Can you spot the StJA Ultimate Alum? Hint: You’re looking for Conor Dannis.
Last Friday afternoon at around 2pm I took off from St. Johnsbury in a short bus loaded up with 10 sleeping bags, a bunch of cones, a bag of discs, and some extra water bottles. 15 UP CITs and 3 coaches were due to arrive at Boston Logan Airport starting at 6pm. It was time to get to Boston.
The drive down to Boston was pretty surreal. It was a crisp, cool day, with little traffic, as there really always is on 93 south… and starting about 150 miles from Boston the electronic signs kept repeating: “Avoid Boston” and “Check media”. Alas, it was time to get to Boston.
As the Boston city skyline crested on the horizon, the density of cars picked up from none to barely more than zero. About half way through the tunnel coming up into Boston, traffic came to a standstill. Less than 15 minutes later I cleared the area right outside of Logan where all taxis were getting checked by security.
Next, I found out that a short bus is about 4 inches too tall to make it into the economy lot parking garages, so I circled back to the international terminal where I found some outside parking that miraculously had some free spots.
The Logan international terminal was packed with its normal thrum of activity. As I listened to WBUR I grabbed some food and quite necessary coffee, and hunkered down in front of the arrivals exit. For the next 90 minutes I surfed the info updates coming out of the city and watched the wonderful scenes of people meeting directly in front of me. It was a glorious Love Actually moment that extended for the entire time I was there.
The first UP flight touched down at shortly after 6pm and less than an hour later the group emerged. With Dan, Karym, and 4 of the CITs now in the terminal with me, everything became more real, and quite fun. It was so, so wonderful to see them all again! We all grouped up in a small seating area to wait for the next (and last) wave of players and Tomer. The next group arrived at 8:10 and made it to use by 9. At that point we had gone back and forth between housing the kids in their original places in Newton, MA and our backup of Western, MA. The final call was made and we were headed to Western, MA with me driving the short bus and Dan Apple driving a 12-person rental van.
The drive west on 90 was full of rain, passing police cars, and one more straight forward, repeating electronic message: “Thank you everyone.”, “We are one Boston”.
We made it to the exit 24 gas station by 11:15 where we met up with Rob and Linda. All the girls packed into Dan’s bus and the boys plus Karym came with me in my bus. Dan’s bus went to Rob and Linda’s house in Shelburne and my bus headed for my parents’ farm in Leverett.
We made it to my parents’ place by a little after midnight, setup the boys’ sleeping area upstairs, and by a bit after 1am there were all asleep. Well, okay, they were pretty social for a while before they crashed rather quickly. After all, most of them did not sleep too much on the flight in from Tel Aviv.
We were all up by 7am and treated to a breakfast courtesy my father, the owner of the Black Sheep Deli in Amherst. As the kids mowed down rounds of bagels and baked goods, we chatted, and caught up on the last several months. By around 8am we found out that the field in Newton was open and dry enough for the planned clinic to go ahead as planned. By shortly after 9am we were off, and by 11am we pulled into Newton North HS.
On the field we were greeted by the homestay families and the Ironside/Brutesquad players setting up for the clinic. After unpacking luggage, gearing up, and some social time, the clinic began with everyone getting into a large circle. The clinic leaders spoke, as did Linda and two of the UP CITS, Raz and Arene. The club players then led the group of UP and local HS players through active stretches by some throwing drills. Next, the group was broken into 4 teams for scrimmaging.
The games were fun and competitive Some of the coaches got into the action and showed the kids how it was done. At the same time, some of the UP kids pulled off some amazing plays against the coaches — handblocks anyone?
By about 3pm the group circled back up for some final speeches and group pictures, followed by the UP kids heading to their hosts’ houses.
Tomer, Karym, and I then brought the back the rental van. Afterwards were went to Rachel’s apartment for some downtime. After grabbing some food and checking out Rachel’s large stockpile of UP gear, we loaded up the short bus and went to the Spontaneous Celebrations center, the host of the UP Cultural Event.
From 6 to 7 we setup the rooms. By about 6:30, the UP kids started arriving from their homestays, as well as a bunch of people from the local community. It was wonderful to have more time to socialize the the UP kids, new UP coaches, as well as local UP supporters. As the silent auction continued and people purchase UP gear, the kids socialized on the second floor. Several times during the evening, Mickey and Zolo brought everyone in for CIT presentations that included speeches and talent performances. It turns out the local Boston population can dance!
The event wrapped up shortly before 10, cleanup went quickly, and by 10:30 everyone was headed home.
The next morning I drove back to Boston, returned all the gear I had borrowed from St. Johnsbury Academy, including the short bus. While I was heading north, the kids and coaches were heading south for the NYC visit, which by all accounts went very well.
It was so, so wonderful to spend time with a major part of the UP family. I am so honored to have been a part of the US tour. UP is truly changing the world.
This morning in chapel the returning members of the St. Johnsbury Academy girls and boys 2012 state championship teams presented the school with their state champs banners! The girls team also presented their first place trophy from last weekend’s NMH tournament. Go Saint J!
PS. The boys also won the state champs n 2007. The banner will be modified accordingly ASAP.
Many of the players I worked with last summer at Camp Ultimate Peace will be coming to the US later this week! Over the course of a couple weeks they will be traveling all over the US taking part in clinics, playing in exhibition games, and speaking at fundraisers. They will be in Boston on April 20th and 22nd. Here’s a message from their media director:
Please join us in welcoming a delegation of 17 Ultimate Peace teens from Israel and the West Bank to the Boston area as they embark on their first U.S. Tour. Ultimate Peace is a non-profit organization, started in 2009, that aims to bring together youth from conflicted regions and unite them over the sport of Ultimate Frisbee. There will be two events open to the public in Boston — a Middle Eastern cultural night in Jamaica Plain on April 20th and a panel discussion hosted by Northeastern University’s Sports in Society program on April 22nd. Please look to the invitations for more details. For any questions or for more information, contact Rachael at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I highly recommending attending one or both of the events! They are going to be incredible. These kids are awesome.
From the tour’s Facebook info page:
For the last two years, a dedicated group of 16 UP teen participants have engaged in the year-round “Coaches in Training” Program. This youth leadership project prepares high school students for coaching in Ultimate Peace and assuming other leadership roles in their communities. On their first United States tour, these courageous youth will present to and dialogue with American students and adults in schools, community centers and homes across the country. Their triumph and struggles in the program and the complexities of their daily lives will be highlighted.
The USA tour will offer a unique chance for Americans to meet and interact with a highly compelling group of teens. Their message is grounded in hope, yet colored by the sobering reality of the regional conflict, so the events in each city — Boston, New York, Seattle and San Francisco — will be interactive, moving and thought provoking.
Please help us in welcoming this dynamic group of teens with enthusiasm. Many of our events will be open to the public and we enthusiastically invite you to come and join us.
April 19-24 Boston
April 21 New York
April 25-29 Seattle
April 30 San Francisco
On 3/28/13 I gave a presentation at the Catamount Arts theater as part of the Osher Lecture Series. My presentation was called “Building peace in the Middle East: One game of Ultimate at a time”. I spent an hour talking about my experience working with Ultimate Peace as well as answering questions from the audience. The presentation aired on the local cable access channel. UP on TV! :)
I was very happy with the presentation and the active question and answer session. You can watch the presentation in it’s entirety right here:
Our local news channel came to practice last Friday and the story aired last night! Go STJ!