The Definitive Guide To Summer Party Tournaments

The summer party tournament circuit is well underway. Here's what you need to know to maximize your fun.

Wildwood 2013.
Photo by Brian Canniff —

You spend 50, maybe 51 weekends a year trying to legitimize Ultimate to your family, friends, and coworkers. You’ve got your stock answer for how to describe the game, what the travel is like, the lack of dogs, club vs. league play — all of it. You insist to them that Ultimate is a very serious game. You know, rules, strategy. The whole bit. We’re athletes. I swear!

Then you throw away all the built up equity and good will by going to some insane party tournament. A tournament where shotgunning for pull is encouraged, shotskis after games are mandatory, and the pick six rule is up to the captains.

She’s a fickle mistress, the party tournament.

Please, let my follies, observations, and limited triumphs be your guide to a better party tournament experience.

What to Bring

You want to be prepared but you don’t want to over pack. The balance is delicate.


– Your normal playing attire (shorts, spikes, blah blah blah)
– 2 shirts (NOTE: one will be irreparably damaged with syrupy booze, vomit, or a combination of both)
– 1 pair of shorts with pockets
– 1 bullshit hoodie that you’re okay with being permanently lost
– A TON of socks and underwear. You can wear the same clothes everyday but you need clean socks and underwear to ward off unpleasant Ultimate-related conditions like swamp ass, trench foot, and general funk.


-1 gallon of water
-Do you really need food? Outside of a couple protein bars and your standard tournament fare, it’s not uncommon to be halfway through a game Sunday morning and suddenly realize you haven’t had anything to eat since Friday night. Shrug.


– Yes.

Beating the Hangover

If you’re not hungover, you’re not doing it right. You don’t get points for being the first one at the fields with cleats on, but you don’t want to be the worthless guy who sleeps in the chair for three rounds. Get a hold of yourself.

TUMS, Rolaids, and Other Antacids

Antacids don’t last long in my possession because I end up eating them all out of boredom while driving. But I always keep some in my tournament bag. At some point, you’re going to be drinking some weird, acidic shit. You’ll either get ICE’d five times in an hour, end up drinking some fruity moonshine of questionable origins, or run out of beer and end up having to get drunk on Mike’s Hard out of pure necessity. Whatever the reason, you’ll want something to calm the stomach when you wake up the next day. There’s nothing worse than making an “Up!” call immediately followed by a fiery burp out of hell.


Pedialyte was designed for babies with diarrhea but in a miraculous twist of fate, not unlike Alexander Fleming’s accidental discovery of penicillin, it is also the best thing to rehydrate the irresponsible adult body after a night of sin and boozin’. It’s got all the stuff your body needs — without all the sugar and imminent heartburn of Gatorade. Pedialyte needs a new, Ultimate-sensitive rebranding campaign. Do the right thing and send a letter, USAU. One time. “Pedialyte: It’s not just for babies anymore.”

BC Powder

I was dog-piss hungover leaving the hotel room at the Beth Coltman Memorial Tournament one Sunday morning. It showed. This was the kind of hangover that’s visible from a half mile away. I drew the attention of another guest. He approached me.

“My man. Is you hungover?” he asked.

I confirmed.

His eyes lit up. “Wait right here, man! I got just the thing for you.”

This guy starts sprinting to his car to get God knows what. I briefly thought of running but that would have involved running, so I just stood there, supporting myself on a railing, and waited. He returned with an odd piece of wax paper with powder inside it.

“Take this, man. You gonna feel great, man. IT’S A BC POWDER, MAN!”

Now I don’t normally take random powder from strangers in the parking lot of a Super 8. Call it a rule. But he swore it would cure my hangover. Also, he recited his medical credentials six or seven times (his mom was a nurse) which helped me make an informed decision.

The options were clear: play drug roulette two states from home and possibly die or puke at the fields and play really, really poorly – if at all.

A decision was made. I took the powder. And that stuff worked. Like, really worked. It worked surprisingly well.

I got to the fields, threw my cleats on, and took a lap. Suddenly I had been absolved of all my sins the night before at the party. It was like The Last Crusade when Indiana Jones pours the water from the grail on Sean Connery after he gets shot in the stomach by that Nazi.

I was healed.

Since that day, I always keep BC Powder handy. Tuesday mornings after Monday Night Football, a cousin’s weddings, the occasional night out with that one friend who brings out the absolute worst in you — you need this stuff the next day.

The stranger left me with these words…

“In about 20 minutes, you’re gonna be saying… ‘That black motherfucker saved my life. That was my guy.'”

He was right. And I did. Except for the black motherfucker part. That seemed like too much.

Stylin’ and Profilin’… Profilin’, Anyway

There’s always a nice eclectic mix of folks at tournaments like this. For whatever reason these particular profiles of specific people and teams come to mind.

