My body is aching. Kristen has trouble walking on one of her calves. Our weekend passed by in a blur of sand, disks, and a couple of drinks at The Wolfhound. The culprit? Our first Ultimate event of the new year – the small-in-size-yet-large-in-fun Angel Hat tournament.
When we signed up for the tournament in the first few weeks of winter, we were afraid that it would be plagued by cold so severe that our muscles would seize up. Or worse, fall off of our bodies, frostbitten. Upon our arrival in Busan, our fears proved to be founded on a grain of truth. It was freezing. But we were still incredibly excited to play Ultimate again. For myself, it had been many months since I had stepped onto an actual Ultimate field and thrown the disk towards an end zone. Kris had gone to some training in Daejon in January, but I was too lazy. This laziness came back to bite me over the weekend, as I saw how unfit I had become through months of sloth and good eating.
The eighteen or so people who participated all had a wonderful time. The majority of the games were played 4v4 or 5v5 on small fields. It was a good way to practice our short game and ruin several socks by running in them on the sand. After the first day’s play, my team, Iris, emerged undefeated, defeating all of the other three teams in the competition.
Some say we were stacked with skilled players. No inquests were launched into the truth of this, however.
Following the day’s play, we spread out and searched for our lodgings. We freshened up and headed to The Wolfhound, a favourite haunt for Ultimate players in Busan. We ate nachos, drank beer (and South African wine to Kris’ extreme joy and eventual detriment), and were rather merry. At one point, one of our number disappeared. We found him later, but he didn’t quite make it back to our accommodation.
The next morning, play was distinctly more sober than the majority of us had been the previous evening. What would have been a layout on the first day was a ‘yeah, no, that can just hit the ground’ on the second day. When the tournament was all said and done, myself and the rest of Iris emerged as the only undefeated team.
However, the goal of Angel Hat was not victory, but pure, unbridled fun playing the game that we love. In this respect, everyone who participated was a winner. Each team had at least one player who had played little or no Ultimate beforehand (except for Iris. We weren’t stacked, we swear!). The game is always growing, always pulling more in. It may be a cult, but it’s a fun one.
When we rode the two subways, KTX, and bus home, we slept and smiled at the merriment we had enjoyed. With the practice of playing on the beach, we will be more than ready for the next season of ROK-U and all of the other exciting tournaments coming up. Here’s to another year of Ultimate!