Author: <span>dude</span>

Blog Posts

Once a Mohawk, always a Mohawk

All my previous blog posts were written as an ultimate player with no titles. This one is being written by a national champion player. Great title, no? When it comes down to it, it basically doesn’t mean anything. I never played for big titles since I will rarely get them. But what does it mean to be a national champion really? Why will I remember that day till I die? Why will it be one of the happiest memories of my life?

Anyone who knows a little bit about the 2011-12 roster of the Mohawks 1st team knows that I did not get to play much during both regionals and nationals. This was something that at times had brought me down, you might get a medal but you think that you had no part in winning it. But do you remember what I said about being part of a team before? That day, once again and in an undeniable way this time, showed me the importance of being part of a team, being a Mohawk.

As Taxi puts it: "We are, objectively, the best university team in the country. That is all."

It was when I went to hug Rich and he said to me with the biggest smile I’ve seen on his face “this was why you came to the UK wasn’t it Dude?”, we hugged (never hugged a guy that passionately before) and he said “I love you buddy.” and I replied “I love you too buddy.”. Had never said that to a dude before.

It was when Ed was feeling bad about his defence that I told him that the almost-D he got on that dump pass is now in their heads, and they are scared now that they can get D’d at every throw and seeing his face lighting up, gaining trust in himself again. After the final we hugged and he said “Thank you, Dude. I don’t know how but every time you shouted on the sideline I knew it was your voice and I could trust it.”.

It was when Kneetu on the ride back told me that the point we scored together (from a hammer of course) was his favourite point of nationals even though he scored the sudden death point that won us the game at the semi. Rich told me he had never seen such a casual hammer throw and that he loved it when I raised my hands into a V shape (hand signal for a score) when Kneetu caught the disc, it was a great minute to be alive in.

It was when Shimmy came up to me and said “Congratulations champ, you were a huge part of this team, maybe you didn’t play much but you were there on the sideline, not stopping for a second, you were at every practice, working hard with us and helping everyone push themselves to their limits, being part of a team.”. That was when I couldn’t say anything. I didn’t want to start crying in front of him.

Then the cosmos decided to give us another piece of memory never to forget. We came together for the last time in a huddle, Ash said some great things that probably none of us can remember now, we were so full of joy and excitement, all that work in the rain, in the mud, in the wind.. Up the hills, over and over again, thousands of throws, screams and fights, for some, hours at the gym, nights out bowling and drinking.. We were champions. It was over.

1.. 2.. 3.. MOHAWKS!!!

We said, right next to the endzone where the Squaws were trying to score in. Then we heard the Squaws scream.. They had just won the game, right next to us.. Huge group hug of course, Selina asked me what we had done? I said “we won of course”, I don’t know why she had any doubts hehe, we hugged. Double National Champions.

If you think I’m just being poetic or emotional, just watch the video and listen carefully at the 27th second, hear our Mohawks chant.. Oh cosmos..
(the embed does not seem to be working:

Ash was so happy that he didn’t even care when we wrote the results of the F1 race that weekend on a piece of paper and showed it through the window while passing them by in the car. Jazz enjoyed it so much that he congratulated us with a text..

And who can forget the times right before the final, in the changing room, where Football, in order to prove his manliness  beyond any doubt to us by claiming that he can “pull any girl at a 16ers party”.. Man oh man..

It is these and many more small pieces of history that will stay with me, now that my year with the mighty ‘hawks is over, never to be back again. It was an amazing year that taught and gave me so much.

It is all these small things that makes all of it worth it, all the effort, all the pain, all the hill sprints, all the money, all the weekends.. For a team this great, one regrets nothing.

It was an amazing experience being a Mohawk, and sadly it has come to an end, as all good things do.

But you know what they say;

Once a Mohawk, always a Mohawk! 

