Bring the Morning Glory to Chiangmai Ultimate At 2nd Mekong Cup – May 25 & 26, 2013
As May 2013 approached, the drive to succeed could be felt in the air above the CMU fields. Two teams with one heart were hard at work, playing hard 3 nights a week until the sun set behind Doi Suthep. For months before the Mekong Cup, Chiang Mai had been preparing for this competition. Bangkok tournaments are popular as the competition is higher level and the SoiDawgs team is fun, outrageous, they have flair on the field and can throw back the Singhas and apple pie shots like there’s no tomorrow. Clearly, this scene is right in line with Chiang Mai’s priorities, so we set our sights on Krungthep and Mekong Cup glory.
The preparations for Mekong were driven by some important factors. Namely, an influx of talented, experienced disc players from the states jumped into the mix and refocused the energy of the Ultimate team. Charlie and Heather Ann fueled an excitement in Chiang Mai that had been dormant since the last tournament. Coming from teams in the states like Scandal, out of NC and having coached college teams in the past, it was clear that they raised the level of play on the field. Their dedication was palpable, as they directed scrimmages, and provided top-notch advice to experienced players while still dedicating time to working on throws with newer players. Matt Kress, an experienced ultimate player formerly of Bucket, Tanasi and Rival, was also influential in the Mekong preparations. Matt, HA and Charlie took the reigns to run drills, games, sprints, and even a league with two high-intensity Saturday scrimmages.
As the end of May drew near, Chiang Mai was putting the final touches on plays on and off the field. Because of the large amount of interest in this tournament, and a want to make sure everyone’s priorities were met, a vote was taken to gauge interest for what kind of teams we would create. After some discussion about what a successful tournament would look like, players were given the option of a fun focused or a competitive team, and each picked which they preferred. Two teams were created: Elephantastic, named for well-loved Northern-Thai mammal and Morning Glory, for the incessantly growing weed and favorite vegetable dish of CM Ultimate players.
Splitting into the two tournament teams, each dedicated time to team bonding. Unique cheers were created, team dinners were planned and pep talks were happening regularly. While Chiang Mai Ultimate was separated into two teams, they had a common goal: to have fun, play competitive games and a memorable Mekong cup. With high spirits and tube socks, Chiang Mai Ultimate hopped onto buses, planes, and elephants and sailed into the Big Mango.
The heat felt heavy at the Army Base field, on the north side of Bangkok, as Chiang Mai marched onto the field Saturday morning. Sleepiness and sluggishness was nipped in the bud as the players started out for their warm-up jogs, stretching and plyos. Spirits were as high as the temperature, and with the electrolytes and bananas flowing, both teams got down to business.
Morning Glory started off with strong with fluid passing, give and goes, and deep threats to boot. While the team hailed from Chiang Mai, Bangkok, America, India, and Malaysia, they found instant on-field connections, helping fuel the success so important early in tournaments. With a few wins under their belts from day one, Morning Glory grew wildly and with confidence throughout Sunday. Several decisive wins over teams from Singapore, New Zealand, and the Elephantastic team helped Morning glory move into good standing, putting the team in gear for the semis and finals on Sunday.
Playing some fantastically competitive games was balanced by a solid social get together on Saturday night, hosted by the Soi Dawgz. After showers (and for some a quick nap), Red Bull was consumed and the CM players who survived the days’ heat were off to have a few beverages. The festivities began at the bar, with pool and socializing. Players who had sky’d or D’ed each other during the day joined up for a pint and complimented the others performance. Ultimate people strongly believe in the friendly and fun aspect of the game, which makes for a warm atmosphere at the post game socials. After a good amount of mingling, Jared, the SoiDawgs resident party aficionado made the call to move. His suggestion was to continue the gathering at a different venue, a local bull-riding bar. Looking to continue the feel-good high of the weekend so far, a number of the CM group expressed interest and a solid group of about 20 sun-burnt ulti players went along for the ‘ride.’
After a few wrong turns into strip clubs and 7Elevens, the gang arrived at the saloon du-jour. A rotating tiered stripper pole cake complete with scantily clad-ladies greeted guests at the entrance. The main attraction, however, was a padded ring with a mechanical bull that must have been at least 57 years old. Guests were encouraged to ride the bull as the gathered circle of bar-goers hooted in delight. An apparent female who may have also been a semi-professional sumo wrestler operated the bulls’ controls. The goal was to stay on as long as possible without being flung off the bull. She demonstrated her enthusiasm for bull riding and nudity a number of times, to the hilarity and horror of the crowd. With any female volunteer, the Mama-san demonstrated her affinity for nakedness by asking the ladies to remove their shorts or skirts, and more than one naked bottom was seen riding the bull that night. While operating the controls, one CM player spun a teammate off so violently; he kneed himself in the face and suffered an extremely bloody nose. During an epic ride, Jared from the Soi Dawgs broke the bull and it toppled over, revealing a sharp metal underside. All stripper hands were on deck to resurrect the fallen bull, and soon it was back in order for the next eager bull rider. Many memories were created this night, and while the length of time of the bull for each person was short, the bonding experience will stay with everyone for much longer.
Sunday was a hard fought battle, and with competition as high as the temperature, both CM teams fought hard. The teams supported each other, by watching games from the sideline and cheering, and making the Chiang Mai presence known throughout the tournament grounds. Elephantastic struggled to pull in wins, but was recognized as one of the most fun teams to play against, for their never-ending positivity and side-line antics. Elephant face-masks had been created and wild herds of CM Ultimate playing elephants could be seen dancing and galloping across the fields. Morning Glory’s experienced players guided the team to an undefeated record on Sunday. Facing the Chuckies – Singapore for the second time in the Semi-finals, Morning Glory battled until the last minute and won up by 1 point by our Captain Matt lay out D and threw the long shape huck to the end zone to make it into the final battle won over the Never Underestimate Students – Singapore. Tensions were high and several times, impromptu dance parties materialized, which helped to calm the player’s nerves.
As the final minutes of the game drew near against team Flying Zucchinis of the Apocalypse – mixed Indonesia and Malaysia. It was still not clear who the winner would be. The game was quite fun and the Morning glory conquered and received the glory as their name.
Morning Glory received their metals and took several pictures to commemorate the moment. So much training, preparation and hard work cumulated into a final song as Morning Glory sang out their ‘Sponge Bob’ themed cheer one final time. Second place metals were given to the fierce competitors and hands were high-fived. Then, in an all time Chiang Mai feel good moment, Elephantastic were named for the tournament Spirit Award, for their positive energy and support, fun attitudes and overall good spirit. As the two Chiang Mai teams reunited once again, they were reminded of the spirit of the game, and each felt intense pride for the people who met in our corner of Northern Thailand. To be recognized for athletic excellence and embodying the spirit of the game was an amazing honor for Chiang Mai. The positive feelings hummed all over the field and out to Bangkok that day, emitting a vibration that could be felt in the heart of Ultimate players worldwide.
Chiang Mai players left Bangkok that night proud, exhausted, and smiling, vowing to represent at the next Bangkok tournament, and invite others to the North for a Hat tourney of our own. The Mekong cup in May 2013 was one that will live on in the memories of each CM player in attendance, as one of the all-around best feel good weekends.