When Ultimate is More than Just a Sport
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I was introduced to ultimate in 2011 by a friend with whom I played basketball. She said: "Come try ultimate, I'm sure you'll like it." On that night, in a league game, when I didn't really understand where to run and the only place I wanted to catch the disc was in the end zone so I wouldn't have to throw it again, I fell in love with the sport.
After playing league for two years, I was starting to feel that my learning curve wasn't progressing as fast anymore, and I was yearning for more. So I joined a touring team. I immediately felt like I belonged. Being part of a team, attending practices, competing in tournaments. The same buzz I felt when I was younger – but as an adult. I never thought I'd feel that way again.
Ultimate has taught me a lot about healthy living. I quickly realized that it wasn't enough for me to just attend practices... My performance on the field was affected by what I was doing off the field: sleeping more, eating less and better, going to the gym, drinking less alcohol, drinking more water. Lots of little things that seem natural and obvious, but require a lot of motivation and sacrifice.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I've said,
"Ah, I can't, I've got practice."
"I'm at a tournament."
"I've got to practice."
I've missed several happy hours, picnics at the park, camping weekends. And friends outside of ultimate? Is there such a thing?!
The team bonds so quickly. We spend so much time together, on and off the field, that it comes naturally. You have to keep yourself motivated, and what better way to do so than with your teammates.
We challenge ourselves: we're going to throw every day in February, preferably outside. It's easy if you live in California. Less easy with Quebec’s snowy and icy winters. I shared so many emotions with my teammates that when the season ends, there's a void.
It is often said that you don't realize the true value of something until it’s lost. Our recent confinement due to COVID-19 made me realize how much more than a sport ultimate is. It is a way of life. And it affects so many areas of mine.
You have to understand, I'm not the most active person. I love sports. But I also love the comfort of my couch. I've always been a team player in sports, at work and in my social life. I like to feel like I'm part of a group, and that my contribution helps a cause that is bigger than just myself. Doing something just for me is often not enough of a motivator. On the other hand, I will never let the group down. My pride will always get on board and push me to give the best of myself for the common goal.
Without ultimate, I don't feel like working out. Even with ultimate, I need to go to the gym as a group so I don’t abandon my friends. Without a sports commitment, nothing prevents me from drinking alcohol every day. There’s no excuse not to have a drink at the end of the day. Without the commitment to run out the door to practice after, I don't realize that the burger I just ate for dinner might not have been the best idea.
Teammates, friends, family
My teammates are my friends and family. I sweat with them, literally. We push each other to the limit, and we see each other in our most vulnerable moments: in victory as well as defeat.
We laugh too. We laugh a lot. Let's face it, ultimate players are not afraid of ridicule! All those costume parties, car selfies, the silly team photos. These moments are priceless.
Social distancing makes me realize how much I need this social life, this human contact for my mental balance.
I also realize that ultimate is my therapy. It allows me to release the bad stuff. When I set foot on the field, my day and my problems fall away. For a few hours, I'm 100% in this moment – no distractions.
Nothing feels more liberating than running, being out of breath, pushing yourself past your limits. It rejuvenates my body and mind. Sure, I could work out at home and run outside, and it would be so good for me. But I lack the motivation to get up, to take that first step. So I get stuck with my thoughts.
I miss my team. I miss my friends. I can't wait to jump into their arms, or catch up over a drink.
I recently read a social media post stating that canceling ultimate wasn't such a big deal. Everything that's going on – for nurses, orderlies, clerks and delivery people, it's so much worse for them. You can't complain.
I agree that many individuals in our society and in our community are risking their own health for the greater good, and I am so grateful to them. It is important to recognize those contributions and have perspective.
However, it doesn't diminish what each person is going through. Every feeling is legitimate and has a right to exist. In fact, we can always compare ourselves to our neighbour. But it doesn't diminish what each person is going through. Every feeling is legitimate and has a right to exist.
For me, ultimate being cancelled is a big deal. It shakes my core, the very foundation of the person I have become.
I realize now how ultimate brings out the best in me. And I can't wait to get back to that.
Jess Richard joined the VC team in 2019 and is our bilingual sales and customer experience representative. Contact Jess to talk about all things custom gear today!