July 14th, 2021
By Ian Decker
On December 4, 2019, a one-page article titled “Boston Franchise Joins AUDL in 2020” appeared on the league’s website. The informational post introducing the 22nd franchise ahead of its inaugural campaign was celebratory and exciting. After months of preparation, including hiring personnel, holding tryouts and designing jerseys, the covid-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020 campaign.
Five hundred forty-nine days after the first official news of a team in Boston broke, Glory finally stepped onto an ultiamte field. Although it was an away game contested at JC Stone Field in Pittsburgh, the anticipation for a moment delayed a year and a half created an unforgettable feeling for the league’s youngest squad.
“The opening pull brought a sense of ‘Ah, finally,’” said Glory O-Line handler Ian Engler. “We had been practicing against ourselves for almost eight weeks and had made a lot of progress, but we had no idea how good we would actually be. That first point marked the time when we were finally going to see what we were capable of.”
The first match in Glory history saw the team complete 94-percent of its passes and force 23 turnovers en route to a 29–21 victory against the Thunderbirds. After a dismantling of Pittsburgh, Glory returned home for the first-ever outing at Hormel Stadium.
Despite taking a two-point lead into the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Hustle in the home-opener, Boston was held to just one goal in the final frame and fell, 21–19. Despite a narrow defeat, the energy of contesting a professional match at Hormel was palpable.
“The first home game, final score aside, was amazing,” said Glory do-it-all player Gustav Haflin. “The team felt galvanized in front of our friends and family; it was great to host Atlanta and to put on a show for those who have long supported us in our athletic endeavors.”
As a hotbed of Ultimate, Boston enjoys an intimate connection with the sport and its community. Finally having an AUDL team allows the passionate fan base to engage with and support frisbee at the highest level.
“The first home game had a ton of energy and love from the community,” Engler said. “Even though we couldn’t pull it out against a strong Atlanta team, a ton of fans stuck around after and gave us high fives, showing the connection we already had with the community.”
For Glory co-owner Peter Collery, who grew up in Amherst, MA, the opening match at Hormel brought a mix of almost every emotion one could feel.
“[The first home game was] an exquisite combination of terrifying and fun. Delight at the size and enthusiasm of the crowd, gratified amazement at the number of people who volunteered to help, astonishment at the skill of the players, relief that we seemed to have done a pretty good job of preparation.”
As with any new group, the team is still learning each other’s tendencies and building chemistry. Since starting the season 1–1, Boston has lost to the D.C. Breeze, 32–20, fell to the Raleigh Flyers, 27–25, and picked up a key home win versus the Tampa Bay Cannons, 24–17. Energy and momentum are key to recording wins in the AUDL, and Glory is discovering what kind of side it is.
“Team energy transitioned from uncertain early on to focused and determined at this point,” Engler said. “We have a ton of obstacles to overcome — first-year team during a pandemic with players from 13 different prior club teams — so it’s naturally going to take some time for us to hit our stride. There’s a lot of excitement to all be playing together.”
For Haflin, who has emerged as one of the squad’s most consistent players on both sides of the disc — averaging 21 points played per game — a 2–3 record belies how competitive Glory can be despite an unforgiving schedule.
“We believe that we have the talent and depth to compete with any team in this league,” Haflin said. “Our twenty-person gameday roster has changed for all four of our matchups; this speaks to the competitiveness we see at each and every practice. The high expectations our coaching staff has for us fuels our passion while fostering brotherhood.”
The newest AUDL crew is currently in sixth in the Atlantic Division after falling to Philadelphia this past weekend. Six games into the 2021 season, there are areas in which the team can improve, but after going nearly half a year without competitive Ultimate, Boston’s is a tale just beginning to be etched in stone. Glory take on New York this coming Saturday at 7 pm, in a long awaited matchup. Tickets are still available here.