Gender Blender 2010
Sunday – 1630
I chat with Marc as stragglers that stuck around for the Finals drive by. I comment on how burnt Marc is; Geoff is giving throwing lessons to new players; Rahil continues working the tournament even though it’s over; Blue loads the truck; MONSTER has a post game chat; most players have kicked off their cleats; the sun keeps us warm as clouds creep in; we survived.
Friday – 1507
I receive the following text message from Lee:
Have u left already? If not. Can u print out a picture of a smurf?
Until that moment I had not known the theme for Lee’s team. I still didn’t know the team name but the party theme rarely matches that of the team’s. Unfortunately I would not be able to assist with his request for I was on the road.
Driving through the countryside to Fergus one feels free. Free knowing that you’re heading to an incredible place. Free knowing that for more than a few days you’re liberated from the world, insulated in a hive with others like you. The windows were down and I turned the music up louder as the scenery raced by. The tranquility of nature at odds with the scene I would be presented with in a few hours.
Saturday – 2005
Like clockwork the Marines cycle through their beers as “The Nobodies” entertain an attentive crowd. It’s a warm evening with the campsite relatively quiet as players slumber after dinner and try to snatch some sleep before another night of partying begins.
A clearly inebriated but anxious gentleman approaches the security entrance that Rahil and I are manning. He asks if the talent show has started as of yet; it hasn’t.
Rahil and I comment again on how young the Marines are and also how fit. Players from “Top Gunned” described their game with the Marines as a physical but fun match. Most of the kids on the team have only been playing for a few months but their natural athleticism was apparent and many a lady expressed adoration on their (clearly wrong for Ultimate) physique.
Friday – 1517
As I pull into the campgrounds I see a familiar face unloading her backpack from her mom’s car: Stephanie. Familiar faces are common at Ultimate tournaments but not ones that you last saw half way around the world (or thereabouts). This was the first reunion of ACBU players at GB.
Stephanie presently resides in Cambodia and as a World Traveler she plays at many interesting tournaments including Acapulco which is where she met Linda. Linda is the VP of Hamilton Ultimate Club and she too meets many interesting people in her travels. This year Acapulco players played under the “Mexican Party Bus” banner and proceeded to wrestle challengers through Friday night.
Sunday – 1140
The call is made to not proceed with the live stream due to uncertain weather. Nobody has enough energy to argue. Many teams have played their morning games and fatigue has taken its toll; they’re packing up.
While some fields are slightly damp the semis and finals fields are wonderfully firm; they haven’t changed much from the day before. However, it will be sometime before the final competitions of the day get underway.
Saturday – 1100
I watch MuD dismantle yet another team in pool play. The Saturday of GB is supposed to be an easy day for them and they are as of yet unaffected by the night before. It was a night of partying that many on the team had not experienced in the past and it will have forever changed them. For now though they concentrate on the task at hand.
There’s a swagger and confidence in the team; an expectation of heading to Nationals in August. There’s also the ignorance and inexperience that comes with youth and a team that’s as young as them. While it’s not their full squad the top players on their team have shown up and are giving it their all on a windy Saturday. Continually they put their bodies on the line demonstrating that regardless of how low the seed they’re playing against. Case in point would be the repeated outstretched layout Ds by JD as well as the offensive layout points by Cassie. Time and time again they get up, slower and slower each time, and yet continue to give it their best.
I hope the rest of the team follows suit.
Sunday – 1350
Four groups of friends have gathered to play on a warm Sunday afternoon; two will move on to the finals.
Big Hammers and The Nobodies (MONSTER) shuffle to their semis field. The upcoming match will likely be one in a series of important games that these two will meet in over the season. There would be few who will be surprised should Hammers and MONSTER face each other in the Ontario Mixed Regionals finals or even at Nationals.
On the adjacent (main) field a battered MUPH gathers near defending champions Banana Cream Pie (BCP) or as they’re known this year: Banana Cream Pussy Pie. It feels like an off year for MUPH as they’re still playing (and playing well) at this point on Sunday. I wonder if they’ve partied hard enough, it feels as if they haven’t.
The BCP/MUPH game starts out with plenty of energy from both sides but soon injuries start to take their toll on the challengers. MUPH is ground down slowly as BCP brings their experience and ability to play while hungover to full effect as they return to the finals with little resistance.
On the other field a battle is brewing as MONSTER and Big Hammers throw plenty of turnovers. There’s a sense of frustration on the side of BH as they fail to connect on hucks and a lack of movement plays into MONSTER’s zone. It would be unfortunate to think this is a sign of things to come and hopefully Hammers start to click over the next few tournaments. MONSTER, on the other hand, is able to rely upon their experience as players and experience as a team to take a decisive lead at half that they roll into the finals with.
For the first time in three years Big Hammers will not return to the finals to face BCP.
Friday – 1600
I had arrived and now it was time to interact. Some teams were finishing their campsites while others had still to arrive. It was the hour that the music starts up and I start to wander. My mission is two-fold: find my friends and give them beer.
My first destination is almost always the campsite of SLAG (Sudbury). I’m not sure how it quite started but we’ve become good Ultimate friends through GB, Oktoberfest, and Snowplate. Paul and Dave are amongst my favourite folk and it’s probably because of their attitude to both life and Ultimate. Paul had arrived by 1000 and was drunk and napping by 1030, it’s important to get a power nap in to properly enjoy the night of festivities.
