Full Circle: Why I Played, Why I Stayed (part 1)

Not many people know this story in its entirety, but in addition to being about my journey into and through ultimate, this is really the story of how one team helped get me where I am today, and to which I am eternally indebted.

East Lansing, MI circa 2008-2009. USA Ultimate is still the Ultimate Players Association, ultimate is still a sport where ‘no one will ever have the chance to go pro,’ man buns have yet to become a thing, and I am going into my senior year of High School at ELHS.

One day that year, a dear friend returned from her time at Michigan State University and dropped a bomb on my world. Her name was Tiff and she had just told me that she joined the Club Ultimate team at MSU, Infamous. Now, at this point, all I knew of ultimate was from pickup in and around the East Lansing area, so the fact that it was a competitive sport in college totally blew me away.

Tiff and her characteristic smile.

“You mean this isn’t just a sport for hippies and dogs?” I probably said, with a twinge of irony at the hippy comment as we were all toeing the line toward hippie-hood at that point. From that point on, I knew I wanted to try out for the men’s team at Western Michigan University, my eventual alma mater. I got on the computer that night and tried to find anything I could about the team: stats, contact information, whatever. I found out they had a team called ‘Dark Horse,’ and I joined that Fall.

As one of the few rookies who could already throw a forehand thanks to Tiff’s tutelage, I was quickly integrated into the team as a handler; big shoes to fill for a puny freshman like me. Practices went well, and I was immediately hooked on the sport – or so I thought. Quite the opposite of a traumatic experience, but engrained in my memory just as concretely, is the memory our car rounding a corner past a row of corn to see dozens of discs flying through the air, hundreds of players warming up, and beautiful grass fields as far as the eye can see amidst acres and acres of corn. This is the memory of my first Glory Days in October 2009. Realizing that this was for real, thousands of people REALLY play this sport, my captains weren’t just pulling my leg the past few months: this truly was the moment I fell in love with the sport. For the first time.

If you liked it, stay tuned for part two…

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