This is it! The end is nigh! Winter League 2022 is almost wrapped! To kick off our last week of recaps, we have Colin Whitman of Rooks covering their last game of the regular season against Plenty of Boba in the Tea. And as you can see by the score above, it really came down to the wire!
What. An. Insane. Night.
Firstly, most importantly, and importantly paramount: Plenty of Boba in the Tea deserves all the credit for tonight. For their spirit, for their patience, and for their spirit again. None of this would have been possible without them, so whatever description follows is just a fraction of the grace they showed us all night. So regardless of any score, the victory ultimately belongs to them.
Cheers, golf claps, and a heartfelt Thank You, again. Without further adieu, the recap:
Pasadena. It’s far. Rooks is a Valley/Hollywood based team and we’ve only played east of the 101 once before. So, I had my doubts as to how timely this game would get started. And additionally, our team is dealing with an invasive series of injuries and requested Subs, but it doesn’t sound like we have any subs coming tonight.
Alana texts, she’s going to be late. Welp, shit, looks like I better leave work early. ETA 8:07pm. Gametime: 8pm. Awesome start.
8pm. Text. Alana. “We have 2×2 rn” She’s already there. Numbers are already low. “gross.” But there’s still ultimate time, maybe a little song and dance will buy us time.
I finally figure out where to park, and head onto the field. One game is already in full swing already. I admire the promptness. I admire reasonable working hours. I admire two full teams battling it out. I look over to our field, a third team. Fully kitted and color-coordinated, in throwing lines. Then I look at the 4 poor souls on our sideline, and my heart sinks.
Yes, we have 5 people. Yes, they are on our team. Yes, they know how to play ultimate and we could try playing a person down, but as luck would have it two of them are suffering from achilles tendinopathy, and another exhausted from St. Pats hat. With the tournament 5 days away, the prospect of playing 6v5(really 4 because of two half players) rightfully wasn’t very appealing to our sideline. But I have a stubborn pride when it comes to accountability. I’ve never not finished a race I’ve started, and I’ve never forfeited a game, and I absolutely 1000% didn’t want that streak to start tonight. But as a captain/coach, you sometimes have to make the adult decisions you don’t want to.
I approached their leaders for the night, and explained the situation, riding the borderline of admitting we needed to forfeit and apologize for wasting their time. They were MORE than accommodating, offering to play softer on us, offering to scrimmage, offering to find something that worked for us. We settled on the idea of playing a half and if it’s absolutely miserable, we’ll end the game and scrim. I beg for 10 more minutes before gametime, then I head back to the team. We talk through the ramifications of the potential decision and the heartbreak of forfeiting. We go through our roster, and we slowly realize that there’s really no hope for anyone to show up and play. So, we agree to play one point 6v5(4), just for my stupid pride and see how it goes.
But wait! Someone enters the field! Wearing black — we’re wearing black, looking athletic — we’re sort of athletic, not carrying a bag? Who doesn’t bring a bag? Nope some random person cheering on the other game. WTF they have two full teams AND fans on the other field?? We can’t even field a line.
We arrange the flip, I try to offer them the choice without flipping for their hospitality, AND again, out of kindness, Boba offers us the choice, no flip — they insist. I pick the nearest endzone to cut down on the moving, and offense, because if we’re playing one point offense seems far less stressful than attempting to cover fully fit cutters.
But wait! another person arrives… wearing purple — we don’t wear purple, carrying a designer purse — we have no style, and looking like she just attended a spa? We definitely don’t attend spas. Well, hope was fun for a minute… wait a second, she’s approaching us …JENI enters the arena. Yeah, that Jeni, recovering from a torn meniscus, who lives near Pasadena, but whatever, we’re not complaining. It’s nice that she showed up to cheer us on.
She pulls out turf shoes… Wait, she actually has turf shoes!
We now have an additional half player. 3 able bodies and 3 severely hindered bodies. But that makes 6, kinda. We’re officially savage. So we give a half a go, with the option to bow out at any time.
