Sunday, September 27, 2009

Limitations and Victory

Last month, I blogged about limitations--that one has to know one's own limitations especially in a team environment to be successful. Well, this became quite relevant this weekend, as I played in a Grandmaster Tournament--an annual event late each September for the past several years in Montreal with teams from Baltimore/NY, Philly, Vermont, Massachusetts, Ottawa and Toronto. It is an ultimate tournament for guys over 40. I didn't play last year because the team was incredibly careless a couple of years ago, and I didn't enjoy either getting thwacked or having to chase lots of people as they took advantage of our turnovers.

Well, this year the team was a bit different, with three new players--incredibly experienced and talented players who just turned forty. I didn't realize how much experience they had until after the last game of the second day, when they exchanged stories of all of the world tourneys at which they played. Most impressive. Indeed, I agreed to play this year because the lineup looked good. I was not expecting us to dominate, but that the quality of the games would be much better. And I was more right than that, as we did dominate. Winning the first game, 11-0 with only three turnovers the entire game, winning all five games the first day, all fairly comfortably. Today, we won the semifinals quite handily and then the finals was a bit more competitive, but we started with a 4-0 lead, which closed to 4-2, and then we went ahead 7-2 and on from there to 13-8 or so.

But my role on this team was quite different. Usually, I am best handler on the team or close to it, as I have strong throws (backhand, forehand/flick, with and without curves) and usually make good decisions. But on this team, out of eleven players, I was somewhere between fifth and seventh best handler. Which meant that when we had seven players on the line (ultimate is usually a game of seven against seven), there were at least three better handlers, so I spent most of the tourney playing the role of cutter--trying to get open for the handler to throw to me.

Unfortunately, I have had little practice as a cutter, as that has not been my primary role since, ahem, 1986 or so. Knowing this and also my lack of speed, I had to focus most of my efforts on trying to create space for my much faster teammates. And that is something this team did quite well--create space on the field so that the handlers could throw into the open spaces and ahead of their teammate so that only the teammate can get the disk. It really was quite a clinic in how to play the game properly.

It was the first tournament I can remember where I didn't throw it long (no hucks) at least once (and I usually throw it deep more than that). I did manage to receive a few throws in the endzone, which has been rare these days as I mostly am throwing it into the endzone these days.

In sum, I learned a great deal while having a fantastic time. It is ironic that I have gone my entire career without winning a tourney until last year--when I joined my daughter's junior team along with one of the best players in town and we managed to win the C/D (the middle level) end of the summer season tourney. And now, my second winning tourney with a very old team.

[pics from the tourney to be added when I get them]

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