Southern Ultimate

I can’t believe this is the first time I’m sitting down to write a blog about ultimate frisbee.  It’s quite long overdue, especially since the coverage of ultimate is a bit spotty.  Down south, was the only place to get ulti news for the southeastern, now gulf coast, conference and they’ve since had a change in writer and (I can only say this because I know him personally) while the blogs are more frequent, they are not necessarily higher quality. Skyd magazine online is pretty good about team previews and some gear review, but with their limited staff and budget, they can’t write enough to satiate the needs of the ultimate-obsessed like me.  Then there’s USA Ultimate.  The reason ultimate can exist and the bane of players’ existence.  One job I would take in a heartbeat would be to completely overhaul the organization’s website and magazine.  The content is pretty good, when they actually write anything.  But there is never enough.  And as always, focuses on the talent-rich pacific northwest and northeast, so with the exception of a few hotspots the south and its players are mainly overlooked.

So here I am, writing a post about ultimate in the south!  Here it’s an understatement to say that the tournament is about winning the party.  Our region has seen more than its fair share of good teams go down because of heavy partying Saturday night.  The Ole Miss women’s team suffered from this at Sectionals last year, where after a 4-0 day on Saturday, the team was too tired/hung over/still drunk on Sunday to get a win against Tulane and have an easy game against Auburn to go to Regionals.  And this past club season a highly talented mixed team, Tune Squad, who were expected to go all the way to nationals suffered the same downfall.  Too many southern teams win the party hard and then can’t pick up the pieces on Sunday to finish the tournament.

I’m all for having fun on and off the field, after all ultimate is a game and has one of the best communities of any sport or activity anywhere.  But after a short stint on the women’s club team Desoto, I found out what discipline can do for a player’s game.  After following Desoto, and the North Carolina women’s team Phoenix, through their runs at nationals (Desoto placed 15th, Phoenix tied for 3rd), it was plain to see that this kind of discipline can produce awesome results.  And I think it’s really matured my game.  In college I could get a little feisty over calls, since I am a competitive player and know the rules pretty darn well.  But now I can play a much calmer game, retain my composure on the field and wait to vent until after the point is over.  Part of this new outlook comes playing as a grad student on the Elon women’s team and having to adopt the role of the “good example.”  Since I’m not a captain or a coach, it’s my job to back up these leaders by doing everything in my power to play the best, most spirited game I can.  The results thus far are this: Elon is 16-4 after two one-day tourneys, coming in 5th at the Wolfpack Invite, and winning Blue Ridge Blowout.  I feel like my playing has really improved since last spring, both in skills and in my mental game.

So don’t write off us southern players just yet.  We have a lot of potential and a lot of talent down here as evidenced by incredibly talent-rich states Texas and North Carolina, and hot spots in Tennessee and Georgia.  Plus, we’ve got the best climate for ultimate, so it’s no surprise teams from all over the countries flock to our  balmy winter tournaments.  And we’re slowly but surely going to figure out how to balance discipline with winning  the party.  Ultimate nationals, you won’t even know what hit you once the southern teams start coming regularly.