The ultimate color shines again at WUCC 2022

International stars showcased their power and passion under an idyllic night sky, with the ultimate colour display injecting joy into the midweek.

WUCC 2022 The ultimate game of color. Photo: Katie Cooper — UltiPhotos.com

Lebanon, Ohio — The Ultimate Color is dedicated to showcasing the best players of color in the sport. The World Ultimate Club Championship is the largest arena for the best players in the world. The combination of the two creates a magic like no other. In the twilight of Cincinnati, players who have fought for global supremacy all week come together in intense and joyful competition, soaring, bidding and celebrating amid cheering crowds. Purple, gold and auburn light poured down the field as the sun set, and a rainbow fell over the players’ heads in a final tribute to the team. The performance between Movers and the Shakers summed up this WUCC perfectly, with the Shakers winning 13-9.

When teams are ready to face each other, they first have to face adversity. Rain throughout the day delayed the game for hours and many players pulled out, including Khalif El-Salaam from the Seattle Mixtape and Johnny Bans of the Brussels Moonseekers Field (Johnny Bansfield). But as the game began, it became clear that while those players were missed as part of the celebrations, the on-field action would be just as intense.

The game starts with fireworks. A big bid from Jalal Sylvester (USA) gave Movers a 1-0 lead. The Shakers reacted quickly and opened fire on Kya Wiya (AUS) for a 1-1 draw. A pitch from Movers gave the Shakers a pitch to make it 2-1. On subsequent hold attempts, AJ Merriman (USA) and Penelope Wu (USA) had great shots, including Wu’s assist on Sylvester, to make it 2-2.

At 3-2, the Shakers provided the cleanest possession in the first 5 points and the game. The fluid offense comes from a strong attacking angle, nice inside pitches, and capped by nice backhands from Alyne Azucena (CAN/PHL) to Elkin Albarracin (COL).

With the clean kept safe, the Shakers started the first of several games in the game. After Movers’ inside tap came too far for Cassie Brown (USA), a strong frontcourt break from Suraj Madiraju (USA) to Danielle Leung (Canada) gave her a narrow window to use. Leung attacked quickly to find Danilo Balaguer (DOM) for a 4-2 lead. Immediately afterwards, the Shakers took advantage of double cover on Devin Cox (USA) and began to advance towards the troops. Kasheef “Cash” Sasi (SGP) leads Jorge Delgado (VEN) 5-2.

As the pressure escalates with the game’s first big lead, players look for opportunities to make things happen. Multiple in-depth observations of the next point resulted in one of the highest turnover points of the game. Promoters adapted first, turning to shorter yardage throws as Jason Vallee (USA) found Aakar Mehra (IND) to hold 5-3.

The mover follows the hold in his own way, tying at 5 seconds. Wu has an easy 5-4 hit on Roger Michael (Egypt). On their next hold attempt, the Shakers fell victim to Movers’ area look, with Kaitlynne “Bunz” Roling (USA) sailing backhand above the sky receiver. Merriman watched Vallee in the end zone, some careful footwork securing the goal and tie.

The team is packed with talented players at every position, but it’s the handlers from the Shakers who often keep the game going. They rarely struggled with the appearance of the mover area, encountering brief dumps and narrow windows. Their patience unlocked the look they wanted as Kevin Izquierdo (COL) pulled a hammer in the back corner of the end zone. When the disc fell into his hands, Albarracin stood alone, leading 6-5.

Building on their already excellent handling of chemistry, the Shakers opened it up in half. Vallee’s miss on a high-release flick hit the turf in front of his catcher Laura Guerrero (DOM/COL). The Shakers got to work, pulling Alex Davis (USA) into the backcourt with longtime roommate Madiraju. Their chemistry and comfortable overhand allowed Julie Paik (Korean/US) to slip off her guard for easy low cuts. A good flick from Paik to Rica Garcia (PHL) improved the score to 7-5. A sneak peek from the next point gave the Shakers a block, and Akifumi Muraoka (JAP)’s backhand floated around Cesar Montes Martinez (CAN/COL)’s defense and made it 8-5 at halftime.

After halftime, the crowd was greeted with even more swagger from the players, while the Shock continued their dominant performance. Balaguer and Wu lead to two memorable moments: Balaguer’s cheeky look and pointing after Merriman misses a bid, while Wu walks away after a backhand inside, without stopping to look at her catcher Victor Bautista Gonzalez (MEX) whether a goal was scored.

In their favor, the Shakers continued their march toward the win, scoring another 3 to double the Movers 12-6. It’s clear that, despite the individual performances, the Movers don’t fit together as a complete team like the Shakers. The Shock’s team-wide offense and defense showed fast-building but deep chemistry, with the entire roster contributing.

A true show of spirit, Movers refused to go quietly into the night, blowing up a 3-pointer of their own in the second half. Continuing the trend of Movers’ excellent individual performance, Roger Michael grabbed a trailing disc to cut the Shakers’ lead in half at 12-9. The Egyptian standout, and possibly even the breakout player in the game, had the entire community watching his game, including a hand so ferocious that it soared above the awe-inspiring crowd.

At the final point of the game, both teams played in the crowd one last time. Beneath the Rainbow, players launched their own game for each available disc, seeking to bring glory to their home team and country in a final, great game. It would be Balaguer’s elite crossover vision that did the job, finding Albarracin in the back corner of the end zone for a 13-9 Shakers win.

It’s worth noting that in one of the best games, the driving force behind each team doesn’t come from the United States. International players set the highest stat lines, played great games and stirred the sidelines with their energy. The ever-closer talent gap between the U.S. and international challengers makes each new world event more enticing.

In addition to providing high-level competition for BIPOC athletes, Ultimate Color is built on raising awareness of racial and socioeconomic inequalities in access and visibility for Ultimate Athletes around the world. The players on the field are not only some of the best athletes on the WUCC, but also the embodiment of Color of Ultimate’s mission. “We are catalysts, we are activists. We belong to this community and we have a voice,” said Rica Garcia, whose words brought a sincere smile to the circled players and reminded all who heard them that only The joy that a truly diverse ultimate community can share. “CoU, I saw you.”

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