Skyd is proud to congratulate Jacob Zurawski and Stevens Point Ultimate Frisbee Association in Central Wisconsin for winning our TopScore: Love Your League Contest. Jacob’s winning essay entry “The League that Improved My Character” which recounts his first experiences with Ultimate and the development of SPUFA (we’ve included his entry below).
TopScore will be providing Stevens Point Ultimate with:
- A waived sign up fee ($500 savings) and 2 years of service and support for free.
Plus, Jacob wins:
- 1 year of free registration to any leagues run by your organization via TopScore
- A $50 Spin Ultimate Gift Certificate good toward any online purchase through SpinUltimate.com
Congrats to our winning league and a big thanks to all who entered. We had a great time learning about why you love you league.
Here’s Jacob’s winning entry:
In my time coming up as a kid, I never really jived with the whole team sport thing, or perhaps it was me not jiving with the team sport kind of kids that you inevitably end up playing with. Sure I played flag football at the Y, for all of one morning, losing all heart for when a complete stranger of a coach suggested I run faster, while also using gobs of terminology I didn’t understand. Not sure I could say that it was that experience that left a bad taste in my mouth for team sports, given that my aversion to playing them would last for another decade or so. Hell, I loved watching the Packers, even when the terminology and and technicalities left me staring dumbly. I’d horse around with glee in whatever they threw at us in gym class, even once being the guy who got a completely un-athletic geek of a girl to have a crying breakdown, a fit of defensive rage, upon responding to a simple yet completely emotionally oblivious question like “Why didn’t you go for that?!” It was evident the competitive spark was there, as well as the desire to be active. As a teen I instead I exhibited those urges in the rampant trespassing of neighborhood night games, a good hackey sack session, and the socially relaxed and informal activity aggressive inline skating. Though all of those things could be done in groups, and did encourage socialization, the aspect of a group was not intrinsic to any of them.
So when the time came in junior year of high school Phys. Ed. to select a , team sports seemed a fitting choice. This six week unit was broken up to give us a taste of soccer, flag football, softball, and our beloved Ultimate. Having never heard of it, I was initially skeptical of the utter novelty of it all, while also being heartened by the fact that no one else in my unit, neither geek nor sporto had heard of it either. This had a great leveling effect and that combined with the coaches rule that every team member had to make a catch before a point could be scored, made it the biggest blast of all. The coaches even tried to make some hybrid super sport with multiple soccer balls and a frisbee, and all I remember is being blatantly and intentionally tripped while running at full clip, sending me tumbling, only to get up and and wring my hands around the kid’s neck out of anger, offense and confusion. I was a scrawny scheister, ultimately averse to violence and clueless about fighting, so it’s thankful the coach broke it up rather promptly. Big shout out to Jerry Kasdorf, you wear that whistle well.
Maybe it was the format of this gym unit, allowing such side by side and hands on comparison of the aforementioned sports that helped me gravitate toward the game. I don’t even think they explained self officiation, which was a pity, but still the difference in the gameplay and its tempo was obvious. The downtime of football and softball didn’t jive with my hyperactive self, and soccer seemed to be the sport that rewarded players most highly for the theatrics of a pseudo-foul or un-sportsman-like conduct when the official is out of sight.
For all its fun I wouldn’t play again for a couple of years, until as a young adult, frustrated by the lack of cohesive and healthy fun amongst my friends, I began a phone-tree sort of league. It was a small but surprisingly committed group of friends, most be relatively un-athletic overall. My sedentary lifestyle and budget-diet left my body struggling to keep up, still we ended up playing hours on end something like three times a week in those first years. Early on I’d call each and every player, asking them what time worked best for them and bouncing back and forth between interested parties until deciding the time most suitable. We still didn’t know much about the finer points of the rules or the format of self officiation, but the fact that it was non-contact kept things quite harmonious with rare exception. This would continue for years, eventually being whittled down to playing one day per week. We’d flip the disc like a coin one at a time to determine teams, from there it was hands down the highlight of my week time and again.
