Inside Breaks: “There Can Only Be One”
I’ve never played on a regional contender when there was only one bid to Nationals. Come to think of it, I’ve never played in a one-bid region at all. Both will change for me in a week and a half at Mid-Atlantic Open Regionals when Truck Stop heads into Poolesville, Maryland to battle Oakland and Southpaw for the product of our collective regular season effort: the sole bid to Sarasota.
Thinking about it yesterday reminded me of one of Hector’s old posts about Wisconsin and Carleton in 2006: Central Regionals 2006 Parts 1, 2, and 3. The summer after my freshman year of college, Process of Illumination teamed with rec.sport.disc. to let me know that there was an entire world of ultimate beyond the Blue Ridge Section, and every once in a while I’ll have an aha! moment that triggers a recall of his writing and, in turn, a greater understanding of what I read years ago. The entirety of the past three weeks has been one of those moments.
Two men enter, one man leaves. There can be only one.
In our case, three men are entering, but still. While whatever situation we find ourselves in won’t have the history of Wisconsin-Carleton (Truck has only been around 7 years, Southpaw 3, and Oakland 2), it still comes down to the same brutal reality: only one team is coming out of this.
Huge foul call, huge ruling by the observer. Bad form on those two CUT players for not chasing down the disc like their season depended on it. It did.
Maybe the players he was talking about saw the situation differently. Who knows. But nobody wants to leave any field with even an iota of suspicion that they could have hustled more; the stakes at hand make this truth glaringly obvious, and the recent spike in intensity at practice and workouts cement it.
Mamabird rushes to celebrate, and the camera zooms out to capture the big picture. There, a less detailed eye might miss him, is Ryan Carrington. The heart and voice of the Hodags for three years walks towards the camera and his teammates holding his head in his hand and tries to stop himself from losing it.
But having been there, I tell you on the other side of the field those exact same embraces were taking place by teammates who loved each other no less but were enveloped by different emotion. Someone had to go home.
Come Sunday afternoon, various players in Poolesville will be sitting on various spots on the spectrum between jubilation and despair. Yacine Barra’s recent piece on ultimate players’ shared but secret identities was well-received because, as he notes trying to do, it tapped into the universality of our sport. I love that ultimate is a gateway to feelings that we all share. The beauty of why we play this game is waiting for all of us at Mid-Atlantic Regionals.
Photo via Process of Illumination