2022 USA Ultimate Masters Championships

Photos from Endless Sunset Great Grand Masters games at 2022 USA Ultimate Masters Championships

Day 0 – July 14, 2022 – Aurora Colorado

Mark is participating in his 5th USA Ultimate Masters Championships. The first two years (2015 & 2016) he was competing in the Masters age group (40+) which was a challenge but still a lot of fun. In 2021 USAU introduced the Great Grand Masters (GGM) age group (50+) which was a bit of a field leveler but still a challenge. His is playing with Endless Sunset which would be very cool if only true; I fear that my right knee may be telling me this is my last Masters competition. The first round of pool play starts Friday morning at 8:30 MT and we have to come in 1st, 2nd or 3rd to have a shot at a top 8 playoff position. We are seeded 9th out of 16 teams at Masters based on our performance at the So.Cal. qualifier where we finished 2nd out of 4 teams.

Here is a link if you are interested in following Endless Sunset GGM at the 2022 USA Ultimate Masters Championships!

Day 1 – Endless Sunset Great Grand Masters at the 2022 USA Ultimate Masters Championships in Aurora, Colorado.

Endless Sunset GGM at 2022 USA Ultimate Masters Nationals

Our Endless Sunset Great Grand Masters (ES GGM) team came into the tournament seeded 9th out of 16 teams.  Our Pool D teams were seeded 4,5,9 and 16.  For a team to have a chance to advance to the top 8 teams they had to win at least one game the first day.  Our team had a fairly large roster so we decided to run three consistent lines, the players who are on the field for any given point.  Each line had a captain who helped pick the seven players for each point they played, and also helped to coach and establish strategy for their own line.  I was the Blue Line captain and our line played extremely well.  We got off to a rocky start before coming together on strategy and roles for each of the players. Our line gelled quickly and played very consistently on offense and defense throughout the day.]

I don’t feel this awkward when I throw but apparently I look that way 😉

The basic game is of 70 minutes of play time with 15 points being the winning score if ahead by 2. In our first game, at 8:30 this morning, we played the 4th seeded team and made a respectable showing, losing 9-15, considering this was the first time that our team and lines had played together with our full roster.  Our second game was plagued by multiple turn-overs on a single point resulting in one point that had over 9 turns, many in the end zone, and lasted over 20 minutes!  That second match ended based on time with a losing score of only 5-9, WOW!

3rd Match Against New York State

Our last match was a do or die if we wanted a shot at the top 8, which we needed to have chance to beat our seed in the tournament.  Our team came out strong and enjoyed a 5-3 lead at the half.  Again, we came out strong after halftime break and extended the lead to 10-6, gaining way too much confidence in our ability to put this game away.  Over the next 20 minutes we let the other team score 4 unanswered points on a series of unforced throwing errors, bringing the score to 10-10.  Our games are timed and a hard cap of 11 (time management rule that establishes a lower game winning score due to time constraints) was established when we were up by several points.  We eventually persevered and score the all-important 11th point, securing a victory and a chance to advance to the top 8.

Often times we question the wisdom of the tournament seeding, whether we should have been seeded higher, whether we should have been in another pool, etc. This year it’s tough to criticize the seeding as the 1st seed in every pool won all 3 games, the 2nd seed in each pool won 2 out of 3, the third seed in each pool won 1 game and the 4th seed in every pool won 0 games. The challenge now is to keep our team healthy and happy so we can win the next all-important match against the 8th seeded team in the tournament, a 2nd place finisher the first day. This game figures to be a tough match against a team we have played before and always had close games.

Day 2 – Endless Sunset GGM Championship Elimination Rounds

Day 2 at the USA Ultimate Masters Championships is always a tough road. Every match you win matches you up with better team than you’ve beat before and every loss drops you into a lower bracket playing teams with an identical record. Our first match was against a local Colorado team, Silverhorn, which played better than us today, beating us 15-9. While disappointed with the loss it was against a 2nd place seed in Pool A that played hard and outplayed us. The second game was against Burnt Ends and we beat them handily 15-6. It was a good match for us to get some momentum and let all of our players get some disc time.

Our last game was important as it provided us with our last chance to beat our 9th place seed at Nationals. The weather was very windy at the start of the game, which made advancing the disc difficult in either direction. Our game was called on account of lightening warnings 20 minutes into the game and we were down 1-4 as a result of many wind induced turn overs. After our final restart of play after two 30-minute lightening delays we were down 4-8 and in need of some major momentum shift. Our team was ready to rally and we set our goal to “Break 4”, force 4 turnovers and score on each of them. We played a very strong “O” and “D” line for those points and indeed were able to tie the score at 8-8. After a challenging set of play we found ourselves down 9-10 and in the middle of the next point when the soft-cap horn went off, meaning the winning score would be the highest current score + 1after the point finished. That meant we had to win the next point to have a chance at a victory and after a turn-over we did score to advance the score to a 10-10 tie. We were on defense on the next point and did force a turnover so we had a chance for the victory. Unfortunately a turnover by our team gave the disc back to the other team and they scored, ending our bid to beat our seed at Nationals.

