by Nat Gerhart, 1997 (former Williams captain)
It starts back in the spring of 1993, when WOT made Nationals in Lehigh and a bunch of us went down to watch. Pretty much everyone was in agreement that UCSB had the best shirts at the tourney, and I wanted one bad. I asked a player if they were selling any, and he said no, that these shirts were not for sale and only worn at Regionals and Nationals. It sounded pretty serious, like a pact they'd made or something. Of course, that just added to the mystique of it. What added more to the mystique of it, though, was that UCSB quickly became my favorite team there. To my perhaps naive eye, they played the best ultimate I'd ever seen _and_ had good spirit to boot. It really bothered me to see them go down in the Finals to UNCW in one of the worst spirited ultimate games that I've ever witnessed (still true). Wilmington's constant calls (the game took hours and finally the crowd just started booing anytime anyone made a call)--at times, with UCSB on O, there were 3-4 travel/stoppages called per point--finally just sapped a deeper UCSB of its energy to fight, and the bad guys won it again. Still, to me at the time, Black Tide ultimate was the pinnacle of ultimate, and the shirt was a big part of that.
Next, skip ahead to the summer after sophomore year, and Andrea and I are strolling around my neighborhood in New York City. Up at 115th and Broadway, right across from Columbia Univ., I spot a homeless guy (complete with shopping cart) standing on the sidewalk _wearing a Black Tide jersey_!! Needless to say, my jaw dropped and I asked him where he got it. He seemed to enjoy the attention, but couldn't figure out why I was so interested. He said that he got it from a friend of his. I asked him if I could buy it, and he said sure. Then I asked him for how much, and he got crafty on my ass, saying, "Well, how much would you give me for it?" Now I knew I had a $20 in my wallet, and I also knew I'd give him everything I had on me to get it if necessary, but I figured I could get it for less. So Andrea went and broke the $20 while he and I bargained, and I told him the story of why I was surprised that he had the shirt (i.e., I'd tried to buy one and they weren't for sale). He was interested, and definitely excited when the green showed up, so I got it from him for $6, money I was thrilled to part with given what I now had in my hands.
I took it home and washed it (with Andrea laughing at me the whole time for being so psyched), trying to not let the yellow and blue run together. Then it found its way to my wall in Carter 05. I've thrown around with it on, but would never play ultimate in it, both to not pose and to not risk ruining what is definitely my sweetest shirt of any kind. I took it out to Seattle with me last summer, and one of my Sockeye buddies (Sweet Lou Burruss from Carleton) saw it and pretty much felt the same way about it as I did--it's the best jersey in ultimate, both from a just-looks perspective and because of the team it signifies. So wear yours with pride.