My team won the Kalamazoo Ultimate Disc League Championship in 2010, the league's fifth year of existence.
Though I have I have featured Ultimate shirts four times so far in this blog's history (T-shirt #56, KUDL 2009; T-shirt #58, Grey Area; T-shirt #59: KUDL 2007, and T-shirt #60, MUSL 2007), and though one of those (Team Venom, T-shirt #60) won a championship, and though I have been on a few teams that have won Ultimate accolades (my team won the first ever Huckfest in 36 degree temps, sleet, and winds of 25-30 MPH), I am most proud of this win as the KUDL champions of 2010.
I knew we had a good team from the start of the season. I had a great draft, picking Andy "Big" Momotiuk with my first pick. I was lucky enough to also draft a lineup of players that would prove to play well. Though we did not dominate the regular season, we won the tournament. Our "all-star" lineup: Paul Abueva, Chris Carew, Brian Finch, Jeff Fingas, Hether Frayer, Arik Lentz, Maggie McKinney, Andy Momotiuk, Merrill Murphy, Tom Owen, Eric Parker, Lisa Phillips, Michael Serota, Piper Simons, Sarah Spruit, Chris Tower, and Ben VanGelderen. ** Karli Silverman
Though Maggie and Eric would drop after week one, the rest of the team hung together and played together.
Because we lost a woman draft pick, we picked up Karli Silverman, who had her best year playing Ultimate with our team! Despite our good lineup, we went into the tournament seeded third overall and second in the B pool out of ten teams. We managed to win our pool, beating the Crimson team (number two seed and number one in our pool) in a tough, hard fought game at the end of pool play. We won through quarters and semis to meet Nickel, the number one seed overall, in the finals. Lisa Phillips turned in an MVP style performance catching seven of our goals in the Finals. Our team out played Nickel, though it was hardly easy. The Nickel team was very good and much respect is owed to them.
I remember trying to find the words for a halftime pep talk to my team. Though I do not consider myself a dominant player and great strategist as a captain, I do consider myself good with many other captaining tasks, such as team spirit, team communication, and managing people's playing time. I tried to make a short speech to keep the troops rallied. We were leading at half, and it looked like we might win the tournament, but the win was not yet in the bag. As I tried to talk, I became overwhelmed with emotion, too choked up to speak. I started to cry. My heart was full. I loved each and every person on this team, and I wanted to thank them for playing hard and making 2010 my best summer league ever. But I couldn't find the words.
I felt transported back to the playgrounds and gym classes of my youth, when I was the last one picked to be on a team, or when the teacher would have to force a team to take me. I was an awkward boy and struggled with coordination. I did not have much strength, especially in the upper body. I lacked confidence and did not have the friends to support me and practice for better ability to compete in sports. If I had walked a different path, I might have played Little League, played high school Baseball, maybe even played college ball. But sports were not part of my childhood skill set. I discovered Ultimate as an adult at the age of 22, by which time I had gained enough coordination and self-confidence to be passably good. I also had the friends to encourage me and support me, even when I made mistakes or showed that I was far from a top-notch athlete or a dominant, game-changing player.
And so, on those fields, in the hot sun, on that day in August of 2010, I could not speak the words in my heart. My teammates realized how I was feeling, and how much it meant to me to win this league, and our cheer at half time was "Win for Tower." I have never been more proud of a moment in my history of playing Ultimate (nearly 30 years).
My team won the league championship. Everyone played a role and contributed to the win, and though we were tested by a strong Nickel team filled with excellent players and good athletes, we managed to do the little bit extra that resulted in our winning.
I have always insisted on trophies and keepsakes for the league. In 2010, in an effort to save money, and because other people are not as fond of medals as I am, we did not have any made for a trophy presentation at the fields following our win. I had these medals made later and distributed them to our players.
Our team in 2010 was called COOL PATROL, named after a toy truck that some child left many years ago in the chair I carry to the fields. The truck bears the label: "Cool Patrol." I had suggested the name many times for teams, and this was the first group of people to embrace it.
We were indeed the COOL PATROL.
We were indeed the COOL PATROL.
Though we now have an official KUDL trophy on which my teammates' names are all inscribed (much like the Stanley Cup), it's the makeshift, crappy, gold-painted, flower pot trophy that our KUDL founders all covet, with its stick-on letters from our first year as a league when we called ourselves KUSS (2006). Pictures of our current KUDL trophy, the old KUSS Kup, and this year's 2013 KUDL logo are featured in today's blog entry.
Today, Monday June 3rd, we launch the eighth year of our Kalamazoo Ultimate Disc League (KUDL) with ten teams for only the third time in our league history. Though we have a large number of players registered this year, we are still trying to recruit more for the future, especially women players as we like to maintain a gender ratio of at least 5-2 (five men/two women) if not 4-3 on the field at any time.
After the jump break, some shout outs to the Cool Patrol team, and a historical record of the KUDL winners thus far.