Every team has their inside jokes. Here are some we encountered this summer in Cincinnati.
September 13, 2022 by Claire James in Other with 0 comments
What a relief there is no such thing as “too goofy,” because ultimate frisbee teams worldwide would be in big trouble if there was. Anyone that has ever been on an ultimate team knows how much weirdness is involved. From pregame rituals to inside jokes to inexplicable mascots on the sideline, every team has at least one — usually one hundred — fun, off-the-field idiosyncrasy that brings people a chuckle and bonds the team together.
Over the course of WUCC, I asked as many teams as possible about their oddities. The responses ran the gambit, to say the least. I spent most of my days at WUCC 2022 with women’s club teams, but thanks to tip-offs from my colleagues, I also scored some content from the mixed and open divisions.
Boston Brute Squad (USA)
The Boston-based team tends to develop new inside jokes every year, allowing for new teammates to feel just as included as the old-timers. Claire Trop — who made the switch to Washington DC Scandal this summer but put in a few years on Boston Brute Squad and played with them at WUCCs in July — explained some of the Brute’s tournament traditions.
“Brute [likes] getting like t-shirts or fun, quirky gear, so we’ll be in specific car groups for tournaments [and] if you go to the grocery store, or a Target, everyone has to find like the cheapest but coolest T-shirt or hat or sunglasses, and then you show up to the fields in them and everyone is jealous.”
Intimidation can be achieved by many means, and Brute’s go-to is affordable, absurd drip — in addition to being one of the top teams in the world, of course. Trop was sporting her orange and white checkered baseball cap during the interview, her car’s matching swag of choice for WUCC.
FUN FACT: Claire Trop’s favorite food post tourney is Poke, saying, “To my haters, aka Jimmy Mickle, poke is 100% the answer. It’s so refreshing, it’s so filling.” Respectable choice, Claire.
San Francisco Fury (USA)
This San Francisco squad seems to be all business when you watch them squash opponents, but there is more to San Francisco Fury than their self-styled “no fun” reputation. “We’re really weird. There’s like a lot of quirks,” said Marika Austin, unsure of where to start when asked about Fury’s weirdness. After some thinking, she landed on an example specific to WUCC 2022. Prior to the tournament, Fury made a dance to learn all the different WFDF hand signals, incorporating picks, travels, fouls, out of bounds, etc. in a fun, surprisingly cohesive dance routine. Unfortunately for spectators, they limited their actual calls to the rhythm-less WFDF sanctioned moves.
On a more wholesome note, Austin shared, “Every season we have some sort of analogy, like we kind of have a narrative and it’s like a test to our values, so like this year we have the trust train, and we are all on this trust train.”
Austin shared a look at one of the team’s acknowledgment shirts from WUCC, saying, ”We have these acknowledgments that people pass around. Every game, we’ve written the thing we’re focused on, and then we give it to a person who really delivered on the on-field thing they were trying to do.”
If your team is looking for a cute way to keep vibes supportive and encouraging, take notes from Fury. This practice obviously translates to the field for them.
Medellin Revolution (COL)
The world champions are famous for their exuberant positive energy and unique family dynamic. They’re just likable, simple as that. To be so dominant on the field while the whole team is having fun is the balance every team attempts to find. Revo’s secret? Dancing.
A group of Revolution players chimed in over each other as they sold merchandise to anyone passing by, “Revolution has many things that make us special. One of those things is that we always like to warm up by dancing. We don’t like the regular things as much, so we like dancing [and] we always have a choreographed dance.”
Besides the copious amounts of impromptu dancing that occurs on the sidelines, in between games, and even on the line, Revo takes things a step further with their signature dance. Before every game, Revo puts their boom box in the middle of the field, gathers around facing the crowd, and in comes the beat. Here’s a peek at the famous dance performed before the 2022 WUCC semifinal against Ellipsis (AUS):
Much like Fury, Revo has more connection-focused traditions as well. “We also have always like a toast, every night, every day of the tournament, and that’s a super special moment in the night. We get together and we mostly talk about the best moments of the day, anecdotes, and stuff like that, that’s a very important moment for us,” the same group explained while completing a tank-top sale.
“We also love volleyball and a lot of games […] so it’s normal to see us maybe warming up also playing volleyball,” another voice cut in. “Yina [Cartagena] always brings the ball. We get super competitive – games!”
So there you have it, when Revo isn’t competing on the field, they’re competing off of it, but always dancing as one.
FUN FACT: Valeria is definitely the better cook of the Cardenas twins, but Manu makes mean pasta (according to herself).
Scotland SCRAM (GBR)
SCRAM are a ragtag bunch of proud Scots and more than willing to show the world where they’re from. On the first day of pool play, many of them were sporting fresh matching undercuts. They must have stumbled upon some cheap dye too because a few diehards had even turned their undercuts into the Scottish flag, painting the shaved portions of their heads bright blue with an uncolored X in the middle. There were some blue necks as well, likely due to the challenge of cleanly dying hair in a hotel bathroom.