Blog Posts

SotD: Giving Back

A few months ago during one of our practices Felix was berating us, the experienced players, for not helping freshers enough, people were not staying after the experienced practice and were not helping freshers. One thing he said at that moment still sticks with me and I think it will for a very long time. He had said “This is your way of giving back to the club, this is where you learned the game and now you give back by helping other people.”. These weren’t his exact words but you get the idea. For experienced players the importance of giving back might not be so apparent so let me try and explain.

I started playing ultimate in Turkey, a country with a population of over 75 million. The number of ultimate players in the country: around 200 is my guess (it’s growing very fast though). There are so few teams (6 active teams -4 uni, 2 club-  in 2 cities, 3 or so teams are trying to be formed) that Club and Uni teams play together in tournaments and we always play Round Robin. I’m giving all these numbers so that you can guess the amount of experienced players: very few. Apart from the 21 (plus a few more) players that have played at Windmill last year, no one had played outside the country.

Ignore my alien looking arm please
Left: Me Throwing a low release forehand. Right: The person who I learned it from both through watching him and asking him why his toes faced another direction while throwing. You can see how much of his throw is in mine. He never taught me how to look good while playing though.

In an environment like this, it’s very hard to develop skills beyond a certain point (which isn’t too high), there aren’t many players you can ask questions to. If we had an experienced player visiting, I would stick right behind them (well not in-game), watching their every step, asking everything I can think of and talking about tactics. I was obsessed but didn’t have a lot of people to teach me. I watched highlight videos over and over again, tens of times, watching every small detail in players’ movements, fakes, throws, cuts.. I watched this highlight video of Oregon Ego hundreds of times, at least twice a day (they have good videos btw). I watched Cody Bjorklund (6) obsessively, he’s still one of my idols, showing me that big guys can play really good ultimate too (I was a tad fat when I started playing ultimate). I learned forehand hucks watching him and trying his throws with my girlfriend. Guess I should start doing it again since something’s wrong with them these days.

So what does all this have to do with anything? Well now that I am in Brighton where ultimate is really good (tons of national players, lots of amazingly good players and athletes and all of them extremely friendly) suddenly I was in heaven. I wasn’t the one helping people out, I was the one being helped out. I could go and ask someone what I was doing wrong and immediately get an answer. To have a coach like Felix with years of experience, amazing people like Shim and Rich helping you out at every step.. Well forget all that, just even having the chance of being able to watch players like Ash, Callum, Robbie, Rich, Felix, Dyno, Meg, Bob, Longface, Pencil, Fetu, Mental, Edgars etc. etc. (just a few of the names that popped, so many more).. All these amazing players not just playing great but trying to help you if you ask for it. I can not emphasize enough how important this support is to a beginner, even just having the chance to be around these people is huge.

I remember at one of my first practices, I asked Bob how to throw a push pass. I had been trying since I started playing and had had no success. She just explained it to me in one sentence and suddenly I could throw them. It was never explained to me in the right way before, so she didn’t even have to show me, it just worked. All I needed was a definition that made sense to me instead of hours of practicing the throw in a wrong way (of course now I have to practice it the right way for hours).

I think that even beginners who are serious or will become serious about ultimate are not aware of how lucky they are in Brighton, or anywhere where there is good ultimate with nice people. One can work really hard, do the physical, the theoretical and the mental work but experience can only be gained on the field and the input of experienced players can triple or even quadruple the pace of the learning curve for beginners (does this sentence make sense?).

All this is why I was really struck by what Felix said about giving back. Not just to a club, but also to the sport of ultimate. I know that all these people who sacrifice so much for ultimate do it because ultimate changed their lives one way or another. That’s why we give back to this beautiful sport, so that others can get injected with the poison too.

So I’m talking to you experienced players, give back.  For the people who need and want it it means much more than you can ever imagine. Never forget what ultimate did for you and what it can do for others too. Spread the word, help out, give back (instant karma gain guaranteed).

Dude out, peace.

(Shimmy did not edit this one, that’s why the English is even worse than the previous post, sorry guys)

Blog Posts

SotD: The Stakes

“If there’s no future in it, at least it’s a present worth remembering.”

