Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Roger Clemens played 15 seasons in Major League Baseball before capturing his first World Series title.
Ray Bourque endured 21 campaigns in the National Hockey League before winning the Stanley Cup.
But that’s nothing, really.
I played 23 seasons in the Westchester Ultimate Summer League before tasting glory for the first time in Saturday’s championship game.
Our Charcoal “Charks” team edged White, 15-13, in a highly competitive and tense final at SUNY Purchase.
All I can say is, damn it feels good to get that mad Caeser-like monkey off my back.
Props to our captains, Adam Goff and Kelly “Beezus” Hyland, for leading us to the promised land as the No. 2 seed after a great season with a lot of Spirited play and good times. (Summer league is 4/3 coed, while my Masters club team which competes in the Fall is all dudes.)
Every single person on our team stepped up and made big plays through three wins on Saturday, a 15-7 quarterfinal beatdown of No. 7 Red, a 15-10 semifinal victory over No. 3 Orange and then the final.
A special shoutout to Team MVP and my man Isaiah “Izzy” Bryant (seated at right,) for his awesome play in the final. Kid is a mad baller who had about 4 combined blocks and interceptions after the game got really tense with Charcoal up 13-12 and clinging to the lead.
When we finally scored to end the game, I was overcome by emotions.
I began playing in this league in 1988 when I was a 19-year-old college kid just getting into Ultimate — which would change my life — at Wesleyan University. (We went to College Nationals in Santa Barbara my first year on the team in 1988, and I was hooked.)
I have played WSL every single year since then — except for once when I played in a summer league in Connecticut.
The only time my team did win — 1993 under my boy Teddy Phillips — I moved out to Seattle on an ill-fated romance after competing at the World Championships in Madison, Wisc.
Teddy sent me pictures of the team celebrating and I had to live it vicariously.
Over the years, I met my wife through Ultimate, and raised two kids and a dog in the tight-knit Frisbee community.
I won tournaments in Ottawa, Virginia, Massachusetts and even at Purchase itself.
I played in the semis of Open Nationals and the finals of Masters Nationals.
But I never won that damn summer league….and many times I wondered whether I ever would.
Last year our Black team was the No. 1 seed going into the playoffs and we all thought we were going to bring home the hardware.
But we lost a heartbreaking game, 17-16, on double-game point to another really good team.
It was heart-wrenching and mind-bending. My buddy Eric Eckelman and I replayed the last few points of that game over and over in our minds for a year, even as we drove to this year’s playoffs.
You think you might never got another shot that good again.
Entering this year I barely knew any of my new Charcoal teammates. I certainly wasn’t expecting to get back to the Finals when the season began.
But it was soon apparent that not only were we deep and talented, but we enjoyed being with each other, and spurred each other to play better in the most positive of ways (most of the time, anyway).
Even without several of our top players on Saturday, who had gone to play with their club teams at events in Seattle and New Hampshire, we still had enough to persevere and win the big game.
And now, after 23 years, my teammates and I are Summer League Champs.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.