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Hat Tournament

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Glossary: Hat tournament- A type of Ultimate Frisbee tournament where people sign up as individuals. The organizers sort these individuals into teams before the event starts, and these teams play in a bracket like a normal tournament. Organizers nowadays sort players into balanced teams according to skill level, but the name comes from the era when drawing names out of a hat was the most common method of determining teams. Most hat tourneys don’t last eleven hours.


I needed salt. Even though I was drinking water I knew I needed salt to retain it. I had popped some Tums earlier, which made the hamstring cramps go away, but I needed sodium. I grabbed a handful of corn chips and ate them quietly while sipping from my pink water bottle.

The summer afternoon sun beat heavily on all of us. It was five o’clock. Our team slowly formed a circle on the grass after winning our semi-final game, and as I sat down Carl from Illinois gave me a high-five and asked me how I felt. "A little tired," I smiled, "but good." I looked around at our team. Liv from Vermont stretched her calf, while Andy munched an orange.

Seven hours ago, I did not know the names of my teammates. I arrived at 8:00 AM that morning with a few friends for a hat tournament- I quietly read the rosters and met my team, not quite knowing what to expect from the day. Who knew that I would be here, sitting on the grass and resting before the finals?

While we came from different places, we all more or less knew what to do on the field. While I sat I remembered the little things that brought us together in the first few games. The way Carl floated the disc perfectly to Andy to score. That time I bombed a full field forehand to Pat Kelsey, scoring in one throw. How Viraj dove for everything- showing the heart he had for a team he barely knew. And inevitably, after each game, came our smiles from playing a sport we loved.

Months of physical and mental training prepared me well for this day. I moved the disc quickly because I knew where it needed to go. Automatically, I made space for my teammates through effective communication; I discovered that I could indeed throw the disc under my defender's reaching hand. Chasing down an overthrown disc, with my cleats thumping the ground with each step, I executed a well-practiced layout, getting horizontal to grab that white piece of plastic.

So even though I was cramping, drenched in sweat, and pretty badly sunburned, sitting on that grass was lovely. I basked in the quick camaraderie, the sight of hundreds of people tossing frisbees, and the beautiful day. It was just the disc, my team, the sun, the grass, and me, for one of the best eleven hours of my life. The feeling of the summer sun beating on our soaking jerseys was unlike any other. Although we did not win the hat tournament, the pure joy of playing hard that day remains with me today.

As I sit here, reminiscing during the cold New England winter, I smile at the memory of the intense summer heat of that day. The cramps now seemed fun, and I would gladly scrub out the dirt stains on my jersey again if I could. Little things, like the act of drinking water, bring me back to that day where I played eleven hours of ultimate with a team of new friends. Today, I bring my pink water bottle with me wherever I go to remind me of the days of summer Ultimate.





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