Since moving to Melbourne, I’ve joined up with the Heads of State ultimate club. It’s a wild crowd of young guys who work hard at ultimate and often play harder afterwards. I made it onto the club’s second team, Heads of State White, as both a player and co-vice captain. We just finished our 2014 season off by competing at the Australian Ultimate Championships near Penrith. It was a four-day tournament over the ANZAC holiday weekend and by the end of it, I was very pleased that past me decided to book the Monday off work to recover.
Both Heads of State teams competing at AUC (the first team, Heads of State Burgundy; and the second team, Heads of State White) arrived in Sydney on Wednesday, April 23rd. Then, our group of about 40 rowdy guys piled into a fleet of hire cars and set off in convoy towards our accommodation. What came next was about an hour of loud road-trip music, banter, and highway shenanigans, before we finally arrived at our accommodation in what seemed like the middle of fucking nowhere. We had nearly booked out the entire place, which consisted of 18 rooms on top of a large country pub. There was even a KFC about 40 metres from the entrance. You could say it was perfect.
The first day was rough for us, as our initial pool contained 2 of the best teams in the country. We went down 15-9 to Phat Chilly, 15-8 to French, and 15-5 to Colony Pillage. Despite not winning a game on day 1, there were plenty of positives. We put up a great fight against every team, had our best result against Phat Chilly all season, and managed to get 5 points on Colony Pillage, who would go on to win the tournament.
The second day brought games that were closer to our ability. We were a rather new team to the national level, with a lot of our players having their first taste of AUC. It was good to get some experience against slightly lower-seeded teams and the games felt a lot better on the field. We had a close match against Hot Chilly, but ended up losing 15-12 in the end. We then played Magon, who had made the trip over from Auckland. Despite the final score being 14-3 in their favour, it felt a lot closer on the field. It was a very tight, intense game, but they were just able to convert more of their opportunities into points than we were.
On the third day, we had our first chance for glory. After going down 15-6 against Sublime first up, we had a game against Magnum to close out the day. This match was about as tight as they come, and came down to a 11-11 scoreline in a game to 12. Unfortunately, we were unable to convert our opportunities into that precious final goal, and we ended up losing the match 11-12. We had plenty of bright moments during that game, but it was hard to shake the feeling that we came so close to winning our first match, only to have it slip from our fingers.
The fourth and final day brought our last game. We were to play off against DUFF for 15th/16th place. It was a pretty good repeat of the previous day’s game against Magnum. After another hard-fought match, we ended up at 11-11 in a game to 12. We came out on defense in that last point and were unfortunately unable to force the other team to turn it over. They scored the final goal, leaving us with a winless record.
The weekend may have ended on a disappointing note, but I’ve had time to deal with that. Looking back on the tournament, HoS White had an outstanding weekend. We were mostly made up of players who had never attended division 1 nationals before, as well as some who had never played an open season before. We managed to take a group of players from a wide range of fitness and ability at the start of the season and turn them into a team that not only competed at AUC, but put up great fights against some of the best teams in the country (as well as one from outside the country).
Yeah, sure, part of me wishes we’d won either of those last 2 games. Part of me wishes we didn’t come in last place. But I don’t care. I play this game for the losses, because now I have a bunch of stuff to improve on to make myself an even better player. I play this game for weekends away with the boys, playing frisbee during the day, hanging out during the night, and bantering and heckling our way through all of it. I play this game for hanging out with old friends at tournaments, or the friends I only ever see at tournaments. I play this game for the competition, as well as the constant drive toward self-improvement.
I wouldn’t trade it for anything.