This weekend I will play in my first Ultimate tournament since leaving Texas nearly two years ago. I somehow got lucky enough to land in a spot that has regular weekly pick-up and hosts a yearly tournament in November after living in an Ultimate-deficient wilderness for a year.
As I gear up for the tourney, I can't help but think of how strong of an influence Ultimate has played in my life.
I first played the sport at First Baptist Church in Magnolia during my Junior Year thanks to Mr. Moats who started up UFL (Ultimate Frisbee League). For the next two years, that's what I would call the sport, not knowing how big of a deal it was elsewhere. That year my best friend, Lauren Sepulveda, won MVP, and I was pretty jealous. I fell in love with the sport during my Senior year when I realized I was actually pretty good at it. That year, I won MVP, and I'm pretty sure I still have my trophy.
After seeing a group of hippies playing Ultimate at Southwestern University, I turned in my application and didn't bother to look at any other schools, convinced that this had to be the only school in the world that played Ultimate. I could not even risk going to another school. I gleefully submerged myself into the weekly pick-up games on the Mall, barefoot and loving it.
One of my best friends at college, Emily Taylor, introduced me to her friend at UMHB, a nearby private school full of staunchly conservative Christians. The polar opposite to my liberal arts school hippie Ultimate with no cones or lines, I was introduced by Dustin Kunz to the world of competitive Ultimate.
I quickly became addicted to the rules of Ultimate and the idea of the "Spirit of the Game." Dustin told me about a group of guys who played in Austin who called themselves Riverside Ultimate. I somehow weaseled my way onto their listserve and eventually into some of their lives. Through Riverside, I met Iram J. Leon who is basically the Ultimate Rockstar of Texas...not even kidding. If I think I have a story to tell about how Ultimate has impacted my life, it's a children's book compared to his. Another dude named Big Bad Bygone Paul was the first to offer me a nickname, Tattoo, in honor of the Marx song, and in honor of my full acceptance into the Riverside family. He and J have followed my journey and will both probably read this blog. Many hugs to you guys.
During the summers in college, I worked at Camp Cho-Yeh, a Christian sport camp, where a group of us would get up around 6:30 in the morning to play Ultimate. I continued to fall in love with the sport and realized that people who play Ultimate are just....awesome. I couldn't get enough of it.
At some point in my Junior year of college, Ultimate became my life. I started an Ultimate team at my school with the help of Jason Reitz and began traveling to tournaments with my team. I spent a good portion of my time that year trying to convince all of my friends that they should love Ultimate as much as I did. It worked for some, but not for others. At one of our first tournaments, I met some kids from TCU, including their captain, Daniel Bess. Over the next year, I was able to play with several different teams and leagues, thanks to Daniel, and would eventually move to Dallas post-graduation because of his influence.
When I decided to accept a job and move to Dallas, I joined all the Dallas Ultimate listserves before I even looked for a place to live. I started Friendship Recruitment 2008 where I met some of the best people in Dallas and probably in the world. I captained for a Winter League team, played both Coed and Women's Ultimate, suffered heat stroke, and traveled to Florida and Georgia, all in the name of Ultimate.
Then I got this crazy wild hair to move to North Carolina. I ended up in the woods, 3 hours from the nearest pick-up game, and lost most of my discs to the savage children I worked with in a matter of months. I traveled to Raleigh once to play a game in February and never went back.
It's been a long, lonely drought since then, and while so many other great things have happened, I am so happy to have Ultimate back in my life. It makes for a well-rounded Lydia.