Atlanta, GA – Saturday, June 22. — by Gerleen Dineros
AFDC’s Project Diversity hosted an event-packed day of ultimate on Saturday, which culminated that night with an intense all-star showcase game that ended with Team Tuba winning in sudden-death overtime 20-19 over Team Simpson.
Athletes of the highest caliber from across the country (and Colombia, South America) came together for a showcase game that truly boasted of the amount of talent each player brought to the table. Players were split into two teams; Team Simpson (the home team in dark jerseys) and Team Tuba (the away team in light jerseys). Both teams scored on serve for most of the first quarter, offenses seamlessly working the disc across the full width of the field as they swung the disc. Handlers gave their deep cutters plenty of room to run onto the disc in the endzone. Atlanta’s Michelle Yang won possession of a disc in an air battle against two defenders and got the assist to Raleigh’s Georgia Tse, for a score. Delrico Johnson, from Washington DC, was a highlight-generating machine on the night. In the first quarter, he laid out to snag a disc right in front of the endzone and then threw a scoober assist for a score to Seattle’s AJ Beard. That break gave Team Tuba the inch up they needed to edge ahead of Team Simpson at the end of the first quarter, 7-6.
Team Simpson refused to stay down for long, and they took advantage of Team Tuba’s turnovers to generate several scores. Colombia players Elizabeth Mosquera and Ximena Montaña connected a few times on the field, contributing to Simpson’s climb back on the scoreboard as they left their defenders trailing behind. Despite a considerable amount of time spent during a lightning and rain delay, players and spectators alike kept up the energy when the game was continued. Team Simpson pulled ahead at the end of the quarter, leaving the score 10-12 as they headed into a shortened third quarter.
Due to the weather delay, the quarters were shortened to eight minutes and breaks between quarters were condensed to two minutes in order to keep the game going. Both teams did their best to retain possession of the disc on offense, but Team Simpson’s second quarter lead faltered one too many times with fumbles in the middle of the field and Team Tuba pulled head at the end of the third quarter, 15-14. Dallas’ Gabe Hernandez was an unstoppable force on offense and defense going into the top of the fourth. He generated bookends, intercepting a pass from Team Tuba and scoring the point after an uncontested foul call fumbled the disc out of his hands in the endzone. Though his team pulled into the lead close to the end of the fourth quarter, Team Tuba’s players made equally as incredible plays in order to stay in the game. Delrico Johnson made a Sportscenter worthy layout grab in front of the endzone to retain possession of the disc, dishing it to Atlanta’s Jenny Choi for the reset. Choi completed the point by passing upline to Seattle’s Jesse Bolton, who threw the assist to DC’s Christian Boxley for the score, with just 12 seconds left in the game. Team Simpson struck back quickly, however, as Elizabeth Mosquera found Atlanta’s Shanye Crawford on a deep shot as time expired.
With the score ending tied 19-19 at the end of the fourth quarter and the intensity still high, the teams went into a sudden death round after a final two-minute break. Team Tuba received the disc and worked their way downfield, Team Simpson’s defense playing tight as they looked for opportunities to generate a much-needed turnover. Atlanta’s Anders Olsen threw a flick huck downfield to a streaking Manuela Cardenas, from Colombia, who came down with the disc for the score and for the win.
It’s impossible to highlight every player that participated in the Color of Ultimate, but this was easily one of the most competitive games of ultimate I have witnessed recently. Offenses took bold risks with their deep shots, often gaining high rewards as players like Shanye Crawford and Michelle Yang won battles in the air against their defenders. Defenses played tight on their person and caused turnovers with their layout D’s and spatial awareness on the field. To have such high caliber players in one arena, and to see how much joy radiated from them as they played with each other reminded me of the importance of elevating our community members who feel isolated and uninvited to the ultimate narrative. Ultimate should be accessible to everyone, and these players have shown that making changes to create racial and socioeconomic diversity could result in the inclusion that we proudly claim is unique to this sport.