Through Irish Eyes

by | January 24, 2014, 6:00am 16

Arriving in Santa Monica

My name is Liam Grant, and I’m a tall ginger ultimate player from Ireland. Last month, I decided to sell my surf school on the West coast of Ireland and travel the USA on a one year work visa. I have only one ambition for my adventure: to do something worth remembering.

I purposefully planned my debut stateside to coincide with Lei Out in Santa Monica, and thanks to my bro Tim Morrill, I wiggled my way onto his team in the elite division. Upon my arrival, I noticed that most of California smells like marijuana and burritos. Not coincidentally, this also tends to be the diet of most Cali kids. It wasn’t long before I was reintroduced to my arch nemesis, the sun. I have managed to avoid his harmful rays pretty successfully so far, with only my lips and eyelids falling victim to his cancerous glow. Unfortunately, I was gifted with debilitatingly pale Irish skin, but on this continent, my accent more than makes up for it.

Hiding The Biscuit

Hiding The Biscuit

I have never been good at estimating numbers, but I’m pretty sure there was a million billion people in attendance at Lei Out. My team #humiliswag embraced me with open arms. They taught me how to cross the road and I taught them how to play hide the biscuit. I’m still rather unsure what biscuits and cookies are over here on this side of the ocean, but I sure do know how to hide ’em amidst ultimate players’ genitalia. Sunday night, I celebrated my birthday by getting kicked out of a karaoke bar for performing the greatest/worst ever (depending on who you ask) rendition of “A Whole New World”.

Before I knew it, the weekend was over. All the ultimate players had evacuated the beach and I found myself rambling the streets of LA with nothing but my luggage and dreams. I crashed at a friend’s house in Orange for a couple of nights where an adolescent feline by the name of “Cat Stevens” felt obliged to keep my face warm any time I attempted to sleep (I’m allergic to cats). The next day, I proceeded to purchase a ’95 Dodge Ram for 1100 dollars off of craigslist.

Jean Claude Ram Van

Jean Claude Ram Van

This will hopefully be the chariot for my entire adventure. She has a big personality, and occasionally you have to give her a little hug before she’ll open her doors. Being from Ireland, driving on the right in an automatic presented me with some new challenges, but nobody has died yet, so I think I’m doing well. A short drive later, and yours truly was in the Frisbee mecca of Santa Barbara. It was was my first night sleeping in the van. It gets a bit nippy here at nighttime, so I have to cocoon myself in Salvation Army swag to keep warm.

Your disc is often your passport to happiness:  Ultimate players look out for one another unlike any other sport I know. I am forever grateful for this. I cruised the UCSB campus with my disc in hand and it wasn’t long before someone flagged my calling card. Several hours later, I was smashing beers with the Black Tide boys at the Frisbee house in Isla Vista. Probably the best place for any college student to live… during the weekends, at least. I don’t know how anyone could study on the sandy shores sprinkled with bikinis and boards. From what I could tell, Isla Vista has the highest percentage of beer pong tables, longboards and STDs of any town on this planet.

Santa Barbara Pickup - Photo by Nathan Field

Santa Barbara Pickup – Photo by Nathan Field

I emerged that morning from my shaggin’ wagon to find myself knee deep in the best pickup game of ultimate I had ever played. Twice a week, the Santa Barbara sands are dusted with current Condors and old school heroes. Usually, pickup games are reserved for tie dye lovers and commitment-phobes , but not in this town. It was a breath of fresh air to play some high quality beach ultimate with the SB crew; hopefully I’ll make it back down for a few more sessions.

Steamer Lane Santa Cruz

Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz has always been on top of my destination list. As I predicted, I was immediately greeted with surf, sunshine and smiles. The city of crusty jugglers and slugs has been dreamy so far. I have been offered enough couches to sleep on to last me the year, and I’m tempted to do it, too. The university team are allowing me to train with them and they’re a lovely bunch. Hopefully I can convince a few of them to embrace beach ultimate. I also had my first taste of frozen yoghurt here. For any Europeans reading, frozen yoghurt is just ice-cream for Americans who want to convince themselves otherwise.

If the rest of my adventure is anything like the first two weeks, I’ll be one happy camper. I’ll be floating around the Santa Cruz and San Francisco area for the next two weeks. Then, Kaimana and Hawaii await in February, followed by some Trouble in Vegas. I’ll probably have to get a job in March to alleviate the risk of deportation, but until then, I’ll be living the American dream.

P.S. I still need a team for Trouble in Vegas, so if anyone has a job for me that involves heckling and playing ultimate, I’ll take it.


Comments Policy: At Skyd, we value all legitimate contributions to the discussion of ultimate. However, please ensure your input is respectful. Hateful, slanderous, or disrespectful comments will be deleted. For grammatical, factual, and typographic errors, instead of leaving a comment, please e-mail our editors directly at editors [at]

  • Tbuck

    Rice yar hahnd if ya read thiss with ya best Iriss accent in yar hehd.

  • Timbro

    He wasn't kidding about the A Whole New World…

    For the record, Liam played very very well at Lei Out and Biscuits are buttery forehands. Settled.

  • sam

    Jaysus. I watched about 10 seconds of that and had to turn it off

  • Royston

    The ginger missile strikes again!

  • I like your breezy writing style. On the other hand, "littered with bikini babes?" Please, curb the sexism. Women (whether wearing bikinis or not) are neither garbage nor babies. I'm looking forward to hearing more about your ultimate adventures.

    • to scatter about

      And Liam, here is another lesson for you to learn in the U.S. – there are many overly sensitive, politically correct, stick-in-the-muds here. Please forgive them and I hope you've come to recognize that we are not all this way.

  • the irish surf?

    "I decided to sell my surf school on the West coast of Ireland…"

    I bet that wasn't an easy sell.

  • guest
  • Sinéad

    If you hit Portland you have a couch up here too….just giz a shout

    • Liam

      Soon Sinéad

  • Partrick Hanrahan

    Great article liam. I look forward to the next instalment

  • Liam, does that mean that this year you will not grace us with your presence at the Monte Gordo Beach Ultimate tournament? The locals will miss you! :-)

    Enjoy your adventure!

  • Liam

    As long as i don't get deported before then, I'm afraid so. The streets of monte gordo will bleed Green next year

  • Oisin

    Great article.. Well done Liam!!

  • Olivia Gleser

    Your ginger charm was a delight to meet here in our "Frisbee mecca with current condors and old school heros". Sweet writings. You're welcome back anytime!

  • Henry

    Very cool article:)-