Author: <span>joebutler</span>

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Being Observed at Presidents Day – Stars and Stripes…

Last weekend we had tiring 3 day tournament in San Diego called Presidents Day. It was a 10 hour drive down, not that far from the Mexican border. The weather was warm, not too hot, around 20 degrees and the wind had a few gusts but mostly perfect playing conditions. We were staying in a really nice house thanks to a team-mate that lives there and so we could start each day reasonably fresh. His parents also cooked us so much food which we were very grateful for.

On the Saturday we had an early start against Brown University. We were pretty shocked when we got to the fields because our pool had been kicked off the main playing fields and we had to play on these really uneven dusty fields. We warmed up carefully and did our best to prevent ourselves against getting any injuries. The game went well and we controlled most of it, my friend Sean got a point block on their 3rd pass of the game and we didn’t really look back from there. The later games against Colorado College and Long Beach went similar ways. We were tested at points but more often than not our big players produced some magic.  We were set up for the final game of the day which was supposed to decide the winner of the pool since it was against Santa Barbara. Davis has a good rivalry with them and that was who they had battled for a spot to Nationals last year with. We also lost to them a few weeks ago on their home turf which we were disappointed with.

As it turned out they had lost one of the games already, meaning they had to win to stay in the championship bracket. The game was very close and I think we went a couple of breaks up after half time. They had a good comeback but we punched in the winning point on Universe (Sudden Death). The game was unfortunately marred by one of the worst injuries I’ve seen in ultimate, and it reminded me of what tragically happened to Robbie. My friend Kramer put in a big vertical bid but somehow landed with a straight left leg that crumpled beneath him. Later on we found out he had broken 3 bones around his ankle, including snapping a fan of ligaments. He’s uncertain if he’ll make it back to play any part of the season and he will be missed by all of us. It was a scary reminder of how fragile your ultimate season can be.

So, Sunday we had progressed to the power pools and had to play Berkeley and Cincinnati. Berkeley have not shown any of their normal prowess that makes them one of the best in our region but we ground out a hard performance to beat them. Cincinnati were also tough but we had found our rhythm and got the win. This meant we set up the quarter-final for the last game of the day vs University of Washington. We knew the game would be tough as they had done better than us at the last tournament and they also had some star players returning from international trials. But the main exciting point about this game was it was going to be observed. 80% of the team were used to this from playing at college nationals but for me and 4 freshmen it was a new experience.  After a briefing from our coach Cissna we took the field and it turned out to be a fiery encounter.

We were matched neck and neck and break for break the entire game. There were some great highlight plays from both sides and there was nothing really to separate us. The observers were getting involved, and I don’t feel like they had a negative impact on the game at all. The biggest difference I found was that it sped things up. Not every call that is made has to go to them, but if you think you are right (which you should if you made the call) then it makes sense. We got caught offside from the pull twice which meant they started with that point with the disc on the half way line, a small penalty but enough to make u stay behind the thrower. The observers were good for calling in or out calls and important endzone toe-ins etc allowing the players to focus on the disc and not have to watch their feet. It could have been my untrained eye, but I was a little worried that in some circumstances the observers would just guess on foul calls and then try to even the decisions out. We only had 2 observers, at opposing corners when some games have one on each corner. Later on there was a play on a disc in a crowded end-zone, and a foul was called and contested. The crowd of players had obstructed the observer and he declined to rule either way meaning the disc went back. Quite a few people got annoyed by this no decision.

It was great when calls were made and the observer almost instantly confirms or overrules it, and the players get back to playing without a lengthy discussion. But I was still glad that the observer didn’t feel pressured to give a decision when he didn’t know. Instead of guessing, he was honest and did not rule on the play. I think that is a really important point with observers, they are not there to rule on every throw or catch, but should be used to avoid tensions escalating between players and improve the accuracy of calls. In other words it’s not the perfect solution but I enjoyed playing with them.

This game also went down to universe point which we started on D. After 2 or 3 passes they fumbled a pass right in in the chest. We then converted with a simple cut for the win and putting us into Semis.

