It's Friday morning, I wake up, watch the sun rise over Waikiki, grab a Kona coffee and jump in my rental car to head towards the East side of the island of Oahu. For 18 years now, this is where the Hawaii Ultimate League Association (HULA) has hosted their Hopu Ka Lewa tournament.
When I arrive at the fields early Friday afternoon, everyone was in full swing prepping for the tournament. Lining fields, setting up tents and stuffing player bags before the teams start to check in at 5. Everyone is working hard, but no one is stressed, how could you be while in Hawaii surround by these beautiful sites? HULA rents out the Honolulu Polo Fields in the middle of Waimanalo (aka nowhere) that have the most incredible mountainous backdrop and the beach campgrounds where the players will stay are equally as beautiful.
At 3pm the kegs were tapped, at 5pm Check-in started, 6pm dinner was served (on frisbee plates, of course) and by 8pm the party had begun. I arrived in Hawaii not knowing a soul on the island, but by the end of the night, I had a whole crew of new friends. Everyone at Hopu is so friendly, loving and once you go, you really do become part of their 'ohana.
Saturday Morning had an early start with breakfast starting at 6:30am and games at 8am. As soon as the sun was up, the Polo fields were covered with ultimate people in all sorts of costumes and jerseys to go along with Hopu's Broadway theme this year. Some teams included Time^2, Cuts, Little Shop of Whorers, Windward Side Story and the Boozies.
As games went on, I rarely saw regular points being played. Dino Points, piggyback points, ridiculous pull plays, and yes, even a few strip points here and there kept games fun and interesting. As soon as the games ended, everyone rushed to the side of the fields where a big foam dance party started. Don't worry, Hopu doesn't disappoint.
Everyone gathered back for dinner and then the real party started, there was music, an open bar, and 500 ultimate players in a wide array of costumes ready to have a good time.
Sunday morning was a slow start for many, but games were still played and (most) people showed up (mostly) ready to play. Regardless of their varying states, their attitudes and spirits were high. At the end of the day, it was down to two teams to compete in the finals - the Ohau native team, Time^2, and the Wizards.
At 3:30pm all the teams gathered around the center field to watch, cheer on and of course heckle during the game. it was a long, nail-biting game, and what's more fitting for an accurate experience of Hopu than an impromptu dance party to start in the middle of a "quick" timeout. Once the dance party dispersed, the game started back and in the end, Time^2 walked away victorious.
After dinner, there were several shows put on for everyone to enjoy, some were traditional and others... not so traditional, interpret that how you will. That night there was also a big celebration as all of the spirit awards were given out and the last night of Hopu began.
Although Hopu Ka Lewa was now over, the frisbee and the fun were not. Monday morning started a hat tournament that was played on the beach at the campgrounds. It started early in the morning and by lunch became more of a giant beach ultimate pickup game for everyone to enjoy.
After one more day of all being together, we packed up our tents, piled into our cars and headed back towards Honolulu. It was finally time to start heading back to the real world.
Hopu Ka Lewa was unlike any other tournament I've ever been to, its memories and all the people included in them will always have a special place in my heart.
Aloha Hopu, until next year.