ROK-U Spring 2017 Season Wrap-Up

This past weekend saw the end of another season of the recreational Ultimate in Korea. Spring 2017 was an interesting season for me, as I began to take Ultimate more seriously than I have in the past. I saw great growth in myself and the team I play for, the Wonju Knights, even if the playoffs didn’t quite go as planned. We may not have won the league or even the consolation bracket, but we certainly had a good time and looked damn good doing it.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, my wife Kris has been in recovery from a torn ACL that she unfortunately picked up earlier this year. Despite this, she stoically remained captain of our team for the season. She didn’t miss a weekend, and gave the team encouragement and hearty cheers from the sideline. Her presence was inimitable, and boosted our morale immeasurably. Sadly, she could not add that fire onto the playing field itself. This left a gap in our handlers (essentially the playmakers of Ultimate) which I had to step up and fill. While I had played handler for the past few seasons, I was now required to play it for every point that I was on the field, and I was needed on the field far more than I was in previous seasons. I felt a lot of pressure at first, but the more I played, the more confident I became in my own play. The increased need for my mediocre skill helped me push past my previous skill ceilings. I am by no means anywhere near a good player, but I am on the road to getting there. My skills are no longer the weak point of my game – that is now my fitness, which I will work on in the coming months of downtime.

Beyond my own improvements, I saw great progress from every single person on our team. Newer players began to throw throws that they would not have done last season, and gained a greater understanding of how Ultimate works. Even experienced players on the team threw fewer risky, flashy throws. Off of the field, most of the players on the team were already friends before the season, and we tried our best to include the new players to the team into our fold. After play concluded on Saturday, we held a fines and awards evening to acknowledge everyone’s contribution to the team, and to have a few drinks together. Everyone received an award from the team, reflecting on some aspect of their play, attitude, or pretty much anything. Mine was the following:

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Even though I improved this season, I had a tendency to get a tad grumpy at myself whenever I made a clear error on the field. This may have involved outbursts on the sideline at no-one other than me. Over and above this, my defense style is quite passionate. Hence, the Super Saiyan award.

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Don’t mind me. I just missed an easy catch. I’m fine, I swear.

This weekend may have been a great final bonding moment for the team, but it was not our most successful. We finished league play in the middle of the table, landing a solid seed for the playoffs. However, our team cohesion just wasn’t quite there this weekend. We all missed easy catches (there may have been a couple of Super Saiyan moments from me), our throws went to nowhere more often than any other time this season, and we just weren’t gelling. We didn’t manage to win a single game in the playoffs, losing to teams that we’d beaten during the season. Our heads were a little down after our first loss, but by the end of the day, most people had realized that it was the last chance for this iteration of the Knights to be together, and we just had some fun.

With spring season of 2017 over, all that lies ahead for the next few months is the off-season. There is a club tournament coming up, but I didn’t make the cut for that one. For Kris and I, we have a couple of months to decide whether we will play again in the autumn. Kris may still be too injured to play, and I will need to decide whether I’d rather spend time with her or play Ultimate. Judging my how quickly this year has flown by, we will need to decide before we know it. Until then, we’ll just keep on enjoying our life here in Korea, and seeing what the future holds for us.

 

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One Sleep Until Marriage

Tomorrow, I get married. That is something that I have been waiting to say ever since I proposed to Kris months ago. And yet, now that the time is nigh, I almost can’t perceive the experience as real. In the few days since our arrival in South Africa, I have felt every emotion from exhaustion to frustration to boredom to happiness to excitement, all the way around to exhaustion again. In a few hours, I will be standing at the altar of my old school church, bonding myself to the woman that I love for the rest of my life. And I can’t wait.

Since we landed back in the country that used to be our home a little more than two weeks ago, we have been running around with little conception of the outside world, all in the aid of organizing the wedding. We have had appointments with jewelers, photographers, decor ladies, flower ladies, priests, lawyers, and post offices. We spent almost an entire afternoon buying ties, shoes, and shirts for the day. I have even put a bow tie on my Dachshund, Basil. He looks quite dashing, actually.

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We knew that our first few weeks of holiday would mostly be spent finalizing the details of the ceremony and reception. We knew that we wouldn’t have much time for anything else. What we didn’t realize was just how draining the whole ordeal would be. We have both flopped into bed in near-death states at the end of each day of pulling all of the metaphorical strings together.

What little time we have had to see our South African friends has been relished. From our respective bachelor and bachelorette parties to a couple of convenient lunch dates, we have made the most of the down time that we have had. We look forward to more of this after the wedding.

But here I sit, one night and a few hours away from being a married man. How do I feel? Honestly? Exhausted. It’s probably just because today was another day of frantic runaround, but at this moment, I am the most keen I’ve been for bed that I have been in a long time. Maybe it’s my subconscious trying to shorten the sensation of the passing of time, all to make the wedding come faster. Maybe.

Am I nervous? A little. I have to give a speech, and I hate those things. Am I nervous that I’m marrying the wrong person? Not in the slightest. The first time the gravity of the situation truly hit me was today during the rehearsal. We were practicing our vows, staring deep into each others eyes. I was gazing into the soul of the woman that I love, pretending to promise myself to her for the rest of my life. Tomorrow, I do it for real. I can’t wait.