Two years ago, I had the opportunity to play on a summer intramural team with current team captain, Bryant Boyer. He invited me to come play with the BYU team. I was curious and so I came out that following preseason (Fall 2013). Everyone was supportive and I enjoyed playing competitive ultimate. Although I was probably one of the worst players on the field, I was treated with respect. Everybody wanted to help me develop as a player. I was struggling with a serious knee injury (torn meniscus) and so I felt that I never really performed up to my potential.
When I first started playing for CHI ultimate, I was out of shape and inexperienced. During my first collegiate season, I played as a handler for the B-team. I was fine with this placement because I needed the experience. Although our B-team was not very good that year, we had a few great contributors that helped me focus on what was most important. I was eventually able to become one of the team leaders and that helped me grow dramatically. I had high hopes for my future in the program.
Just over this past year, my playing level has increased so much and my love for this great game has risen exponentially. I dedicated countless hours watching club and collegiate games online, analyzing them for my own enjoyment. I spent hours throwing with fellow team members and developing my throws, from all angles and release points. Soon, I became a talented handler. The course of my development has shaped my view of the game and of our program.
At the beginning of this preseason (Fall 2014), I recognized that I would be pulled onto the A-team as a handler. BYU Men’s Ultimate team decides the roster for the A & B teams in December, shortly before the start of the regular season. I had all of the preseason to hone my ultimate skills. I was very excited and greatly anticipated this 2015 season. I then started to consider my future. I am a student at BYU studying film & media arts. I realized that the coming semester would be my most challenging. I would be taking the maximum amount of credits allowed, consisting of the hardest classes in the film program. I realized that I couldn’t be on the A-team and engage in my academics to the level that it would require. I knew that if I wanted to truly be a great contributor to the A-team, I would need to dedicate time I didn’t have. I was also married a short time ago and I knew that my marriage demanded some time I wasn’t used to. With a heavy heart, I decided to tell the coach, Bryce Merrill, that I couldn’t be on the A-team.
I seriously doubted this decision. This is what I had dreamed about for the past year. I was tired of not reaching my potential. I finally felt healthy enough to give 100% to physical condition and that was/is my biggest weakness. I felt that if I played with the A-team my abilities would increase even more. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and believe that if we pray to God about our concerns that God will help us. I prayed about this personal issue and felt a confirmation that I should only play for the B-team this season, allowing myself to focus on my studies.
I told Bryce during our next practice that I couldn’t participate as a member of the A-team. Bryce was very supportive of my decision and asked me if I would captain and coach the B-team. I was surprised because I am still relatively a young ultimate player but I accepted. In the time that I have been captain and coach, I have grown so much. The B-team of this year is infinitely more athletic and talented than any other B-team in BYU ultimate history. We have a bright future as a program if this trend continues. We have strong numbers coming to each tournament and practice. We are a group of individuals that will really stretch the A-team into becoming one of the premiere teams of our region.
I am able to act as one of the primary handlers for our offense, which gives me a lot playing time. I am able to structure practices with the drills and scrimmages needed to improve us as a team. This experience as a captain and coach will bring my ultimate game to a whole new level. My confidence is increasing and I am learning so many of the smaller nuances of the game. There are a few other players on the B-team that help me in these responsibilities including, but not limited to, Quinn Everett and Tyrell Adair. They help me keep everything organized and instruct the team on occasion.
I know I have a lot to learn and I hope that our B-team comes out to tournaments with a skill level that turns heads. “That’s the BYU B-team?! Wow.” I want to help our school’s program as much as I can for as long as I am able. I will still have another season to play with BYU next year and so I look forward to participating as an A-team player then, but for now I look to help where I can. I am so proud of this BYU CHI program and support its moral and competitive nature.
When I first started playing ultimate, I gained a reputation for risky, low percentage throws. Although I have grown so much since then, I still find myself drawn towards the plays with high risk and high reward. I want to constantly improve and hit those high rewards. I gained a nickname from my fellow teammate which I have used to rebrand myself as an ultimate player. Last year I was known as #2014CLARK. But now I have had a whole year to hone my skills and develop my physical endurance and general athletic ability. I am now known as #2015CLARK. I am dedicated to the idea that I should always be improving and so I look forward to day that I evolve into #2016CLARK.