My First-day playing Ultimate Frisbee
In my current sabbatical from Bike racing, I have been keen to step out of my pigeonhole and explore. Monash University has been the perfect Petri dish to do so with clubs and societies a-plenty. I signed up for a lot of volunteering activities and that took up most of my time between studying, eating and sleeping.
Mid-way through my first semester, I finished the major volunteering events, and I had a lot of free time. To figure out the best use of my free time, I came up with a simple sorting algorithm and ran all the Monash Clubs & Societies through it. The result was...
|My sorting algorithm!|
So, I logged into Facebook and the Monash Ultimate Frisbee (MUF) Team's page had events and activities which seemed like the most fun thing ever! I bought their membership and impulsively, a pair of their woollen socks (my new-found weakness) and turned up at their Wednesday 'Social' training session, which caters to players of all levels, in the first week of May.
|Wednesday Socials session. PC: Monash Ultimate Frisbee|
"Ultimate Frisbee (sometimes just called “ultimate”) is a non-contact sport, with several players on each side. It is played on a football-sized pitch with an 'End Zone' at each end. It is often described as a combination of netball – because you cannot run with the Frisbee (or disc), and American football – because you score a point for catching the disc in the End Zone.
It is an exciting, fast-paced game. As soon as you catch the disc, you must stop running, and pass it to a teammate. You have to avoid players on the opposing team, who are constantly trying to block your passes. Teams are allowed to substitute players between points, which means players give 100% on each point."
This is the basic crux of the game, which I did not know at the time. So, I turn up on the Wednesday with the same naivety I had before my first bike race thinking "How hard can this be? All I need to do is throw the disc and run around to catch it." And just like in bike racing, I would find out that it's incredibly hard over the next few weeks!
A step-by-step description of how I fell in love with Frisbee
Fortunately, Frisbee is an immensely inclusive sport and as we were warming up as a group like in all sessions, I was approached by a couple of veterans of the sport and they struck up a conversation welcoming me into the sport.
"That's quite kind of them to come up and talk to me. I might play a few more games with them." I thought to myself.
We spent about 20mins warming up which included dynamic stretches and running drills and after that, we spent a couple of minutes high-fives all around on a good effort warming up.
"Huh! That's a good tradition to build a sense of community. I'm liking it so far."
After the warm-up, we were split into teams of 7, the standard size of a Frisbee team in a match, and paired off with another squad for a 30-minute game.
In the first round, my team were on the defence and the most experienced player laid down the game plan - "Right, the wind is in our advantage so we will force a flick while doing a Man defence. Everyone, got it?" she asked.
"I'm sorry, I am new to the sport and I lost you after you said we have the wind advantage. Could you please explain to me what I am supposed to do? I would really appreciate it", is what I should have replied. But fearing embarrassment, I just went with "Yup, got it!"
And once the match started, I went sprinting towards the disc as fast as I could. Now, this created a lot of confusion in the field and there was yelling all around me to get to my position and run the game plan. Needless to say, I was as confused as Homer Simpson working in a Nuclear Plant.
|My initial strategy: Just sprint towards the disc!|
But once I learnt that the disc can be passed faster than I can run in between the passes, I decided to focus on just one player and mark him.
Halfway through that point, the guy I was marking at points me towards the opposite end of the field and starts saying "It's a turnover! It's a turnover!". I had no idea what a 'Turnover' was other than a reference in Dilbert, and I continue with my strategy to mark him.
He then suddenly stops in his tracks and goes, "Look, the disc has been dropped by my team and that means your team is on the offence. You need to head over to the other side to help your teammates score!"
At that moment I was dumbstruck because my opponent was helping me correct my mistakes. He was telling me how to improve rather than take advantage of my naivety and score a point for his team. I was completely awestruck by his gesture and realized that this is the kind of people that this sport attracts, which I had never thought was possible!
I realized that I knew none of the tactics of the game, had no clue about the formations, my ability to anticipate was almost rubbish but the one thing I was good at was running fast and for long, thanks to the anaerobic engine I'd built up while cycling.
So, I stuck to my strength and began sprinting into every open space I could see to lose the defender who was marking me. This was highly inefficient as I was never in the right place at the right time. But with 5 minutes to go, I finally intercepted a pass from my teammate and was able to throw it to another teammate standing down the line.
I watched further down and two of my teammates made immaculate passes to reach our End Zone and score a point. As I saw the disc reach the other end successfully, I felt a massive surge of joy and elation!
"Whoaah! I helped score that point! I feel so proud of myself."
"Is this what it feels like to work as part of a team to succeed? This feels awesome and I want more of this feeling! Right I'm gonna adopt this sport now." I said to myself.
|One of the best feelings out there!|
To be continued..