The Scots’ creativity and pride continued into plenty of their team-specific quirks. “We do traditional Scottish dances to warm up, [like] Ceilidh dancing, which gets us moving and ready, in the zone, and pumped as a team,” one of a gaggle of SCRAM players shared in between games.
“When we need to bring the hype again, we have a ton of songs we will sing and everybody will join in on it,” another added. “We just made a new one for [WUCC]: ‘We’re blue! We’re white! We’re Scottish dynamite! We are Scraaaaam, we are Scraaaaam’ and we say it three times. If we had bagpipes, we’d have them here, but we don’t.”
If the next big lottery winner is reading, do humanity a solid and put “bagpipes for SCRAM” at the top of your list, please and thanks.
Tokyo Swampybarg (JPN)
The name of this Japanese team is a bit of a quirk itself, prompting the question, “why Swampybarg?” The origin story is blurry, but historians (aka Ultiworld reporters) have confirmed that the team is named after their mascot, Swampy, a stuffed alligator and a dedicated supporter of the team it represents.
Swampy is transported around in a Björn backpack on the sideline, allowing the gator a great view of the game. When its carrier gets tired, Swampy takes up residence in a cozy folding chair facing the game, of course, as seen and captured here by the aforementioned historians.
Minori Yahata gave us the scoop on another insider tidbit of their team culture: “Exciting ultimate, we call it ‘waku waku.’ It’s a Japanese word that means exciting, so our goal is to be excited with our game and make everyone watching our game excited.”
Speaking for the spectator population, they far and away achieved their goal and gave viewers thrilling games with unpredictable plays. No team was more smiley during the week of WUCC than Swampybarg, regardless of a game’s outcome.
Swampybarg also have a tradition of presenting team stickers to each and every player on the opposing teams, as well as the scorekeepers and game advisors. Swampybarg finished fifth in the women’s division but deserves a blue ribbon for “most enjoyable sideline to be on.”
Singapore Pangolins (SGP)
The only women’s team representing Singapore in Cincinnati did so in style. Every member of the team came to the field each day with not one but two matching temporary tattoos. Both tattoos were also present in sticker form on every Pangolin water bottle. One says “SINGAPORE” in the same font as their jerseys while the other is their signature Pangos symbol. For those not in the know, Pangolins are like scaly anteaters, a mammal native to Singapore.
When they aren’t decking themselves out in Pangolin swag, they spend their time thinking up word plays to apply on the field.
“We like to do Pangol-related jokes, puns, that kind of thing, like Pan-goal, pan-go, pango-roll,” shared some Pangolin players as they did their post-game cool-down stretching.
Pittsburgh Parcha (USA)
“So obviously we throw chairs.”
This is undoubtedly the best interview opener. “Tell me more,” I asked a couple of Pittsburgh Parcha players who were packing up after beating Halifax Salty (CAN).
“Parcha is a state of mind. It’s a come-as-you-are mentality. [So] the chair came about because people in Pittsburgh and Northeast cities, when it snows, save their parking spots with chairs. And if you move the chair, it is the ultimate disgrace. It’s not cool. The chair is final.”
“So when do the chairs get thrown?” I couldn’t help but inquire.
“We throw the chair whenever we’re feeling it – whenever the moment speaks to us,” overlapping voices explained.
To paint this odd picture further, they have an entourage, if you will, of chairs for throwing: “Mostly a metal folding chair. We also have some wood ones, we have a bedazzled one,” they said, showing me the chairs they were referencing as they went. In fact, the name Parcha comes from a good ol’ word mashup because ‘parking chair’ doesn’t have a great ring to it.
To view this chair-throwing, passion-filled spectacle, head over to Parcha’s Instagram.
Dublin Gravity (IRL)
They didn’t finish at the top of the pack at WUCC, but Gravity are a marvelous team and no doubt the best company for a trip to the pub. The Irish tied for third in spirit scores and for good reason. Besides being amiable and lighthearted as opponents, Gravity are an infinitely creative and goofy bunch, as our 10 minutes of interviewing indicated.
Some of their jokes will remain inside, but Gravity were nice enough to share some of their quirks.
Áine Gilheany posed the question to her team: “Can we spread the word about Gerry Cinnamon?” The group chattered, shrugged, and decided the word could be spread.
“Our song of the tournament is ‘Belter’ by Gerry Cinnamon, so you can listen to that one at your leisure,” Gilheany shared.
Another explained, “It’s a chill pump-up tune so you can listen to it for hype, or for de-hype. We like to choose weird songs as our team songs. But we don’t know the lyrics to it so we just say Dublin Gravity the whole time.”
The Dublin natives were throwing ideas into the conversation from every angle as they munched on their in-between-games snacks. “We like to say, ‘What’s the force’? And then we say ‘gravity!’ to plague everybody because then we still don’t know what the force is,” many of them giggling at their joke.
