Date: Thu, 9 Nov 1995 23:55:41 GMT
From: Anne Haycock
Subject: WHTM in Abalama (long)
To: Multiple recipients of list WORDS-L
I started one and then deleted. I can't imagine what you would want to
know about my trip to Alabama. And then I thought about it and came up
with the idea that it's not my trip so much as what I did. Well I
didn't get drunk and I didn't get laid and I didn't go to church (three
things I can see for people to do in Alabama), but I did play lots of
Frisbee? What? You betcha.
Birmingham, Alabama? Would have been a great idea had the weather
cooperated. As it was, we had absolutely miserable weather. Rain,
wind, overcast skies made for bone-chilling cold...not what we
expected. But ultimate players are always prepared, and never mind if
we're wrapped up to resemble the Michelin tire man, we were there to
And play we did.
40 teams? There were 8 teams in the Women's Masters pool (mine) and 6
in the Men's Masters...They call the "regular" men's team pairing the
Open pool and women's Women's. Supposedly if a men's team would bend
enough to take one, a woman could play on a team in the open division.
I've seen it happen at regular tourneys, but never at a qualifier or a
Nationals tournament. And I've never seen a man play on a women's team.
My team, the Outlaws, played 7 games...3 on Thursday, 4 on Friday.
Longest game was 2 and a half hours, shortest about an hour and a half.
As a friend so kindly put it, we got "bageled". We didn't win a single
game...but we never scored less than 4 points (to 15, so it was still
pretty bad.) I played great and had some awesome D's (defense--got to
the disc before the offensive player and macked it away so they
couldn't catch it...) but I really didn't make any amazing throws. I'm
usually lucky to get it to the person I'm aiming at. Aim? What aim?
My Boston homies (Death or Glory) won the men's final, handily, with
only three turnovers against the Seattle men's team, Sockeye. That's
nearly perfect ultimate. In fact, ultimate has never been played at
that level mistake free and this was as close as it's ever been. The
Boston women, Lady Godiva, also won handily over the Seattle women,
Women on the Verge. First time ever Boston/Boston met
Seattle/Seattle. The Master's divisions were also won by the NE
teams. A sweep.
What am I talking about? Ultimate Frisbee, Man! Don't you know?!
It's not a sport, it's a lifestyle. The quick and dirty: 7 players on
a side playing on a field 70 yards long by 30 yards wide, endzones on
either end about 25 feet deep. Object is to advance the disc (frisbee,
175g Discraft) and score a goal/point by throwing it up the field to a
teammate. You score when your teammate catches it in the endzone. You
can only advance the disc by throwing. You can throw forward,
backwards, laterally, however you can to get it to another teammate.
When you catch the disc, you have three "steps" to stop and establish a
pivot foot (usually the foot opposite your throwing arm--you usually
need a couple steps to stop when you're running full tilt). If you
pick up your foot to throw, it's a travel and play stops until you
reset. If you throw on a travel and your receiver drops it, its a
turnover and the other team gets the disc. You have 10 seconds to pass
the disc once your "marker" (defender) sets up on you. They have to
allow you one disc's width of room between the two of you, and they
can't hit you or strip the disc from you. They can hand block or foot
block (not easy to do) and they can D so effectively you get
"stalled". That is, you can't get a throw off before they reach the T
in ten. The disc then gets dropped where the stall occurred and the
opposing team now gets to play O and try to score. You can't hack at
someone or hit them or block them out; if you're both going for the
disc and you bump into each other, that's usually considered
"incidental" contact...which oftentimes is a fine line on the
definition of "incidental". You also, if on offense, can't weave in and
out of people to "pick" off your defender -- it's a "pick" and play
stops. This is where the rules for US and International Ultimate
differ. UPA (Ultimate Players Assoc - US-based) play says that if the
pick was called after the throw and the throw was not caught, then it's
a turn. If the pick was called after the throw and the throw was
caught, play continues after the defender catches up to the offensive
player who "picked" him. If the pick is called before the throw, play
stops and the count starts at the time of the pick. It's really not
that complicated. I'm just making it seem that way. The international
rules say regardless of a catch or drop, the disc goes back to the
Ultimate is a sport of endurance, ingenuity, speed, and skill. The
most common injuries are sprained ankles, shredded ACLs, dislocated
shoulders, and broken ribs. Bruises don't count. If blood isn't shed,
you didn't play hard enough. And you shed your own blood...that disc
is gold and you dive (going ho'), jump (sky-ing), and in general
sacrifice your body, to get that damn circle of plastic. Your
defenders are doing everything they can (good defenders stick like glue
and it's nearly impossible to shake them...but it can be done) to stop
you from getting the disc. If you slow down, they're going to sprint
past you and knock it away...so you go full out, all the time.
So, that's what I did in Alabama.
I saw friends I hadn't seen since I left Boston, lusted after gorgeous
guys I won't see again til the next round of tourneys, and played a
sport I adore. Nearly perfect. Didn't go to church and didn't do much
partying (which, I must admit, might disqualify me from being a real
ultimate player--were it not for past history making up for current slack.)
I flew back to CA Monday, and de-planed to a beautiful, temperate
California late Fall day. I play disc tonight with my Winter League
team and then again this weekend (Sat & Sun) in a co-ed tourney. I'll
be in Hawaii in February and hopefully Sweden in August. Life,
lifestyle. What's the difference? It's all in the "e".