The Best Decision I Made in Korea

Posted by: on Sep 26, 2015 | No Comments

This is a guest piece by Thomas Capranica about a man, a disc, and a country. Thanks for expressing feelings that many players, especially expatriates, share.inFOLIO Research Group

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Thursday pickup. 10:00am. Suseong University. Who’s IN? Every week this message gets posted to the Daegu Ultimate Frisbee facebook page somewhere between twenty-four and eight hours prior to the suggested start time. In March of the year of our lord 2013 I was fortunate enough to have been invited to join in on the dirt field to chase some plastic.

A month and change have passed since I made my return to Asia, a decision that didn’t come easy but was validated instantly when stepping off the plane in the greatest city this side of the Mississippi, Daegu, South Korea. Of all the ways I’ve answered the question “Why did you choose to come back?” I am now comfortable with the answer that tops the list of reasons why I once again call Korea my home. Republic of Korea Ultimate, ROKU.

To think that it almost didn’t happen makes me realize just how lucky I am. The start of the 2013 spring season coincided with a one month vacation out of the country, a failed relationship, and an unhappy work life. ROKU, and soju, became my rock, the one thing I looked forward to every week. Thursday pickup, league games on weekends, and, my, oh my, the tournaments. The ROKU tournament schedule is a thing of beauty, in no particular order it includes: Summer Showdown, Ulsan team tournament, Korea nationals, Halloween hat, Fantastic Fours, Six on the Beach, Busan Bids, Jeju Dirty Dozens, Christmas Angel hat, Frozen Fives, Hot and Hairy Hat, Soongsil Hat, and the Cheongju Classy Hat. With five club teams and a national team in the works it’s easy to book all weekends around frisbee here in the R.O.K.

Each season our schedule spans 16 games over five weekends that take teams from north to south of the land of the morning calm, no, not THAT far north. Bus and train rides with teammates are often weekend highlights. As everyone who’s lived abroad knows, people come and go, teams are formed and reformed each season, thus the long travel times getting to fields are always filled with CST, chingu (friend) share time.

These days the league is far more competitive than in the time of it’s infancy of 2009, there are fewer beer points too, but one things remains, the spirit. This season Tsunami captains are pushing spirit harder than ever. Cheers any time, all the time, cheers before the game, cheers on the line, cheers when we score, cheers when our opponents score, high fives, hugs, butt slaps, dancing, and of course Waves the official Tsunami hand puppet mascot. Winning and spirit go together like Forrest Gump and TBS.

For about a year now I’ve been on the SE Asia tournament scene, starting with 2014’s Boracay Open with the Sexual Harassment Panda Experience, an event which deserves it’s own 800 page write up, and I got four months of stateside flatball between travelling and coming back. In that time there have been countless new friends and adventures, there’s professional connections, romantical escapades, and an unbelievably high rate of smiles per capita to boot. Frisbee has opened so many doors, all you have to do is show up and you’ve got a friend and a place to stay on couches all over the world. There’s also the mental and spiritual growth that come with Spirit of the Game, respecting yourself, your teammates, and your opponent, forces the player to empathic relationships, even after that bush league pick call on my sweet breakside cut.

As assistant captain, I’m now focused on bringing the ultimate spirit to new players in Daegu. Watching them grow as players and know that they will be able to enjoy all that frisbee has given me is a constant source of pride. Two and a half years after that first pickup and I’m now the one asking “Who’s IN?”

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