Hawaii throws

Michelle’s team had snagged an invite for the highly desirable Hawaiian Kaimana tournament! They always have a Spirit team for pickup players without a team, so I tagged along. I was still in the intense training phase as I converted myself to a handler, and I was feeling my oats; eager to try my stuff against top players from around the globe.

Things started very rocky! We went a few days earlier for some beach vacation time and I signed up for surfing lessons. I got up on my first try, thanks to the agility drills I’d been doing for months. But… Paddling the board back out into the surf was overworking my poor rugby shoulder to the point where I was worried about being able to use the arm during the tourney and needed to stop. The instructor thought I was wussing out, but when he realized how big the tourney is, he offered to redo the lessons after the tourney; nice guy! Then things went further downhill… 

They allow you to camp on the state beach for the duration of the event; very cool! But as we headed over to the tourney, walking hand in hand, poor Michelle’s little toe got stuck on my sandal as we turned the corner. I snapped it like a twig… Michelle is her own type of crazy, so she decided to just jam her foot into the cleats before the swelling started, then just not take the shoe off! 

Hawaii gave me four favorite throws to savor. An elegant, bang on target scoober felt just perfect as I threw it, and it was the perfect use case for a scoober: up & over several defenders and into the gut of a cutting receiver in the end zone. The disc had perfect spin and turned over at just the right spot to make it an easy catch. Which the receiver promptly dropped! Turned out he had been ‘competing’ last night to win the party; that is, be the last one to leave. He was too tired & hungover to even warm up!

The two throws that actually worked were both full field hucks (deep throws); plays that we had set up. The first was the longest, cleanest inside-out backhand I’ve ever thrown. We took the disc off a pull and set our offence. A very simple play: I stayed back as a dump, the handler faked a look at an incoming cutter to freeze the defense, then the real cutter started a dead sprint to the endzone. I got the disc back about 10 yards from our own endzone and took a short windup, using a technique I learned from Jordan and Mark. I cranked that disc hard, ripping it across my gut and snapping for the curve. You can often instantly feel if a throw is good or not and this one felt amazing. I was on the right third of the field when I threw; the disc went out of bounds on the wide side, then started to curve back in after passing the half-field marker. My receiver was just booking it himself, but I started to worry a bit; he had a long way to go and the disc had already started the curve back inside. Full credit to the receiver though! He said he could make it; he just needed to know where I was going to place it. I told him I’d put a big curve on it to give him a little more time, I was targeting the exact middle of the endzone, and it would come in from his left. I held my breath for the final few seconds. The disc was going a few yards deeper into the endzone than I had planned and dropping fast; it looked like it was going to hit my teammate in the legs, not the chest. He made a great decision: instead of bending down and trying a low catch, he slid into the catch on his knees, and the disc smacked hard into his gut for the score.

The other huck was also a called play. We had a receiver with good ups so we set a simple huck & chase. I took the pull just outside our end zone and immediately ripped a backhand throw. Really pretty throw. Flat as a pancake, an easy read and going fast enough to beat out the defenders. Our guy did a simple straight up sprint and the disc dropped nicely, a few steps inside their end zone, for the score. Nothing fancy, but one of the defenders walking back muttered “nice rip” as I went by. Getting a matter of fact statement like that, from a Worlds-level player, meant a lot to me! 

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