Originally posted on Skyd Magazine
On Monday, I announced my new project, Ultimate Globe Trotter, a travel-focused web series featuring the world’s best ultimate teams and their stories. Episodes will share my travels and experiences around the globe as I train with awesome teams and compete in major tournaments. Next week I depart for the Boracay Islands in the Philippines to begin the first leg of my journey with the Boracay Dragons. After Boracay, I’ll travel to New Zealand and Australia to train and compete with Magon and the Heads of State respectively. Along the way, I’ll release a cocktail of media in the form of short videos, blogs, instagrams, etc. as I gather footage for full episodes that I hope to release at the end of May.
Having this opportunity to travel and play a sport I love is without a doubt a dream come true. But the purpose of this project goes far beyond the personal experience.
2013 was a busy year. I was selected to play my first season with the Seattle Rainmakers, a team composed of the city’s top players. It was a great experience that had its far share of downfalls as well. Namely, by mid-season, I was burning out fast. That early spring, I had a unique balancing act of figuring out what the next steps were for Skyd, helping plan out RISE UP’s Amsterdam clinics in additional to many personal life balances. My life for the last couple years had turned into all ultimate, all the time, and I wanted to get out.
By the time the RISE UP crew was on a plane to Amsterdam’s Windmill Windup, I was already thinking about stepping away from ultimate. I wasn’t sure that I could muster any more Skyd, or even another club season. My general demeanor towards what direction I was headed simply wasn’t one that placed much value on what was being accomplished. I had lost a lot of the joy for the sport and I had forgotten a lot about what got me interested in ultimate in the first place. That may have been a result of working too hard combined with other factors, but at the end of the day, I had lost the sense of motivation to make an impact within the sport and the sense of to prove something as an ultimate player.
Then came Windmill. The Windmill experience is difficult to put into words, which is okay because I put a video together that encapsulates what it was like.
For those that don’t know, RISE UP brought over a tremendous group of coaches to run two days of clinics, and a one day conference in which all of us coaches presented. What’s more is we went on to form a team to compete in the tournament and win in an exciting final against Germany’s talented Bad Skid. What was accomplished at RISE UP Amsterdam is still one of the most mind-boggling feats I’ve ever heard of in ultimate or not. The fact that everything went so smoothly is a testament to all of the hard work that Mario, Andy, Ben, myself and the other coaches put into planning (and subsequently part of why I was burning out in the first place).
Though I had attended Windmill to cover the tournament for Skyd the previous year, I hadn’t truly experienced it. Playing in that tournament was like being reborn. The RISE UP team reminded me of those college tournaments of yore, where no time was more valuable than that spent hanging with your team and looking for a laugh. The tournament itself is just a remarkable presentation which, compounded with the joys of coaching and connecting with so many passionate people reminded me about why I play, and the value of my efforts for the sport.
I returned to Seattle not fully understanding what I wanted out of ultimate, and still with much work to be done getting Skyd on the right track. I had hit a bottom before Windmill, and though I was on the way up, I still had a long way to go. After the Rainmakers season ended I rejoined Voodoo for my 3rd year, and continued to remember the joy (and struggle) of playing. I got involved in even more ultimate projects, founding High Release and Ultimate Central (it’s a vicious cycle, no?).
The final turning point for me was my trip to Mexico this fall with Skyd editor Liam Rosen. Liam had connected with a team from Querétaro called Malaki and was going to move there for the later part of their season to compete at regionals and nationals. On a whim, I decided to join him to coach and play. I had never been to Mexico before, and there’s nothing like having the opportunity to live with ultimate players who are as passionate about the place they live as they are the sport. On day one I found myself running a 5k on three hours of sleep in downtown Querétaro and never quite stopped running around. I was treated to tours of the city, tremendous meals and wonderful hospitality.
Coaching was truly rewarding. Passion is hard to come by in life, and having the opportunity to work with a team of talented and passionate young players was a true joy. Learning their story and sharing the experience of competing as a team is simply unlike anything else. Anyone that has committed themselves fully to a team in this sport knows exactly what I’m talking about. It’s that feeling of belonging and authenticity that gives us a reason to get up in the morning. That’s what Malaki and my trip to Mexico was all about.
The Malaki experience really started putting things together for me. I started thinking about how I could share these experiences with everyone by telling the stories of these great teams. I had caught glimpses of some remarkable international teams and players at Windmill and through my three years as Editor-in-Chief of Skyd. A chance meeting with some like minded dreamers from The Breakside put a framework on the thoughts I was having. It was the tipping point. The first version of Skyd was built and launching in a month, and Ultimate Globe Trotter wasn’t all that different. I quickly started planning a schedule and contacting teams, and I quickly received excited confirmations. All of a sudden the project was real.
For me, the goals of Ultimate Globe Trotter are bold in their simplicity. I want to bring the global ultimate community closer together by using travel, story and sport to inspire. Through this series I intend to: 1) Explore how the language of sport unites people and communities 2) Examine local culture 3) Present the best ultimate a country has to offer.
It’s finally starting to sink in that the first leg of this trip is actually happening. With great humility, I look forward to meeting new friends and teammates along the way, and hope you’ll join me on the adventure.
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