I'm going to write the update for Paganello (the beach Ultimate tourney in Italy) in two parts: a shorter one for those who want just a few highlights, and a longer, more detailed one.
-Party the first night. Huge amount of people out on the beach, getting plate after plate of free spaghetti and eating freshly-roasted sardine-like fish as well (not to mention the endless free wine). Great atmosphere, everyone was clearly excited to be there, and I ran in to Tom Cave, a friend from Buck's Rock who lives in England!
-Being able to lay out. The sand on the beaches in Rimini is super soft and laying out, as Alejo (one of the captains put it) is "paradise." Don't think I got any lay-out D's, but I definitely had quite a few for catches and scores.
-The tournament as a whole. It was well organized, and much more of an "experience" than tourneys usually are; it lasted from Thursday night until Monday night (we went back to Paris on Tuesday). The hotel and some food are part of the package, and there's a nightly party, either under the big tent on the beach or at clubs/ bars nearby.
-The team. The guys I was playing with were chill, fun guys to hang out with (a mix of French, Americans, and others- one guy who grew up in Zimbabwe, one originally from Austria (Flo) and one (Alejo) from Colombia).
-5 euro pizza! Every restaurant we went to for dinner had plain margherita pizzas for 5 euros. They weren't all amazing, but- 5 euros! (Individually-sized, but still, a decent deal). I got either 1.5 or 2 pizzas each time we went out.
-Spirit circles. I think this used to be an after-game tradition in the US, but it's (almost) never done any more. But, after the game, you circle up (alternating players from each team), arms around shoulders, and the captains of each team usually say a few words about the game. Sometimes you play a game (there are many Ultimate post-game games to play), sometimes you give a prize to the MVP/ most spirited player of the other team, but everyone is generally left feeling good about the game. It certainly made me feel much better about one team we had played that had made some bad calls, and that liked to spike the disc.
-Freestyle. Concurrent with the Ultimate tournament was a freestyle tournament. I had never seen freestyle in person, only a few videos. (Freestyle, when referring to disc-based sports, is people doing crazy things with discs: spinning them, throwing them in the air, somersaulting, catching the discs while they're still spinning, passing them back and forth. Pretty impressive, and fun to watch between matches).
-The finals. On Monday, we sat in the bleachers, drank beer and watched the different finals divisions (Juniors, Mixed, Women, Open), cheering, heckling, and generally having a fun time. And the bleachers were packed full of people, so it was great to be watching high-quality Ultimate with lots of others around.
-My shoulder. It had been feeling progressively worse over the course of the weekend, until finally I tweaked it when I put out my arm to stay upright while marking someone; it's felt not so great since then. I missed the last game of Sunday, as well as our game on Monday.
-(Almost) throwing away the disc. While playing a game that was tied 6-6, game to 7, I made a nice catch on the end zone line and called a timeout; the plan was to take it easy, only sure throws until we scored. But I, of course, made an ill-advised throw (the guy was open, but it was a tough throw); it went wide of its target, but got tipped up by a defender, and another guy on our team caught it for the score and the win. So, we won, but I felt like I had lost, because it should have been a turnover.
Overall, it was a fantastic experience. And I think it has re-kindled my love of Ultimate; I had felt pretty burned out after graduation, but I think I'm ready to get back in to it (provided, of course, that I do some serious physical therapy so that my shoulder doesn't feel bad after every tournament).
Now, off to the next farm!