An Ultimate Sunday
What a wonderful day!
This past Sunday my Darling Spouse, the Nestling, the Rolling Peke and I all headed out to the rolling green hills of central Pennsylvania where my older son, attending college in the western end of the state, was playing in an Ultimate Frisbee tounament.
This kid has always been a jock. His natural athletic ability led him to all the All Star teams through elementary and middle school. By high school too many of the other kids caught up and surpassed him, but his essential jock-hood was by then so well set in his psyche that it didn't matter. I was the one who went through withdrawal the first year he was away; after 10 years as a soccer parent, I felt a little out of it as a mere Band Booster (the Nestling played in the marching band.) But this year, he managed to find the tryouts in time to make the team, and neither has ever looked back. He made the "A" squad and began travelling with them to tournaments.
Last fall we saw him at Gettysburg (minus the Nestling) as well as at Franklin & Marshall (second day was rained out, so once again the Nestling was bummed, as he had been busy on Saturday.) Finally my kid is on a winning team! Although he and several of his friends were very good soccer players, somehow they never managed to put together much in the "W" column through high school. Now I ask about assorted Ultimate tourneys (they went to one in Ohio) and the usual answer is, "We won."
The usual structure of a weekend tournament is pool play on Saturday (divided into pools of anywhere from 3-5 teams, usually 4, the teams play each of the others round-robin style) with a multi-elimination bracket to determine the winner and placing order on Sunday. (This is done so that each team is guaranteed 3 Sunday games.) This time around, we couldn't come out on Saturday (Nestling's Jazz Festival) but Sunday was open. The Jock made contact late Saturday afternoon: they'd won all four of their games, so their first game would be 10:45 the next morning. (It also turned out they were seeded first in the tournament.)
So we left the house at 7:30, to have enough time to go to Wawa for two meals: coffee, donuts, and breakfast sandwiches, plus hoagies for four for lunch. Poor Jock, stuck out in western Pennsylvania, having to suffer the indignity of Sheetz (rival convenience store chain) and no Wawa, so his Wawa hoagie was a special treat. Rolling Peke sat on my lap for the drive out, and I had yet another interesting conversation in which the Nestling regaled me with his scheme for making music easier to read for various instruments (since the current system that has developed over the last 400 years is so confusing and illogical.)
Although it was cold, misty and miserable, it was fantastic fun watching the Jock and his team play. They're very good, and while they're intense, they don't go overboard; Ultimate is all about spirit. There are no referees, and the fun that everyone has is infectious. The sideline chatter and the cheers the teams offer is incredibly random (in the way the Nestling uses the word.) One team made up of alumni sought to unnerve the college kids they were about to play against, so their opening cheer (the one right before going out to play) was clearly along the lines of, "How can we psych out these youngsters?" Their group shout was, "OLD PEOPLE SEX."
In one game as things were getting very intense (they were coming back from behind) the Jock's captain was shouting, "Who wants it? Who wants it?" (as in, who wants to score the next point.) As a guy on the other team was jogging back to his end zone, he called over, "I want it." Taken aback for only a moment, the answer came, "You can't have it."
The Nestling had a blast hanging out with college kids, getting ready to start his own college career in the fall. He fully intends to play Ultimate as well; he was also very impressed with his brother's team -- and his brother. They have a pretty typical (good) relationship, though the Jock can be an ass. Recently, while at the beach on his Spring Break, he called up the Nestling and told him to go outside and look up, then asked what he saw. When the Nestling asked why (after having done it) the Jock replied, "I just wanted to see if you would." (Later, I asked the Jock if he was drunk when he did that; he was.) Still, it was one of those special days when everyone gets to see everyone in a new light.
Even me. The Nestling offered me the highest possible praise: he said I didn't sound as parental as usual. That, and he found my sideline trash talk/jokes funny. That was worth all the rain and chill.
But hands down the funniest moment came early in their first game.
Apparently it's not unusual for Ultimate players to wear skirts. Mainly the guys; girls by and large are smart enough not to wear skirts to play sports. The Jock and a guy from the other team went up for the disk together ("skying.") The Jock came down with the disk; the other guy came down on the ground. Hard. There was the usual standing around while the guy decided whether or not he was ok (he was, and eventually got up and walked off on his own) as he lay there with his arm over his eyes. One of his teammates -- wearing a skirt -- came and stood at his head, looking down at him; manly body language for, "You ok?" I'm not sure if it was one of our guys on the sidelines or someone on the field or who exactly it was that called out to the guy on the ground, "Dude! Whatever you do, do not open your eyes."
By the way, after a hard fought championship game that saw them down 7-4 at the half, the Jock's team came back to win the tournament.