Its October in OCMD. The beaches have cleared, the first wave of crisp autumn air has come, and with it the official end of summer.
The change of season triggers a reflection of the past summer. This was a big year for ultimate down here on the shore. What began as a grass pickup game among friends has grown into… an actual league! Just 2 years ago we struggled to get 7 on 7 one day a week, now we have 2 grass pickup games (Berlin and Salisbury), and 2 league games (OC Beach and Fall Berlin) supported by over 30 players. Players can even pick and choose their games: some only play grass, others devoted to the beach, some play all 3 days a week.
I wrote a piece earlier this summer on the International Players who became part of the OCBU family. Adding to that list we had 2 former Salisbury University players come through visiting from Singapore and Latvia respectively.
We also hosted the Boracay Dragons for 2 weeks during their US Tour which included 3 team practices in OC and Assateague, and a couple friendly matches against the top OCBU players. “The sand is the nicest here. This is a real beach,” Dragons Coach Wendell Simbulan praised. This is coming from a team that has played all over the WORLD!
Club and college ultimate players also found their way down to OCBU. We had college players drop in from WVU, UMD, and IUP in Pennsylvania. Some by accident, others knew there was a game before they came on vacation. Several club players from around Maryland came to join in on the action fairly regularly, and some of Boston’s Elite from Ironside and the women’s team Brute Squad.
The most rewarding part of this growth is the handful of locals who started playing ultimate here at OCBU. We were lucky enough to introduce the sport to several high schoolers, and even some post-college folks who are now hooked. I never thought I’d see the day when a college ultimate player will tell his/her teammates “I started playing in OC.” Our game which began as a bunch of ultimate transplants is now beginning our second generation of grassroots players.
August 9-10, 2014 we hosted the FIRST EVER ultimate tournament in Ocean City, the OC Beach Classic. Over 120 players on 11 teams participated in the two day event. Several Maryland teams were represented with other squads coming from New Jersey, Harrisburg, and Pittsburgh. The Boracay Dragons won the inaugural title after beating Humiliswag, an East Coast-based competitive beach ultimate team, 15-12.
Words cannot fully express how huge the first year of this tournament was. The Town of OC was 100% supportive and was excited to not only be introduced to ultimate, but to see a new event in town after years of the same car fests, bike fests, beer fests, and sun fests. Furthermore, in our meeting with the Town Council, we found out that brand new athletic fields are being built and that Worcester County wants to hold more sporting events in the years to come. #grasstournament
Throughout the tournament, people were shocked and very stoked to see beach ultimate in action. Saturdays showcase game was played in front of about 300 people, all boardwalk passersby. I regularly saw people asking a player “what is this?” and that player explaining in a very professional and respectable manner: its beach ultimate. Thank you to the teams who believed in this tournament, played as hard as you did, and made the plays you did. It was personally a dream come true, and great for our sport.
On October 2nd a couple of us gathered for the weekly Thursday pickup beach ultimate game which fell short of numbers: only 4 people. This was a bummer, but as we threw we were greeted by a massive arching double rainbow over the Atlantic Ocean. Looking up at this masterpiece I realized we had played beach ultimate every Thursday from June 5 to September 25: 2 months of league and 2 months of pickup, and this rainbow signaled the end of the 2014 beach ulti season. I remembered every player that had come from far corners of the globe to the beach in Downtown OC knowing they had a game of ultimate here. I wondered who we would meet next summer. I wonder what next year’s “4 months” will look like.