(Photo – Emily Barrett smiles before her exclusive interview with Cape Town Ultimate Blog)
“Are you going to South Africa, too?”
The first time I met Emily Barret, she had approached me at a party back in the states. We knew of each other since we both played Ultimate for Ithaca College, but never had exchanged conversation. Our friendship commenced with that one question, and we have never looked back.
Ever since then, Emily and I have bonded over three things: Ultimate Frisbee, Studying Abroad in South Africa, and playing Ultimate in South Africa with a completely new team. She shares my experience of being new to the team and finding the subtle nuances between Ultimate Frisbee in the States and in South Africa. Since I always comment on the differences, I figured I should give my readers a fresh new voice on the topic. I sat down with Emily for 45 minutes and recorded a bit of the interview (scroll all the way down to listen)
Emily had always been an athlete. In high school, she captained both her lacrosse and soccer teams. She was well known for her strong voice on the sideline, encouraging comments, and a never-give-up attitude. Her first year of college found her playing for Ithaca College Women’s Lacrosse, although she admitted it wasn’t the same wonderful experience as high school: “It wasn’t the same… I felt like, for some reasons, I didn’t belong.”
After feeling lost, Emily’s roommate, Chloe Trifilio, introduced her to Ultimate Frisbee. Emily jokes, “[she] forced me to play.” At first, Emily was skeptical (as most are…), but she started to see the athletically demanding sport for what it really was, and easily drew parallels between soccer, lacrosse and other sports she was familiar with: “I fell in love with it right away.” Soon after joining, Emily was able to showcase her athleticism and quickly became a force to be reckoned with. “She’s gotten better than me,” her roommate Chloe jokes.
Emily, now finishing her third year of college, and fellow student abroad, has experienced Ultimate in a whole new setting: South Africa. And she has “loved every minute of it.”
Emily and I sat down together and made a list of the best parts of Ultimate Frisbee in South Africa. Thus, without and further ado, us Americans present:
The Top 3 Best Aspects of Ultimate Frisbee in South Africa
(By Kevin Doubleday and Emily Barrett)
1. The People
It’s this inexplicable phenomenon: People that play Ultimate Frisbee are generally the nicest. We thought this may just be a Central NY phenomenon, or indicative of United States Ultimate Frisbee, but South Africa proves this to be a global truth. I remember the first week I arrived in Cape Town, Emily had an offer from Chilli Ultimate to play with them the same night that I had an offer from Ghost Ultimate to play as well. It was a hilarious coincidence when Emily and I both showed up at our first match in South Africa — to play against eachother.
Emily and I have both made new friends that we are thankful for — and some that we believe will last a lifetime. We owe our gratitude to the University of Cape Town Flying Tigers for embracing us — and for the rest of the league for being so welcoming during matches.
Nationals, which was held this past weekend, April 29- March 2, “was insane,” as Emily described it. We have never and never will have the opportunity to play in another Nationals Tournament — the US is far more competitive for our little Ithaca College team to make it past Regionals.
South African Nationals was an unforgettable experience, for a variety of reasons. For starters, we got to meet and play against teams from everywhere in South Africa — Pretoria, Johannesburg, etc. The most incredible part of the tournament was beating the number one-seeded (Chilli) and making it to the finals of Nationals — first time in University of Cape Town’s history. Being a part of that history, and placing second in the nation with a very talented and supportive team was just incredible for the both of us.
3. Spirit of the Game
As I mentioned in blog post about Sprit of the Game, sportsmanship is high and well-respected here. Since we are playing in an actual league — and not a college-v-college league — the higher competitive level gives much potential to pettiness and cheating, but integrity is strong in South Africa. Emily recounts the last game ended with words from the Long Donkeys: “It’s amazing to play against such a competitive team and still keep integrity. This is what Ultimate Frisbee is all about.”
Emily and I will be returning to the States in less than two months. We both return to Ithaca to become captains of our respective teams. Thank you, Cape Town, for teaching us that Ultimate Frisbee can be enjoyed anywhere and everywhere. Thank you, UCT Flying Tigers for welcoming us, challenging us and teaching us new techniques that we can bring back to our home teams.
Music rights granted by Almand Music