Dude here,

Welcome to the Spirit of the Dude (SotD). I will talk about things that I think about concerning ultimate which generally revolve around the spirit and community of ultimate. So even though I don’t know where this blog will take me, my first few posts will be about spirit related subjects. Here comes the first post: The Stakes.

For those of you who don’t know me, currently I’m doing an MA in Digital Documentary. Even though my passion is feature films, I chose this course because Sussex University had one of the best ultimate teams in the country and they didn’t have a hands on film programme. I am serious. So even before coming to the UK for the programme, I wanted to make my dissertation documentary on ultimate. What better thing to do other than bringing them together right?

So this week, I went to talk with my instructor about how to approach the project, which part of ultimate can it be about, what to focus on and what to leave out. With my instructor I was struggling. It was not just about ultimate but also how to make it an interesting subject for a documentary. Before meeting her, I thought I had some good ideas but just as I started explaining to her what ultimate was and what made it special, I realised that nothing was getting through and I wasn’t talking about anything interesting even to myself.

With a quick twist to wake her up, I started going into more important things like ‘Hawks winning nationals, Brighton’s success in Europe and the pressures these created and suddenly she asked such a simple question that just caught me flat footed: “So what’s at stake?”

This is a question I sometimes ask myself. Why are we pushing ourselves so hard (OK, ok, why are people pushing themselves so hard since I generally sit in front of a PC)? What are we getting out of this? Why are we putting so much effort into ultimate when the most you can earn is a title which only matters in the ultimate community itself?

Most people playing ultimate right now will never earn a living playing ultimate (organizing, teaching/coaching or other means might bring some money yes, but making money by playing is not possible yet, which is another topic I’m planning to talk about in the future), so future career is not an answer. Prestige seems like a good reason, but when you come to think of it.. Sometimes I talk to a muggle (non-ultimate person, yeap I’m smart), and I would say “Mohawks were national champions last year!” or “BU won Mixed Euro’s in ’09” and the answer I get is generally something close to “Oh, that’s nice.” or “good for you guys.”. So prestige only works among players, which yes, can be a factor, but by itself is it enough of a reason? Since I’m not a great player and won’t have great successes in my career it’s not for me and the majority of people who play.

I believe the stakes comes down to why a person plays ultimate. I play for two reasons:

1- I love watching a disc fly, it was love at first flight (cheesiness alert), that’s why I love long plays (and as much skying as possible please, one good reason to play with players like Ash and Callum). Watching a disc fly, reading the flight and catching it is just an amazing feeling that can only be understood through playing.

2- The community. Not just the local community one plays in but the community of ultimate in general. The spirit we have and the crazy that we share. I love the fact that it doesn’t matter which country I go to right now, if there’s an ultimate scene there, I have a bed (or at least floor) to sleep for free and someone to share a pint with and then chuck around the next day.

But there are no stakes here still right? Here comes the stake and the main reason I play for: I love being part of a team. Wanting the same things with a bunch of people and fighting for it, together. At times screaming at each other, at times wanting to punch each other in the face but always fighting together. The only stake for me while playing ultimate is letting my team down, if I’m playing bad, I care because I bring my team down with my bad play. So when push comes to shove, all that matters, all that is at stake, for me, is my team.  Because in the end, twenty thirty years from now, it’s the times I’ve spent with these people that I will remember, the good ones and the bad ones. All that matters is the team we form.

What’s at stake is the people in your team. It’s why we play, or at least why I play.

I’m aware that this is not a clear answer since we haven’t established the what and why of the team. The crazy that we share? Maybe we can talk about that in another post.

I wish I could’ve come up with this answer with my instructor at that point, but what can one do, these things come out when I sit down to write.

What do you guys play for, what is at stake for you? Are we all crazy?

See you in another SotD post guys.

Peace. Dude out.

A big thank you to Shimmy for the editorial work.