I arrived at SLAG’s campsite to find a water-slide leading to a small kiddie pool. In the background was the same wood cutout where Marc’s face had been pasted last year. It was the same wood cutout that required “winners” to drink a shot from a tube extruding from a most obvious lower torso location. Perhaps next year there will be another cutout with two tubes higher up on the body. Along the side of the water-slide were equally spaced signs with words such as VIXEN written on them. No explanation was needed as it made complete sense.
Paul noticed I was there and hugs and pleasantries were exchanged with the team. Confident that they loved me for me I revealed the mini-keg of Heineken that I had brought them. Focus shifted quickly and I witnessed a far greater love than they had for me. So I continued my wandering with a jacket of full of 750 mL cans of Molson Canadian.
As always the most impressive setup was by Bad Medicine who had a Wizard of Oz theme this year. The dance space created in the middle of the campground was a yellow brick road and in anticipation of rain a large tarp was at the ready hanging from a tree.
Another team catches my attention. They’re wearing a large banana and they look very familiar. These are the people directly responsible for me attending Paganello and they’re my team from GB 2007. Their new name: The Bananas. The other mini-keg is presented and it’s another sweet reunion.
Sunday – 1200
It can be tough for a young and talented team to lose a game. If expectations are high, as they were for MuD, then anything out of a top four finish is very disappointing. It’s natural for a team to grasp at reasons.
I’m trying, in my own way, to make them feel better and to focus them. For a team that expects to roll with the best they must bring their A game at all times. They brought their A game on Saturday and faced a tough match against MONSTER on Sunday morning.
They’re young, they’ll learn and they’ll get better with every day.
Saturday – 1500
I step onto the field excited to play in a match that decides whether The Bananas or The Big Kahunas move into the 9-16 bracket.
The Bananas are the type of team that I like playing with: young and aggressive. It’s a group of players that have just come out of USA Ultimate College Finals and full of raw talent. They’re still developing but each of them will become excellent players in their own way.
From the get go our advantage is obvious: Lady handlers that are confident in the wind. With our field behind the party tent the wind is unpredictable and even the most experienced amongst us has a hard time finding a clean path for the disc.
Captained by Harry B. the Kahunas GB regulars with an experienced roster. Teams playing against the Kahunas can rely upon strategies that change point to point as Harry thinks up of another angle on the game. Fortunately for us Bananas this Banana plays with Harry on Too Bad (an Open team) and knows the players we’re matching up against (we also received some intelligence from Bad Medicine).
The Kahunas bring a zone against us immediately and it’s a good choice given the wind conditions. Unfortunately, for the Kahunas, our aforementioned advantage allows multiple poppers and quick moving gents to expeditiously convey the disc through the tangle of arms and legs of the cup. The confidence in our handlers prevents us from clogging around them on the sideline and instead position ourselves for the continuation. One break and we’re off, zigzagging all over the field and scoring point after point through a shredded zone.
The Kahunas respond with a single offensive play: long hucks to wide open receivers in the end-zone. The older and experienced Kahunas know how to create the slight space they need to run down the break hucks. We respond by placing a straight up force which turns out to play directly into their hands. It will take us eight more points before we adjust appropriately to their huck play by going back to a flick force and keeping it.
In the end it’s a win for the ladies in banana suits and one that I’m happy to be a part of.
Friday – 1700
There he is, one of my best friends: Double-As. It’s been a few weeks since we last met at TUF but it’s an odd feeling not hanging out with him like in previous years when he lived in Waterloo.
Once again pleasantries are exchanged as well as the gift of a bottle of Fireball. It’s obvious his mind is occupied as he has to hang cables to operate a flying monkey for the Bad Medicine campsite. I leave him to it but it’s good to see him here but thinking of the greater good I continue wandering.
Junior (JR) also appears and it turns out that this year she’s playing with Bad Medicine. She too is occupied as she has to assist with getting the campsite finished.
Sunday – 1540
Big Hammers are usually the opponent that BCP faces in the finals but this year they’ve gone home after being vanquished by The Nobodies (MONSTER). Players start to line the sidelines in anticipation of the most competitive game (of Ultimate) of the weekend. SLAG occupies half of the sideline still in their GB inaugurated VC Jerseys. Stragglers from those that haven’t started the long trek home stick around to enjoy the pleasant (but potentially volatile) Sunday afternoon game.
Hodges, Jon H., and I occupy the same area with our cameras on the opposite side of the field from most of the spectators. Most of the game is spent taking and comparing photos with each of us providing our own unique lens combination and angle on the proceedings.
The proceedings themselves were between two closely matched teams. BCP was in the finals for the fourth straight year and were the defending champions. MONSTER was there for the first time and was more composed than ever having come off of a hard fought win over Big Hammers. Each side had their moments and strengths but MONSTER had the athleticism to make the big defensive plays and come down with the disc in offensive battles. It was a close match with The Nobodies/MONSTER winning their first GB title and ending a great weekend.
Friday – 2100
It’s hard to describe the party experience; fortunately, there’s video evidence…plenty of it. While the rain may have dampened spirits initially everybody got over it quickly and partied the night away.
Friday – 0100
I stand on the edge of the Big Hammers run Human Foosball World Cup box watching players as a gentle rain drifts over us. The spotlights light up the players and shroud the world in darkness as if nothing exists even just meters away. Out of the corner of my eye a ball of light shines out. Slowly, and surprisingly, the ball floats with ease into the sky. As the ball floats higher another starts to rise; they’re Chinese Lanterns.
Around me nobody seems to have noticed the lanterns and as the second joins the first in the sky yet a third rises up. It’s all perfect, it all fits.