We are the Matza Balls. We are nice Jewish guys who throw and catch frisbees together once a year in Santa Cruz, California at the annual April Fools West Ultimate tournament. Sounds like a bunch of nebeshes, right? The kind of guys whose mothers bring chicken soup to sip between games? Who sing Hebrew songs and dance the horah to warm up? Who scream 'oy vey' when their teammate makes a mistake, or pulls in a great catch? Absolutely!
On the other hand, we have been and currently are made up of some of the best Ultimate players in the world, have won more April Fools West tournaments than any other team, and have beaten some of the best organized club teams in the country. How's that for nachas? How does a bunch of yiddishe mamas boys come together and work that kind of magic, and why? A little history would be in order.
Many of us have been playing Ultimate for over 20 years. During that time, we recognized that numerous opponents at local and national tournaments had names like Weiss, Gewirtz, Levine, etc., and lo and behold, those yids were no shlepps! They were some of the best players on the field. And loud? You shouldn't know from that kind of volume.
In 1987, Steve Courlang made phone calls around the country and gathered tribe members from 6 or 7 teams to play together at the April Fools West Tournament, then at Stanford. The team called themselves The Red Sea Pedestrians and noshed on gefilte fish, washed it down with Manishevitz, and sprinted around the field like they were in Syria running for the border. Unfortunately, they lost in the quarterfinals, but bonded and were determined to do it again. [See comments from Steve Courlang on the 1987 web page.]
Eight years later, David Barkan, who had been living in Israel in 1987, resurrected the Hebrew disc slingers. This time, he named them the Matza Balls, and that name, so to speak, has stuck. In 1995, the first year, the Matza Balls had players from New York, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, L.A., and San Francisco. They faced some tough teams up until the finals, beating them all one by one. They then faced Seattle, a relative Goliath, in the final game. Seattle would go on in six months to be #2 in the country, but the remaining uninjured Maccabee wannabees pulled off a stunning upset, and the legend began.
Many of the faces of today's Matza Balls have changed, but the spirit and connection to our roots and each other makes our annual tradition a simcha of the highest order. Come see us play. Join our sideline mayhem. There are even some single ones for those nice Jewish girls who like their men in cleats. Lichayim!!!