We won!

Today was the much-anticipated Grass Roots Ultimate summer league tournament. All summer we’ve been playing double-headers every week, leading up to the tourney, so this was a big deal. Just like all major sports, the regular season is all about positioning for the final games.

Well, we finished in third place during the regular season, which is actually the most desirable spot in a fourteen-team pool. The top two seeds, both 15-3-1, skipped the first round. We were 15-4-0, so we were definitely contenders. We had a first-round game against the lowest-ranked team. It was actually kind of sad; we beat them handily 13-1 and the only reason they scored the one is because we were playing a lazy defense against them. That was pretty much how their entire season had gone, which can be pretty frustrating as a team.

Second round was definitely a tougher game, but we ran up the scoreboard early in the first half and expanded our lead in the second half to finish at time with a 12-6 win.

The third round was against the second-place team, who had barely beat us 8-7 during the regular season. They made a few questionable calls and tempers flared a bit on both sides. One thing I really enjoy about the Boulder ultimate league is the spirit of the game and how most of the players are there to have fun, not to win at all costs. So we generally just redid a questionable play, and did our best to shake it off. We took a commanding lead in the second half and finished 11-7.

Then came the finals. The top-seeded team had been bumped out in the semifinals, so we were playing a strong team coming off an upset victory. They were pumped. In a really cool move, the opposing captain suggested we start the game with a joint cheer, so we all whooped and hollered and hit the field. Both of our teams had played (and won) three hour-plus games, so we were starting to get tired. It didn’t help that it was almost 90 degrees and the sun was beating down.

We traded points, with a few of the points turning into grueling back-and-forth contests as the wind picked up a bit. At half we were in good position, leading 7-3. They came out strong and picked up a few points, but their captain (one of their best players) twisted his knee badly and had to sit. They were also missing another strong player. We, on the other hand, had almost our entire team (a couple players were out of town) and played good, solid ultimate all day.

The final game is always extra fun because many of the other teams stay to watch, so the sidelines are packed with people shouting and heckling. A bunch of the women were chanting “take off your shirt!” to one of the well-built guys on the other team. There were also a lot of calls for hammer throws– always a crowd pleaser. I threw a long hammer on the last point, hoping for the score, but it ended up just outside the endzone and the receiver then made a light toss to one of our cutters and we won the game 13-7.

In ten years as a captain, I’ve never won the tournament. This was a huge day, and a ton of fun. I really enjoyed this season, and the strong players we had. We also had a really good time together, finishing with one of the top spirit scores in the league as well as the most points scored in all. Interestingly enough, on average we were also the oldest team and the tallest team. Tall and experienced: a great combination.

Here are a few pictures from today’s games.

First, the team photo before we started. Everyone is fresh, happy, and not at all sweaty:

Raj tosses a nice backhand past his defender:

Here’s an amazing catch by Tessa, who left her feet and landed right at the back corner of the endzone:

This guy isn’t on our team, but it was an awesome catch.

Writing a cheer for the opposing team is a very important part of the league. Here Brenda (the cheer master) writes while Peter and Tessa look up the words to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. Yes, it was an amazing cheer to that tune.

Cameron does some kind of monkey leap to catch a point in the endzone:

Here’s Tessa with a tough mark on Barb:

And here we are after our victory, holding our awards. Yep, that’s right: we won flip-flops with the GRU logo on them. I’ve won the championship three times in fifteen years, and this is the second time I won footwear. Don’t they realize I’m Shoeless Jeff?

It was a great time and a great season. I’m looking forward to the fall season, which will be in Longmont under the lights. And I’m running the league. We’ll see how that goes…