To all the Ultimate enthusiasts, followers, and everyone in between: hi! We are Caitlin Fitzgerald and Clare Frantz, two friends, teammates, co-captains, and now fellow All-Stars. As two players from Kansas (University of Kansas Betty and Kansas City Wicked), we haven’t had many opportunities to travel to both coasts and experience the unique Ultimate cultures that thrive there. Although all different from Kansas, we have had a blast learning about the distinct characteristics of each city. In addition to that, our teammates all have different backgrounds, playing styles, accents, and contributions to the Tour, which has made for a very rewarding and eye-opening experience thus far.
Playing in Seattle was a great way to kick-off the tour, as it is one of the most prominent Frisbee hubs in the nation. A visit to Five Ultimate headquarters early in the day for player photo-shoots made us feel like TV stars instead of All-Stars. Arriving at Memorial Stadium with the Space Needle towering over us put butterflies in our stomachs at the thought of playing on such a big stage – a feeling that hadn’t quite hit us during the photo-shoot. This community also rallied to provide one of our largest crowds, including excited youth players asking us to autograph their discs and t-shirts after the game. The biggest crowd us Kansas girls had experienced previously was maybe 100 people standing around the field at Regionals during our game to go. That was without a live stream, without a stadium, without experienced Worlds players, and without the strange sensation of feeling like a rock star. Needless to say, this first game was a huge juxtaposition from anything we had experienced in the Kansas Ultimate scene.
After our games in Vancouver and Portland, we arrived in San Francisco for our first youth clinic and only double-header. We welcomed the cool ocean air (despite the swirly winds that came with it) after having just played in two hot afternoon games. SF provided us with some incredible views of the city as we stayed in Upper Rockridge, Oakland with our hosts Marc and Cheryl. Their house was one of the coolest places any of us had ever crashed for a weekend, which comes as no surprise since it was formerly Billy Joe Armstrong’s house. Marc explained that he was more than happy to give back to the Ultimate scene by hosting us since he had been in our shoes many times back in his college Ultimate days. Although we (Fitz and Clare) have stayed in some nice houses, we are all too familiar with sleeping in closets, hallways, or bathtubs, showering in rec centers or moldy bathrooms, or squeezing 12 of us into a tiny hotel room. Marc and Cheryl’s house was a welcomed change from the majority of our sleeping situations with Kansas Ultimate, and we can’t thank them enough!
After San Francisco, we embarked on our longest leg of the tour, bound for Denver. With Colorado Cup happening that weekend and three former All-Stars on the opposing team, this game brought in one of our most enthusiastic crowds, eager for the athletic plays the matchup against Molly Brown was bound to bring. To our delight and surprise, there were about 20 hometown friends there to support us Kansas girls. Toward the end of the first half and certainly by the second half, we started to face the windiest conditions we had seen so far on the Tour. In all honesty, this brought us back to our element as Kansas plays home to every type of weather imaginable. We take pride in our ability to play successfully in the wind and other undesirable conditions, even so far as to refer to our college team as a great bad weather team. With the wind and so many Kansas alumni in the stands, this game felt the most like playing on our home turf.
The team made a pit stop in Kansas on our way from Denver to Atlanta, and although the Midwest showed its heat and humidity, we were pleased that the Stars got a small taste of our Kansas roots. Throughout the tour, we have discovered that each destination has its unique perks and quirks, and we are ecstatic to have the opportunity to experience all of them. We will always be two Kansas girls, but this Tour has truly opened our eyes to all the other amazing Ultimate communities in the nation.