Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I'm Becoming the Hamptons

International Staff Meetings began a week ago. Twice a year all the WYA staff from each of the 5 offices worldwide comes to NY and we plan strategically, have a chance to share our experiences and just get to know each other better. This year, we were lucky enough to be hosted at two houses in the Hamptons for week 2.
Tuesday, we arrived to Bridgehampton around noon. Francois and I jogged to the house we were staying at, initially in the wrong direction. Then drove back to the train station to pick up all the luggage while the staff walked. The house is great, 8 of us are staying in one place and four at another so they drive over every evening and come back to join for staff meetings.

We've all entered heaven. Tuesday we arrived and after a quick lunch we drove to the beach at the bottom of the road. I made 3 trips, and by the time I finally got out of the car I was so excited to go swimming. The waves were huge and crashing on the shore with enough spray to knock you down and chuck you meters further up the beach. All the staff were sitting calmly on their towels, chatting. I slowed down enough to throw my towel and shirt on the sand and sprinted directly into the waves. Francois followed quickly afterwards, and then Carlos. We dove right into the waves and although the initial shock of the cold was quite intense, the joy of swimming in the ocean more than made up for it. Carlos managed to stay in about 2 minutes before his Paraguayan body refused to deal with the chill anymore.

After a few minutes of swimming we moved on to body surfing. By this time, a number of the other staff had at least moved far enough down the beach to dip their toes in the surf. Shannon eventually joined and once we were out beyond the breaking waves confessed she wasn't such a confident swimmer. We stayed out there till we had some waves small enough I thought she might enjoy the ride. We missed the first wave, caught the second and while I got out of the surf Shannon didn't move quickly enough and got swamped by a big one. After that experience she was quite shaken up, perhaps still is, and stayed out of the ocean for the rest of the day.

Carlos and I threw a frisbee around for a little while as everyone else relaxed and chatted. Thunderclouds started to roll up and the sky got quite dark after a little over an hour so we had to leave.

After supper while Francois, Becky, Carlos and Des drove over to their home the rest of us settled into the attic to watch some, what Carlos would call, chicken flicks. Our goal was to watch the most ridiculous, brainless, girliest movie we could find. Sadly, all those movies had already been watched to death. We did find one that was still functional, The Prince and Me, Part 2. Which we followed with A Girl in the Cafe, a love story which takes place around the UN and Millenium Development Goals. I absolutely loved A Girl in the Cafe, it is one of the most awkward love stories ever. Both protagonists were such socially inept, awkward conversationalists, that watching their interactions and flirting was so painful. I think part of its charm is I could remember conversations I've had with people like that, and I'd always wondered how they got to know people or fell in love, now I know!

Today we began our day with a game called SPUD, in which the person who is "it" counts to 3 while everyone else runs as far as they can. Then the "it" person has 3 steps to take in any direction to hit someone with a sock. Each time someone is hit by a sock they receive a letter and upon completing SPUD, they are eliminated. I've been playing games with the staff each morning to introduce them to all sorts of icebreakers they can use in their own work. Becky, especially, intensely dislikes these exercises and upon hearing of this morning's game was especially disappointed. So we decided the game could also be called MARY, the important thing being that it remains a four letter word :)

During lunch today, I went to the beach again for a quick swim (of course also attempting to tan somewhat). This evening we had a BBQ out in the backyard. Basically, it's been a little slice of heaven for all of us here. Only two more days, they will pass us by much too quickly.

Chowdafest Tournament

Two weekends after I returned home from travels, after only one Ultimate practice, I went to the Chowdafest Tournament in Massachussetts. It is one of the more important tournaments as it is the last tournament before all the teams in the NorthEast Region compete to qualify to attend Nationals. The rankings assigned to the teams based on how they play there, affects their rankings at Sectionals which occurs a few weeks later.

After basically 2 months of not playing Ultimate, I was exceedingly nervous that I would play one game be completely out of shape and be dead for the rest of the tournament. What happenned was not far off, but willpower carried me much further. Even in the warmups I was nervous that my teammates would realise how out of shape I was and really worked hard to appear fit.

First game, I went all out and managed to have some nice catches, throws and even a couple goals scored! We won our first game against a relatively easy team. Second game was also against a relatively easy team and we won that also. Third game was against one of the top ranked teams in the country and while we expected to lose we did put up quite a bit of a fight, scoring the most points against them of any team they had played until then. Fourth game was against a team which went on to beat that team for first place in the tournament. We lost by one point and while we were happy to have played a good game, all felt that with a little more time we could have potentially beat them.

Saturday evening I was dead. My calves were sore, my abs hurt, my back hurt, I didn't think I'd be able to play at all on Sunday. Thankfully after a little swim, some beer, and a couple go-kart races I felt much better :)

Sunday we had a relatively easy team for our first game and won. It was a great game for me to warm up my muscles little by little. Second game was against our NY rival team. Most of the time they're seeded higher than we are, but we had already beat them once this summer and were determined to again, and did. Third game was again against the Nationals level team, this time they absolutely destroyed us and we didn't even put up a fight. Our goal had been to beat Crafty, our rival team, and we had spent all our energy in doing so. Final game of the day, for third place at the tournament was a hard-fought game. By that point many of our guys were injured or too sore to continue playing. I had only enough endurance to play one point at a time and don't think I contributed too much... we lost by two points in the end, but it was a close game point for point.

Sunday evening I could not walk at all, I was so sore for a few days and basically just lazed around doing nothing. I decided on Thursday to do sprints and warm up my muscles again. I did sprints with Ben and by the time we'd warmed up, completed our 40m sprints and gone on to the 100m sprints, my left quad was already hurting. I kept on and tried not to push it too hard. After doing a couple 200m sprints, I stopped by the bleachers where my backpack was, or should have been. It had been there less than 60seconds before as we went around the track. I quickly checked the garbage cans, then ran to check all the exits. I couldn't find it anywhere. We didn't do anymore sprints after that. We checked the whole track, the bleachers, all the garbage cans, my backpack was definitely stolen. The saddest part is that in there were my jerseys from the Dominican Republic team at World's and also my New Zealand jersey, along with my water bottle from World's and my favourite skirt which I'd been planning to go out in afterwards.

So, if anyone sees my jerseys, get them back! It's so sad being robbed, someone stole my cellphone, driver's license, bank card, backpack, flipflops, $$, etc. They didn't even get that much money and nothing in there was of any use to anyone but me. Even my driver's license won't do anyone any good since no bouncers in NYC believe that New Brunswick even exists, they all think it's a fake! When it actually is a fake, they won't even have the indignation of nobody believing the province the card is from actually exists.