Monday morning we were playing Minnesota Grey Duck, a regular at nationals and so an important test for us. We started well and forced them into some turns, almost breaking them on their first O-point but the huck floated out the back, only to be greatest back in with the flattest greatest throw I’ve ever seen, but it was sadly D’d at the front of the endzone. They were extremely clinical when they turned us and controlled the game because of this. It finished 10-15 to them. We ended the weekend with a similar game for 3rd place vs Colorado Mamabird. They are a really strong team and we went on a run of 3 points at the end to bring it to a 12-15  loss and leaving us 4th place. Aside from the injury, this was a really good tournament for the progression of our season, we are not at the national level we want to be at in May, but we are improving and had bright glimpses of what we can achieve. The next big tournament is 3 weeks away at Stanford invite where we will meet even tougher teams. I will also hopefully be visited by Fetu by then 🙂


“Once a dog, always a Mohawk”

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Stars and stripes and flying discs part 2

The first term really sped through, so fast that I couldn’t keep you dearest hawks updated and for that I apologize, I can only try and do better this term.

There was not a whole lot of exciting frisbee related things happening last term, it was the off season (no indoor) so just a couple of relaxed, fun tournaments, which the captains used for scouting out A-team players. Some pretty decent people got cut when the final

2 Buck Huck
2 Buck Huck

squad was announced but I was lucky enough to sneak through. In the last couple of weeks before the holidays we got properly introduced to our coach Kevin Cissna. He is a Davis alumnus, and made it right to the top of the sport, playing a number of years with Revolver. He is a no nonsense kinda guy, that is certain to get you running your hardest.  He really knows how to get the most out of trainings and makes every drill as efficient as possible.

Over the winter break I was lucky enough to do a bit of travelling and got a double dose of mohawks. I recuperated my senses and money after a blurry stay in Las Vegas by visiting Kyle “Thor” Shurtz’s for 4 days in Boulder, Colorado. We got out on the local disc golf course, but I really couldn’t get to grips with proper disc golfing discs, and just about held my own with an ultra-star. Putting into the chain net baskets things was really difficult since the actual putters that disc golfers use are smaller and fit inside it a lot easier. All in all I preferred the wonky fence post or skinny tree targets I’m more familiar with.

I flew from Denver to Oakland on Christmas Eve, and was met at the airport by non-other than your fine women’s captain Sarah McCann. I had a really enjoyable stay with her family and we got to throw around a bit on the beach in her home town San Luis Opisbo. It was all fun and games until Sarah got a bit over enthusiastic chasing down a dodgy wayward throw of mine, and ended up lying on the shoreline, fully clothed and being lapped by waves which she couldn’t avoid due to a twisted ankle :(. You’ll have to ask her about the ensuing heroism but really I was just trying to make up for initiating it with a rubbish throw.

I made it back to Davis just after new year’s and straight away had the Davis Hat tournament to go to. This was really fun, I was on a team with very few people that I’d ever met before let alone played frisbee with. I found it really challenging to cut and throw accordingly for people when you have no idea of their abilities or tendencies. I enjoyed it a lot and really recommend hat tournaments to anyone that’s never been to one, you learn so much! It also opens up a lot of ultimate doors for you, since it was here I booked my spot on a team at the upcoming beach tournament, Lei Out.

They sold it to me as claiming Lei Out to be the closest thing California has to Paganello. There are a lot of similarities, they are both played on sand, use the same rules, and involve an unhealthy amount of pitch side drinking. However Lei Out this year had 184 teams alongside the Pacific Ocean, basking in Santa Monica’s gorgeous L.A sunshine. It definitely fulfilled my beach ultimate fix for the year but I’ll still be extremely jealous of anyone heading to Rimini this easter. It wasn’t fancy dress sadly, but the party was still epic. They had hired a huge warehouse on the top floor of the mall which had a couple of hundred people in and space for a couple hundred more. We ended up doing pretty well since we won all our games on Saturday but this moved us up to a slightly higher bracket which we then got knocked out of at the quarter-final stage. By this time we were having so much fun that placing didn’t matter. Our call involved a wine tasting challenge (the name “2 buck huck” was a pun on “2 buck chuck” the equivalent of supermarket own brand red wine). We also had a shot belt with 18 shots of skittles vodka strapped to it and that got refilled a number of times. It was a very sleepy 6 hour drive back up the west coast to Davis but so totally worth it.

