Back in the swing of things

Spring ultimate season has started! The local group I’ve played with for the past 15 years, Grass Roots Ultimate, is running multiple concurrent leagues this year so I took the opportunity to play in two leagues at once.

On Tuesday nights there’s an indoor league, which is a little unusual but a lot of fun. I’d never played before, but I’d heard it’s a good time, so I signed up. I was invited to be a team captain, so even though I had never done it, I drafted a team and we took to the turf. We play triple-headers every week, and even though the games are only 20 minutes long, they’re intense. It’s very different from traditional outdoor ultimate– it’s much more fast-paced, there are no stoppages of play, and you run flat-out the entire time.

We lost all three of our games, but in each one we did noticeably better, so I attribute it to just getting to know one another and figuring out playing styles. Plus, I kept throwing deep passes that simply don’t work on a field that’s only a quarter the size of a full ultimate field.

I was exhausted at the end of the night, but in a good “wow, that was some workout” sort of way. This is definitely going to get me in shape.

Then on Thursday nights there’s an outdoor league that’s played under the lights at a nice city park in Longmont. It’s convenient: less than a mile from my office, instead of a drive down to Boulder where GRU is headquartered. I’m a captain in this league as well, and I also volunteered to run the entire league. I first ran the league last fall, and it was so much fun I decided to do it again. It means coordinating with the City, managing field space and budgets, organizing the draft, recruiting captains, acting as “host” at our after-game parties every week, and generally being the go-to guy for all of the things that come up in any sports league.

What’s fun about this league is Alex decided to join. He’s played ultimate for years with some friends at school, but it’s pretty recreational and in fact they sometimes play with some goofy rules. He recruited a few friends but none of them really wanted to commit. It’s an adult league but anyone 16 or older is invited. He’s one of three teens in the league, so I’m sure it’s a little intimidating to be playing against a bunch of adults.

We play double headers in this league, and our first games were tonight. The weather was cold and rainy most of the day, but it cleared in the evening and by game time it was still chilly and a little breezy, but considering it’s technically still winter I can’t complain. It’ll definitely be nice to have it warm up through the season, though (we play through the end of May).

Although we lost both our games tonight, just like on Tuesday I saw marked improvement in how we played over the course of the games. Again, we sort of had to figure out who was good at what, and develop strategies to use that. It was awesome to see Alex out there– he was actually really good! I knew he would at least be decent, but he made several fantastic defensive plays, out-jumped one of the opponents in the end zone, and caught everything thrown to him. I’m excited to play on a team together.

To add to the fun, the pickup group I’ve played with for over a decade also has games every Tuesday and Thursday at lunchtime. We typically play two games, or three if we have time. Although it’s just pickup, the level of play is pretty high; in fact, many of the pickup players are in the leagues with me.

It looks like this is going to be a crash course in physical fitness! I’ll be playing nine games of ultimate every week for the next few months, all on two days. How awesome is that? I suppose I’ll sleep well those nights…