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Archive for the ‘ultimate’ Category

I’ve been gone for awhile and it may come as no surprise to those of you who know me that I’m returning for a post centered around Ultimate.

This weekend was the 2012 USAU Atlantic Coast Regional tournament. My former teammates from South Carolina were going into the tournament seeded first.

Like a lot of other USC sports, Ultimate has kind of wallowed in mediocrity for a long time. Typically being the team that, if it has its best game, can beat anyone and, if it has its worst game, can lose to anyone.

This year was different. This year was the senior year of the rookie class of 2009. This rookie class, my rookie class, was better than any class to come before it, by leaps and bounds. Of course, I was doing very little to contribute to the overall talent of the class as I have long since graduated and moved on to different things.

The program was on the up and up, proven by high finishes at big tournaments, tournaments that my good friend Devin Waldrop couldn’t have imagined finishing high at.

“We couldn’t even get in to Terminus my sophomore year,” Devin told me.

After Regionals comes Nationals. Only one team from the Atlantic Coast was going to get a bid. It was still a long shot for USC to make it to the next round, but they had a better chance than any iteration of the team before them. Alumni were rolling in to cheer them on at Regionals, hopes were set high, Kendall and I were talking about doing our anniversary weekend (the same weekend at Nationals) in Estes Park, CO.

To make the long part of this longer story short, the Gamecocks lost in quarterfinals to a team that was ranked lower than them by a long shot. By all accounts, they should have waltzed to finals based on their schedule. There, they would have met one of the two teams that could have actually challenged them for the Nationals bid.

I was crushed. I was crushed not for me but for those guys that I put a season in with. I was crushed because I knew, just from speaking to them, that they felt like they had the hopes and dreams of years and years of Gamecock Ultimate alums riding on their backs and they fell short. Fell short not just of other people’s expectations but their own. Fell short of dreams, desires and destinies.

So, I asked myself, what do you say to these guys?

Knowing that what I’m about to say has the sounds of arrogance clanging off of it like drunk guys clang off the hottest girl in the bar at closing time, I feel like I’ve become something of a role model to a lot of these guys. I was older than all of them when we first met. I “have my life together.” I’ve got a loving wife. I love my job. I LOVE to have a great time. I often times feel that a number of those guys that were a part of the rookie class of 2009 look at me and hope to end up where I am in 4 years.

Of course, I’m not the only one. The number of Gamecock alums that are worthy of being role models and are actively role models to these kids is ridiculous, especially when contrasted with a number of other programs that I’ve been around.

However, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit of paternal instincts when the result was final. I couldn’t help but feel an urge to reach, give every player a big hug and tell them, “You made me proud this season.”

I knew they didn’t want to hear that though. I knew that they were devastated. I texted my friend Kevin, who was at the tournament, and asked him to convey those exact thoughts to our friends. He responded:

“I’m trying. Too soon at the moment.”

So there I was, 900 miles away, knowing that there was nothing I could do, nothing I could say, especially from so far away, that would ease what each of those players was going through.

So I did nothing and said nothing.

But later in the day I couldn’t help but feel like I should say something and I should do something. There was a part of me that felt that some of those guys were expecting to hear from me. So I got on Facebook when I got home from playing some Ultimate of my own today. I was hoping to become inspired and leave a message of hope and pride that would help everyone move on from something so disappointing.

This is what I found:

I had to laugh at myself.

Here I was, in Baton Rouge, thinking that it was my role, my “responsibility,” to say something to make these guys, who I looked at as younger brothers if not sons, feel better about their season.

The reality of the matter was they didn’t need me. The beauty of the last four years is that I’ve seen these guys mature from being 18 year old parts of my rookie class into being young men leading other young men. They didn’t need me to tell them that they had accomplished something special. Each and every one of them already knew it. That something special wasn’t where they placed in the section, region or even the country. That something special was what they had built with each other. Something that, as a member of the team, I knew no other team had and that I see now no other team has.

