Stepping onto the field for the first point of the first game at the 2016 USA Ultimate Youth Club Championships (YCC) was one of the most nerve-wracking things I have ever done. My stomach was in a twist standing across from the fierce-looking Seattle Hydra players. After my team (Maine’s U-16 girls’ Rip Tide) lost to Hydra, we had a spirit circle with them. Going into the spirit circle, I thought because they beat us, the girls would be snarky, similar to some girls in other sports, but they were anything but that! All the girls were nice and reassured and complimented us for the fight we put up. This was true for every team we played. When my team experienced how nice all the teams were to us, it made us want to be as cheerful and supportive to other teams – no matter if we won or lost. Ultimate is the most exhilarating and supportive sport I have ever played.

BLAINE, MN - Artemis vs Neap Tide. Pool Play. USAU Youth Club Championships. August 13, 2016 © Daniel Thai for UltiPhotos
© Daniel Thai for UltiPhotos

Each game we played was a struggle, and we had to fight for every point we got. What led our team to success was supporting each other and lifting each other up. No one placed blame on another player if there was a turn or if we didn’t intercept the disc. Over the three days of the tournament, our girls’ Rip Tide team learned a lot about our strengths. We also learned how to recognize our weaknesses and found ways to improve them. Our team worked best when we were all standing up on the sideline, enthusiastically cheering each other on, which was especially hard in the mornings.

BLAINE, MN: Seattle Hydra vs Maine Rip Tide in the U16 Girls Final. USA Ultimate Youth Club Championships. August 14, 2016. © Alex Fraser for UltiPhotos.com
© Alex Fraser for UltiPhotos.com

One of the hardest games was the championship game against Hydra. All the teams from Maine were watching the game by one of the end zones. After a difficult start to the game, we put two points on the board. I caught a huck in the end zone, and all the Maine teams erupted with cheers! I have never felt such a thrill in my entire life. But after scoring three points, we weren’t able to score anymore, and Hydra beat us.

A few things that really helped my team connect were going to the Mall of America, hanging out at the water park in our hotel and going out to eat together. Months after YCC, we are all still friends. We stay in touch, and we still see each other at ultimate clinics, camps and games.

BLAINE, MN: Seattle Hydra vs Maine Rip Tide in the U16 Girls Final. USA Ultimate Youth Club Championships. August 14, 2016. © Alex Fraser for UltiPhotos.com
© Alex Fraser for UltiPhotos.com

The Girls’ Ultimate Movement held a U-16 girls’ team clinic at YCC which really helped bring girls from all the teams together. Many of the teams got together at the clinic and talked, ate and exchanged phone numbers. The most memorable part of 2016 YCC was how inspiring and kind all the girls were, which is in big part thanks to GUM.

All the girls our team played against deserved awards for their kindness and perseverance. YCC is a truly amazing tournament that I will remember for the rest of my life.

The Maine ultimate scene is relatively small but mighty. Maine Ultimate has made ultimate fun and inclusive and makes playing with older people less intimidating. Maine Ultimate makes it easy for our team to replicate the joyful community we have back home at YCC. I can’t wait to board the flight with my team for 2017 YCC and hope to conquer the almighty Hydra, or at least score more than three points against them.