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FUJ memories

Před lety zde na frisbee.cz vyšla trojice rozhovorů ohlížejících se na začátky nejstarších českých ultimate týmů:
Nyní přišel na řadu zakladatel FUJů - David Brauchli:

Do you remember when was the FUJ club founded? Do you remember the people who founded the FUJ? Do you remember the background of the foundation? Was it complicated or was it a harmonious moment with promising perspective?

In the fall of 1999 there was a gang of Americans who were playing Ultimate Frisbee pickup every Tuesday and Thursday on Letna in Prague. Actually, the pickup game started way earlier, around 1991 or 1992 when Americans who had come to Prague right out of College were playing on Saturday or Sunday mornings on Letna. That pickup game resulted in the Prague Devils getting formed with Jeff Leamer being the American who brought it over. That pickup game continued throughout the 90s but by 1999 it had migrated, largely at the behest of Joe Veeser, to Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Joe loved playing disc and he recruited his language students to play with him and a few other Americans as well. 
Of those Americans the most dedicated to showing up were Joe, me, Mike Bluhm and, on occasion, Steve Hildebrand. Steve was an English teacher who loved playing frisbee and playing frisbee with his dog, more than life itself. Steve was a wizard with the disc, he could throw it every which way you could imagine whereas the rest of us, while we had played for a long time, hadn’t yet really refined the technique of a forehand. In fact, my only really reliable throw was called a "Laser" which I threw over my forearm with a thumb flip. 
Joe and I had heard about a Czech Frisbee League from Jeff, so we asked him about it and he said, well, as a matter of fact, his team (at this point he was with the Prague Lions) was playing in the tournament championship. We asked if we could go along and he said sure, so Joe and I drove down to Davle on fine spring Saturday morning and secured places with 3SB. Those guys were way more experienced than we were with regards to tactics, forcing, but Joe and I had more run than two dogs in us and while we didn’t really help 3SB to any significant placing, we were bitten by the bug. 
When we got back to our bi-weekly game on Letna we discussed with all our friends whether we should join the league, which at that point was two tournaments in the fall, two tournaments in the spring and a championship tournament in June before school let out. Since we had no experience beyond what Joe and I knew from our days in high school in the early 80s, we fished around for some help and found a group of guys who had been playing but needed more people, called Medici. They were guys from the medical school and we joined up with four of their key players, Marek Holicky, Jarda, Vasek and one other guy whose name escapes me.
Fuj (Yellow jerseys) and thebigEZ in Hungary
We entered a tournament that Prague 7 hosted in July and met some of the regulars on the Czech frisbee scene. Unfortunately for us, our rough style and lack of tactics left more than wounded feelings at the tournament as Vasek (a big man, maybe 190 cms tall and 100-120 KGs) was being covered by tiny Maruska and when he let a backhand rip, his followthrough hit her in the face and he broke her nose. Man, did he feel bad. He was the most gentle person on the team to boot. We ended up placing fourth in the tournament, not because we were good, but because we could run and we could play defense. We played a lot of defense in those days. 
After that, we registered and joined the Czech Frisbee League and started to practice and play in the league. At that time there were seven teams, so an 8th was welcome. We played mixed, as did every team in those days, although if we had enough guys on the line, we would take advantage of the women the other teams put out because we wanted to win. 
Eventually we merged with another team and picked up Pavel, Jana, Gallagher and a couple of others and that really formed the early 2000s core of Fuj. 

Who used to be your biggest rival? Can you characterise them?

When we first started, our biggest rival was Prague 7 without a doubt. They were similar to us because they had a bunch of young people with some older more experience players. We played them really tightly most games and there was very bad blood between us owing to the Vasek incident in our very first tournament. However, as we got better and recruited more players, we started to beat them on a regular basis although it was always a good game. 
In the early 2000s too the Prague Lions, Jeff Leamer’s team, was dominate, they had won something like seven championships in a row and we wanted what they had. But every time we played them they pounded us. It’s probably because their entire team could throw forehands and break our force with ease. Eventually the Lions ran out of guys who wanted to play, so we absorbed Jeff, Strom and Shaki into Fuj which led to our rivalry with the Prague Devils.
Chair Guitar Contest (we won) in Hungary
For years we could never ever beat the Devils, they always had our number. The first year in the league we finished fourth,  second year third, third year second and our fourth year we finally won, but when we lost it was always always to the Devils in the semis or the finals. Tomasek, Frankie, and a bunch of other good young athletes were a really good match for us. There were a few games that were always 16-14 in the semis, but we always seemed to come out on the losing end. I think, to this day, PD is still one of the great rivals of Fuj. 
One of the funniest things I remember about the Czech League though is we never, ever, ever won spirit for the tournament. Yet the first couple of years when we were doing a lot of travel (one year we did 24 tournaments) we must have won 15 spirit awards, from tournaments as big as Rotterdam to the Savage Seven in Stuttgart. 
Abroad our greatest rivals were the "bigEZ" from Vienna who were also our very good friends and some of with whom I launched the annual European Ultimate Championship Series and Finals. 

Have FUJ changed since 20 years ago?

We started Fuj, as described above, as a bunch of Americans and Joe’s English students. I was a recruiter though and kept my eyes open by putting up an early Fuj webpage and talking about disc in Prague and managed to pull in some people who had real experience in the US playing serious ultimate, guys like Nate Heilmann, Iain Robertson, Trevor, Bob, Chris. Those guys brought tactics, new skills and ideas from the US that no one in Europe had heard of and it paid off tremendously. We also pulled people from teams in other countries, a few guys from Mental Discorders in Slovakia and from a team in Hungary. Our primary purpose between 2002-2006 was to play in as many tournaments as possible and we needed at least 10 people who would commit to traveling because the tournaments were all over Germany, France, Italy and they cost a bunch of money. That core group also played in the Czech League which we dominated for a while. The ultimate high for that FUJ team, which was briefly renamed "Five Fingers" was placing 9th in the European championships after being ranked dead last coming into the tournament. 
We couldn’t keep Five Fingers together though, we couldn’t practice together and it became a problem, so in 2007 we dumped our foreign players and focussed on the young guys like the Vojtas, Blesk, Pepa, Hrosso, Misa, Hana, Jenik and others to take their places and become the disc players they had flashed potential when they were 13. All those guys came from a scout group that we recruited on Letna and they turned into the new core of the team as the Americans aged out or had families and could no longer dedicate enough time to the sport. Around 2010 most of the original founders of Fuj has either moved elsewhere (Mike) or had kids (Joe, David) and we turned the reins of the team over to the scouts.

What are your memories on the FUJ Young Beavers? How were they in the beginning and how were they later on? Can you remember any concrete situations?

The young beavers, as mentioned above started playing pickup with us on Letna in the early 2000s when they were a scout troop. It was great actually, we got to teach them how to throw, run, defend, handle and they picked it up. So much easier than teaching someone like me, for instance. The group as a whole had real talent, not just the boys, but the girls too, and that made a huge difference for us by 2010 when they started to matriculate and could focus on playing more disc. 
To this day, the beavers have taken over the team and run it. I haven’t really followed the team since 2012 but I know we continue to do well and my daughter, now 12, has professed an interest in playing disc so naturally she’ll be pulling on a Fuj shirt in the future to continue the family tradition.
Playing Savage Seven in Germany

Autor: Vojta Prušák, 22. 11. 2019
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