The Ultimate Experience
In his article on Oberlin Ultimate (March 1999) Michael Doyle wrote that "ultimate is an Oberlin treasure too easily missed." Precisely. I didn't discover the team until my junior year, yet Ultimate provided the best memories of an otherwise difficult college experience. Ultimate captured my imagination because it was a graceful, fast-paced, and unsupervised sport. It was a game where youth and enthusiasm triumphed over experience and guile. Then again, maybe that's "what I was supposed to think." Success in frisbee sports starts early; many high school players excel because they're light, agile, and resilient in the face of injury.
There is one point about Ultimate that experience does teach us: it's important for all players, and especially late bloomers, to guard against injury. In many years of playing casual games at Oberlin, and later in grad school playing competitive games at Iowa State and UW-Madison, I saw too many serious injuries. Despite their remarkable victories, the improvisational Oberlin team might have a few things to learn from the more regimented UW-Madison program in this regard. Madison warms up with mandatory stretches, jogging, and called-play drills. Also, people with knee or shoulder injuries have easy access to sports medicine. All this conditioning is a bit grueling, but a serious training program can allow the late bloomer to run alongside the real athletes. This discovery, and an appreciation of what one's body can do, are enduring legacies of those glorious afternoons of college Ultimate.
DAN BEALE '85
As a former Ultimate Frisbee player and co-captain with my good friend, Doug Ross '81 of the 1979-80 team, I took great pleasure in reading Michael Doyle's article. He did an impressive job of capturing both the spirit and the history of the sport's genesis and history at Oberlin. Perfect reportage is rare, however, and I must correct one small but important--at least to me--historical error in the article. The Oberlin Mellow Invitational Tournament, or OMIT, was established not in the early 1980s, as Doyle wrote, but during the 1979-1980 season, when our team created the event as an alternative to the increasingly cutthroat atmosphere that we were encountering at tournaments around the region. We were shocked that other teams not only trained--you know, worked out and stuff--but would throw elbows in our ribs and call bogus fouls and prefer to win rather than to make friends. We Obies wanted to return the game to the days (they seemed so long ago!) when the score seemed to matter less than companionship, so we figured, let's host a tournament where you're not even ALLOWED to keep score. Omit the score! Thus was born the tournament and its double-entendre moniker.
In the spring of 1980 the Cleveland Frisbee Club, Kent State, and Carnegie-Mellon came to a tournament where you played hard but were not allowed to count points. Everyone won; no one lost; and we had a new kind of fun. I could be wrong, but I think it was at that first OMIT that the Cleveland Frisbee Club played one point against us with their pants around their ankles--they threw the "kick-off" to us, ran downfield a few yards to take positions, and then lowered their shorts. We scored.They won the point.
Our team also contributed some other unique things to the game that year, including the Bo-Mama Throw, the Limbo Catch, the Decker Pecker Air Bounce, the No-look to Kinzweenie, the Sky Shot to Blobbs, and our motto: Never Straight, Always Forward. What happened to all of those plays and people? I haven't kept in touch as well as I might have. I can't run as fast as I used to. But dang, dude, did it ever make my day to read that OMIT lives.
DAVID DOBBS '81
Darwin Doesn't Diminish Faith
Geoff Blodgett's "Warfare Between Science and Religion" (March 1999) characterizes the juxtaposition of deep spiritual faith with Darwin's theories as a "psychological wrench." While this clearly happened for some, Blodgett appears to be imagining or rewriting history when he portrays this experience as being of universal import.
For contrast, I refer readers to a paper entitled "The Age of the Universe" by Gerald Schroeder, a nuclear physicist who served on the staff of MIT and as a member of the U.S. Army Energy Commission. (www.aish.edu/issues/inverse.htm)
Schroeder's bottom line is that the Book of Genesis reflects exactly--albeit in very limited detail--local events of the past 15-3/4 million years. I have no doubt that there were some in the Oberlin community in 1871 who experienced the "price of lost belief" which Blodgett reports, or the state of being "orphaned because they can no longer believe in the infallible Word on which their faith is founded," which he also notes. After all, it's not unexpected to find that those ideas appear to be challenged by something of the caliber of Darwin's observations and resulting theories. But Blodgett's version of history presents the angst of Alfred Vance Churchill, evidenced by the quotes above, as being required to, as Churchill says, "complete the destruction and put away the debris." Hogwash. The English poet John Keats coined a phrase "negative capability" which he used to represent the capacity of the more mature members of the human species to function quite well without having to know (experience) all the details about something--in other words, to be perfectly OK with having incomplete data, and perfectly willing to wait upon further information (experience) without having to fabricate an intellectual decision.
For those at Oberlin whose spiritual faith did not rise from ideas about God, but, instead, arose from experiencing God, Darwin's theories did not and do not cause any loss of "belief," or any orphaning. And, contrary to current politically correct opinion, the reason for this steadfastness is not some blind clinging to disproven ideas. It comes simply from the ability to recognize that not all the data is in yet. Darwin's theories remain today exactly what they were in his day: theories. Their relevance, or irrelevance, to faith remains unchanged. And that they contradict entropy need not cause Blodgett or any other Obie an immediate crisis of belief.
NOEL TAYLOR '73
Searching for a New Path
I'm looking for ideas and inspiration, and where better to turn than my fellow Obies? I am planning to take a post-millennium sabbatical from my life--pack up my things, load up the car, and head out for places as yet unknown to seek adventures, community, and maybe even The Next Thing. But wandering aimlessly is not what I'm after. I'm looking for short-term (a few weeks to a few months), high-teamwork projects, expeditions, undertakings, and good works to involve myself in.
Can you help me connect with the above for 2000? What are you involved in? What would you do if you had the time? Please send any and all ideas, the sooner the better, to firstname.lastname@example.org, or 2801 Stuart St., Berkeley CA 94705. Nothing is beyond consideration.
Thanks in advance for your help!
ELLEN HERTZMAN '85