It takes a certain amount of irreverence to name a tournament Ow! My Knee.
It takes a good reputation to make such a tournament last for 25 years.
This year’s `Ow! My Knee` tournament, which took place last weekend at Glenville’s Ma’alwyck Park, featured 24 co-ed and 10 men’s Ultimate Frisbee teams from around the Northeast playing and having a good time.
`It’s a fun tournament,` said James Winny, a member of Dartmouth’s enough monkeys team, which won the co-ed division. `There are some teams that say, ‘We want to go to nationals,’ but we’re not like that. We just want to play and have fun.`
`It’s a lot of seeing old friends or people that you’ve played against before,` said Todd Springer, who played for Team BLU from Connecticut.
Albany Ultimate’s Ercan Hocalar has run the event for the past 10 years, and he said people make a point to keep the third weekend in July open to play in it.
`There’s a lot of alumni who come back to play,` said Hocalar. `It’s the one tournament they all like to come together for.`
Part of the reason players want to participate in `Ow! My Knee` is the level of competition. Some of the top club players from the Northeast get together to form the teams that play in the tournament.
`Ultimate is a more fluid sport than other sports,` said Albany Ultimate club member Jeremy McNamara. `The teams are fluid, so you can wind up playing against teammates in one game and play with them in another game.`
Although the atmosphere surrounding the tournament is generally light ` there’s even a Saturday night party where all the players mingle ` the competitive nature of the games shows through. Players put their bodies on the line to break up a pass or make a diving catch for a point.
`There’s another tournament this weekend in Philadelphia which is more competitive, and we couldn’t get into that,` said Springer. `We still wanted to have a competitive weekend, and this is a good place for us because we think we have a chance to win this.`
Some of the players putting their bodies on the line weren’t exactly young. There was a mix of young adults in their early 20s and older veterans who were in their late 30s and early 40s competing in the two-day tournament.
Hocalar said that Ultimate Frisbee generally has a broad-based appeal for those who might not consider themselves to be athletes anymore. `It gives people a different avenue to play sports after high school and college,` he said.
Hocalar also said that it helps to have a strong ally to provide that avenue. In the case of the `Ow! My Knee` tournament, it’s the town of Glenville.
`A big shout out goes to James MacFarland, who is the town of Glenville’s director of human services and parks,` said Hocalar. `He’s always been very supportive of the tournament, and he makes certain that we have everything we need. Playing Ultimate, sometimes you don’t get to play on good fields, but these fields [at Ma’alwyck Park] are always plush and green.`
With strong support and a reputation for good competition and good times, the future looks bright for the `Ow! My Knee` tournament.“