Another great fall beach league is in the books. We grew this year to 20 teams, after being stuck at 18 for the last few. Thanks to all of you who played, because you are what makes this league great. I asked a few captains to write short recaps. Charlie Mullins captained the Free Agent Team (aka Irish Wristwatch Washers), James Renfroe co-captained Mile High Club in the B division (winning their 9th, or something close to that, B division title), and Evan Valdés captained Dune Squad, leading them to their 4th straight League title (a Beach League record)
Charlie Mullins, Irish Wristwatch Washers, B division
I had decided to sign up as a Free Agent for the 2017 Beach League (first one on the list!) because I just didn’t want to manage a team this time–I just wanted to play. But no one called me, the Free Agent list grew, and I finally decided, to heck with it! I’m emailing these Agents and making a team! And I’m glad I did.
Our first day, we changed our name from “Free Agents” to Irish Wristwatch Washers. And what a worthy name it was, with players ranging in age from 17 – 64, players new to the game and wily veterans, and lots of positive energy flowing around. We had speed, skills, and heart, and each week we had a different lineup. Yet, week to week, we learned what each other could do and how to trust our abilities enough to play as hard as we could, knowing that we could all count on support from our team mates.
Finally, on tournament day, the Irish Wristwatch Washers did something I wasn’t sure they could do — break seed and stay in the upper bracket. Somehow, in the opening half of our first game on that final day, everything clicked. Passes connected, defenses were confident, big plays were the norm. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that tenacity and spirit would grow over the weeks to finally culminate in my favorite League game in five years. Way to go, team!
James Renfroe, Mile High Club, B division
Mile High Club experienced their normal ups and downs throughout the season suffering some pretty spectacular losses. Going into the tournament there were some looming questions about how the day would go. With a challenging first game against Fat Unicorn, MHC’s chances of landing in the finals was in serious doubt and after what was a brutal first half it seemed Mile High was going to nose dive right off the tarmac. With FU taking half 7-3 things we’re looking particularly dire. But with Erick and James captaining this kamikaze plane, and with more than a little help from our nasty band of flight attendants we were able to pull out of the nose dive and fly off with a 13-11 victory.
For me, this game highlights some of what’s truly great about the sport of ultimate. There were some really great plays made on both sides which captures the athleticism required to play this sport. There were some questionable calls and a few responses some might call aggressive but with a second half timeout for a spirit circle and a reminder that we play this sport not only for the joy of competition but because of the spirit behind the game. Spirit of the game is what separates this sport from many others and it’s when it’s fully embraced that you find yourself playing some of your best ultimate. It was a game that challenged all players both in body and spirit and it’s a game I’m happy to have played. And even happier to have won.
Having found our cruising altitude we flew into our next two games with our engines pumping. There were some sick catches by our ladies. A handful of great D’s by our dudes. And as if the gods were shining down upon us, James and Erick both managed to making leaping catches they had no right making. There was a rumor that their feet even left the ground. I know, hard to believe. These last two games felt a lot closer than the scores suggested. The play on both sides was spirited and we completed a beautiful day of LA beach ultimate with smiles, laughter and more than a few hugs.
Shout out to Goat for another great season, we couldn’t do it without you. Thanks for bringing us all together for some fun in the sun.
(Goat’s note: MHC beat Astronaughty in the semi-finals, and top ranked Tree House in the finals – I should, but don’t know the scores of those games)
Evan Valdés, Dune Squad, A division
Dune Squad (15-1) met Bad & Boujie (12-4) in the finals of the A-Division 2017 Beach League. Bad & Boujie won the flip and chose color, breaking the 3.9-year streak of Dune Squad wearing black tanks. Russell Gaskamp was prepared and surprised the team with our fresh new whites! Dune Squad started off the game with a couple breaks. Alexa Cohen led the team to an initial 7-3 run to take half.
B&B was already short on ladies during the tournament, only having 4 playing that day. During the first half, they lost Radish to injury and were left with 3 ladies (Stephanie Pritchard, Annie Ngo, Lindsey Newman). Despite the low numbers, B&B came out even stronger in the second half with a run of their own – highlighted by a Stephanie Pritchard 2 pointer, to take the lead 11-10.
Dune Squad would not give up, however – Evan Valdes came up with a huge layout D on the B&B end zone line, and Dune Squad scored to tie at 11s. The next point, Sharon Tseng wowed the sidelines with a monster defensive sky.