Tomorrow is another day and our final match is against the same team we faced in our last game in 2021. Hopefully the outcome in 2022 is better as we lost to them last year. Everyone on our team and our opponents have been playing hard and with good spirit (mostly) so the overall experience is always positive. Hopefully tomorrow it ends MORE positive for Endless Sunset.

Day 3 – Endless Sunset GGM Championship Finals

Day 3 is always supposed to be short, as every division and bracket has played out except the final game in each bracket, i.e., 1st vs 2nd, 3rd vs 4th, etc. Our 11th vs 12th game this morning was against the same team we played in our final game in 2021, TriAged, except this year we emerged victorious. After getting off to a slow start, 2-4, we came back strong to finish the first half at 8-6. TriAged certainly wasn’t ready to give up and pushed the score to 10-9 before we pulled ahead again and beat them 14-12. It was a great match with both teams playing hard but realizing this game was not for a National Championship and really was just a friendly rematch from last year. It was disappointing to finish below our 9th place seed but our team played well, got along, and everyone seemed to have a great time. 2022 was a better finish than 2021, when we finished 13th, so our hope is that we’ll continue to recruit good talent and improve in 2023!

Endless Sunset 2022 Results

I had heard rumors last year, way after the fact, of the Inaugural Legends Game in 2021 and finally found out how to sign up for it in 2022. This is a friendly coed game for players at the Masters Nationals; it is limited to men over 60 and women over 50. The teams are determined by the geographic regions of the players’ Masters teams, which makes for a friendly East vs West competition. The organizer did a great job setting up the event and setting the stage for the second annual challenge, including identifying the legendary Ultimate players (40+ years of playing) and singling out the really old ones, where I came to find out that I was the second oldest player (by just a few months) in the Legends game this year. My teams always seem to get off to a slow start and we found ourselves down 2-4 early in the game when we took our mandatory 3-minute water break because the outside temperature was approaching 100°! Fortunately we did some strategy adjustments and quickly turned the scoring trend around with some great breaks and found ourselves up 8-6 at the half and finally the West won the game 13-10, a repeat of the West’s 2021 victory. It was one of the funnest games I played this year at the Masters. Everyone had a great time, there were some spectacular plays on offense and defense, and no-one got hurt; the first rule for the Legends game!

2022 Legends Players

I learned a couple of other tips at Masters this year relative to staying hydrated when competing in a dry climate with temperatures in the 90’s. The first night after competition while I was laying in bed, I got the worst cramps ever in my leg abductors; something I’ve never had before. I quickly resorted to a remedy I learned from one of Sonia’s volleyball teammates; swallowing a healthy squirt of plain old yellow sandwich mustard. It was awful but amazing and quelled the cramping within seconds. Apparently whatever agent exists in the mustard (or pickle juice, which is supposed to work as well) is absorbed directly in your stomach rather than intestines, which explains the semi-immediate affect. Then I remembered a comment by one of my teammates, that he gave up on water and Gatorade and started drinking Pedialyte during tournaments; it supposedly does a phenomenal job of replacing electrolytes, which prevents the cramps. So the next day I bought a bunch of Pedialyte but didn’t drink much of it. That night I got the cramps again but not as bad, took a shot of mustard and Pedialyte and made it through the night. The problem with Pedialyte is that it has a taste strangely similar to Movi-Prep, a product all you over 50-year-olds probably recognize (it’s commonly prescribed as a colonoscopy prep agent). Well, anything is better than wicked strong muscle cramps so 1 liter of Pedialyte is on the docket for tonight before bedtime.

This was my 5th time competing in the USA Ultimate Masters and I’ve never had as much fun as this year. On my Great Grand Masters team I was selected to be one of the three line captains, I was tasked with guiding the strategy and roles for the 8-9 players that were on my line. Our team’s three lines rotated in and out in sequence, which gave us time to rest between plays and also gave the group a chance to gel as a mini-team. Our Blue Line played well and converted lots of turnovers into defensive points even though our primary role was as a “D” (defensive) line. I would like to think that the players on my line appreciated the coaching and reinforcement of the critical success factors that resulted in our success on the field. I came into Masters this year thinking this might be my last year playing at this level but the encouragement, appreciation and feedback I got from my team had me on the fence. Then playing playing with the Legends of Ultimate convinced me that I need to keep playing as long as I can contribute and have fun. I’m already looking forward to the 2023 Masters.

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