I’ve played in a lot of different Ultimate communities since high school. I started with the Rochester, NY youth leagues, run by GRADA. Since then I’ve compared all other leagues against GRADA, which perhaps isn’t fair. Rochester has a huge Ultimate community, lots of surrounding suburbs with beautifully maintained fields, and one of the most active leagues I’ve played in. They ran a summer and spring youth league, as well as 5 adult leagues running from Rec all the way up to Advanced.
After Rochester I played in the Hudson Valley for awhile. I never had the pleasure of playing with their summer league (WUDI), but I’ve heard good things about it. I suspect it might have hit the bar that GRADA set. After that both Syrcause’s league, and the Ultimate community in Florida never seemed to measure up. Syracuse was mostly college players, and many of the good club players traveled to Rochester to play. The players were fun, but the leagues were small. South Florida had a highly segmented community and was made more of individual pick-up games and teams, then leagues. Even between the pick-up games there wasn’t a lot of crossover.
Then comes HULA. Although I suspect we’re about to enter a dry spell for Hawaii Ultimate (between summer league ending, and fall league starting), I have to say I’m excited for the next league to start. I already mentioned how much I was enjoying ultimate in Hawaii in my Beach League post, but I think it bears repeating.
Sunday was the second HUCCFest and it didn’t fail to disappoint. (See the first post here.) It was run a little differently this time. The groups were split into three teams, and we rotated through different stations. I really liked this format. It gave a chance to get to know some new people, and it kept the clinic flowing.
There were 9 different stations we ended up going through, overall. How to cut as a wing, physics of a disc, how to cut off a stopped disc, how to play D in the endzone, how to mark straight up, how to cut for a trapped disc, throwing to space, handler movement, marking for a no IO and no dump.
What I really loved about both HUCCFests is although they are geared for beginners, there’s a lot that an intermediate player can still take out of the clinic. All of the clinics talked about concepts I already knew, but most gave me a different way to think about approaching the challenge.
HUCCFest might be the biggest difference between HULA and all the other ultimate groups I’ve played with. I can count the number of times on one hand that other ultimate groups have thrown clinics, in my years bouncing around the East coast. Occasionally I’d hear of one up in NYC, but rarely close enough for me to attend. In the 3 months I’ve been on Oahu, HULA has already thrown two clinics. I understand the time and effort it must take to put it together, but from the perspecitve of an outsider, the impact it has on the feel of the community is huge. It introduces new players to the sport, and newly arrived players to the community. I wish more communities through clinics more often!