Winter warm-up. The mere utterance under any circumstance puts you at a gratified ease. If you’ve ever done a winter sport or lived anywhere north of say, West Palm Beach you know exactly what I’m talking about. The satisfaction of escaping the short, dreary days of Old Man Winter for sunshine, heat, and if you’re part of the ultimate community, probably tank tops. I’m thinking blue-bird skies overhead and white sandy beaches under foot. Sound good? It’s only the beginning of a laundry list of reasons to check out the season’s best way to escape.
Lei-Out in Santa Monica, CA has everything you loved about the previous paragraph and predictably more. It takes a couple reps before you really get something down, and this year the TDs really knocked it out of the sand. With the help of great weather all weekend long, Lei-Out created a two-day atmosphere of awesome.
The New Year’s Eve hangover is finally fading after what has seemed like months. The blistering cold has kept it inside you like a sealed mason jar and all you can do to keep warm is dream of summertime. With the summer comes more frisbee opportunities. And in order to take full advantage of those opportunities you have to be prepared, so you need to start doing something, and fast.
The club season is far too distant in the future to begin sport specific training regimens and workouts. Just something that will get your feet back under you while being distracted by fun sounds about right. Lei-Out offers this with their unique January tournament time slot. With temperatures typically in the 70’s Fahrenheit (21C) during that time of the year, it’s heaven on Earth. This year was especially epic weather at 75 degrees, sun, no wind, and no clouds. Sunglass tans in the winter are always in style.
I could go on for pages about how the players are all so friendly and goofy, and a tight knit group, but you know all that. Probably because you’re part of the community, or know people who are and they fit into any of those descriptions. But it’s the competition that sets Lei-Out apart from the multitude of other “fun” tournaments. Having the tournament during the off-season means that those who normally would have other ultimate obligations or tournaments can come and experience the crazy. So you’ll see them out there, “Pro” Open, Women, and Coed players scattered amongst teams, showing off guns in their tank tops like everyone else. Many of the players in the A Bracket semis and finals are the same as in the semis and finals at the USAU Championships in October. And on the NexGen highlights. And in AUDL/MLU. And it’s not just A Bracket, either. With 184 teams, the talent pool is 2500+ people strong.
The Lei-Out A-bracket final pitted team Thrift Shop (Seattle plus), followed closely in tow by their massive wardrobe, against team Sportscenter (Long Beach, CA) and all their quick-witted, one-liners. The excitement on Santa Monica Beach was palpable, or maybe that was just the sand, as frisbee fans lined all sides of the finals field on the sunny Sunday afternoon. Onlookers from near and far stopped and watched the high flying, fast paced action. And they were not disappointed.
Sportscenter got up two early breaks, faster than Stuart Scott could quote Jay-Z, with highlight D’s that would make for a great 7 minute special interest piece.
“Our opponents got breaks because we looked deep a bit more often than we needed to,” explained Thrift Shopper Tyler Kinley.
After a weekend of chemistry, the Sportscenter offense clicked in a way that would make even Magic excitedly stumble over the English language. But Thrift Shop struck back with decisive, dominating points from their women…wearing men’s clothing. Great handling, and hands, from both genders (though admittedly hard to decipher at times), kept them in striking distance. The game remained close throughout the first half, Thrift Shop closing the gap to three at halftime — despite countless cunning costume changes by the crafty captains.
Then everything took a turn for the worse for the cross-dressing finalists. Great play, chilly offense, and sand-only sized bids from both teams continued, but secretly the mental game plan of the frugal frisbee-ers was flawed.
“Our finals loss was unarguably the direct result of our misleading halftime speech, delivered by none other than Jack Marsh,” noted Thrifter Rohre Titcomb.
Mere jest? Perhaps. But all jest is born in a shadow of truth. Take Titcomb’s blame with a grain of salt, however, citing in the same breath teammate Octavia Payne’s “constantly gyrating hips” as an equally likely excuse.
Though always competitive, the win for Sportscenter was never truly in doubt. Big skies from Jacob Richard Baumer midway through the 2nd half went on to solidify the win for the beach-wide leaders in ultimate. A well executed deep cut on the final point from Trevor Smith sealed the fate of the 99-(per)centers.
“It was clear they knew what their strengths were and their timing far better than we did. I’ll be the first to admit they played very, very well,” conceded Kinley. Humble in clothing price, humble in defeat.
In the end, Sportscenter made it look almost clinical, but that’s to be expected when you call yourself the worldwide leader. Now they can also call themselves Lei-Out champions.
The Party (Parties)
This piece finally fit into the Lei-Out tournament puzzle for the first time in 2013. Up until this year, Sunday tales of long lines, at capacity clubs, and drunken bar hopping by quite-literally thousands of people were commonplace. And somewhat of a downer. No longer! Lei-Out 2013 consisted of not 1, but 3 parties on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.
The Friday pre-party and Sunday post-tournament party we both at Rusty’s Surf Ranch on the picturesque Santa Monica Pier. Flanking the beach where games are played makes for easy access alongside gorgeous scenery. Friday kicked the weekend off in style under the lights of the Pier. While they stopped letting more people in around midnight, the dance party pounded until, well Monday, really.
Saturday night’s soiree took place at a warehouse in the 3rd Street Promenade mall. Even typing that feels sketchy. But it worked because of the sheer size of the tournament, and maybe because no one really cares where the party is. The space was huge, fitting hundreds of players with plenty of room to spare and plenty of room for something ridiculous like 7 different bars set up inside. This meant no monster line out the door or at the bar. No shoulder-to-shoulder cramped dive bar mishaps which left people smelling less like spilled beer than what is typical. And of course, a raging dance party.
This year, Sunday on the fields and Monday back at work were filled with stories that sounded somewhat similar. Similar because all were experiencing it together.
Feature photo by Alex Fraser – UltiPhotos.com.