I fell in love with Ultimate as a freshman in High School. That year my school had the opportunity to go to Virginia Beach to compete in a music competition. The contest only took a day but we stayed for several. So, we pulled out the Wham-O’s and played Ultimate on the beach for days. The result left me exhausted, sun-scorched, and calf-sore with a newly formed addiction to Ultimate and the sick moniker, The Storm. I wasn’t the only one impressed by the sport. Pretty soon my friends and I met every Saturday and we’d play for hours. At first the rules existed as definitively as our non-existent field lines and our strategy was candidly, “lay-out or stay out.” Gradually, we learned more and more about what it meant to play Ultimate. Field lines, fouls and team sizes all became more clearly refined over time. In those years Ultimate was the glue that kept me social and active; I was entrapped by the magic of chasing that flying piece of plastic and could not have been happier with the company.
By my junior year, I had discovered that the Greater Rochester area had a league for high school ultimate. However, league play occurred on Sunday and I knew that if our school were to form a team I would not be able to participate in competition due to my religious convictions. I could practice though and that was something at least. So, I decided to ignore the negative and get to work. That summer I put together a 40-page proposal that some friends and I presented to school administrators. Under their direction we formed a club. We were the Canandaigua Flying Bison. That year we had 58 students sign-up, three teams, and placed 6th at states. I even got to play on the first day of the state tournament. Since that year, I have had the opportunity to return and help coach the Bison twice. None of the original members remain but the team still roles forward and I am pleased to help others learn this sport.
As, I transitioned to Brigham Young University I found myself on a team of athletes who knew and understood the sport better than I had previously imagined. I was quiet and shy but the guys reached out and I found a home among the Destroying Angels. Practices were low-key, some day’s we would play 500, other days we would play diving games. Regardless, that fall we went to California and crushed it, finding killer wins against Santa Barbara and Berkley.
Shortly afterwards I left to serve a mission in Miami Florida for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I deeply cherish the two years I had to serve the people of Southern Florida. My work there molded my perspective on life. I left pleased with the change I had helped to create and I felt compelled to continue to make a difference. I wasn’t certain that I could do that playing Ultimate. However, the summer I got back I received an email from Bryce Merrill our coach. It wasn’t sent specifically to me but it was addressed to the team collectively. From what I read, the team wasn’t any longer just a group of athletes, but a program. It had direction and purpose. I decided to test that new image.
Within the first weeks of the fall season we had a team meeting and we discussed what it meant to play BYU CHI Ultimate and the direction of the program. CHI Ultimate was a program willing to do what it takes to press forward and become the best. We were looking forward to the future and that wouldn’t be an easy path. However, I recognized a resilience and determination in the program that could get us there. That season we went 19-1. We were hungry and couldn’t be denied. That work earned us a bid to the Florida Warm-Up tournament. While the results of that tournament were not ideal, we learned a lot. We now have a better idea of our strengths and weaknesses as a program. Individually we have come to similar conclusions. I’ve done a lot with Ultimate in my life, and I likely have years left to give. That being said, I am more than pleased to spend this next chapter fighting alongside the brothers I have found among these CHI Guys. We’re gonna bring it and someday CHI Ultimate will have made the difference we’re working towards.