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September 18, 2011
By ASHLEY JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer

Southern hospitality and scenery earned the area high marks from some of the hundreds of people here this weekend for the Virginia Fusion Ultimate Frisbee Tournament at the Smith River Sports Complex.

"I love it here ... the area is very quaint and everyone is super laid back and friendly," said Jean Steele of Greensboro, N.C., who came to see her daughter, Abby Nappier, play on a team from Chicago.

In all, about 900 women on 36 teams are competing in the Ultimate Frisbee Tournament here this weekend at the sports complex off the U.S. 220 bypass. The matches, which are described as a combination of football and soccer played with a Frisbee, continue until mid- afternoon today.

While here, some of the players, families and fans had a chance to look around, stay in local motels and eat at local restaurants. All those interviewed liked what they saw.

Ronald Ochoa, who was here supporting the Veto team from the Washington, D.C. area, arrived in the area Friday and enjoyed visiting some of the area antique shops, he said Saturday afternoon at the sports complex. It was great to "see furniture and pictures from the 1800s ... there's so much story (and history) here," he added.

Area businesses also got high marks from the visitors.

Ochoa said he was impressed with the friendly and fast service at Biscuitville on Virginia Avenue. "The people were really nice and it was a nice breakfast."

Nappier was also impressed with Biscuitville. "The biscuits were great," she said - especially because there isn't a Biscuitville in Chicago.

Also, people's hospitality and friendliness was "a lot different than Chicago," she said.

"We were greeted as soon as we entered the parking lot of the complex ... everyone was so nice," said A.J. Creden, another player on the Chicago team.

The team arrived late Friday night and on Saturday morning, the players ate at the Binding Time Cafe on Spruce Street, according to teammate Courtney Eccles.

"They were very nice and helpful with directions and the owner said he was coming to watch the game, which was so nice," Creden said, adding that he liked the cafe's coffee.

While at the tournament on Saturday, the teammates from Chicago saw a box of doughnuts from Tasty Creme Donuts on West Church Street. That was all it took to convince them that "we are definitely going to Tasty Creme," Creden said.

Emily Kosmerl, who plays on a team from Columbus, Ohio, went to Najjar's Pizza on Virginia Avenue in Collinsville on Friday night and "it was tasty," she said.

Natalie Kruse, also on the Columbus team, grabbed a salad and a sandwich for lunch on Saturday at Arts and Deli in uptown Martinsville. She also said that she staff was "super friendly and the food was really good."

Kruse visited the Big Chair while she was in uptown and took pictures in front of it, she added.

Both the Chicago team and the Ohio team were staying at the Comfort Inn on Virginia Avenue.

The hotel staff was "some of the nicest people I've ever met," said Chrissy Hedges, a player on the Ohio team.

Each of the team members said that they probably wouldn't have time to explore the area much since they were going to be at the tournament all weekend. But Hedges said if she found time, she wanted to go bowling.

Eccles said that she knew of a group that went to the Wild Magnolia restaurant at Patrick Henry Mall on Friday night.

The hospitality and scenery may have gotten their attention, but while at the tournament, the players were impressed with the complex itself.

"This is an awesome facility ... we rarely play on fields this great," Kosmerl said.

The scenery around the facility caught the eye of Steele.

Steele originally is from Michigan where "everything is flat." But in Martinsville, "there is a lot of natural beauty," she said.

"The trees and the rolling hills are very pretty ... you can't find that in Chicago," Eccles said.

Ochoa liked the "wilderness" in the Martinsville area as well. The forests, rivers and dams are "very pretty ... It looks like a nice place for biking," he said.

Steele planned to visit some of the area walking and hiking trails and the Philpott Dam outlook while she was in the area, she said.