Monday, 8 October 2012


I was always so caught up in music and drama clubs in secondary school that I never had time to consider doing anything else. Occasionally I would attempt an extra-curricular activity in a different field, football and netball, for example, but they were hastily swept aside without exception for rehearsals of plays at my tiny local theatre, or music courses with my county wind orchestra.

I'm the one on the far left of the sofa. Yes, really.

It wasn't until I made it to Uni that I had the joy of a fresh extra-curricular slate which I could fill, guilt-free, with whatever I wanted to be doing, and at last, a sport managed to make it into one of the top spots.

Ultimate frisbee is a relatively little-known sport (so little-known that I have to add the word 'frisbee' to my spell-checker dictionary) which is gradually increasing in popularity, especially at universities. It's a team sport whose objective is to pass an ultimate flying disc (copyright prevents actually calling it a frisbee - that would make way too much sense) between players and ultimately... passing it to a player in the end-zone of the pitch. You can't run with the disc, and whenever it is dropped by the attacking team, the other team gain possession.

Because it is not as well-known as football or rugby, the athleticism needed for this sport is often underestimated. Fitness levels must be high, and players need skill in throwing, catching and agility to name but a few. Anyone who thinks ultimate is "not a real sport" because it is new is painfully ignorant, and should be made to play an outdoor tournament in the height of summer without ever subbing off. Yes, it's that hard.

The reason I adored Winchester Ultimate as soon as I joined was the challenge it presented. Most freshers were in the same boat at the first training session - we didn't even know what the rules were, let alone tactics. This meant no one had a head-start and the race was on to see who could improve the fastest. Competing in our first tournament after three week's worth of trainings soon meant I had my priorities straight though. Fly Hard (our team name) may compete against each other at training, but ultimately (can't help it) we are one entity and it's against all other teams I channel my surprisingly high competitive nature at.

The aspect which sets Ultimate apart is Spirit of the Game. As a referee-free sport, the game relies entirely on sportsmanship of the players to run smoothly. Sounds simple enough, and indeed it makes the game truly enjoyable if both teams are courteous and happy to accept the challenge of a fair game. Matches end cheerful and players remain friends - helpful when you seem the same faces at each tournament.

Fly Hard teams 1 & 2, November 2011

This weekend just gone Fly Hard: Winchester Ultimate and I attended the beginners' tournament at Portsmouth. With two experienced teams and a beginners team there could always be boundless support for whichever team was playing, and we have really come together as a society. Of course, that could be more due to the frisbee house party (and copious drinking which naturally accompanies these events) hosted just two days previously... Hopefully the freshers feel like a true part of Fly Hard now. By this point last year, I knew that some of the greatest friends I'd make at Winchester would be from this society, and it's certainly held true. Ultimate isn't something which has completely taken over my life, merely compliments it, and runs happily alongside everything else I am always busy doing. I wouldn't have the commitment to train at frisbee twice a week and talk about it every day in between if I didn't love it, and I wouldn't love it if I didn't have such wonderful people to train with:

Fly Hard 1st Team, October 2012

It's hard to describe how a tournament makes me feel, but I might try and do so. Tired doesn't cover the emotion, because you're not necessarily sleepy. If you've done it right your body is so drained of any energy in any form you just want to sit and sit and watch the final (always so impressive) and root for the underdogs and never ever get up. As team-mate Jamie says, "If you don't come off the pitch and want to throw up, you haven't run hard enough." The pride of knowing you did all you could in all your games, and that your team were almost communicating telepathically by the end, and that your feet hurt so much that you don't think you'll be walking for several days, and that there are layers of bruises on your knees, elbows, hips, this is what I love about tournaments.

I've set a goal to get exercise every day, following my fantastic weekend; I want to see if I can make it even better next time.

Yours, joyously,

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