I played my first Ultimate tournament when I was 19. I woke up at 5 A.M. on a Saturday and drove four hours to play under a sweltering Memphis sun. The fields, if you could call them that, were a patchwork quilt of scorched grass that shredded your skin when you landed and bare, rock-hard dirt that made your feet ache.
I’d picked up on an open team and didn’t find myself with the disc all that often. But I was young and ran endlessly anyway. When I did get the disc, I made short, confident work of finding a receiver with my flick. I can’t recall learning this throw, just that it clicked rapidly and when it did, that it felt like magic. By the end of the weekend I was sunburned, monstrously sore, and head over heels in love with Ultimate. That was 13 years ago, very nearly to this day.
Since then I’ve thrown and caught discs an unfathomable number of times. But Ultimate isn’t just a sport I play; it’s a way of life. It’s given me deep, meaningful friendships, a sense of community, a feeling of purpose, and pride in my abilities.
And it’s also taken a toll. I’m reaching a point in my Ultimate career where injuries are pushing me in a direction I’ve dreaded. The time is coming to more or less hang up the cleats. It’s a tough to accept that a phase of your life is coming to a close--that something you defined your entire adult life by is no longer salient. But like I said, Ultimate’s not just a sport. And I can’t walk away from something that’s given me so much. This is where photography comes in.
Over the last year and a half, I’ve shot more than 20 tournaments in eight different states with UltiPhotos, covering middle school, masters, and everything in between. I’ve been awed by the abilities of the sport’s youngest players, as well as humbled by their spirit and sportsmanship. I’ve felt equal parts joy and agony watching college teams achieve or fall just short of a bid to College Nationals. And at Club Nationals, I’ve witnessed the best players in the world give it their all.
As I follow all these moments with my camera, I see through the eyes of the players. I see a lot of myself reflected. I relive and re-experience the joy, the excitement, the pain, the anguish, the whole world that Ultimate has given to me. I fall in love all over again. And if I can capture any part of that experience with my photos—if I can produce a lasting reminder for players and fans of the awesomeness that is Ultimate—then I think I’ve achieved some worthy repayment to the sport (and way of life) I love.
UltiPhotos is made possible by the collaboration of dedicated photographers whose shared goal is to showcase the amazing action and wonderful moments experienced in the sport of Ultimate. This blog shares their perspectives on the photos they take and provide updates on UltiPhotos plans and initiatives.