The Claremont Braineaters entered this past weekend’s Stanford Open tournament missing almost a third of their players, many of whom play significant minutes. Ultimately, the team’s lack of depth showed, as the Braineaters dropped six of its seven games. But because of an incomprehensible tournament bracket and UPA (Ultimate Player Association) ranking system, the awful showing couldn’t keep Claremont from finishing eighth out of 30 teams and retaining its national rank of 22nd. One of the captains has assured me that the team will soon move to a more appropriate rank.
I am a recent convert to Ultimate Frisbee (I started playing last year), and the most important piece of knowledge about the game that I have learned up to this point is that two- and three-day tournaments are the most painful physical experiences of my life. During these tournaments, teams usually plays four games a day, and the Braineaters played seven games in two days this past weekend. Each game is played to a pre-determined point value, in this case 13, but is capped after a certain amount of time, in this case an hour and a half.
At this point most people still don’t understand the definition of Ultimate Frisbee. Usually, people think my teammates and I all play Frisbee Golf when they hear the name. When I describe how physically challenging the sport is, they either get confused (like the girl today who thought I ran laps on a track in between each Frisbee Golf hole) or embarrassed of my sport’s obscurity (like the waitress who responded to my answer with a frown and “I thought you must be baseball or something”). Really, each game is like soccer in that you don’t stop running or cutting at hard angles. You move the disc by passing it and try to catch it within the boundaries of the end zone.
This sounds basic, but if you see some skinny kid from UC Berkeley dive through the air to tip the disc away from my hand (a “lay out”), or two 6’3” guys try to jump over each other to snag the disc, it seems a little more impressive. The day after the tournament, I was limping while walking from getting “dead-calfed,” and I am certain about half my teammates have similar minor tweaks. Basically, a tournament breaks your body.
When I know I am about to experience this physical transformation, I like to think it will be for something worthwhile. For me, that means winning. I enjoy that classic young-males-bonding-over-athletics feeling, but I’ll sacrifice it for some wins. This weekend we won one and lost six. Seems like the Braineaters still have a ways to go. The details of these games are mostly unmentionables. Even if I could count the number of poor tosses or miscalculated catches, I would not tarnish the team’s current rank in such a way. Also, I black out from frustration, so I don’t remember most of the weekend.
According to Riley MacPhee PO ’11, one of three captains with Reed Hogan CM ’11 and Tommy Li PO ’12, “It was definitely a tournament to show us that we need to practice harder so we don’t get crushed by teams whose skill and athleticism are below our own.”
In reaction to Riley’s opinion that the tournament was a wake-up call. Jake Scruggs PO ’11 said, “Yeah, it sucked.”
Stay tuned for more updates from the Ultimate.