Returner Stu Downs reflects on the first day back at it, thinking about seeing faces both new and old, and embracing the love and commitment we share here at Ultimate Peace.
Celebration and reconnection. Reconnection – what does it mean? To an aging has-been like me, it’s a refreshment of energy instilled by the idealism and passion emanating from so many gifted and willing participants in the UP mission. That’s what it’s like for an administrator or a coach. For the Middle Eastern coaches and LITs, viewing the influx of optimism on day one reminds all of the many people who care about what is going on, and all who are appreciative of the daily efforts of those who give so much to the year round program. For the Middle Eastern LITs, this is confirmation of these travelers’ dedication to the cause and to the local young people who maintain their training regiment all year. For the American LITs, they witness the impressive network of talented, devoted, and loving Ultimate folks. They can see it in their bright eyes and warm embraces. It is contagious to new members, to shy teenagers. Suddenly you’re hugging a stranger you just met. You even allow this old fat bearded dude to wrap his paws around you. Where back home is this not creepy? You realize he and everyone here cannot help themselves; we are celebrating all we’ve done and all we are going to do, so you hug back. The warmth of each smile and the strength of each hug reminds every coach, every administrator, every young person – regardless of what adjectives describe us: Jew, Arab, Christian, none of the above, male, female, neither, young, old – it reminds us all of the mutual appreciation we share and the deep impact we’ve had on one another.