Frisbee tournament tosses in surprises
You probably think of a Frisbee as something your dog chases.
It's not something you could see changing a life.
From Nov. 5-8, the Pan Am Ultimate Championship took over the Sarasota Polo Club with more than 1,400 participants. It provided me with several surprises.
Perhaps the greatest one was meeting Elizabeth Mosquera, a star for the women's division championship team from Medellin, Colombia. Besides making several Randy Moss type catches while leading her team past the entry from Ottawa, Canada, 16-7, in the title game, she also connected with her teammates on several deep tosses.
I talked to Mosquera after the final match with help of an interpreter, her teammate Ana Maria Rojas. Mosquera told me she was raised in a poor area of Medellin, where there was an initiative to get Ultimate Frisbee into the schools as a way of keeping kids out of trouble and perhaps even providing them with opportunities to travel the world with a professional team, as Mosquera has now done with her team, the Revolution.
Ultimate Frisbee did change her life.
"I am so thankful for the sport," she said. "I love being able to play with the Revolution and compete in tournaments like this one. I like it here in Florida. It is a little tropical like Colombia. You get the sun and a little bit of wind, it is nice."
After I chatted with her a while, I began to realize the extent of Mosquera's stardom. She won the MVP award for the 2019 Premier Ultimate League season and YouTube is full of her highlight-reel plays. I felt pretty lucky to have witnessed her talent in person. My next thought was that I wished I had know earlier, so I could have appreciated her play more than I did.
I certainly don't know the sport well enough to spot the little details that make her game great. I only know some of the surface-level stuff.
And even that surface stuff was impressive.
Even though both women's teams in the title game took everything seriously, they got together afterward and performed a line dance to a hip-hop song. Players called out different moves for each other to perform and everyone was smiling. It looked like fun, and this was after the game was over.
It was another thing I admired about the athletes, other than their obvious athleticism. Despite the hard work they put forth to master their sport, they all seem to be in it for a good time, no matter the stakes. There was not much smack talk during matches and the players high-fives and congratulated opponents on a job well done after they scored. It was charming.
It is what sports should be like.
Combine that sportsmanship with players who were launching the Frisbees 30- and 40-yards through the air and connecting with their teammates, and it made for interesting entertainment. It was kind of like a non-contact version of rugby with the goal being to catch the Frisbee in the end zone for a score. It's also a game where catching the disc means your legs stop working, because once you catch it, you can't move. Only those without the Frisbee can move.
It was fun watching these players using their legs as pogo sticks and leaping into the air, catching passes over defenders.
It's a fun sport to watch and one you might want to check out yourself. You never know when you might meet an MVP.