It was October 1990 when I was first introduced to the sport of ultimate by my friend Matt Groves. I was hooked immediately, and absolutely loved playing. For the next five years in college I was legendary (well, at least in my own mind) and was always the guy rounding up a group to go out and play. “Bah, that homework can wait until later,” was probably used many times as I worked to convince my friends to head down to Schuman Park in Rolla for another game.
What’s funny is although we knew the rules, we really didn’t know a lot of the mechanics of the game. The forehand throw was completely unknown. Hammers and scoobers? Never heard of ’em. Even something as basic as the force was outside our experience. But no matter– we had a great time and eventually built up a big group of ultimate players. We took road trips to play in tournaments, where we discovered these new techniques and took them back to hone our skills.
Since that fateful day, I don’t think a month has gone by where I haven’t played at least a few games here and there. In the summer, of course, I typically play four days a week, and on occasion I’ve played five and six days in a week (Sunday is my only day off). As the weather gets colder and the league seasons wind down, it’s a little more sporadic, but you’ll still find my local pickup group out on the field wearing long sleeves and gloves, slogging through the snow just so we can get in another game.
Twenty years. That’s a long time to do anything consistently. I guess it means I really love the game.
Here’s a photo from the early 90’s. That’s me at the bottom center, and although you can’t see it from the picture, I’m not wearing shoes. Even then, two decades ago, I was Shoeless Jeff. And I still am.