I played Ultimate frisbee in Kosovo. It's where I met my friends, had a little fun, got some exercise, and made lots of memories. So when I got to Shanghai, I thought "What a great way to meet some new people and throw some disc!" I Googled the team here, found their website, sent off an email, and by luck of connections met some of the players last weekend at a crazy party. Then off I went to play today. It seems I just thought that I played Ultimate in Kosovo.
Let me tell you, this is not your kick around and throw some disc kind of frisbee group. These are Ultimate athletes. They take their frisbee seriously. Very seriously. The eat, sleep, breathe, live and die Ultimate. They play international tournaments. Let me rephrase that a little... they win international tournaments. They have an association, with bylaws and officers and all kinds of crazy officialdom. They are hands down the best team in Asia. It's a little intimidating.
So... we arrived 20 minutes late to practice (yes, Thor, they practice - 2 or 3 times a week), in the midst of some intense drills. I was told that we were lucky, normally if you're late to practice you have to run sprints. Argh! I haven't run sprints (or drills, for that matter) since I played soccer in high school. Then they picked teams for the scrimmage. The official announcement went something like this: "We have a tournament in 3 weeks. Priority play time will go to those on the A team. This is not the week to come to learn frisbee. If you are a new player, don't expect to play much today." Intimidating.
They play on a full size field, with teams of 7 (5 men, 2 women). They run a split offense, with 3 handlers and 4 cutters. Maturo would be impressed with the stacking techniques. Most of the time they run a man-to-man defense, but we practiced zone too. (For you non-Ulti players, this is just some jargon to make you think I know what I'm talking about. Don't I sound cool??) And they weren't lying about play time. I played exactly 4 points today, and never saw a disc. I got to run a lot, my shoulders and and nose are pink with sunburn, and I got to see what competitive Ultimate looks like.
There were some really nice people who took pity on the New Girl and actually talked to me. Others were trying to explain offensive strategy between points. (Considering I had no strategy, this was a good thing.) AND I was invited to play on the C team for the tournament. I'm now a proud Pirate. Woohoo!!! (Have I mentioned yet how much I love it in Shanghai??)