you really don’t know what it is, simple, just google it!

I should apologise. This post’s title is totally misleading because I’m actually proud of the fact:

I play ultimate.

Ultimate has a bad rep, to the uninitiated it’s the sporting equivalent of the Mathletes – social suicide. Telling people you play ultimate is a constant struggle against ignorance, scorn and adjective substitution – relatives, ironically trying and failing to ‘relate’, will ask me all about it and then tell they next person we see I play ‘extreme frisbee’.

Yet this is a fast-growing sport, with an extremely dedicated player base, making waves in the wider world. I’m one of those ‘extremely dedicated’ types. I regularly train with and play for my local club side , have started weekly sessions at work to teach new people the sport and keep in touch with my uni friends by meeting up for tournaments across the country. Even then, I find myself longingly tossing a disc around on my days off.

My situation is far from unique – ultimate fever grips plenty of my teammates as well. But why? That would be an essay in itself but a few key points:

I’m really good at it!
Partly because other people aren’t – very few have played ultimate before uni, let alone as long as most kids have played football, hockey, netball – and so a few years of playing gives you a good level of experience on almost any scale. An athletic kid who throws themselves into ultimate at school has a real chance of making the GB team in no time at all. And it is fun being really good.

I look really good at it!
Its steady assault on ESPN’s weekly highlights in the US confirm that it’s not just ultimate players who find plays where people sprint, jump and dive to keep a bit of plastic carving up beautiful aerodynamics at high speed around a pitch pretty damn exciting. These aren’t advanced, unobtainable techniques either. Sure, the level of athleticism and skill is higher for the guys on TV, but anyone can run, jump and catch, and so anyone playing has the potential to pull off a highlight play at any moment.

Everyone’s nice!
Unbelievably, this is almost true. I’d say 96% nice people at the absolute minimum. While mainstream sports hoover up the necessary thugs to keep lad culture alive and well, ultimate in the UK attracts those disenchanted with bigger sports or even trying competitive sport for the first time. Add in mixed gender teams and a rule-enshrined commitment to fair play that goes as far as demanding positive attitude and often incorporates post-match mini-games between opponents, purely for social purposes, and it’s no wonder the ultimate community are a close-knit and friendly bunch. They’ll welcome you in, train you up and ensure you’ll always have a sofa to crash on for tournaments wherever you are.

This is just the tip of the iceberg really, but hopefully now you’ll understand if ultimate features on this blog again at some point, and you won’t need to ask what it is!