Set in a town where bright lights fill the night sky and hide the real stars, Trouble in Vegas is a unique ultimate experience; the TDs provide the tournament and the city supplies the mischief. Don’t bring your hopes and dreams to Vegas, you’ll just gamble them away. Instead, commandeer a thrift shop suit and take on the façade of a high rolling corporate fat cat. Manholes and desert sands make the fields treacherous for bidding, so you’ll want to save your layouts for the hotel room. I don’t know who won the tournament, but I do know who won the party, and in Vegas, that’s all that matters. By sunset on Sunday I was happy to leave the city of sin and return to the norms of reality. Some parts of the weekend I’ll never forget, other parts I’ll never remember. One thing remains true though: what happens in Vegas, goes on Facebook.
If you wanted to be popular in university in Ireland, playing ultimate was one huge step in the opposite direction. The rugby and Gaelic football teams jeered at us as we trained on the most meager pitches our college had to offer. For this reason, I felt extremely proud to be on my university team. Every player had the courage to ignore the social status and just love the sport in its truest form. Training with the Santa Cruz Slugs has been a breath of fresh air. The team is, dare I say it, cool on campus, a reputation they absolutely deserve. Without a real club team, I was worried it would be hard to find an ultimate base in Santa Cruz, but twice a week I was able to drive to the top of Slug mountain, where the UC’s finest welcomed me into their family. With Daryl Nounnan as head coach and chief heckler, my time was well spent above Monterrey Bay. The team never made it to nationals, but they did make some friends for life.
Now, onto some cultural observations. After six months in this country, there are still some things that puzzle me:
1. Americans love flags, they just love ’em. Towns are covered with the red, white and blue (as if people might forget what country they are in). Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good flag just as much as the next man but I think the word overkill would be an understatement.
2. Along with the gratuitous flag faction, the land of the free have enough water in their toilet bowls to start an aquarium. A quick fix for the California drought would be to reduce the water used in toilet bowls to a level you can no longer wash a pony in.
3. Celsius and Kelvin make sense to me, their units are workable and their scales justified. Up until now, I had no idea what Franky Fahrenheit was smoking when he came up with his ridiculous system but I have finally applied some logic to his madness. While 100 degrees Celsius is the temperature water boils, 100 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature at which ginger people melt. I recently discovered this at a farmers market I worked at in Silicon Valley, one of the many odd jobs I have been doing to keep the van rolling and food in my belly.
Spring is tryout season stateside and impressing during tryouts is something I’ve never been good at. With that in mind, here are some terrible tips for trying out: get drunk the night before. I feel you should always keep to your normal routine before a big event. I usually play ultimate with a hangover, so why change? Mark the rookie. Usually after a few drills, you’ll have some scrimmages. At this stage you should have identified the weak links and cunningly lined yourself up against them to rain on their parade. If you don’t spot any obvious greenhorn, then you’re probably it. If you’re gunning for a mixed team, then be prepared to put your relationship status on the line. Many mixed teams consist of good players and their not so good spouses. So if you can huck like a hero but have the face only a mother could love, use your skills to win over a dashing dilettante. Or perhaps you are at the other end of the spectrum, you can melt hearts but you can’t break marks. Then just find some talented goblin to drag you into a squad and hopefully your offspring will get the best of both.
After I compete at Cal States, I plan to break free from the comfortable clutches of the Californian lifestyle to begin a mammoth road trip to pursue my ultimate dreams. Poultry Days and Potlatch are next on my list, along with whatever else I can find in between. I plan to cover over 5000 miles in the next 30 days. Not such an easy task for a ginger man and his thousand dollar van, but hey, what would Christopher McCandless do?