Come with me to an Ultimate Frisbee Tournament
Friday —10:30 AM
I just finished packing my duffel bag. After squeezing in clean jerseys, cleats, a raincoat, pajamas, thermal layers, ten pairs of socks, and as much homework as I can bear to face, I think I’m finally done. In a few hours, I’ll rush from chemistry lab to the Finney Chapel parking lot to meet my teammates and begin an eight-hour road trip to Virginia. This weekend, the Oberlin Preying Manti’s A team is headed to Commonwealth Cup and I’m taking all of you along for the ride.
Friday — 7:14 PM
I’ve spent the last three hours driving across Ohio. Watching the sun set over endless cornfields is a good reminder of how beautiful my home can be. The car ride is one of my favorite parts of tournament weekends. It's a time to nap, tell stories, and work on homework. Among the chaos the rest of the weekend brings, the drive allows me to take a deep breath and just exist for a while.
Looking ahead, it seems like we’ll arrive at the hotel at 1:30 AM. Then, we'll get up at six to dress, eat, and warm up for our first game. Hopefully, we’ll all be able to sleep some in the car before we arrive. We’re playing four games of Frisbee tomorrow, so we’re going to need all the energy we can get. Next stop Virginia!
Saturday — 6:38 AM
After a tumultuous night of sleep, the morning has come early. I can hear birds chirping outside our hotel room. I guess if this is morning for them, it can be morning for us. Although the high today will be around 50°F, it's chilly right now, so layers are essential.
Our first game starts in a few hours. We are the only DIII team at Commonwealth Cup which means all our games will be very competitive. Playing against highly skilled teams is one of the best ways to learn the intricacies of our sport. Although winning is always an objective, our main goal this weekend is to learn how we play together, and what we should focus on the rest of the season. I'm hoping we can make every game as competitive for the team we’re playing as they are for us. I'm a little nervous, but also excited to get out on the field. My roommates have finished getting dressed, so it seems like it's time to head to the hotel's continental breakfast.
Saturday — 10:29 AM
The Manti just finished our first game against North Carolina-Wilmington. We lost 9 - 11. I still feel good about the game because we fought hard every point. The other team relied a lot on deep throws; we were able to shift our defense to counter against this, which I think is a good lesson we can take forward with us the rest of the weekend. Plus, we met all our goals: we completed our set plays, scored off an endzone play, generated defensive turnovers, and scored a point where we started on defense. We have three games left today. I'm excited to head into our next match.
Saturday — 9:04 PM
It is the end of a very long, but very good day. After our first game, we had a long break to stretch and toss. I was able to go watch my friend who plays for Northeastern. I haven’t seen her play for years and it was great to be able to go support her.
One of the best things about Frisbee is the community, not just within Oberlin, but across the sport. There are no referees in Ultimate, instead the sport is largely self-officiated. This works because of the principle of “spirit of the game,” which means that whether it’s a friendly scrimmage or the national championships, integrity on and off the field is always more important than competition. At the end of a game, each team cheers for the other to thank the opposition and honor a game well fought on all sides.
I feel like each of our games today captured that spirit. While we lost the first three games, we won the final one. That means that we get to enter bracket play tomorrow and compete to win the tournament. The team we are playing first is one of the best DI teams in the country, so we may not make it very far, but it's still exciting.
After our games wrapped up, we loaded into the car with aching bodies and empty stomachs. My van headed to a local pizza place for steaming hot calzones and pasta. Never have I been so grateful for warm carbohydrates. We ate them at the hotel’s breakfast nook, talking a little and eating a lot. Then we headed back to our rooms to shower, study, and sleep. I was planning to write an essay tonight, but I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open. I think I’ll head to bed now.
Sunday — 9:37 AM
It’s sunny here on field number one. The frost on the grass has melted and most of my teammates are tossing. We just finished playing our first game of the day. We faced Chapel Hill and lost rather spectacularly. Our offence stayed steady against their unique defensive strategy, but, as soon as there was a turnover, Chapel Hill almost always got a quick score. As a result, we’re out of the bracket for first and have two more games left to play today.
Despite the loss, spirits are high. It feels good to exercise our bodies and see what we are capable of. The quick game also means we have a little extra time to rest before we play again. Right now, a Taylor Swift song is blasting across the field. Some of my teammates are dancing. I think I’ll go join them.
Sunday — 12:45 PM
Our second game of the day finished about an hour ago. Although we lost, I think it was our best game of the weekend. We executed smart defense and our confidence playing a horizontal stack has grown tremendously. Everyone could feel the energy after the game and wanted to channel that energy into our last match of the day. Unfortunately, that game wouldn’t have started until two, and we would have gotten back to Oberlin well past midnight. We talked with the other team and mutually agreed to head home early. The good news is it’s looking increasingly likely we’ll all get some rest tonight.
The team danced a little more, packed up our bags, hit the bathrooms, and got on the road. There’s a calm mood in the car right now. It’s been an exhausting weekend, both physically and mentally, and it seems like we’re all ready to be lost in our thoughts for a little while.
Monday — 10:06 AM
It’s strange being back at Oberlin after a weekend away. In some ways it feels like I never left at all. I have meetings to schedule, people to email, homework to complete, and class in an hour. At the same time, my aching muscles remind me that for a few days I was away from all that, playing a sport that I love with people I love.
We have a few weeks before our next tournament. We’ll use that time to get faster and stronger and learn to play more cohesively as a team. After that, I’m not sure where the season will take us. I am sure though that we’ll take the spirit and determination we found this weekend forward with us wherever we may go.