*The start and end of this article was written by Laura Emerson, with joke/gif/recap help in the middle from Simar and Gus
Tuesday evening. T-3.75 days until showcase game. Decorated Australian Goanna Matt Daly gets home from his weekend in NZ, gold medal in tow. The whole time he’s been away people have been asking me, excitedly, “Are you playing in New Zealand, Loz?”. Clearly not, but let’s have this conversation anyway.
“We are playing a showcase game at BCI,” I say time and time again. The hype is building.
Snapchats are coming in of everyone getting psyched for the weekend, getting in some last minute preparation. It’s Friyay and Max Halden posts his latest video check-in, which I watch, beaming, walking home from class. I feel like there’s an aeon before tomorrow afternoon but for Max it seems like it’s 20 minutes away. I wonder what it’ll feel like when it is 20 minutes away.
Fast forward 12 hours and 30 minutes where begins the hardest day of ultimate of my life. Never have I ever struggled so hard mentally and physically to play. Dory’s voice echoes in my head, “just keep swimming”. She continues, uncharacteristically, with “If there’s one thing I want you to do today, it’s to just show up at 4.30pm”. Okay Dory. I heed her advice. Somehow, I get to the field with a screwed on head and functioning body, twenty minutes before the game starts.
I make my way over to the showcase field with teammate come opposition, Clare Barcham. I feel a little like a kid being dropped off at school and wanting to go inside but also kinda wanting their mum to come with them. I’m the last new Bottle there and rip off my Factory shirt to replace it with my Team Australia singlet. They’re waiting on me but I stand by my used-way-too-often-to-justify-bad-habits rule: ‘if you’re going to be late, you might as well be dressed properly’. Before I know it, we’re trying to form a triangle (how many corners do we need?) and start our warm up drill. We’re doing well and put on some marks because #worlds. I’m trying to call out my teammates’ names but lack of common usage means they get caught in my throat. Bluebottles comes out ‘Facblottles’ and I can’t stop wondering whether Stuart Jinks has always been this tall.
I layout and catch the disc. That’s rare. I can do this.
The Newbottles will hereafter be referred to as the Bluebottles because that is our name. The Old Bottles were referred to as a word that sounds kind of like bluebottles, if you chop and change the letters and make it kinda rude. Gus says we can’t call them that, he gets his kicks censoring the people, so they will just be referred to as “the Old Bottles” or whatever, who cares, this article isn’t about them. It’s about us.
The game starts at a hectic pace but remains clinical. Points are traded, everyone touches the disc, no one gets carried away despite the the growing noise (read: heckles) of the crowd. The play is clean, it’s quick and it’s hot. Red hot. Like, don’t touch it. You’ll burn. Owie.
Both teams pull out great connections despite hardly having played together; or in the case of the opposition, perhaps not at all. Everyone, both on and off the field, is stoked when a goal is scored because it’s always a great shot, a great grab or a great bid at D.
The first few points alternate between hot-potato throwing and going and big grabs from some of Australia’s best U24-U26 talent. Highlights in the first few points come in the form of Stu Jinks getting snaked. His own team narrowly beat him to the first few goals, which must be a real mix of emotions. He makes up for it by very politely skying Abbie Dawson, among others. Has he always been this tall?
There are a lot of highlights, you know! Because everyone who was playing in this game is good, and contributed, and so it’s impossible to get them all. We will do a quick fire round to cover more territory:
- Molly's huge layout to keep possession and, later, win the point (and game).
- Mambo’s massive grab and very wholesome celebration.
- Mambo’s massive block and very not wholesome shoulder dislocation. He continued to watch the livestream from the hospital via a secret link.
- Max Halden attended a wedding (as a guest).
- Much throwing and going.
- Loz ripped a backhand. This sentence was not written by Loz.
- Gus (Schwaa) forgets where he is and mistakes BCI for Monday night NSU league, 2013, where the only person he’s brave enough to talk or throw to is Nic Lelli. This sentence was written by Gus.
- Waz became a fan favourite.
- Caitlin Grange's UNREAL high release flick.
- To be honest everyone played really well and it was really fun and really good.
- Connections came off despite not really knowing our teammates speeds and styles yet.
- Hammer connections were about 50/50. Rather 40/60. Not game ready. Too bad the BOM detailed forecast didn’t predict bad conditions for Hammers, Oskar’s stats would have been way better. Happy birthday OMF.
The final score is 15-12 to the Bluebottles. We win!
I am particularly impressed with how safe the game was. Everyone on the field has been bumping and grinding (if they so choose) with people of similar size and weight for the past 3 months. Suffices to say, we are not all the same size (Stu, duh). But there are a huge number of guy on girl, girl on guy, whoever on whatever contests and they’re all clean and careful. Absolutely all of them. Not a single noteworthy foul to talk about or ridicule or be memeified to the point that “doing a Shepherd” becomes common Australian ultimate slang.
It should also just be said that Ashep apologised a bunch for this and pleaded uncontested to the charge of "heinous offset foul". His guilty plea kept the mob at bay.
BCI Day 2. How incredibly ordinary a day, almost entirely empty of Bluebottles except for the Molly who is now my opposition. My head is focused on strategy for Factory and coming up with a way of optimising my teammate’s success and enjoyment, as well as mine. The campaign has gone back to being a ‘that’s-after-nationals’ event, but it was nice for it to visit for a moment.
Clare messages me at the end of the day to say that the game was great. She exclaims that our team was exceptionally athletic. I divulge that we’d all thought the same thing about their team. I suppose, one could conclude that we are all, in fact, national representatives?
What’s next for the Bluebottles? Two intensive training camps, one with Barramundi hopefuls; the second annual ProAm tournament; PreTour then the big one, the big jump: Worlds. That’s it. I think we did it right and it was definitely over too quickly. We’ve come full metaphorical circle and the Oldbottles have truly christened us with their Jellyfish Holy Water. They’ve handed the Bluebottle legacy over to us and we must hold it with many, long, lethally stinging hands (arguably too many for the standard biped) until the time comes for us to get schooled by the next class of over-confident chumps youths, keen to take on literally the World.