Stall 9: The Shape Of The Game

Every built environment inherently gives an advantage to a certain way of using it.

Competition at the 2019 USA Goaltimate Championships. Photo: Conrad Stoll -- UltiPhotos.com
Competition at the 2019 USA Goaltimate Championships. Photo: Conrad Stoll — UltiPhotos.com

With ultimate still on its pandemic-induced hiatus, our new “Stall 9” column is an opportunity for Ultiworld staff members to share random opinions or reflections on what they’re thinking about or miss most from the sport. Just as is the case when the stall count reaches 9, anything goes.

Speaking from the strange canyons of my own heart and experience, there is something beautiful about lining up a clear in goaltimate. Something pure, even — a simple matter of matching imagination and outcome. The act borrows heavily from the mechanics of full-field ultimate but translates them into an experience that is at once spatially less demanding and — unlike the intermediate cousin between the two, mini — less congested by the other players on the field.

The line from seeing the glimmer of a connection to making it a reality is often quite direct in goaltimate. Open space seems to expand beyond the field’s actual capacity. Conversely, the defenders, unwilling to sell out to stop a clear lest they give up a goal on the attack, shrink toward the edge of the frame. The look is clear. All the angles are available. It takes only takes a little wrist-snap to tilt a flick back in bounds around the front cone or curl a backhand inside a wrong-footed defender or deposit a hammer at the backline; it takes only a few carefree skips to tika-taka into the clear box with a friend. Because of these advantages, clearing in goalty may be the most reliably elegant play in disc sports.

And that elegance of course counts for nothing. With an attempt to score, on the other hand, one faces the fundamentally inelegant task of shoving the disc past a phalanx of ogres through a tapering mousehole to a point within its ill-defined shadow.

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  1. Edward Stephens
    Edward Stephens

    Edward Stephens has an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. He writes and plays ultimate in Athens, Georgia.

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