It was a light bike ride out of Kitchener into Guelph and thankfully I did not have any flat tires to slow me down, like the last time. Toronto Rush stand out professional ultimate player, Eric Blanchard, invited me out to his parents’ house a little past Guelph, sweetening the invitation with offers of a roast and a soak in a hot tub. I had a great time hanging out with the Blanchard family playing card games and just relaxing.
The following day I headed into Guelph proper choosing the wettest moment possible to complete the short ride into town. Another Toronto Rush powerhouse, Andy Kubinec, a man who I saw put 43 mints in his mouth a few weeks ago in Toronto, had graciously offered me his couch for my stay in town. His two housemates Gerrit and Sean are also good friends of mine and the three of them were amazing hosts letting me use their couch and providing me with dinners while I toured around my old university.
It was at the University of Guelph that I made use of the student run bike shop to tune up my bicycle at the best price possible: free. Afterwards I met up with my good friend Paul who invited me out to a BBQ with his graduate program. The food was great and the day was lovely, so much so that I ventured back to Waterloo by car post-BBQ to participate in a Maverick practice.
Maverick is the open touring team based out of the Waterloo region and this year is being called a development year and they have opened up their practices in order to promote ultimate in the region. I saw several old teammates from my days playing with the University of Guelph and it was a neat practice, ultimate in the region will benefit greatly from their approach. Some of the Maverick team was gearing up to head down to the States for a tournament and several individuals were going to play on various teams at Gender Blender for the weekend.
This was my first time at Gender Blender, I had only heard the stories. It lived up to the hype.
Gender Blender is a weekend long party in Fergus, ON that also happens to be an ultimate tournament. Friday night teams set up their campsites and blend a drink to impress the rest, Saturday night has a huge dance party under the big tent, and you play some ultimate in between. The team I was playing with, MUPH, is composed of University of Guelph Alumni players and had the reputation of best game for the past two Gender Blenders.
This year the team’s theme was an 80’s ski lodge and the game promised to be a contender for best game for the 3rd year in a row, a treadmill powered tobogan luge course. Two of my teammates, Blue and Ryan, had put in many hours constructing the course that was about as dangerous as it sounds; if you didn’t lean forward on your run. Plus while waiting in line you and three friends could stand shoulder to shoulder and take a shot out of the shotski.
Friday night was a blur as there were 56 teams at the tournament (ed note: make that 60 teams), this year being bigger than ever because it was the last one. Each team with a drink and a game it would be a feat to make it all the way through. Some of my highlights were the strip dodgeball, the strip volleyball, the Lance Armstrong cheat to win site, and the eventual dance party in Hell. But I couldn’t even come close to doing all the campsites justice that is just too much for one person to handle.
MUPH is fairly accustomed to playing with a a hangover and the team went undefeated on Saturday and benefited from a local connection to lounge in the hot tub for the evening before heading out to the big tent dance party and then subsequent after parties at various campsites, the most popular being the ones that could keep out the rain, like the giant volcano.
Sunday came along with a rain storm and a win in our quarterfinals and then a loss to the eventual champions Herb and Mary Jane, placing us in 3rd or 4th on the tournament.
MUPH players and Fergus residents, Nate and Hilary, are my current hosts and I got in another hot tub session at Nate’s parents’ place and then a delicious steak dinner to finish the weekend off.
Not bad for my 5th tournament of the trip. Southern Ontario has made me soft and low on money. It is time to head North and see what this body is really made of.
The Sault will likely be my next ultimate destination, so that is on deck.