I went to play ultimate tonight. I've been finding playing very difficult these days, for a number of reasons. I'm out of shape. I'm not playing with people I've known for years, so my jokes fall flat and, let's face it, there's no butt smacking or tan line comparisons or group hugs when the people you play with are also your coworkers. I'm also not nearly as committed to playing as I used to be, so my energy level is surprisingly low.
That, and the field we usually play on doesn't have a toilet anywhere handy.
Today, a teammate needed nail clippers and I had mine in the car, so I ended up warming up beyond my usual lap or two around the field. Instead I warmed up by running back to the car to grab the clippers. It gave me time to think about my fitness and enthusiasm levels. It gave me time for Sage Kitt to surface and talk to me in a way I needed, in a way I would listen.
I reminded myself that how I used to be able to play isn't really relevant to my playing now. Yes, I remember what my body used to be able to do. It can't do that now, and holding on to the used-to-be doesn't help my game today. It's okay to be slower and less skilled. It happens. It happens to everyone. I'm still on the field. I'm still moving around. I'm still having fun at this game. I'm still losing myself in the moment of going for the disc, and that is all okay and that is all wonderful. Being out there is what matters, not how good or not-so-good I used to be. Just now. Not the whole game, not the whole point, just that moment of cutting, catching, throwing. That's what matters.
And with that, I went out to play.
I started playing fairly well. I had a couple of good swings and lots of good disc movement with three players from Kevin's regular team. They play competitively, more than just in the recreational league we're in, so it was fun to be able to connect with them, to know they know not to clog, to know they know to clear, to know they know how to cut to open spaces, to know they know how to read a floating disc, to know they know how to switch defences, to know they even knew advanced defences and offences. Was great.
And then, I realized we were playing that team.
I was marking a woman who dumped the disc. She had turned back downfield to dump the disc, and turned into me as she turned to go back upfield. "Whoa, too close!" she yelled at me. "Yeah, because you ran into me," I responded as we ran down the field. "You were already too close before," she responded. "Then call it when it happens, please." After that comment, there was a turnover, and I ran away from her to score with the assist on that point.
And then I realized who that woman was.
She was the "a disc width is six inches" woman from last year.
Talk about a game spoiler for me. I had been having a good time chatting with the other women on the opposing team. The disc-width chick just pissed me off. My game suffered. I dropped disc after disc after disc. I'd pick up a turned-over disc, then turf it. I stopped cutting. I stopped playing well.
And games are pretty crappy when you're not playing well.
So, I did the best thing I could think of to do.
I played hard on defense.
When a guy cut deep and I was deeper and had position, I turned and ran hard deep with him. When my woman cut for the disc, I cut harder to prevent the throw. When my woman had the disc, I marked as hard as I could to stop the continuation. I ran as hard as I could to stop my brain from overthinking my frustration from over a year ago.
It mostly helped. I played better. We won the game, which was nice.
In the end, I left having had a good time.
And I left with the decision it's time to put forth the effort to get back in shape.