Yet once again, I spent the humid, insufferable days that constitute the summer in DC chasing around a small plastic object. WAFC, or the Washington Area Frisbee Club, decided this season to do away with the Pro League and instead opted to split the league down even further, hosting an Advanced League and an intermediate League (in addition to Recreational and Corporate). Players were chosen via a draft, during which captains take turns picking players out from a pool, using a rating system provided. Given the option, my brother and I elected for the first time to be on separate teams, thinking that this would make for a better experience and allow us to meet more players (besides, all that ESP would just be unfair, wouldn’t it?). I really looked forward to this season, especially since, as someone who didn’t play in college, this would be a great chance to work on my skills.
Anyway, I ended up drafted into the Advanced League, which is made up of about 200 players, and while I could foresee how competitive the league would be, I was still surprised how good certain players were. In fact, my team alone had two Callahan finalists, which is the award given to the best collegiate male and female player in the country each year. I largely rely on my athleticism at this point, but when 6’5″ guys, and girls that can throw the disc farther than you, take the field, it is an entirely different game. I had played zone defense and zone offense for a couple of seasons, but our captain had us use a horizontal stack for a lot of the game, so we could take advantage of our girls as handlers and our team speed by spreading the field out. This was fairly new to me, and took a couple of games for me to get used to, but I do think it helped us a lot. It was great having such experienced players as well, since they could really point out to me technique. At this level, athleticism is valued, but really the best players are those who can also anticipate passing lanes and cuts, and force low percentage throws. I do think I am miles ahead of where I was last season this time, and I made it a point to attend every game I possibly could, and it truly was a fun season.
Now to the good stuff. Our team beat my brother’s in the quarterfinals, and then beat the number one seed in the semifinal handedly. So that set up the final this Thursday, game to 17. We staked out an early lead, and held a five score advantage for much of the game. And then the other team, characteristically of them, staged a comeback, bringing the game to 16-15. I was on the sideline for the last several points, and thus came in for the last two points. Which lasted forever. There were dropped discs occasionally, but it was good, hard, intense Ultimate, with good defense just as each team seemed to be catching momentum. Somehow I was covering the other team’s best player, who was a good six inches taller than me, and fast. Which made me a bit nervous, since getting scored on, on universal point at a championship game, would not be a good way to end the season. However, I was excited, and relished the chance to prove myself. Knowing that they would try to go to him deep, I had my hands full, but focused on keeping my hip on him and relying that I could be quick as well. Turns out I made two great defensive plays by blocking two throws to him in the end zone, didn’t let him get the disc much otherwise, and moments later, when we scored, walked away with the championship. We were amusingly handed little plastic golden trophies for our efforts, but walking away with the satisfaction of playing well when it counted and with valuable experience behind me was the best reward for the season I could have hoped for.
Here are some clips from the game: