Summer League: International Perspective

This spring I had the experience of a lifetime when I joined Tim Morrill on the Morrill Performance Asia Tour.  The 6 week trip included stops in Singapore, Perth (Australia), Bali (Indonesia), Manila, and Boracay (Phillipines).  Our mission was to educate Ultimate teams on his Functional Training Model by leading 2 clinics: Strength and Power in the weight room and Speed and Agility on the pitch.  This was the first time I had left the country in 6 years, was my first trip to Asia, and my first Ultimate-related international travel.  I was leaving my Maryland home in Chesapeake Bay Country aka Slower Lower Delaware for the great unknown.

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I ate pig intestine, huge delicious crabs, stayed in a 5 star hotel, and met an amazing community of Ultimate players in bustling Singapore. Benjamin Ho of Ultysports is leading the charge there as he coaches up to 5 teams and organizes several tournaments each year for College and Club.

Sublime Ultimate out of Perth could very well be my long lost brothers as we trained hard, played in the ocean, and grilled on the beach with some local Emu Ales: the perfect day.  Same goes for KAOS, Perth’s women’s team who threw down an awesome Speed and Agility session on a sweltering summer day.  We were there for 3 short days and I cannot wait to return Down Under.

Timbo and I utilized 2-man Beach training drills in Indo and bodysurfed pumping waves for a week of r and r and fresh fruit shakes.  Those sunsets over the Indian Ocean will forever live in my memory, the whole town comes out to the beach for the golden hour. Manila has a mega-city feel and once again we were taken in by the Ultimate players like family.  Our final stop was the island paradise that is Boracay, a home away from home.  We got to live, train, and play with the Dragons for 9 days which included the Boracay Open International Frisbee Tournament. (More to come on the Legend of the Dragons.)

Emiliano with a  late game layout.

Emiliano with a late game layout.

International travel gives you a better perspective of the world.  Where you came from, where you are going, and the paths of our fellow man all make the world seem like a smaller place. At each stop, it felt like I had known the Ultimate players in a past life. We just clicked with each team like we had done these clinics with them before even though it was brand new material for almost all of the athletes. Even though we were from opposite corners of the globe, Ultimate players are the same no matter where you go: open, inviting, and fun.

With the trip over and back accounts exhausted, it came time for me to return to the States.  Tim would continue on through Europe playing a Beach Ultimate Tour, and I set to work organizing a Beach Ultimate Tournament and the first ever Beach Summer League here in Ocean City, Maryland. I rallied the local players by ramping up our Facebook page Ocean City Beach Ultimate. As our “likes” began to increase and word got out that there was a beach ulti-summer league, I was contacted by all sorts of players I never knew existed on the Eastern Shore: beginner high schoolers, emerging college players, and curious post-grads who knew of Ultimate but never had an outlet to play.   The Ultimate scene virtually did not exist here a few years ago and has been steadily on the rise.  This influx of new players was encouraging and an early success of my efforts to grow the Summer League and the community at-large.

Ocean City has a history of employing many European and International college-age people looking to travel abroad and live at the beach.  It did not click until Monika and Kamile emailed me from Lithuania about the League that I would continue to gain international perspective here in my home town.  Next along came Emiliano, a player from the team Malaki out of Mexico.  Finally, Mustafa, a third-year college Ultimate player contacted me from Turkey.  Each of these players was preparing to embark on the same mystery as I had when I set out to meet Tim in Singapore; they were all headed to OC for the summer.

Monika marking Kamile on the beach in OC. Lietuva!

Monika marking Kamile on the beach in OC. Lietuva!

Getting to play with each of them for these first 6 weeks of OCBU has been an amazing experience.  For Monika, Kamile, and Emiliano, this is their first time in the US and creating a place for them to play Ultimate has been beyond rewarding.  I see it as a chance to pay it forward.  After receiving such incredible hospitality diring our entire Asia Tour, it really feels good to be able to reciprocate the Ultimate love to travelers on my home turf.  These people from other parts of the world, our fellow Ultimate players, have found a home at OCBU for the summer.  With the fear of the unknown, there is also comfort in having a game of Ultimate awaiting.

Good luck to Cracker Jacks (Open) and Skiok (Mixed) from Singapore; Sublime (Open) and KAOS (Womens) from Perth at World Ultimate Club Championships; and the Boracay Dragons (Open and Mixed) for World Championships of Beach Ultimate 2015 in Dubai. Let the good vibes keep going as thousands of players travel to Lecco and beyond in our own Ultimate quests.

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About AJ

AJ Jacoski is an OC local and professional Ultimate player for the DC Breeze in the American Ultimate Disc League. He captained the Salisbury University Buzz Ultimate team and since then has worked to bring more Ultimate to the Eastern Shore. He leads pickup games, summer and fall Ultimate leagues in Salisbury, Berlin, and OC, youth camps, and is organizing the OC Beach Classic a major Beach Ultimate tournament August 9-10, 2014.

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