My personal favorite Gravity-defining quirk of WUCC 2022 was their space packs. Gilheany elaborated, “We have a real space theme, so we’ve got like these children’s backpacks that we got sent by one of our players who couldn’t come. They’re like these tiny space packs that have a little astronaut on them, and they have like one thing in them,” she said through a smile.
After their teammate Elissa Sutherland tested positive for COVID shortly before departing for Ohio, Sutherland decided to send every member of her team a children’s space backpack to fit the “space” theme. Here is your shoutout Elissa, as requested by the team!
Here is a rapid-fire run-through of mini quirks I observed on some Canadian teams:
- Vancouver Traffic – The sideline is always equipped with tiny, checkered racing flags that they wave as they rally their team.
- Toronto 6ixers – Everyone loves the song “Primadonna” by Marina, but the 6ixers take that love to the next level. They live and breathe this song, and I respect it. Should you ever be watching a 6ixers game, you won’t regret witnessing this soul connection between team and song.
- Quebec Iris – This French-Canadian squad spray paints tank tops with their logos and whatever else they want to decorate them with. This became their practice and warmup garb, a common but classic practice in the ultimate community.
Auckland Blueberries (NZL)
The underdog team from New Zealand quickly earned a spot in our hearts; how couldn’t they with a name like ‘Blueberries’?
As they migrated across the Lebanon Sports Complex, a bushel of Blueberries explained, “Every time anything happens to anyone, it’s always a promotion. It doesn’t matter if they’re getting pulled off of a big line or put on a big line, it’s always a promotion. We try to embody a culture of ‘everything is good for the team.’” This seems to create a healthy environment that avoids internal competition. The blueberry patch is brimming with jokes as well, many of which they opted to not expose.
They were willing to share their Instagram page, @blueberriesultimate, which has plenty more blueberry-shaped content such as: “Whenever we do a team photo, you have to be a blueberry. However you envision that, you have to become one.”
Lastly, in their spirit circle, the Blueberries sing a traditional Māori song to the opposing team, a treat for anyone in their vicinity.
Melbourne Ellipsis (AUS)
Hopping over to Australia, Ellipsis’ Olivia Carr gave us some inside looks at their banter.
“Y’now Cat Phillips? We call her ‘Cathy the Egg’ because she has an egg counter and whenever she’s training, which is always, she tries to keep track of how many eggs she is eating, and she tries to eat like two dozen eggs a week or something crazy,” Carr said. The eggs seem to be doing the trick for Phillips, a total baller who is the pinnacle of athleticism.
Other than that, Ellipsis likes to go with the flow, embracing their quirks as they come.
“One of our break celebrations at the moment is where everyone rolls around on the ground,” Carr added. “Our coach’s name is Steve Rat, and he said, ‘we just steamrolled that team.’ We decided to call it Steve-roll, and then we decided to make him roll. Normally he is quite upright and doesn’t do anything particularly involved on the ground.”
I managed to get documentation of this rolling event in the semifinals against Revolution.
Honorable Mention: the Ellipsis Open team for having the best supporting presence of any cheer squad. This bunch of rascals could start their own music production company if they so desired. Their specialties include parodies of classic 80s and 90s songs that perfectly recognize Anouchka Beaudry’s pristine throws and Eva Weatherall’s catching abilities. They have a cheer for nearly every member of the women’s team and impressive lung capacity, considering they spent a total of no more than 10% of their spectating time not shouting their parodies.
Raleigh Phoenix (USA)
The team out of Raleigh, North Carolina had a variety of quirks to share, backing up their claim that they are “very weird.” Becky Fagan gave some vague answers, including “We like really disorganized warmups. Chaos. We love some classic 90’s jams,” and adding “we’re big rhymers.”
Karen Ehrhardt filled in some holes, providing specific examples: “We did tie dye after day one.1 We name the weather after different kinds of soup, like cold and wet is gazpacho and hot/humid is clam chowder.” Truly a genius way to spice up the forecast, well done Phoenix.
Their lines are also bound by goofy tradition, each with its own name. One line went so far as to buy crocs and jibbitz to solidify their unity. We can only hope that one day Raleigh Phoenix will wear them for a point.
Mixed Division Special Mentions
Madison NOISE (USA)
This Wisconsin-based team established their theme of the week as “chonk.”
“Chonk played a really large role in our wins. It can be both a verb and an adjective,” a chonk-obsessed Noise player shared. They are equipped with chonk cheers and frequently announce, “It’s chonk season!” Confused about chonk? Join the club. We’ve confirmed it has positive connotations, but “chonk” seems to be a concept that’s not meant to be understood.
More traditional components of the team include their post-game routine of requesting their opponents to sum up their team in a noise. Madison Noise then collects these sounds and adds them to their metaphorical bag to use throughout the season.
Freiburg Disconnection (GER)
In another creative spirit circle activity, Freiburg players each bring baby photos and give them to the opponents who have to match the baby photos to the German players.
Which they used everyday for their chaotic warmups. ↩