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Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Written by Richard Wilcox
The Copper Hills ultimate team started out their first year this year as a fun distraction for the Copper Hills track team. With more than 1/3 of team also running track, we could only get 10-11 players to commit to tournaments. The ultimate tournaments conflicted with invitational track meets. It didn’t help that Copper Hills track hosted 3 invitational meets this year. At every tournament (Layton/Davis, Daweena, Waterford) we signed up with 10 or more players, but ended up fielding only 7 or 8. Our track guys would find out they had qualified for the track invite a few days before, and we would be left without another player. This occurred many times during the season. One of our non-track players who played in every tournament said in frustration, “I’m not playing another tournament unless we get 10 players.” Fortunately he did end up playing in all of our tournaments. We would not have made it so far at region without the tournament experience, even though we played the majority of our tournament games with 1 or 0 subs. It could have done more harm than good if we had been blown out of those tournament games. Fortunately most of them were close. Playing savage in a tournament is not something I would recommend, but it paid off for Copper Hills this year. At the Super North Region Tournament this past weekend, our first victory was having 16 players! Our track guys decided to forego a track meet at BYU to come to region. Unfortunately, we ended up losing 2 out of 3 games in pool play, including a very disappointing loss to our rival Bingham. We had defeated them in 3 out of 4 previous meetings, all decided by 3 points or less. This time they beat us soundly 12-7. After our games Friday, Quinn, our captain, let us know that we still had a narrow chance to go to state if we won 5 games Saturday. The players were optimistic, “We’ll just have to win 5.” I warned them that would be a very tough road. We would have to go through the likes of Davis, Alta, Skyline, and/or Riverton, all highly ranked teams. We had played each of those teams twice during the season and not won any of those (although a few were close). Surprisingly, our players were not detered. They said we’re winning 5 on Saturday. We won our first game against a scrappy City Academy team. In our second game, we faced Sky View B, the only Super North team we had not yet faced this season, so we didn’t know what to expect. They had athleticism, but what worried me most was their discipline. It was obvious that this was a team that trained with the Sky View A team. Sky View A had already wowed us their with patient and precise disc movement. Sky View B showed similar patience and precision. They clearly had more patience than Copper Hills. Although Sky View B started with the lead, our guys worked hard and played some stellar D that allowed us to come out on top, 12-5. This was a great confidence builder, and we definitely needed confidence going into our 3rd game. Next we had a bye, which for us couldn’t have come at a better time. The bye was much needed because our 3rd opponent was Alta. For whatever reason, we had not been able to compete against Alta this season. Ranked only a few spots ahead of us, Alta was a team against whom we should have been competitive. But our 2 previous meetings with Alta had been a disaster, losing 13-2 and 13-1. During those 2 losses, Alta played very well, and Copper Hills showed no sign that they were even trying to win. We were really tired, and we allowed our exhaustion to defeat us mentally. This time, however, we finally had our heads in the game. We were able to keep pace with them. We traded points to finish the first half up, 7-6. Seeing that we could actually compete with Alta was a great confidence booster. We were able to continue trading points during the 2nd half right up to the horn that sounded the time cap. Seeing that we were still in the game, our guys were still full of energy at universe point (meaning it was tied, next point wins). We were finally able to pull off the upset over Alta. This set us up for a showdown against Skyline, an athletic and experienced team that I would have picked to go to the state tournament. We had been competitive in our previous meeting with Skyline, losing 15-10, so we knew we could play with them. Skyline was coming off of a tough loss to judge, while we were full of confidence from finally beating Alta. I really think our confidence made the difference in this game. The energy we carried from our prior win was what we needed to put us over the top to win 11-7. Four wins! Copper Hills was 1 win away from qualifying for state. Winner of this final game would finish 5th place and have the privilege of moving on to the state tournament. We were to play the winner of a highly ranked Davis team and our rival Bingham. As fate would have it, Bingham defeated Davis to battle us for the 5th and final berth to the state tournament. We couldn’t have scripted a better final showdown. Our first 3 meetings with Bingham this season were decided by 3 points or less. They could have gone either way. Fortunately in all 3 we came out on top. At the Waterford tournament, however, Bingham figured out how to beat us, winning by 2. By region, Bingham was an improved team, and they had beat us convincingly in Friday’s pool play 12-7. This game for the final berth to the state tournament, our 6th showdown against Bingham this season, was destined to be a battle. Copper Hills and Bingham players did not disappoint. Copper Hills started the game well, took the lead early, and finished the half up 7-4. But Bingham wasn’t about to go down easy. In the 2nd half they tied the game and eventually took the lead 10-8. As CH lined up for the pull, I informed the team they had only 3 minutes until time cap. If time expired while Bingham was up 2, they win. It looked like this game was going to be another victory for Bingham. We had to score quickly! Our captain rallied the team, and with the input of the other players, he worked out some strategy. But instead of scoring, we turned over the disc. Fortunately, Copper Hills had been in this situation many times this season. Playing tired in a close game, and with some excellent ‘D’, were able to get the disc back. We moved the disc up the field quickly this time and tied up the score. The time cap horn sounded soon after we pulled. It was universe point. The sidelines were on their feet yelling. Both teams were playing some intense D and turned the disc over. After Copper Hills forced Bingham to throw the disc away, Copper Hills was finally able to move the disc up the field and score for the win. It was a Hollywood-scripted finale to an incredible run for Copper Hills!
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Author: Kenny Wiley
I’m writing to you because the sport you love, ultimate, is also the sport I love. It’s more than my favorite sport–I consider it my spiritual practice. Ultimate has helped me in times of grief, sadness and depression, and in times of anger.
I play ultimate because it’s a game one can’t win alone. I play because I get lost in the moment. I play ultimate because I get fired up watching a teammate’s huge layout D. And I play ultimate because, at most levels, it’s up to the players to hold themselves, and each other, accountable.
I believe that the sport we love, while growing overall, harbors troubling sexism—and men, I think we are responsible. I see sexist behavior coming from some of us, both on the field and off. I contend too many of us don’t take female players seriously, and we don’t respect women’s ultimate more generally. We can, and must, do better.
I am a good, but not great, ultimate player. I have played in lots of sectional tournaments. I will never play at nationals. Despite my limitations, I have, like many players–including many men—often been told I’m a natural leader. For too long I thought that meant I needed the disc all the time, and that my voice needed to be heard for my team to win, whether “my team” meant a competitive team I practiced with regularly, or the random group of people at a pick-up game.
Continue to read his article at his blog