Player Profile: Cam Bailey
When Seattle Raptors standout Cam Bailey discovered ultimate, it was a bit of a fluke.
“I had no idea this world existed five or six years ago,” Bailey said, laughing. At the time, he was working as a counselor at a summer camp. Having just finished kicking and screaming with the kids in various activities, some of the adults wanted to break off and play with their peers.
“We decided to have an adult game one afternoon and chose ultimate,” Bailey said. “We just played. There were no boundaries, no stall count. We weren’t allowed to mark within 10 feet.”
“For two years that was the only way I played.”
Bailey is something of a wild spirit when it comes to competition. He is a natural born leaper, both in his physical skillset and his tendency to launch fully headlong, or bidding you might say, into his next endeavor.
Before Bailey’s lawless introduction to ultimate –“[My captains in college] wouldn’t let me jump and throw. That’s a travel, apparently” -he was a talented track athlete in college at Central Washington as a triple and high jumper, as well as a guard in basketball.
“Do I have the best high jump in the AUDL?” Bailey wondered aloud to himself. “My personal record is 6’9”. That’s pretty decent.” His competitive streak is present in all of his stories, even tangentially.
“I played every sport I could,” Bailey said. “Let’s mix it up – let’s play H-O-R-S-E, let’s having a jumping contest. Let’s play something I can win.”
His drive comes from his personality as a rambunctious and incorrigible rabble-rouser, constantly needling others with challenges like three-vs-three games of mini-ultimate and doling out inane nicknames – Raptors teammate Adam Bronstein is “Good Beard” while Luke Jesperson is “Best Beard;” Ryan Sturm’s Cheshire grin earned him the alias “Colgate.”
Seattle’s coaches Ben Thielhorn and Scott Hills are fair game for his devious wit as well. He revels in off-beat conversation, and has tried to stage conflicts by posing hypothetical questions like, “If there was a team of seven Thielhorns and a team of seven Scott Hills and they were both in their prime, which team would win?"
“I think he does it just to get a reaction,” Thielhorn said flatly, sandwiched in between numerous compliments about Bailey’s exuberant person.
Bailey’s play on the field is impassioned, too. His springy athletic skills have made him the Raptors’ firestarter on both sides of the disc, leading the team in both goals and Ds with his aerial prowess, as well as playing the most points without dropping a single pass so far this season. He prefers to mark up on the opposing team’s best player, which can be daunting in the talent-deep West division of the AUDL (“Beau [Kittredge] sucks to guard, by the way. I think his track career trumped mine.”) But it is a distinction Bailey prides himself on, if nothing else than for the challenge.
And it’s this same intensity that has given Bailey his own dubious moniker. It came when he was first discovering the spirit of the game.
“There was this one game in college, I was playing physical” Bailey said, recounting his humble beginnings in ultimate. “And the opposing coach came up to me and said ‘Hey, you have to turn down the intensity.’ And I was like ‘Who are you, Mister Morals?’ And there’s some guys who are on the Raptors that call me that.”
“In basketball where I come from, you’re a jerk to the other team. They are jerks to you, you are jerks to them. There’s so much more of a raw competitiveness,” Bailey continued, a subtle tone of chagrin creeping into his voice. What Bailey describes is the fairly typical type of aggression that plays across most sports, but one that is largely absent in ultimate.
“Spirit of the game has absolutely helped change my attitude, change my negativity, on the field and off,” Bailey said optimistically. “It’s definitely helped me. It’s so cool that we have this system where you work things out with each other.”
Ultimately, Bailey's philosophy about competition is the same one found throughout the AUDL—he views himself as his primary competitor, continually pushing himself to throw better, run faster, make smarter cuts and (this one is obvious) jump higher, always raising the bar. There are "cruel" lessons in losing, he says, but they help make him a better player and Seattle a better team.
"If I ever was in the notion that losing sucks and started to wallow, then I probably wouldn’t be where I am. Everyone is going to lose at some point. If you get bogged down and think ‘I’m never going to win’ then you won’t. I want to run it back and try to play again."
Ed. Note –
To Sirs Beaufort Kittredge and Ashlin Joye,
Mr. Cameron Bailey and his comrade Mr. Bradley Houser have lain down the gauntlet, issuing forth a formal challenge to a duel. The contest will be played out and decided in a two-versus-two game of mini to establish, once and for all, the greatest pairing of roommates in the continental (Sorry, Alaska) United States of America. It will take place this Sunday, June 22nd when the San Jose Spiders travel to take on the Seattle Raptors.
Egos will be razed, and legends will be born.
-- Caitlin Cieslik-Miskimen and Adam Ruffner