When I first heard about the Skunks’ Ultimate Beginners Tournament I admit I was quite excited. Having already participated in a taster session run by the team I had some idea of the rules and the fast pace of the game, great for spectators and journalists. I wasn’t, however, prepared for the invitation to play in a team!
So I turned up bright and early on a Saturday morning (which believe me was a good effort in itself) to meet the other beginners on bikes on the University Concourse. We all cycled to the venue, Fleming Park in Eastleigh. The cycle ride itself, up and down hills heading into the countryside, I would say was a good warm-up for the day’s Ultimate games.
On arrival we locked up our bikes and headed into the leisure centre. The games had already begun and were taking place in a sports hall, which had a gallery for spectators. It quickly became obvious that a lot of teams had come from all around the country as players in all different colours walked through the gallery. One of the first things that I learned, which surprised me, is that the game is not called ‘Ultimate Frisbee’ but just ‘Ultimate’, as Frisbee is a brand!
Kit for the Skunk beginners was provided for the weekend, so I at least looked like I was familiar with the game and not an Ultimate beginner! Being able to observe other games helped me to understand the game, its rules and skilful ways to throw the Frisbee that I had yet to master. Ultimate is quick, dynamic and exciting to watch and there were some incredible leaps through the air and impressive point scoring.
While I was waiting for the first game with my teammates I discovered that there were some original team names like HML (Huck My Life), Tactical Nuclear Penguin and Fly Hard, which I definitely appreciated. This is reflective of the light-hearted and fun ethos of the game, which was also evident in the friendly atmosphere of the tournament.
My first Ultimate game was against Bournemouth, we drew 5-5 and I scored a point! Technically I was in the right place, being the endzone, at the right time and I caught the Frisbee! It was interesting playing a completely new game and picking up rules and tactics whilst playing. Sometimes I got it right, others I was clueless. But as we were all beginners we were all learning with the help of two experts on our team.
After each game both teams leave the sports hall and find somewhere to talk, each captain talks on behalf of their team about the other team’s strengths and how the game had been played. Then both teams participate in a game or two, we played a Ninja game complete with very loud sound effects, a ‘tree’ game in which you have to hit the hand of the person next to you by making one move only. Then a game which involved each team telling embarrassing stories about 3 members of their team for the other team to guess who’s story was whose. These games and group discussion created a light and caring attitude between teams, which I really liked.
I played two more games with my team, the Skunks Beginners B team. We lost both, one 8-0 but I personally had a really enjoyable day. Between games we practised different throws outside in the sunshine and we all learned a lot and bonded as a team in our excitement for the next game. Each player really impressed me as they put more of what they’d learned into practice in each game, progressing so much that by the end we were playing long throws into the endzone with one or two of us racing up to score a point. I am very proud that they won the award for Spirit on the Sunday.
The tournament was really well organised, it was a real shame I couldn’t play on the Sunday too, but here are the results. You will notice some brilliant names in the mix.
- Chichester Cobras
- Fly Hard
- Zoned Out
- Cereal Killers
- Mohawks A
- Skunks A
- Mohawks B
- Skunks B
- Skunks C
Spirit – Skunks B
- Get in my Van
- Tactical Nuclear Penguin
- Skunks 2
- Tactical Dump
- Rice Frisbees
Spirit – Get in my Van
The Skunks are playing in the Open Regional Competition on Saturday 26th October and the Mixed Indoor Regional Competition on the 5th November. If you would like to get involved with this fun, fast and friendly club find them on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/skunksultimate or check them out at www.skunksultimate.org.uk