I tore my ACL.
I’m waiting for an MRI and started rehab.
I don’t expect to play sports for months.
⏸️ volleyball, climbing, surfing, snowboarding, and… Ultimate.
▶️ rehab, renovations, baking, painting, gliding, and pottery.
I have a deep-seated fear of injury.
I’ve bailed, quit, and given in when I might be remotely close to the risk of injury.
I am so afraid of the moment I am at right now.
I’m afraid of the feelings of pain, shooting or aching waves through my body.
I’m afraid of the pitying looks that I am less than.
I’m afraid of not being able-bodied, my independence taken away from me, replaced with a feeling of helplessness until someone sees me and takes the time to do something for me.
I’m afraid of missing out on the joy, adrenaline, challenge, and fun of able-bodied play, the endorphic drug of sport.
Yet here I am.
One week into walking twice as slow as I usually do, short-tempered, waking up from dreams of running and jumping, and a fading part of me holding onto unrealistic hope that my knee will decide to be just fine.
It’s not as bad as I thought it would be.
The moment of injury was more shock than true pain.
I’m genuinely excited for the time to do other things relegated to “when I wind down Ultimate”.
I’m surprised by how many have been through a knee injury, and I feel supported in the community (I got a lot of tips! See footnotes).1
I feel strong, and I feel stronger every day, with bursts of pride & gratitude at my body’s resilient recovery.
Now that I’m here, exactly where I am afraid of, I realize that the pursuit is worth it. I often ask myself what are the limits I’ll go to pursue these dreams, how far and hard should I push myself, and what are my boundaries? Risk of injury will always be present; an occupational hazard if you will. Pursuing dreams is a question of doing so despite that fear, and each step is one in facing that fear.
Now that I’m here, I realize it’s nothing I can’t handle. Taking it day by day with really really slow steps.
- My physiotherapist and other medical professionals offered me this advice in my current situation.
I’m not a medical professional, and this isn’t meant to be medical advice for you. You should always consult a medical professional to get the best care for you.
Do your rehab everyday.
The goal is to get to “quiet knee” for quality of life which is:
Comfortable walking gait
There’s a relatively new non-graft ACL surgery called BEAR surgery – Bridge enhanced ACL repair.
Continuous icing machines can be helpful for initial swelling and post-operation.
Pool rehab and the leg press machine are excellent for movement and maintaining leg strength.
MRIs in Canada can take a while – call to be put on the cancellation list and ask for which days they tend to have no shows. You could take the chance and go in and sit in the waiting room for the day and ask for them to provide you with your MRI if there is no-show. There is not enough time to have someone come in from the cancellation list when there is a no-show so you might get lucky.
Make sure you have your own copy of the x-ray imaging in case you get bounced around to different providers. ↩︎
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.
Photo credits: Ed Kung, Eye to Ngai Photography
This is my 3rd season as captain of Union.
5th season as a Unionite, 7th season of club, 10+ years of chasing plastic.
I’ve had my fair share of highs & lows with Ultimate: achey niggles, training I don’t want to do, and gut wrenching losses.
On the flip side, jaw dropping plays, memorable road trips, and triumphant wins.
Through competitive sport, I realized I strive for excellence in all domains of life.
𝐈 𝐜𝐫𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐥𝐥𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧, 𝐨𝐩𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐢𝐳𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐡𝐢𝐠𝐡 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞.
So powerful was this realization that I shaped my life mission similarly:
𝙄 𝙝𝙚𝙡𝙥 𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙨 𝙥𝙧𝙖𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙘𝙚 𝙚𝙭𝙘𝙚𝙡𝙡𝙚𝙣𝙘𝙚 𝙞𝙣 𝙨𝙥𝙤𝙧𝙩 𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙛𝙤𝙧𝙢𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙚 & 𝙗𝙪𝙨𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙨𝙨 𝙖𝙘𝙝𝙞𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩.
• I facilitate opportunities to compete in Ultimate.
• I invest in others’ growth & development.
I will set my whole self up for success – mind, body, heart – so that I can fully invest into myself and into others.
I had a fateful conversation with a friend a few years ago. They said, “I want to compete for as long as my body allows me to.” I know there will come a time when my mind & heart are willing, but my body is not. Until that moment, I am grateful for the privilege to compete at the highest levels.
I tour because I’ve watched others play with grace, intelligence, athleticism, and humility and think, that could be me.
I tour because I want to set the bar higher for Ultimate and challenge those around me.
I tour because I don’t know any other sport comparable to Ultimate.