Back in Davis Trainings have really started to get ramped up in intensity now, just 2 days off a week. This includes track workouts, (8 laps of sprinting the straights and jogging the bends) and gym workouts. We had a squad of 24 but due to some unlucky circumstances we are now down to just 19. Compared to the other colleges this will be smaller but we are hoping being a close nit group can work to our advantage. I’m so excited about the season kicking off this weekend, the first officially USAU college sanctioned event is the Santa Barbara invite. Seeing the Dogs creep onto Skyd magazine’s preseason power rankings is really spurring us on and we hope to cause some upsets. Be sure to check up to see how we do, results/ write up will probably go up on Skyd early next week.
I’ll leave it there for now and I hope you are all wrapping up warm with that nasty white frosty stuff about. All the best for the new season!

Peace and love,


“Once a dog, always a Mohawk”

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Waiting for a Rainy Day— Stars and Stripes and…

Hello Mohawks!

So it’s been a bit longer than I planned before updating you on my year abroad at UC Davis, California. I have been able to come up with an excuse though, I was simply waiting for a rainy day. Yesterday it rained for a first time since I arrived about 5 weeks ago. Don’t get me wrong it is not just the rain that reminds me of Frisbee in Brighton! I do miss all you lovely hawks, way more than British food or weather and almost as much as Fifa :p

So Frisbee in the States, where to begin?

First off people actually know what it is.  If you tell people you play Ultimate Frisbee here almost everyone has heard of it or knows someone that plays or even played it in school. No more long winded explanations and answering questions about if dogs and special tricks are involved.

The street alongside our pitch. What are the chances?

The other major difference is that the girls play for a completely different club, the Davis Pleiades. They train at different times and have a different social calendar. Mixed Ultimate does not exist at College level in the States and Indoor does not exist at all.

We now have trainings in the American Football stadium which can hold over 10,000 people! No one comes to watch us train obviously but I went to the homecoming football game which was packed. Its a really cool facility to have on campus. The synthetic rubber crumb turf does give nasty burns on occasion but a good thing is it’s kind of sheltered because of the stands around it, so wind is reduced.

The players are very similar, my favourite kind of people. Committed and competitive and most importantly, know how to have fun. The main difference is that there are more of them. The Davis Dogs get about 40 guys coming to two 3hour training sessions per week. A couple of these are of course the experienced hangers on, long graduated but still more then welcome. About half are freshers, which shows it’s still growing fast. I would say due to having a bigger selection pool, plus the fact that lots of them played at school, the standard is slightly higher. I felt like a fresher not knowing the drills or appropriate terms at first but everyone is so welcoming and friendly you soon feel comfortable. I still get laughed at every time I say pitch, queue or side arm (field, line and flick).

I would still say honestly Mohawks have the better parties. Seeing the pics of the last few socials it seems that this year is no exception. It’s weird being one of the oldest, especially since 90% of the team are unable drink out. There are no bars on campus either, so everyone was very jealous when I explained how the Falmer bar pint after training is basically compulsory.

Like Sussex they have a disc golf course around campus. Its bigger, full 18 holes including a bonus shot (If you get it in the fountain you take a shot off). Also If you eagle the 11th you have to streak trousers down from your last shot to the hole! (A guy did this on my first round).

We just had our first tournament, a beginners/ fun one, a couple of hours north in Chico. It was incredibly similar to beginner tournaments back home. A tiny difference being that the opposing sidelines get together and play fast paced calls during timeouts. It was also full size outdoors ultimate. The party also provided all the alcohol in kegs (most players can’t legally buy it) so it is all free 🙂

Congratulations on all the recent tournament results and I look forward to meeting the new fresher Mohawks!


“Once a Dog but always a Mohawk”