Friday, February 12, 2010

The Ultimate Serendipity

I’m a big believer in serendipity, what the dictionary defines as “an apparent aptitude for making discoveries accidentally.”

Let me illustrate.

My email inbox gets crammed with many retail industry newsletters, a carryover from my working days. Most of the time I just review the headlines, clicking deeper only when a story seems particularly unusual or about someone or something I have an interest in. One of my favorite newsletters is because it not only reports the news but also provides commentary from its knowledgeable and irreverent editor, Kevin Coupe. Still, it’s not every day that I read through his blog.

As I was looking at his story lineup today, I saw one listed as “RIP” (Rest in Peace) and was drawn to know which industry stalwart had passed on. Instead, what I found was this item:

“Fred Morrison died Tuesday at age 90. His contribution to the culture? Morrison invented the Frisbee.

Little known fact: Morrison hated the name “Frisbee,” which was given to his invention by the Wham-O Manufacturing Co. when it licensed what Morrison called the "Whirlo-Way" and "Pluto Platter” in 1957.”

Now, until a dozen years ago, to me a frisbee was just another piece of sports equipment that revealed a chink in my athletic armor ability. But when Dan was preparing to begin Tufts, he stunned (and disappointed) me by saying he would not try out for the soccer team (he had been the high school varsity team goalie); instead he wanted to play Ultimate Frisbee.

Consternation does not begin to explain my reaction. I thought playing with a frisbee was just recreation for the long-haired, or something to do with your dog, before taking a drag and soaring higher than the disc. I had no idea there was an actual “game” involving players, teams, rules and tournaments.

Gilda and I soon discovered the aura of Ultimate Frisbee. We watched Dan play in a tournament at Rutgers and became hooked. Since his freshman year Dan’s life has seemingly revolved around Ultimate Frisbee. As a sophomore, he became co-captain of the Tufts team. In his junior year, he helped lead Tufts’ return for the first time in 10 years to the the national championships where the top 16 college teams compete. The tournament took place in Boise, Idaho, with Gilda, Ellie and me there to cheer Dan and his teammates on.

I’d like to tell you the team won the national championship, but the truth is, they came in 11th. The Tufts women, on the other hand, came in 5th in the nation that year. One of the players on that team was Allison Hawthorne Mixter. It was at that tournament that Dan and Allison began their courtship. Their marriage in July 2006 had to be arranged around Dan’s frisbee schedule. After graduation, Dan joined a club frisbee team. He also coaches the Tufts team.

Two years ago Dan’s club team played for the national championship, losing a heartbreaker to a team they had beaten earlier in the tournament. This past October they came in third in the country. In July, Dan, accompanied by Allison and their son Finley, will travel to Prague to compete in the world championships.

Serendipity. I believe in it.