Ultimate in the US… So Far

I started to play ultimate (disc, ultimate frisbee) at Valparaiso University. While running around campus, I was asked by two ex-swim team hippies to join their game. And so I did. This might say more about my personality than I’m willing to admit, and you’re free to add your input in the comments.

The hippies and I had fun, and the legitimate rules and strategies went out the door simply because no one actually knew them (and the Google search engine was not widely popular yet). Ultimate at Valpo was just known as “4 o’clock disc” and was open to any able-bodied person. It was glorious and entertaining and social and epic email stories were woven by one Adam Ortman (thank you sir).

However, I walked away with precisely 1.5 types of throws and was full of bad disc habits.

Fortunately, that changed when I joined club ultimate in Hong Kong. For five years (minus two years of injury) I played and competed in tournaments with HKUPA, which vastly improved my ability. Those five years were also glorious and entertaining and social, but this is a post about my US ultimate experience.

Kristin and I are now back in the US, and we’re eager to continue playing ultimate. USA seems to dominate the world, so I’ve been a little intimidated by this prospect.

After 12 days in the US, we’ve played two games. The first was with the South Bend club in Indiana, and the second with a group mainly composed of engineers from Hamilton-Sunstrand (United Technologies) in Rockford, IL. Though I know they are not anywhere near the level of top club play, it’s been fun and has put me at ease regarding US Ultimate. It’s shown me that I’ve learned a few things while in Hong Kong, and I know that I can keep up with some good players.

Our next stop is Princeton, New Jersey, and I hope the club team there will be a good fit for me. I’m not as nervous, but I’m sure I’ll be challenged in lots of ways. For now, I’m thankful for all the groups that have helped me along the way – Valpo for helping me fall in love with ultimate, HK for teaching me how to play competitively yet still have fun, and South Bend/Rockford for giving me a smooth transition to the US game.


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