by Sally Crompton (Skyveld)
My experience of playing with Skyveld at Rocktober this year was quite different to when we played our first Nationals in April last year. We had done significantly less training (due to the #feesmustfall protests at Wits), had packed on some extra kilos, and a had strong case of the ‘ballie’ syndrome. Entering the tournament, I had two expectations:
- that we were going to have a fat jol; and
- that I was going to exercise my liver as well as my legs.
We exceeded all expectations I could ever have had for Skyveld. For many of us on the team, coming 7th is the highest ranking we have ever held – and though it may not sound like much, to us it was a pretty incredible achievement to make Top 8. This past weekend was littered with amazing moments such as Sean ‘Mammoth’ Massyn’s hammers to Sipho ‘Bling Daddy’ Mhlambi in the end zone; or Ellie’s magic hands which caught literally every disc; and Mandy ‘Madrap’ Rapson’s trooper mentality which kept her playing until the last game even though she had injured almost every body part; and finally to Deo ‘Deezy’ Amaro’s mad skills in both ultimate and war cry composition. We have come a long way as a team in a short time, and just to show you how far, here is a fancy chart just because I’m still celebrating:
Of the many games this weekend perhaps the most memorable one we played was against Chilli at the start of Sunday morning. Arriving at the fields early, a tiny bit hung over and aching everywhere is bad enough, but then finding out you have to play a Top Four team and are thereby likely to be defeated is not the most enjoyable way to start the day. We had been crushed 15-1 by the Donkeys the day before and didn’t have high expectations. However, Skyveld opened the game with 3 unanswered points and at 55 minutes (halftime) we were tied with 6 points each! With each successive point against Chilli our disbelief and celebrations grew exponentially. Skyveld has been known to sometimes “forget how to ultimate,” but it seems in this game we remembered. This was the first game of the tournament which Chilli played to full time, having won their games with lots of time to spare the day before. By the end of hard cap the score was 11-8 to Chilli. If we had scored 3 more points we could’ve made it in to the top four bracket, a position we had never even contemplated as a possibility. Needless to say, we felt like we had already won after the second point, which was a 200% improvement on the Donkeys’ game. The game against Chilli showed us the power of underestimating your opponent. Believing they were a better team and that we had nothing to lose made us play even better and unleashed some ultimate power we never knew we had.
Coming back to the SA ultimate community after almost a year away emphasises for me what people ALWAYS say when they talk about ultimate – that the people are the reason you stay. Obviously the reason they always say it is because it’s true. In the space of these two wonderful days I had numerous moments of recognising-screaming- running-hugging different people who I hadn’t seen in ages. That’s what makes these big tournaments so great, not the serious competition or the high-level ultimate, but the fact that you’ve got a whole bunch of friends from all around the country and they are all there to hang out together.
As usual by this point, the post-tournament depression has kicked in for many of us. The endorphin-withdrawal is made worse by creaking bones as we shift in uncomfortable office chairs, sneakily trying to look at ultimate photos and videos without the boss finding out. And so we must wait another few months before meeting again to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to catch our breath from running and laughing at the same time.