Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I'm Back In The Game?!?

On Tuesday I came out of a two year Ultimate Frisbee hiatus and began league play in the 2008 CAUA Summer League. Really though, it's been longer than that. I last played in the 2006 summer league, but if you look at my pickup stats I really trailed off in 2005 as I began my focus towards marathons and longer triathlons.

I was really anxious about my "return." When I first came to Charlotte, Ultimate (as it is more frequently referred to), was my main social exercise outlet. We'd play Tuesday/Thursday nights at Pearl Street and then on Sunday at Dilworth Elementary (before the remodel). I first became interested in the sport due to my housemate Dan-O when I lived in Durham. The league in the Triangle (TFDA) is absolutely amazing!

I had never played a team sport before and it's always been a struggle. The game is invariably complex to me; reading teammates and opponents can really be tough. And it took probably three years before I could throw a decent flick. My handling skills are quite poor, but I am capable of being dangerous on the field due to the facts that 1) I am tall, 2) I can run fast, and 3) I will do whatever it takes (lay out, foul) to grab the disc.

The real question was how much I had lost during my Ultimate vacation. I was also curious how new the faces would be, how many people I would remember, and if anyone would remember me. I was also scared to death (one of the main reasons I stopped) of an injury hampering my triathlon goals. This especially applies to my tender hamstrings and various ankle/foot injuries. My worst Ultimate injury was back in 2001 (?). I laid out for the disc and really hurt my ribs.

So it was like both 1) showing up for the first day of school, afraid all the kids would laugh at me and 2) a high school reunion. The games are scheduled to be held every Tuesday for the next couple of months, two games a night at 6:30 and 7:30. The weather this week in Charlotte was on the upswing towards miserable, thankfully with some winds and twilight hours it was actually enjoyable out there!

It was mostly new faces to me - never heard of our captain. Only one face on my team that I really remember. He's been around for quite some time. I have a lot of respect for his playing abilities, but he is a real jackass. I remember back in 2004 to one Sunday where this unnamed individual parked his truck in some guy's driveway. His truck was SO precious he couldn't park it on the street like the rest of us. Sure enough later on the owner of the house came out to ask about the truck. This individual was in the middle of the play and kept him waiting. The owner got all angry and it escalated quickly. I was just stunned my Ultimate colleague was talking like the driveway was his to park in. It was really an amazing thing to witness.

Okay, so back to "the return." I put on my cleats, ran around the fields, then found some folks to toss with me. I was delighted to see that my forehand skills were still very precise. In addition, the flicks weren't too bad. Apparently they had not horribly degraded with their appropriate shelf lives. The two games that night were scrimmages (they didn't count) so everyone could start to work together as a team and get back into the picture. Our team, for now aptly named Team 7, seemed pretty coherent out of the gate. Our opponent was Nick's team. I was out for the first point, heart beating hard before I ran at all! Overall it was a positive experience! We trailed behind a couple of points the whole way and ending up losing, but I did pull down one disc for the score. I then used the opportunity to get in a pull. It went the distance but was definitely out of bounds. I did have a few dropped passes, and could only last 2-3 points at a time. I was given another opportunity to pull, so I intentionally chose going short versus out of bounds!

We then moved our camp to the adjoining field for our next game. I wasn't as active in the second game. I pulled down a nice pass right at the goal line and tried a forehand to our captain Bean but that went down in flames. Actually, anytime I am handling and at least have the opportunity to score IS a big deal, and of course even bigger if I connect. There was one defensive play in the end zone where I hit the ground and rolled up. I did have a few dropped passes, but otherwise at heavy twilight the games ended and I left happy.

I was worried about my left ankle and foot. They seemed to be some swelling, and I don't remember a particular crash or incident that would have caused it. I did opt out of the Moosehead party afterwards, this was enough of a social leap for me, perhaps I will branch out more in the future!

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