Paganello – Forever Young

At the end of April I played in a beach ultimate tournament called Paganello, in Rimini, Italy. From April 21st-25th, the town of Rimini was going to be invaded by 1,500 ultimate and freestyle frisbee athletes. Apparently the town gives a grant to the tournament because it brings in so many people in the tourist off season. I flew in from London for my last 5 days in Schengen, after Paga I really can’t go back into the rest of Europe until the end of May. I was a little worried going through customs in Italy, maybe I counted my days wrong and they were going to kick me back out? Luckily, they let me in.

I was playing with my Zürich team in Paganello, and I was excited to see all my teammates again, but I was worried that they would not be as fun as Thundering Herd. At face value, the stereotypes of Swiss people and English people are relatively accurate. Swiss are organized, composed, and punctual; English drink a lot, are dry humored, and goofy. On the first day, we lost our first two games, the second being to Thundering Herd. I was really frustrated because I remembered the team being better than they were playing, and I was sort of embarrassed that we didn’t put up more of a fight against Herd. There were some excuses that could be made, many people had never played on the beach before, three of the girls don’t practice with the team, and our handlers not being used to heavy winds. After our second game though, I was definitely not looking forward to the rest of the week, unless something was going to change.


For our third and last game of the day, we changed the way we were subbing, so we had upwind and downwind lines. I don’t know if it was the subbing rotation or the other team looking like juniors, but we played much better that game, and from then on we only lost one more game. In the end we placed 13th and Thundering Herd placed 20th, so at least my pride got a boost in the end.



In our first game on the second day I tried to grab a disc but dropped it. It hurt a lot and when I looked at my hand, it had some blood on it. I took an injury sub and jogged over to the first aid tent (luckily right next to the field) and was a huge wuss and just looked away and handed them my hand. I knew the blood was coming from my thumbnail, but I didn’t look properly and my mind, in the 45 seconds since it happened, imagined my thumbnail bent backwards and broken. While the first aiders were cleaning it I was mentally preparing for when they would have to cut off the huge hang nail I assured myself was there. Next thing I know they taped up my thumb and sent me on my way. My thumb was throbbing for a bit, but I was able to play in the games later that day. At the end of the day, I took the tape off and my nail was fine, and my thumb just looked like I hit it with a hammer moderately hard. To sum that up, I hurt my thumb, but made a bigger deal than necessary.


In Europe, the post game tradition is to shake hands and then get into a circle, arms linked, with the players of each team intermixed throughout. Then the captains each make a short speech about the game, what the other team did well, what their team did poorly, and then one team steps inside and we all shake hands again. At Paganello, after we did this we sometimes played a fun game as well. One team from Belgium played a game where we had to pass a waffle cookie from one play to another using no hands, and then the last player had to eat it and then whistle. Another team played a variation of the game “Waaa” (sorry, only frisbee players will understand this bit), but instead of the usual “waa,” “shaduken,” and “sonic boom” it was switched to sex phrases like “so nice,” “oh yeah,” and “go deeper.” I was honestly surprised to see my Swiss team play and get into these games. We started out the week with “we don’t play games” and ended with them yelling “go deeper” to a Russian ultimate player. It was really great and reminded me that Zürich, while maybe not as fun as London, won’t be so bad.

This is the cookie pass game.

Throughout the week, I checked in with Herd and found them in various states of drunk to hungover. At one point, while watching their games I started yelling “show us your butts or it doesn’t count!” What “it” was, I have no idea, but I got the line to show me their butts, so it was a win of some sort right? Beach is played 5 players on at a time, I thought the 5th person on this line wasn’t going to humor me, so I zoomed in for these four, apparently she did participate though.

Overall it was a great week, with a lot of inside jokes developed. We tried to marry off our teammate Jonatan to our waitress. We accidentally gave the “I’m going to beat you up” hand signal to one of the restaurant workers. We played a pass the beer game we called “rotazione.” Overall, good time, I love both my teams, and Italian beaches are amazing.


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