My love for ultimate goes way back. I first started playing ultimate in high school when some friends invited me to come play after school with “UFC” (Ultimate Frisbee Club). At the time I really had no idea how to properly throw a disc, but I had fun running, catching passes, and playing defense. Some friends and I started playing during our lunch break out on the football field, and we played almost every day without fail during high school. We played rain, wind, or snow, though sometimes extreme weather forced us inside where we had to compete with the soccer players for the school gym.
As I played more and more, I got better and better. Ultimate became more of a priority in my life, and I looked forward to playing in more competitive games. When I came to BYU I was introduced to the ultimate culture here, and fell in love with intramurals and pick-up games. However, I never visualized ultimate as more than just intramurals or pick-up. It never crossed my mind that high-level ultimate even existed.
It took me until about a year after my mission in Ukraine to discover BYU CHI Ultimate. I was playing in an intramural game, when afterwards Patrik Connole (now captain of the BYU B-team) came up to me and invited me to start practicing with BYU’s ultimate team. Before that moment, I had never really considered playing at that level. However, as I pondered over it, I began to realize that this was something I really wanted to do. This was something, like my mission, to which I truly wanted to dedicate my time, effort, and soul.
From the outset, I realized that CHI was a whole different ball game (disc-game?) from intramurals. When compared to the organization, plays, athleticism, hustle, and flow of college-level ultimate, intramurals (though still fun) seemed like a completely different sport. It humbled me, whereas before I had felt like a force to be reckoned with. It challenged me to improve, while before I felt unmotivated. And I can tell you, I am not the same ultimate player that I was even 6 months ago. That is how much CHI has changed and pushed me.
I play for CHI because of the way the program and my own teammates push me. They didn’t expect perfection when I was recruited. They took me as I was, and challenged me to be better. Every Single Day. I love the intensity and respect that each player exhibits on and off the field. That intrinsic quality and integrity of each player really impresses me. The friendship and camaraderie also make me feel like part of a big family. I’m super excited to be playing for CHI this year. I’m excited to improve, I’m eager to contribute to this amazing program, and I’m super psyched to play against high level teams in tournaments across the country!
But along with all the excitement, I need to remind myself that hard work is key. I am still very inexperienced, but I have realized that there is no suitable replacement for a player that hustles and put his whole effort into it 100% of the time, regardless of the weather, the way he feels, or the way the whole team is playing. One player can make a big difference. When I don’t feel like working hard, I have to remind myself of the commitment I made to my teammates and to myself. I don’t want to be the one dragging the team down. I am replaceable if I show up with 90% effort. But if I consistently give it my all, only good things can happen.