Fitbit steps: 21,276 (8.7 miles)
Team fun fact learned: Our Pandemic record for the week was 2-7. (I still don’t know what that game is about so I was not part of said record).
Sad fact: I never had a camel milkshake, nor did I have time to visit the dunes or the indoor skiing.
It’s been almost a week since the USA women won gold in Dubai. I meant to write a wrap-up post much sooner than this, but the jet lag is real.
Matty Tsang always preaches to underanalyze your losses and overanalyze the wins. I usually have a hard time analyzing anything because I can’t remember games once I’ve played them. Even when I come off the field between points, I often can’t tell you what the force was, who was guarding me, what the sidelines or crowd sounded like, which were the important plays.
I’ve seen the footage one and half times so far. The first was Sunday night with the roommates, and the second was earlier this week when my coworkers surprised me by ordering food, decorating my desk, and watching part of the game in the conference room.
So let’s analyze.
Another thing Matty Tsang teaches is that there’s often a pivotal moment in every game, whether it’s a huge d that fires up your teammates, a long hell point that one team wins while leaving their opponents deflated, or something tragic that rattles even the most mentally strong players.
Just like the finals of WUCC in Lecco and the semis of Nationals in Frisco, the pivotal moment in this game was an injury. Sasha Pustovaya is an incredible player. Her composure behind the disc is a calming force to her teammates – that was evident from the first time we played Russia. When she went down, it visibly rattled her teammates. They were stoic as Russians usually are, but they had to continue that point while their rock was carried off the field in pain. They missed some wide open shots in the endzone (including one where my girl burned me to the open side), shots that Sasha would have gladly taken, and in the end they turned it over and we broke to go up 8-7, game to 9.
I’ve been told to remember that injuries are a part of the game. But nevertheless, it bothers me that that’s how that game ended, just like it bothered me in Lecco and in Frisco.
Even more than the gold medal, I’m really proud of my team for winning in sportsmanship. It’s one thing to win games, but it’s a whole other to do so while earning the respect of your opponents. We had several tight games with some frustrating calls for both sides, but the fact that cooler, logical heads were able to prevail is really cool.
Two spirit anecdotes.
In our pool play game against Russia we had one point so long that both teams ended up taking their one time out. After the USA timeout, I walked upfield to set up and the player I had been matched up on the entire point started yelling to her sideline (in Russian) that we had subbed me in without telling them. It’s crazy how sometimes memory works and fails. She was convinced that it was Kristin Franke that had been matched up on her, that there was a stoppage earlier on in the point, that the two of them were chatting, that she clearly remembered the #8 jersey, and that we tried to sneak me in during the timeout. I tried my best to explain to her that I had been there that entire time and that what she had been remembering was the point before, but even after the game she seemed upset about it. I totally get it though — it’s hot, you’re exhausted, one point blends into another. My captains and I ended up bringing her and her captains our sub sheet after the spirit circle in order to show them that there weren’t any subs made.
The second story is from our semis game against Canada. Rohre had a fantastic pull that went partway into their endzone, was bobbled on the catch, and may have been caught with the help of the sand – no one could really see it clearly. None of really knew what to do. A re-do is the way to go in ultimate when you can’t agree, but a re-pull seemed to be a disadvantage to the pulling team. After a very friendly discussion that could have easily gotten heated, both teams agreed that the player would just take the disc where it was bobbled. Canada would retain the possession, but USA would get the keep the deep pull.
To close out, I would like to thank UAE for giving me the only headband that has ever stayed on my head, Five Ultimate for creating the awesome Triton shorts, and for the tournament organizers and volunteers for running maybe the best-run tournament I have ever attended.
SO many kudos – the fields were clearly marked and lined, there were plenty of shade tents at each sideline, the water never ran out and was cold, there was a cooler of ice at every field, games were streamed live and were available almost instantly on-demand, scores were reported point-by-point on the website, each field had a visible scoreboard, and I could on and on. As a player, I can’t stress enough how enjoyable a tournament is when you don’t have to worry about all of the peripheral issues like last minute schedule/field/opponent changes, lack of water, or dirty restrooms. All I had to worry about was showing up and playing, and for that I am very thankful.
And finally, thank you to everyone who followed along.