Ultimate Frisbee

Last night I played in my first game of Ultimate Frisbee since I moved to Michigan. I was apprehensive. Frisbee was one of my favorite sports/games/pasttimes while I lived in Laramie, and even while I was in Salt Lake. It worried me that I was apprehensive. I ended up having a lot of fun playing, but on the way home, I think I figured out why I was so reluctant to play.

It all has to do with unspoken expectations.

In Laramie, there were two years when we played almost every week, usually at least twice a week, and during the summer, almost every night. We had a set field, one that we knew by heart, and a set time. It was just expected that a game would break out on Tuesdays around 6pm or so. It was always Derek’s game, he was the one who started it up, and it was to him we turned if there were problems or scheduling conflicts. Tuesday was a fairly open night. Anyone (and everyone) in the Institute showed up to play. We didn’t talk about Thursday night as much because we wanted a smaller group, more for our immediate circle of friends to play.

We developed a lingo, and a chatter, and a set of rules. The rules were fairly standard, but they were customized to our game. We counted how many times we hit cars with the frisbee. We offered points to whoever could do some obscenely difficult thing with the frisbee (usually hit someone on the other team in the back of the head on a kick-off). We chattered, and had a running dialog through the whole game. We didn’t really play with strategy, as much as we played for fun.

Once Derek talked us into playing in a co-ed intermurals tournament (and then left town and didn’t play). We ended up handily beating our first round opponents and ended up in the final versus the University Club team. That was one of the most physically exhausting games I’ve ever played. Our opponents did hammer throws and stall counts and all sorts of things we didn’t do. We ended up winning, mostly because our girls were better than theirs.

Fast forward… When I moved to Salt Lake, I tried to find a regular frisbee game. There were always games going on, but I never really felt like I fit in. I didn’t know their rules or their chatter, and I didn’t feel the same passion for the game as those who were playing did. We had a sporadic game in Salt Lake, but it never had the momentum that playing in Laramie did.

I’m pretty passionate about frisbee, don’t get me wrong, or I was, anyway. I just played for a different reason. I played to have fun and spend time with my friends. I never figured out how to straighten out my kick-off throw and never wore cleats, but I did have pretty good accuracy in throwing short and catching. I’m somewhere middle of the pack, skill-wise, I’d say. But I love to play.

Which brings me back to Michigan, and my experience with frisbee here. I have found other ways to spend time with friends, and frisbee never came up. I knew that they played it at Sports Night, but I didn’t know them and it was a longish drive anyhow. Last night, I wasn’t sure I wanted to play. I didn’t know how they did it here. Eventually, (and unfortunately right after two hotdogs), I got into the game.

Turns out, they have a different style of playing here. I got called out for what I considered playful banter with the other team. They also play with a very strict sense of boundaries, and there are rules that I didn’t know about that go with those boundaries. One member of the other team in particular got in my face about a rule I didn’t know I was breaking. (which of course makes me want to come back and play again, right?). It was those unspoken rules again…

So, I had fun. Will I play frisbee again with this group? I don’t know. If I were really daring, I’d try to organize my own game, but one where we’ve talked about the rules.