At one point a number of years into this, having moved to a new neighborhood, when spring came I decided to take a break from the now refined phone-tree process in favor of another pick-up league that played on the field closest to my new home. I’d still call the core kids, the MLTAP’s if you will (most likely to actually play). It was a sweet relief, calling or texting only the MLTAP’s instead of texting sixty people to get fourteen on field. Once in this new and expanded clique of players I noticed a number couple of things, seemingly contradictory. They played much more casually, taking no special care to mark the end zones, no out of bounds, there was no stall count and they didn’t keep score, ever. When someone would call a foul or try to gripe about someone’s foot placement upon landing, the most experienced players would moan “it’s sociallllll” Yet there were much better players in this group, their cutting habits and skill of disc placement being head and shoulders above those of me and my good old boys. And what’s this, a flick? And it’s not knifing hard to the ground? Whoa… Then there was the lunging pivot and it’s fake outs. Damn. these people would sometimes end up releasing the disc like six feet from my defensive position as I covered them. It seemed like they were saving themselves for something, which was frustrating since that field was my sole venue for a competitive game of Ultimate, and these guys were clearly better than that.
I independently established that these were locals who went away to college, playing intramurals and club, coming back with well practiced tactics to employ at will. Well as summer set in they started throwing around some word, seemingly an acronym, whose meaning I didn’t understand, it was clearly in reference to the game at hand, and they mentioned it with a gleam in their eye, and a tone of reverence, one that I could not decipher to know if they were genuine or mocking. Eventually they made a point to invite us in on the meaning. The Stevens Point Ultimate Frisbee Association was at that point gearing up for its third year. They called it SPUFA. Turns out it that playful reverence can come come off a lot like mocking sarcasm to the uninformed. With nervous hesitation and total excitement me and two of my closest player-pals signed on to what turned out to be the league’s biggest year yet with over sixty player being divided into six teams. I did what I could to help by exploiting some connections at the college radio station to have a promotion made. It was perhaps a rude awakening to truly competitive Ultimate. I quickly had to learn many new terms, strategies such as the force, zone defense, and the inherent shortcomings of the horizontal cut. Rarely did I have the nerve to call a foul out of ignorance for the rules in their entirety. Getting hollered at and corrected by a captain was an initially very unpleasant novelty. Still, it was easily and consistently the best day of my week. Every Thursday for ten weeks I bonded with the gold team and reveled in the after game recounts of our games as we drove the the sponsor bar to redeem our pitchers. I was blown away by the talent and speed of some of these folks, directly inspiring me to achieve a higher state of fitness. The summer flew by and I learned more and met more people that one summer than I had in the whole seven years of playing pick up games with my affinity group in our pick-up league. I was quite bummed to have it end and wondered why there was not a fall league. I poked around about starting one, with the main argument against it being that it wouldn’t be able to compete against the draw of intramural play on campus.
The following season, that being this last summer, same fun, more, players. from sixty some to one-hundred and some. In fact, in the four or five years that SPUFA has been around participation has increased every season. Glad to report I’m adjusting well to the demands of self-officiation. I did a radio promo again, and by the sounds of it, many of the new players were persuaded by that public shout out for players. No flyers, no youtube channel or public access coverage. The website is a dead looking anachronism, yet things work out well enough to have a hoot for the better part of summer. So then, curious human as I am, I can’t help but to wonder how big this thing could be if there actually were flyers and a youtube channel, and public access coverage? Well, we’re about to find out! We’re in the process of choosing officers and having meetings monthly meetings to hash out issues such as how to approach the looming issue of field space as well as how to improve gameplay with things like line markers or chalked lines, observers, and clinics to help players improve not only their athletic game but their knowledge of the rules as well. Then there’s the prospect of more media coverage, to attract more players, all persuasive factors in attracting sponsors who could help cover field costs. It sure seems like like winning the services offered by the Top Score Contest would dovetail nicely with the wholesome and glorious expansion of the game that’s occurring here in central Wisconsin.
Thanks for your time, play on!