A weekend of ultimate frisbee

So I should be doing laundry or planning extra material for my elementary school lesson for tomorrow, but instead I’m blogging, because it’s been way too long. I was still getting over residual jetlag all of last week, and was really zoning out in the evenings, and didn’t really have time to write during the day.

I just got back an hour and a half ago from a weekend of hard-core ultimate frisbee at the fields just outside the Tajima Dome in northern Hyogo Prefecture. Chris, Nate, Ellie, Andrew, and I went from Tokushima, and we combined with 8 folks from Kochi, to our south: Chris M., Sherra, Ti, Mana, Rie, Yarun, Julianna, and Charles. Our combined team’s name was Gekido, which means “rage.” (There was lots of screaming to try to live up to the name.) We drove up separately, the Tokushima folks going northeast via Awaji-shima and west to Himeji in Nate’s car and the Kochi folks going due north via Okayama and east to Himeji in a really nice rental van, and we met up there…we miscalculated and got there an hour early, which really sucks for Nate and Ellie, who’d gotten under an hour of sleep due to staying up to watch the World Cup match on Friday night.

It was a really eventful weekend–lots of fun, even though we didn’t do very well. We won our first match on Saturday by a wide margin, but lost the next two (our second game was against a team which outscored last year’s champion, and we were all fading and a bit discouraged by our third team, which was full of people more athletic than we were and who could run faster, and that’s totally why they won), and we lost our qualifying match today. But considering that we were all out of practice (the Kochi folks actually take their frisbee very seriously and practice weekly, but their local area, the site of the Shikoku tournament we’d had a couple of months ago, has been shut down for maintenance–we also never got together with them to practice as a team), we did all right. It was all in good fun, anyway, which is something that I think was easy for us to remember, though there were a few fouls, and the high-scoring teams took the tournament very seriously. It’s probably for the best that we didn’t advance, though, because we got back at a decent hour. The Kochi folks should all be back home by now as well.

We had a barbecue that was held at the lodge where nearly everyone was staying, a dormlike building at the foot of a shallow ski slope. After dinner (small helpings of mushrooms, bell peppers, and carrots, spaced out enough due to having to cook each bite that it felt like I was teasing myself with occasional bites and not that I’d eaten a full meal–not the most pleasant of feelings), once the alcohol started flowing, some idiot had the idea that the plastic trays the meat had been on would serve as good slides so that he could go sliding down the hill. A ton of people subsequently started to follow suit. The problem was, though, that at the bottom of the slope was a metal fence that stood partly in the way, in part to guide people away from the ski lift. The slope was designed for people on skis, who could steer and stop, and not for people on plastic trays, who could do neither. A few people did run into the fence, but they were going slowly enough that it was fine.

However, a few people did race down the hill on the trays, and one guy got turned around and slammed into the fence on his side really hard. It was only 20 minutes later that we realized that he hadn’t gotten up…it was dark, the area wasn’t very well-lit, and it was difficult to make out what was going on. We went to investigate, saw that he was alert and responsive (essentially, the alcohol was what was keeping him sedated), and asked around to get some info on the situation (someone was finally able to track down his teammates, who were drunk already and had no idea this had happened)…and then realized that in the 20 minutes he’d been down, even though he was very obviously injured (he could move his arms/legs, but he was just in a state where it was best not to move–from the description of the impact, it seemed like he’d broken several ribs, so not moving was the best thing to do, for fear that a bone could puncture an organ or start internal bleeding), nobody had called an ambulance. As soon as Yarun realized this, he had Rie call the Japanese equivalent of 911, and the 8 or 9 of us from our team who’d been out there and witness to it stayed to wait until the paramedics came and took him to the hospital. There were small clusters of three or four people who were also watching, but the majority of the people were inside or having their own festivities and hadn’t even noticed what was happening.

One guy had taken it upon himself to collect all the trays once he realized how dangerous this was becoming, and after people realized that someone had gotten injured, they stopped sliding…except for one guy, who had to be really drunk to miss what had happened–he got hold of a tray, went sliding, and slid right through the crowd of people gathered around the guy! It was a miracle that he didn’t hit the guy himself.

It was a crappy situation, certainly, but it wasn’t a life-threatening injury, and though Chris did go sliding himself and had a blast, he did acknowledge how risky it was. The guy’s now getting medical attention, so today we were sort of joking a little bit: “We saved a life last night, man. And these guys are all out here, all worried about throwing around a frisbee?”

I do wonder, though, how this sort of thing will impact how the people of the Tajima area view the JETs. This is totally not the first time historically that something’s happened at a JET event like this (and it’s this sort of crap that reinforces my vow to never, ever get drunk or even come close). The guy’s board of education certainly has already heard about this and must be freaking out. The local people will have seen the foreigners and the ambulance and will have known that something happened. The owners of the ski ramp will have gotten wind, and the owner of the lodge sprinted out there as soon as she heard what had happened, which was a half-hour after it actually did happen.

(Speaking of barbecues, I’ve discovered the hard way that for some inexplicable reason, grilling veggies on an open grill really does a number on my stomach–I lost my dinner overnight, though I was fine by morning. The bad stomach issues I had in mid-April also cropped up after the barbecue at the rugby tournament here in Tokushima. I’ll definitely be bringing food to next week’s Tokushima sayounara party.)

Anyway–the accident was just a small part of the overall weekend. From start to finish, it was great on the whole…a gorgeous sunrise drive and a chance to take photos of the amazing view of the bridge from Awaji-shima (Awaji Island) to Honshu, good music and good hang-out time, hanging out with the awesome Kochi gang (though many of them are leaving Japan in the next month, including our team captain), a nice relaxing drive on the way home, and just being around a lot of cool people on the whole. This is the first year Tokushima’s entered anybody–two years ago, during the first tournament, the team had enough cancelations that they had to pull out, and last year, the sayounara party was scheduled for the same weekend. I hope that this works out for next year.

Now, though, I’m exhausted, sore, and nearly dozing off at the computer. I’m off to bed.

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