Through Irish Eyes

by | January 24, 2014, 6:00am 0

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.


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