8:30pm. First point: the full athletes have to cut. No big deal. Two of them are natural handlers and haven’t cut in years. The half athletes all have to handle and can’t run. Nothing like an immobile handling line made up of all cutters. We swing, we flow, we punch it up the open side for a score. 4 throws. Weird. That kind of worked.
Then we play a zone defense. Fulls in the front and back. Halves in the middle. And it kinda worked until they ripped a deep shot for a beautiful score on the windless night.
Back on offense, Rooks did Rooks stuff and dropped a throw. Boba punishes us.
Back on offense, another silly mistake. Another Boba score.
But then Rooks got their groove. Jeni, Butters and myself, swung the disc and got it upfield as smoothly as we could and let eok, Seal, and Alana flow to the endzone. And I have to be honest, the flow looked really good. Riding the waves of the excitement we kept the energy up and worked on adjusting the defense as best we could. We also worked on our heckling as our natural handlers had to relearn a few things about cutting. But all in all, spirits were high, flow was gorgeous and the throws were dimes. Just absolutely fantastic all around. Credit due to Eok, Alana and Seal. But Boba scored hammer after hammer after hammer.
8:50pm. 4-8 halftime.
Feeling mostly good, we grab water and talk about few zone things and begin to think we may survive an entire game which seems like a victory in itself.
But wait! Someone enters the field. What a handsome sight for sore (but surprisingly refreshed) eyes: Eddie. This ding dong thought the game was at 9, but we could not care less, and get him cleated up. We have 4 full and 3 halves now, the sky’s the limit.
We revise the zone and get to work. Boba marches down and scores, but then Eok, Seal, Alana, and Eddie put on an absolute clinic – with the exception of one declined library card. It’s hard to list highlights because it was just a situation where everyone selflessly worked as one, and everyone shined. Jeni with her throws, swings and straightline “cuts”. Butters providing swings and outlet dump cuts. Alana cutting under, ripping throws, cutting deep for scores. It doesn’t matter who was in whatever position, like a true team everyone just fills whatever spot is needed at the time. And my spot is on the bench, “helping out the defense”. Which started generating turns, thanks to the tireless cup, the smart placements of the mids, and Eddie as deep deep. Boba tested it a few times, but Eddie earned that library card again.
And out of these turns, from the fatigued legs, from the injured legs, we learn and implement the words “value” and patience. We take high percentage throws, make clean cuts, and score breaks? Some of the best ultimate I’ve ever seen from Rooks.
12-12. What is happening? Is Boba playing soft? Are they trying out alternative schemes/throws? Are we just playing a very smooth game? Who the hell cares. This is fun. This is exciting. This is… unexpected. No one has time to think, no one has time to relax, just full focus for an entire game… and it’s working.
A few unfortunate mistakes and tired throws, lead to 12-14. Gamepoint. It was fun while it lasted. As a perennial low standing team, victories or near victories are somewhat rare to come by, so they’re always enjoyable when they do come around.
Rooks march it up the field. 13-14. Despite the fatigue, a determination.
The zone locks in and Boba tries a huck to the back corner. Eddie’s smothers it. Rooks march again, legs heavy as lead.
14-14. Heavy breathing. Panting. Lactic acid.
Boba receives and begins the old cat and mouse game that has developed. Our zone versus their handles. The cup runs themselves into the ground. A couple turns. Boba finally punches it in.
Rooks start marching upfield, but a minor error generates a turn. Before the defense can set, Boba finds the winner on the break side.
20 minute first half. Over an hour for the second… insane.
Again, Boba deserves all the credit in the world for their spirit and hospitality. Without them this would have never been possible. On the other hand, I’ve never seen such a complete, hard fought, smooth game from the Rooks- improvising, adapting, and overcoming. Absolutely outstanding work from everyone. Rest up, ice up, heal up. We have a tournament in 4 days.
Oh and on that note, we need subs for the tournament. I think somewhere 3-6 for each gender will do….
Boba’s recaps have sounded like they’re a really fun team to play against, and I’m so glad to hear it coming from an opposing team too! Do we have a Most Spirited Team award? I’m nominating Boba!