Steve: The Dude That’s Drunker Than You at All Times

You NEED this guy on your team. So you had a lot to drink and you’re pretty sure you made an ass of yourself last night? Well, you’re off the hook because Steve peed in his bag and lost his phone. At least you’re not Steve!

Club Jersey Guy

Whoa! Hey! Look out! This guy plays club and he wants YOU to know about it. I’m not talking about just the jersey. This dude is playing in the ninth place bracket on Sunday and he’s rocking his club team’s full outfit, complete with shorts, color matching cleats, and trucker hat… all the while being marked by a guy in a leopard print unitard. Read the room, man.

Team Secret Dicks

Not to be confused with the more familiar Team Overt Dicks, Team Secret Dicks seems pretty cool at first. You heckle a little bit, they heckle back a little bit. It seems friendly. Then BAM! here come the travel calls, the bad in/out call, and the 15 minute foul/contest argument. The situation has escalated quickly.

The Actual Mixed Team

You get to the fields and they’re running a drill. You do a double take. Yep. They’re running a drill.

The Team That’s Too Drunk To Be Around People

These guys are hammered beyond what is appropriate, even for a notorious drinking tournament such as this. Imagine a team with three Steves — all vying to claim the title of Most Outrageously Drunk. You always meet them for the last round of pool play on Saturday. They ask to shotgun for the game and they’re not kidding. You insist on playing the game and proceed cautiously, as the risk of getting rolled up by a late bidding drunk dude is high. You win handily but they score on a beer-in-hand point. It hurts.

Constantly Hurt Guy

He’s hurt in club. He’s hurt in league. He’s hurt at the party tournament. So, from the safety of the shade tent, he heckles the poor souls who actually have to play these games, causing you to simultaneously hate and envy him.

Craft Beer Guy

I don’t care for craft beer guy in real life but in settings like the party tournament he becomes unbearable. How are you supposed to play flip cup with a Banana Oatmeal Triple Hop IPA or any of the other ridiculously named micro brew this dude brought? Then you have to hear about how the brewery is employee owned, solar powered, and located at the foothills of the Appalachian mountains.

Weekend Pass Married Guy

The wife and kids are at home so this dude is back reliving the glory days – and everyone is loving it. He’s winning flip cup, he’s semi-harmlessly flirting with women, he walks in to the gas station with no shirt on and somehow receives service! His behavior over the weekend is the kind of thing that makes the Grinch’s heart grow two sizes.

The Reciprocity of Beer

There are a lot of reasons a person has to mooch beer at a tournament. Sometimes your stuff is just too far away from the field you wandered over to. Sometimes you’re temporarily out of beer. Whatever the instance is that brought you to this moment, remember this; when it comes to beer, we’re all on the same team.

I believe that when you die every beer you’ve ever given out is given back to you tenfold. Likewise, every beer you’ve ever mooched is wiped from clean from your karmatic record. It’s like what I imagine Islam to be if I had the motivation to do any actual investigation into what Islam is actually about. The universe will balance itself out – and reward those who loaned out beer.

When poaching a beer, I like to lead with something simple and conversational like, “Excuse me. Do you, like myself, believe that every warm Natty Light you’ve ever spotted someone will be returned to you in the after life?”

It usually works.

Something to Trade

Man. This is clutch.

Last summer I went to a Pirates game with a friend of mine. While walking around the parking lot I noticed something underneath a ridiculously gaudy six-wheeled pickup truck. It was the kind of pickup truck that only suburban people with no actual use for a pickup truck love to drive. Anyway, tucked underneath the tailgate I noticed something. There they were. Two dozen or so cake pops. Round bits of frosted cake on a stick. Someone had obviously hidden them under Frankentruck after a hasty tailgate party clean up and headed in for the game.

It was two hours before the first pitch so I grabbed the cake pops and started wheeling and dealing. I walked past tailgates “Cake pops here! Get your cake pops!” and before I knew it I had all the cheap light beer and burnt hot dogs I could handle.

People LOVE to trade stuff when they’re drunk. It’s like a real life version of Oregon Trail. You can’t take everything you need. Take something you can easily trade to fill in the gaps. Pick up some donuts, maybe make some Jell-O shots, fireworks, a 50 pack of BC Powder – that’s all legitimate trade bait for what you forgot to bring.

Sunday’s Last Gasp

The excitement of Friday when you Yabba Dabba Doo’d out of work has passed and you can feel the work week upon you. For a few seconds you think about discharging a firearm in the air and taking a hostage at a gas station. THE WEEKEND IS NOT OVER! But you realize that’s not really sustainable. So you sit at the fields watching finals. Or consolation. Or volunteers drive around on golf carts and collect empty coolers…just sitting there drinking the last of the beer and dreading the thought of work the next day.

The countdown to next year’s tournament begins.

  1. Tad Wissel

    Tad Wissel is an Ultiworld reporter.

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