A third post in a short amount of time after posting maybe once every month or longer over the past year. Hopefully, this becomes more of a habit rather than a doomed-to-fail New Year’s type resolution promise. Or like when someone with an historical tendency to eat crap food and exercise very little stands up and says, “MY DIET STARTS TOMORROW!” You just know they’re hitting the Cheetos and delicious Chapman’s ice cream harder than ever in about two week’s time.
This update comes to you on the heels of the Vietnam HAT slated for this weekend, December 21st and 22nd. The tournament begins tomorrow and I cannot express how stoked I am. Why am I’m so excited for some flatball and a good ol’ fashioned tournament? Well, I could go into a thesis paper on the topic… but a couple of my friends from Taiwan have already made their own post on loving the frisb and I’m certain they’ve articulated the sentiment far better than I could ever have. Here’s Austin’s and Joanna’s take on the love for chasing a piece of plastic. Skyd Magazine also published an excellent article by one Yacine Bara on the beauty of this sport, which you can find here. So, I won’t go into great detail on why I love this game so much. I will, however, provide a short origin story on how I got into it.
I want to say the year was 2008 or 2009 but I can’t be certain. End of the year papers, final exams, and all things school related had just wrapped up. The University of Toronto has a thing for scheduling exams late into May and sure enough I was the last one of my group of friends to finish. But I had made it; I had finished another grueling year at Toronto’s finest post-secondary institution, I was past the halfway mark of my university tenure, and I did it well enough. June was just around the corner and with it would come a sweet summer of insobriety, girls, late night pool-hopping episodes, and whatever other cliché mischievous shenanigans you can think of for 20-21 year old kids.
I was starting to worry about finding a way to keep in shape. I had been playing the beautiful game of soccer in a league located in the boonies of Toronto but a decision (that was heavily influenced by a ridiculous amount of Old Milwaukee Ice) to punt an oversized garbage bag late one Saturday night had resulted in a very serious right quadricep injury. I was forced to stop playing soccer for the remainder of the league schedule. My friend, Sarah, who plays for the Toronto Capitals had been trying to get me to play ultimate Frisbee with her and her group of friends. The suggestion was for me to sign up and play with them on a Monday or Wednesday league night. I finally relented and joined them. I figured this would probably be better than getting on an elliptical at an overpriced gym with countless other middle-aged women who had no business wearing super-tight Lululemons or TNAs. Or worst, male retirees who decide to get fit but wear short shorts that would make Larry Bird’s thigh hairs tingle.
Anyway, I had finally decided to play ultimate Frisbee. But league would not start for probably another month so I had time to recover from my injury. One late spring/early summer night, I was in Ravina Park, a green spot near my house as well as my old primary and high schools. I was with several of my old high school friends and we were enjoying a suspicious communal “cigarette”. As the aromatic clouds billowed over the green field, a lanky figure emerged from the thick of smoke. It was an old acquaintance from high school and a former physics lab partner of mine. He was also smoking a suspicious “cigarette”. It was somewhat of a coincidence that he would come by and run into us. This guy, as it turned out, was also playing on the same league team that I had just signed up for. We talked about the game and I might’ve lied about how excited I was to run around catching Frisbees. From that night, a greater friendship emerged between us as he helped me learn the game and get better at it. This lanky fellow would later go on to make Toronto’s top club team, GOAT, and play for Team Canada’s U23 that captured gold in Florence.
It’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy in a way. I didn’t know it then but my love for a sport that has often been mistaken as an activity for pot-smoking hippies began to grow from a hazy conversation in the midst of dense fogs like a scene from That 70’s Show
Now that’s the story of how I got into flatball. And it’s important to me because it got me out of a potential a rut. It’s only later on in life that I realized that my younger-self back then was starting to develop bad habits and could have spiraled into a vicious cycle. You see, I might’ve partied too hard sometimes. I was working hard at school and at my part-time job but I was also working just to get through the week and land on the sweet, sweet weekends. When the weekends came, often times I was too excited and went overboard. I would justify this excessive behaviour by believing I had somehow earned it because I worked hard at school and at my job; things that I should be working hard at in and of itself. Consequently, my motivation was dropping in many aspects of my life.
But flatball changed things. It was changing my attitude and behaviour as well as my outlook on life. Suddenly, I wasn’t looking forward to blacking out on the weekends but remembering sweet, sweet plays on the field and incredible moments with my teammates.
This post is getting pretty long and I need a break to formulate my next thoughts. So, I’m gonna partition my thoughts into two parts. This is part one. I’ll get to part two eventually. For now, I will say this: what I feel when I chase that stupid flat piece of plastic must be the same feeling Harry Potter gets when he gets on his broom and chases after that elusive, sneaky-ass golden snitch. My mind is suddenly focused if only for a brief moment. More importantly, I’m happy as a clam when I’ve got that little sucker in my hands.
In the next part of this two-part blog post, I will talk about how the game eventually hooked me up with some of the best people I will ever meet in my life beginning in Canada and then later on halfway across the world. Some of the friends I made while playing this game will likely be the best mates I could ever have on and off the field.