ZODIAC – Astrology and Ultimate
This past weekend (Sept. 24-25) I enjoyed my first Zodiac tournament in Rochester, NY. This unique, yearly hat tournament comes to us thanks to the ongoing efforts of GRADA and TUC. For those that don’t know much about it…
“…Zodiac is a 2-day, very spirited, co-ed (4/3) twelve-team hat tournament. Each player signs up as an individual and is put on a team with fellow players of the same zodiac sign. The tournament was the brainchild (and hard work!) of Toronto’s celestial gurus Bob Anglin and Brian Parkinson. After the 3rd year in Toronto, it was decided to make the tournament a truly international affair by alternating the locale between Toronto and Rochester. Although Bob and Brian are no longer with the tournament, their spirit lives on!” (TUC general information page).
You can also find information on their Facebook page, Fans of Zodiac Ultimate Tournament.
(Zodiac) SIGN UP
I heard about this tournament numerous times while going to college in Upstate NY and and from fellow summer program employees, but I never got around to signing up. I almost went last year, but decided to wait until it was back in the US. When it came around this year, I started talking it up with my friends and fellow teammates, convincing a few of them to go. This year saw so much interest that they had to create two new teams, sun and moon; even so, they still couldn’t accommodate everyone on the wait list. Thankfully because they gave out-of-towners priority, my friends and I were able to get on a team.
MY COMMUTE UP STATE
On Friday, four of us piled into a car and started the 8.5 hour ride to Rochester. Yes, Google Maps says 6.5 hours, but when you factor in flooding that closes a number of roads, off-and-on torrential rain slowing down traffic and the necessary bathroom and food breaks, you reach your destination at about 2AM (two hours later than hoped). Since we were staying with friends we didn’t go to bed right away, either, so we only got about 4 hours of sleep before day one.
OUT OF THE TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR’S CONTROL
The forecast for the weekend was bleak. On Saturday the weather started out almost as predicted. It was a bit cool and slightly overcast. It even looked like it might rain. However, as the games went on the weather continued to improve, turning into a beautiful day. I kicked myself for not bringing my hat. Sunday was even nicer. The weekend was actually close to perfect Ultimate conditions.
As for the fields, the TD had to make some changes at the last minute due to heavy rains the week before. On Saturday, we played in two different locations, which was a bit disappointing because I didn’t get to see any games that happened at tournament central. But, really, if it was between having to split the tournament in half or not have it at all, I’ll play in three locations if I have to (Sunday was at a completely different field). I did enjoy the fields a bit more on Sunday, but the locations were all nice.
Before every match, team Capricorn would yell a simple, but effective cheer — 1… 2… 3… fishy goat. Yeah, I know, awesome! Thanks, Elf! Beside our flair for cheers, we had two main strengths: a deep lineup and the ability to gel on the field almost immediately. Offensively the team was able to execute both long huck plays and beautiful flow. For most of Saturday, we used a traditional zone defense or a hybrid four person set-up. Occasionally teams found holes in our four person cup, but then our deep would be there to shut down the long pass. Basically, we were able to rely on each other to make the right moves, which resulted in an undefeated record until the finals.
I can honestly say that even with running on little-to-no sleep all weekend, sustaining a grade 2 MCL tear in my left knee and losing to Cancer in the finals, I still had a great time. If you are thinking about adding Zodiac to your yearly tournament schedule, here is a list of things I would suggest:
1. Sign up early …or hope that a hurricane comes through town, ruining tournament fields around the East Coast, which then causes sectionals to be rescheduled to the same weekend as Zodiac so that spots open up and you can get off the wait list.
2. If you are far away and can fly, do so.
3. If you can’t fly, leave at a reasonable time so you arrive before the AM hours.
4. Staying with friends is fun and free, but make sure you also get to the tournament party. You will miss out on bonding with your fellow teammates.
5. When the forecast says rain, cold and miserable… also pack for blue skies, bright sun and humid weather.
6. Come with some Zodiac-themed cheers.
If you want to participate next year, get ready to travel to Toronto, Canada. I know I’ll be booking my flight as soon as the date is set!