Ultimate Frisbee in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires, Argentina
April 2, 2019

Ultimate Frisbee has been one of Petra’s passions for the past 2 years. We didn’t know much about this sport before she joined her school team in 6th grade. Since then, she quit soccer over Ultimate, she plays it every chance she’s got, and has met ton of great friends through it. It’s probably one of the most supportive sport communities that exist around the world.

Here is what the USA Ultimate league says about their sport: “The Ultimate community has proudly promoted one aspect of the game more than any other: the spirit of fair play. It’s commonly called “Spirit of the Game” – “The integrity of Ultimate depends on each player’s responsibility to uphold the Spirit of the Game, and this responsibility should remain paramount.”. This community also embraces and pursues gender equity. It’s one sport where co-ed teams are more of a norm than the exception.

Initially, Petra was not too happy about this trip because a teenager would rather be with her friends, in her home, in her school, playing her favorite sport with her good friends. I wanted to make this transition to travel easier on her and was looking for opportunities to make her first month away from home as enjoyable as possible. I thought if we could connect with the Ultimate communities along our journey, she would have something to look forward to in locations where we’ll be staying longer. I started this process with posting an inquiry about Ultimate teams in Buenos Aires in the previously mentioned FB expat group. I was super lucky to get a response from KT who offered to have Petra join her team’s practices for the duration of our stay in Buenos Aires.

Our best memories from Buenos Aires were entangled with this group of young, warm, charming, inclusive, highly skilled and even more motivated Ultimate players from the team called “Hammers”. I wanted to dedicate a separate post to this team since they deserve all the possible praise about their warm welcome to our family to their Ultimate community.

The name Hammers came from a challenging style of frisbee release, “hammer”, commonly used by the players of this team. They are an elite level team that competes in national and international tournaments. Many of the members have represented their countries in several Ultimate World Games. They are constantly looking to develop new players to ensure the future of the Ultimate in Argentina. They are a diverse team, in age and origin. A couple of their players are teenagers while others are in their 20s and 30s. They come from Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela and India.

Petra joined their first practice the first Sunday of our stay in Buenos Aires. Our expectation was based on Petra’s Ultimate experience until that point (1-2 hr practice).

Boy were we wrong!!!

Neither of us dreamed that an elite level team would invite a 13 year old to practice with them. We didn’t know we were dealing with professionals, with folks that take Ultimate quite seriously.

At that first practice, after the first hour of warm up (which was equivalent to the most intense practice that Petra has ever done), she learned that the practice was expected to be FOUR (sometimes 5) hours long. She sat down during one of their short water breaks and questioned if she would be able to keep up with the team and actually stick with it for the whole 4 hrs. Let me tell you, she did it, and did it well!!!

Those 4 hrs turned out to be her “Ultimate baptism” with this team and the beginning of her love of our time in Buenos Aires.
After this first practice, we also learned that the team had 2 other weekly practices – Tuesdays for skills practice (2+hrs) and Thursdays for conditioning (another 2+ hrs). This schedule of 8-10 hrs of practice helped Petra with planning our days in BsAs, and having something great to look forward to every few days. She also played a couple of real games with them and ended up getting the official Hammers jersey as a gift from the team.

When Hammers practice, they are quite dedicated to it. Their work habits are impressive. If anyone skips a practice or arrives late, they ‘pay for it’ by working it off with tons of burpees and sprints. They take selfies after each practice to keep track of attendance. During their practices, if certain level of performance is not achieved, they imposed on themselves extra sit ups during down times. These young people are self-motivated, self-managed, self-funded.

They seem to be leaders in the Ultimate community of Buenos Aires, not only by their performance results but also by their commitment to develop and share the love of this sport with younger generations (not all teams they play against are co-ed and most don’t include teenagers as rightful team members). They were 2018 Buenos Aires Ultimate Champions and are on their way to capture that title again this year. They organize tournaments, they all work hard to self-fund their travel to far-off competitions, they are even hoping to play in a tournament in the US in November.

The most impressive part of their story is the makeup of this group.

Each team member has a life story worthy of a bestseller biography. Many of these impressive young people reminded me of us 30 years ago, when we found ourselves as immigrants in a new country, with limited financial resources but with tons of spirit, determination and drive to share all that’s available with their families and communities.
Many of these players have families in Venezuela/Columbia/India or spread across the continents. They are not only supporting themselves but also their brothers, sisters, parents. They are sponsors for their families’ immigrant visas. Many are attending universities, working, supporting additional family members. They are an impressive bunch of sophisticated young leaders, smart, capable, compassionate, motivated and most of all, full of happy spirit – simply impressive and extremely lovable, each one of them.

We were beyond lucky that we crossed paths with this lovely group and are hoping to see most of them again in Netherlands next year for the Ultimate World Games. We would also love to host them in Seattle when we return. I truly hope that I am adequately presenting these spirited young people to you and that some of you will help me bring them up to the States for an Ultimate tournament next year.
These young people will continue to shine wherever they are!


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