August 14, 2009
People don’t think of it as a spectator sport. There are no bleachers, no stadium seating, no admission tickets. And there’s always plenty of room in the parking lot. The sport of Ultimate is a well-kept secret in this area.
The Snowstorm City Ultimate League played every Tuesday this summer. My husband, my parents and I brought folding chairs and sat on the sidelines, amidst the bags of discs and clothing and water jugs and the players who were sitting on the ground, stretching as they waited their turn to sub in.
Boy in Black was captain of a team that included all four of my kids, plus Blonde Niece, some of our extras, and some Boy in Black’s teammates from the Snowstorm University team. It’s fun to watch a team when you know everyone. First Extra and Boy in Black have been friends since first grade, and they can communicate without words. First Extra is a handler, which means he’s good at throwing the disc, and Boy in Black is especially good at cutting, which means running to jump and catch the disc. I'd see First Extra take a quick glance in Boy in Black's direction, and then a split second later the disc would come arching through the air over the heads of other players while Boy in Black leaped to grab it.
Ultimate is an exciting game to watch. It’s fast-moving, so that there’s always something to see. Players make spectacular dives to catch a disc. Ultimate is about a million times more exciting than softball, a sport that is so slow-moving that I’ve never been able to watch for more than an inning. Because Ultimate is self-officiated, you never have to wait for an umpire or a referee: almost everything gets settled with just a few words.
“Foul!” one player will yell.
The player on the other team will shrug: “No contest.”
And then the disc is back in play ….
My son With-a-Why was the youngest player in the league -- the only player who ever sat on his mother's lap when he was subbing out -- and Boy in Black’s team was definitely the young team in the group. But playing against more experienced players challenged them, and it was great to see them improve as the summer went on. On the sidelines, I could often hear the more experienced players talking to younger players, giving them advice and encouragement even when they were on opposite teams. Listening to the players joke around with each other and yell stuff to their teammates was almost as much fun as watching the game itself.
In both photos, the kid in the bright pink bandana is Boy in Black. He wears that same pink bandana every time he plays Ultimate. In the top photo, he's doing an offensive layout, a dive to catch the disc and score. The boy with the flourescent yellow shorts, black shirt, and curly ponytail is Shaggy Hair Boy. You can't see my daughter in the huddle -- she must be on the other side -- but that blonde ponytail belongs to Blonde Niece. And the kid dressed all in purple, who is almost as tall as the other players now? That's With-a-Why, who is no longer a little boy ....
Posted by jo(e)