There's nothing more fun than spending a weekend at a tournament playing with your teammates. You get to explain ultimate to strangers on planes, explore new cities, stay with family, play ultimate all day, take ice baths together, and get to sleep before your normal bedtime. At least, that's what we normally do. Our trip to Eugene this past weekend proved to be just that and so much more.
Going into this tournament, we knew we were going to be shorthanded. Neither of our coaches would be able to attend and we were going to have a total of 13 ladies, which meant a lot of playtime for those 13 sets of legs. So, we started hydrating early, sending each other photos and videos of ourselves chugging our water bottles, challenging our teammates to do the same. Thursday night's practice was spent reviewing our systems to make sure we were all on the same page. Friday finally came after little sleep (too anxious and excited), and our first tournament weekend began.
We are incredibly lucky to have family willing to take us in for the weekend, despite the smell of our stinky cleats. Sim's family made sure we had a place to stay, a car to drive ("Killer" the truck), and a beautiful reservoir to swim in. One crew of ladies got up to Eugene Friday morning and spent the day exploring, getting field food, and preparing for the weekend. Meanwhile, another group was stranded in the Phoenix airport for 5 hours waiting for their flight, but made the most of it with beers, snacks, and smiles. They finally arrived at the house when the sun was up at 5am Saturday morning. These ladies got a relaxing hour and a half sleep and somehow managed to be ready to play four tough games of ultimate that day!
Saturday morning, we arrived at the fields with our 13 ladies. The sun was out, the weather was beautiful, and we had a full day ahead. We only had one familiar opponent on the agenda, so each game was going to be an exciting, new experience. We had a great first game against Wendigo (Vancouver). We were able to get points on the board early and converted on turnovers, winning 13-1. Next, we had our Southwest powerhouse, Fury. We were very pleased with our first half performance, using some quick handler movement to get a few points, and going down 3-7 at half. In the second half, Fury utilized their dynamic offense and tough D to get the next 6 points, taking the game to 13. In our third game against Seattle Underground, we lost 4-13. We had some great looking points, breaking through their zone a few times, but felt that we could have done a lot better than we did. A fourth round bye allowed us to refuel, do some yoga, and get some shade. Then off to our final match of the day, Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, a new team out of the Bay Area that we were really looking forward to playing (mainly because their name rivals with ours). It was an excellent last game for us. We utilized our deep throws a little more and were able to run our offense more smoothly, getting continue throws to cutters when we had difficulty with that early in the day. We took the game 8-5 and can't wait to face them again later this year.
After finishing our fourth game, everyone was feeling pretty zonked. We did some cool down yoga to stretch out and headed to the other fields where the showcase game was being played between the U23 National Teams from USA and Canada. I would tell you more about the game if we actually got to watch part of it, but our minds and stomachs were set on getting food. We had an awesome Vietnamese dinner, provided by the tournament, and spent the rest of the time enjoying the lovely beer garden they made. Noam had worn a fit-bit type bracelet throughout our games and informed us that we ran 11 miles on Saturday! With only 13 ladies playing, we were definitely feeling it by the end of dinner, so we went back to our house to immediately take an ice bath in the reservoir. What's nice about the Northwest, is that the sun doesn't set until after 9pm during the summer. We had the beautiful lake to ourselves while we took full advantage of letting the freezing water tend our sore muscles and sunburnt shoulders. Then it was a carton of mint chip ice cream and our sleeping bags finally called us to bed.
Sunday morning meant pre-quarters to decide bracket play. We went 2-2 on Saturday and we kept our seed as #3 in our pool of 5 teams, placing us in a crossover game against the #2 team from another pool, U23 Team Canada. They had a much larger team than us with much younger players, but were able to open up our game a bit with some deep looks. After our loss to them, we faced off against another Canadian team, Zephyr. We had discussed how to fix some of our cuts downfield and our flow on offense, making for a much better game. In the end, we lost 5-9, which meant we had to drive to another field to play our final team, Loco, from Seattle. Off to the turf field we went, where "Killer" wasn't giving Sim the keys back (turns out a car needs to be in Park in order to take the keys out), and the temperature seemed to rise 10 degrees once we stepped foot onto the turf. By this point, every one of us was feeling the exhaustion of the weekend, but we took advantage of being able to "play while tired," as we say at practice. One of the hardest things is playing while being physically exhausted, without making mental errors on the field. However, I was very proud that everyone left everything they had on the field and finished out the weekend with a smile.
We walked away from Solstice feeling that we made a lot of improvements over the weekend, but we know we still have a long way to go to reach our full potential. This season, we have such a wide range of experience on our team, from ladies who have travelled around the world to play and ones who have played at nationals, to ladies who have only played league and who are joining a club team for the first time. That's the beauty of our team this year. We're developing. We're building. We're always learning more about ourselves, our teammates, and how we can work better as one unit. Now, we can't wait for our next tournament to see how far we've progressed and to bond even more as a team.
Our Weekend Totals
Games played: 7
Miles ran: 19
Ladies playing: 13
Hearts painted on thumbnails: 26
Dips in the reservoir: 3
Items lost: 2
Tattoos given to other teams: 14
Packets of fruit snacks eaten: 80