So, instead of feeling inadequate, I logged off of Facebook and on to here to say that, I don’t need to say anything.

If any younger Gamecock Ultimate players read this, don’t ever listen to anyone if they tell you that Aguilar, Lamp, Kevin, Devin or Sans truly knows Ultimate. Listen to Andy, Chuck, Van Thiel, Kenny, Marshall, Chris Wilson, or Jacob because they truly know Ultimate. If any older Gamecock Ultimate players read this, I can only pay you and your season the highest compliment I know how to pay it:

You practiced, prepared, played, competed, won and lost this season like Gamecock Ultimate. You are Gamecock Ultimate. You will forever be Gamecock Ultimate.

I can’t wait to throw with you soon.

Good night and joy be with you all.

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So, as you may be able to tell, the last month has been the greatest month in the history of awesome (a phrase that I am totally borrowing from a dear friend). There is no way for me to encapsulate in a single post everything that has gone down in the last month. So I’m going to break it up and get it all out that as best as I can. I think this is going to be the format in which I do it.

Sweetwater Co-Ed Classic

One of the great things about Ultimate tournaments is that you never know what you’re going to get. Even if you’re playing with a team that has some consistency on its roster (i.e. a club or college team) the simple absence or presence of a single person can completely change your team dynamic for the worse or for the better.

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So, you may or may not be aware of this rather important event coming up in our lives.

Through a long string of events that need not be explained here it turned out that I was going to be driving east two weeks before the wedding with no real reason to return and nothing really to do. This left me with something that I simply cannot stand for, free time.

In order to combat this free time I began making plans, deciding that I was going to need to embark on an epic roadtrip full of family, friends and personal reflection prior to embarking on an even more epic journey of life with my beautiful bride-to-be.

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So, here I am in Tallahassee, Florida. In the living room of some strangers apartment with a little time to kill before I really hit the sack and I think to myself, “I’ve been putting off blogging for way too long. I need to catch up.” Instead of convincing myself to do other things, like look at my favorite websites instead, I’m actually going to do it.

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Alright, I’m sad to say, but I let this work schedule get the best of me.  Over the past couple days, I have become more and more frustrated with my situation.  During the day, I complain about having to go to work, when I’m there, I complain about being at work, and when it gets closer to the morning, I complain about wanting to go home.  I walk around like a zombie most of the time and have found that I am disinterested by everything and not motivated by anything.  BUT – that all changes tonight!  I’m going to look on the bright side of things…after all, Michael doesn’t call me sunshine for nothing!

I emailed my complaints to my future mother-in-law last night.  I told her how I have been struggling lately and, as always, she came back with lots of helpful advice.

I hope you can find some line of thought that will motivate you.  Maybe just meditating on gratitude and all the blessings in your life.  That sounds kind of syrupy but I am amazed when I see how incredibly blessed your whole family is…how loving they are and how they miss you. And all your friends–you are a treasure to them…and then there is Michael…. That is a gift.

And she’s completely right.  So, tonight, I’ve decided to focus my attention on the blessings in my life.  For example, a few nights ago, I asked Kirby to post some pictures of our two puppies at home because I knew that would bring me joy, happiness, and laughter, as it always does.  Within 24 hours, she had taken 137 (!) photos of the pups (and some of herself) for me and posted them all on facebook in an album titled “dog pictures (just for you, kendall)”.  It really made me happy that night, but more importantly, Michael pointed out – what a great sister.  He commented this on the album, which I also found funny because he had to clarify to Kirby that this was a serious comment, due to the typically sarcastic nature of their relationship with each other.

This past weekend, Michael and I had a bunch of really awesome friends from the Carolina Ultimate team come for a visit to play in the Mardi Gras Tournament.  Michael was able to play on one of the teams and I was able to come out and watch most of the games.  I know Michael really enjoyed getting a chance to run around and play some ultimate, and we also enjoyed spending time with these great friends.  It was also great for me to spend some time in the sunshine!  You’ll have to get Michael to fill you in on all the ultimate details, as I sat around and enjoyed my time on the sidelines chatting with the girls about non-ultimate things, and occasionally cheering for the Jambalayout and Jambalegend (as the two teams were called).  And as bad as it threw off my sleep schedule (aka I did not sleep at all during the day), it was a refreshing break for me from the monotony of the past month and a half.  Here are some pictures from the weekend to show just how much fun we had.

