After four years of captaining, I passed on the torch.
People ask me, when are preseason scrims? When are tryouts? Which tournaments are you going to?
Damn, it feels good to take a break from offseason duties, which would almost be as busy as in-season with facility booking, vision planning, tournament research, and an inescapable feeling of “what can we do to move the needle”? Of which I was hungry and motivated to do.
Last season, I realized other priorities were demanding more of me – my career, my own player development, farmhouse renovations, and impending lifestyle changes like pets and kids – and I did not feel I could be the captain I wanted to be. There is only so much time and energy for the infinite dreams I want to do and accomplish.
However, I am eternally grateful for what I’ve learned in the past four years captaining Union, two years of which were anxious times for everyone, attempting to navigate life’s COVID restrictions, trying to be safe while playing the sport we so dearly miss and love.
Here are my reflections after this captaining run with Union, culminating in bronze at Ultimate Canada Invitational 2021, gold at Canadian Ultimate Championships 2022, and placing 19th in the freaking world at World Ultimate Club Championships 2022.
– holistic preparation
– the little things
– supportive environment
– consensual feedback
– line calling is hard
– success is showing up
– appreciation and gratitude are everything
– my ideal teammate
To be competitive, to give your 100%, is to level up in all aspects.
Not only prepared with skill but also in mental fortitude and sport-specific goals. Ultimate does not beget Ultimate preparation. Goal-oriented training does. Prepared in carefully trained movements and repeat sprint ability.
Like my coach would say, “Championships are won in the offseason.”
This Championship Mindset is obsessed with constantly tweaking, ruminating and iterating on the little things.
the little things
These things happen automatically, subconsciously, and perhaps, sub-optimally until you turn your obsessive lens to it.
They all make a difference, and +1s add up.
Culture and atmosphere directly correlate with results. Challenging and building up my teammates helps me be better.
We remind each other we are great and can do hard things when we need to remember. Because we forget we are great and can do hard things, and it feels lonely and dark when we do. We can help our teammates out of that space.
No one shows up wanting to suck. And maybe they’re not ready for someone to tell them what they already know. So, consent is critical: “Hey, can I give you feedback?” And then, trust them.
We are all teammates and only help each other if we speak up with kindness.
line calling is hard
2019 was the first year Union had a full-time coach; I cannot emphasize more that it is the biggest game-changer of all time. Having someone dedicated to the development, strategy, vision, big picture, tournament management, season management, year-over-year planning, and more is truly a privilege, a skill. Some may say it takes more effort than captaining and playing.
Oh, and line calling is hard. Thank your line callers because it’s one of the hardest things to get right and straight up hard.
success is showing up
There are days that you want to stay under the warm and cozy covers
Aching and exhausted
But you have goals, and you have teammates
And on those days, success isn’t about winning Nationals or making a big play
Success is, despite all that you are facing, on the inside and out, you show up for yourself and for your team.
appreciation and gratitude are everything
I won’t lie that sometimes captaining felt like a thankless job. All these hours of effort and the response felt apathetic? Unappreciated? Minimal commitment? It felt like I was only told when things were bad or needed work.
That’s normal. It’s easy to put a ton of weight and responsibility onto yourself as a captain to take on the heavy ownership of a quarterfinals loss or season burnout.
“Thank you” means so much.
It means “I see you,” “I appreciate you,” “I appreciate your efforts,” “you make a difference.”
It gives me the fuel to keep going longer in these logistics emails, tryout meetings, tournament debriefs, line compositions, finance spreadsheeting, playbook planning…
Lastly, my ideal teammate:
It is a game-changer when a teammate is committed in mind, body, and spirit, engages others, engages leadership in constructive discourse, shows up ready to solution and pitch in, and appreciates the infinite amount of thinking and effort behind the scenes.