by Becca Velez (Ultitude)
There are obvious drawbacks to writing a summary weeks after a tournament has taken place. Details will be omitted; throws and scores will be forgotten; that amazing play that one teammate replayed over for weeks will be briefed over without circumstance.
But weeks, months and years from now, the things we’ll remember are not the point differentials, minor errors or spirit scores, but the way that our friends and teammates made us feel. And I don’t know if there’s a player on the team that wouldn’t do that weekend again in a second.
Ultitude came to Rocktober as a mix of veterans and rookies, new friends and old. Throughout the weekend, the collection of experiences that each player brought to the team created an incredible energy of fun, competition and team bonding. Together, we pushed ourselves to get better, balancing the delicate frustration of learning with the fun of being able to give your teammates exactly what they want and need on the field.
We played a couple of teams that revealed themselves after the game to be only months old but played as long-time teammates, a revelation that opened our team’s eyes to the work we should still be putting into our own game. A last-game-of-the-day effort against a team from France made the competition feel real – not only was this team one of the best we faced all weekend. They traveled thousands of miles to play hard, have fun, and made each of us up our games to keep up. And an end of tournament match against a fellow Joburg team felt like the perfect way to bring it home.
And now for the rapid fire name dropping.
Alastair sky’d and d’d anyone against him until they got so mad at him they called a foul. Jedd had a sick layout catch for a score that brought the energy back into a late-in-the-day Sunday game. Josh handled with a confidence that made any of his teammates comfortable, knowing that he had their backs. Yames and Yulia ran cup for zone defense that few could break. Mike was the silent magician that created every great play when he was on the field. Brian was a sideline hero after getting injured, sticking with us throughout the entire weekend and making sure there were oranges aplenty. Lyndall, Kershyl and Dani held the midfield together like glue, making incredible cuts and keeping the flow moving down the field. We were led throughout the weekend by Devin, calling lines, keeping us in order, and making sure we know what the hell we were supposed to be doing.
I could go on for much longer about every player on the team, but I’ve almost reached the end of page one and I haven’t even mention Rob’s foot block. Not a footblock performed by Rob, but a footblock performed on Rob. I don’t believe it was being shut down by someone lying on the ground that was what tore up Rob’s entire left rear upper leg into a bloody ragged mess, but I imagine the pain from both must have been equivalent.
Tournaments will always create a special place in any ultimate player’s heart. The hours spent sprinting, hurting, drinking and laughing with people who build you up and keep you motivated is a special thing that few human beings are privileged enough to experience. For Ultitude, this one may have been different for a team with such a strong history welcoming new faces and missing some key members. But we left that Sunday afternoon a new unit. We might not meet again with the exact same combination of individuals — but that weekend of Rocktober we learned from each other, laughed at each other, and knew what it felt like to play for each other.