In other exciting news, I was given one night off this past Monday night.  It was perfectly situated to give me and Michael time to relax after a busy weekend, as well as a chance to celebrate Valentine’s Day only a day late.  And boy, what a valentine Michael was to me!  I came home from work Monday morning and crawled into bed to get some much needed rest.  I was pleasantly awoken the next day(morning?) to breakfast in bed made by Michael, served on a red heart shaped plate with a rose!  After lounging around and watching movies for a couple hours, we then took a nap until 6 pm that night, waking up just in time for a dinner date.  The date was only slightly interrupted by a crazy roommate (another story for another time), and then we were off to P. F. Changs for dinner.  All in all, it was an enjoyable and much needed night off.

Finally turnaround is approaching the end.  I can see the light, and pretty soon I’ll be seeing the daylight too!  I’ll be done March 3rd, and I’m excited to get back on a normal schedule and spend time with people I love again.  And what a better way to do that than to fly home to spend a weekend with my family?  It will be a very exciting weekend for me because I am finally getting to try on my wedding dress for the first time since I bought it, and this time my mom and maybe my sister(s) will be there to see it!  I will also get to see Kirby in her (and any other Williamson girl’s) first school pageant.  I’m excited for her, and can’t wait to see her all gussied up.  In general, I just can’t wait to see my entire family…it’s been too long.  The one sad thing about this weekend is that I will not be spending time with Michael on my first weekend off from turnaround.  Butttt, I suppose we will have our time very shortly and lots of it come May 29th.  (Please come soon!!!)

I’ll leave you with this scripture that Mrs. Aguilar gave me to meditate on, which will give me strength and comfort for the next two weeks.

Colossians 3:17  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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This is what my backyard looked like this morning. As you can imagine, I am supremely upset about this.

If you didn’t already know this about me, I’ll tell you now. I’m a warm weather person. I don’t like anything about the cold, I don’t think that it brings anything to the table. I have been skiing numerous times and I have enjoyed it. However, I maintain that my life would have been a better place had I never had the occasion to see, touch or feel snow.

Skiing and/or sledding, which really can be combined into one category: Careening Downhill on an Uncontrollable Platform, are the only things that can be done in the cold and not done in the warm. To me, cold weather is simply useless.

Anyway, it seems that the Snowpocalypse/Snowmagedden/Unusually Large Snowstorm has passed and through the parting clouds is coming a great light. Next week is Mardi Gras and that means that this week is The Mardi Gras Ultimate Tournament. (I tried to warn you about the frequency of Ultimate frisbee on this blog.) Not only does Mardi Gras bring Ultimate, but Ultimate brings friends.

Mardi Gras 2009's South Carolina Alumni team.

Where there is great Ultimate being played, some member of South Carolina’s Ultimate program is not too far away. We played in this tournament last year with a ragtag group and had an absolute blast. So much of a blast that it has become quite legendary in USC lore. Also, so much of a blast that the powers that be decided to make this USC’s official alumni tournament.

Needless to say we have a little bit more interest and this year we are fielding two teams with a total of over 30 people attending. To be completely honest, I’m like a kid on the night before Christmas. I get like this before Ultimate tournaments in general but this is certainly no exception as the bog, muck and mire of turnaround has started to wear on Kendall and I. This weekend is certainly going to break up that tediousness like Yoko broke up The Beatles.

There are a cast of characters like you wouldn’t believe and they are headed my way as I type these words. I couldn’t be more excited. I’ll have the full report for you on Monday.

This is what I feel like on the inside right now:

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In case you can’t tell from the photo, the tournament, and the rest of this weekend was a blast.

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