*A revision of ‘Why do I tour‘ written in March 2017
a juxtaposition of adrenaline & tranquility
I recently realized I crave adrenaline, and sport was usually my way to fulfill that hole.
Sprinting, chasing plastic, dripping sweat in the hot sun,
cheering as teammates or opponents make a play.
I crave the foot race to an under. Juking out my defender, anticipating my match up and intercepting the pass. I miss joking on the sideline and running around on the field with no qualms about life.
It’s not just adrenaline alone – it’s the juxtaposition, the simultaneous presence of adrenaline and peace.
It’s the tranquility found in the breathless moments of physical and mental exertion, alongside the cacophony of voices and footfalls across fields as far as the eye can see.
To slip into a flow state is to be fully immersed in the present moment. My mind subconsciously calculates multiple factors at once: wind speed, humidity, the 13 players sharing the field with me, and minute strategic assumptions.
I take a step, make a throw,
I miss Ultimate, as Blue said, with every fibre of my being.
An Ultimate-sized hole in my life.
Originally written June 3, 2019 as a private journal entry.
You could breathe in excitement. Taste it.
The chattering. Murmur of hundreds in the stands, locals and internationals alike.
The stadium lights spotlit the fields. We are the showcase, we are the entertainment.
I remember looking around in awe – that I was here, playing Revolution in Medellin in front of a huge crowd.
I felt the weight of the years I have been playing, training, reading and learning that brought me to this point. I felt equal with my incredible teammates as we geared up to face one of the best clubs of all time (2018 WUCC Finalists, 2018 US Open Finalists, and later that year, 2019 US Open Finalists and 2019 PUL Champions).
And what a game it was! We scored 6 on them & gave them a fight.
That’s all I wrote for this entry. (: One day I will add to how this tournament experience is my current #1.
Or embracing failure
Originally written August 19, 2019 as a journal entry to share with the team.
THIS IS IT. Nationals in 3 days.
The time to lay it all on the line, what we’ve been building for… every tournament, every throwing session, every training session, every practice, every decision & sacrifice to make ourselves a better competitor, athlete, player & teammate.
I am so impressed with how this team has come together – challenging & supporting each other, and demanding nothing short of excellence. Throwing & workouts, film review & discussion, an Instagram group chat… You’ve all made this team something to be proud of.
These next 60 hours are key to prepping yourself to be dialed in.
I’ll be focused on hydrating – 3 L/day, carb loading with wholesome foods, and getting in some tapering workouts before Thursday. Throwing today. Two workouts tomorrow – explosive weights in the morning & a track workout in the evening. Wednesday will be an active recovery sprint session & throwing. I’ll also do a sport performance daily meditation every morning before work, review strategy & film, & prioritize sleep.
This is it, Union.
LFG. Get ’em.
Originally written August 25, 2019 as a private journal entry.
Sunday Morning of CUC 2019
10:30 AM, I’m at home on the balcony, sipping tea.
My body hurts & my spirits are challenged.
I had a restless sleep, my mind drifting to Ultimate & thinking about what more I could’ve done.
The first thing I felt after that universe quarters loss was disappointment – in myself.
I wish I played better, had more throws, ran harder, anticipated smarter, for my team.
I wish I saw our confidence & strong lead were slipping away and nipped it in the butt RIGHT THERE. I wish I was more knowledgeable in captaincy to do what the team needed in that moment. It brings tears to my eyes to know I let the team down, when they needed me the most. And I am so sorry for that.
But this Nationals coaxed the competitive fire in me that was struggling.
I had some big moments this week that surprised me. Some big layout bids & grinding hard on the field. I am fully capable of being an incredible player – I just have to get out of my own way.
So, Day 1 of post-season. I am going to continue training to prep for Harvest and possibly Team Canada tryouts. I am on an upswing and I have more to work on and prove.
I NEVER want to feel like I let my team down with who I am as a player. I want to be the best player & person I can be, for them.
Players who support me, pick me up, and challenge me to do better. Never satisfied.
I’m feeling a little melancholy now that the season is over. I was having a lot of fun with the team. This is a true ‘coming down’.
And here I am, focused on the next thing.
Wanting to scrap this icky feeling of dissatisfaction.
Study some Coaching Conference videos.
Join Zen and MMV practices.
Keep throwing twice a week.
Do film review.
Let’s be the player you know you are at Harvest, and hopefully you get an invite to Team Canada tryouts.
I originally posted this on social media accounts on March 2017. My company, The Ultimate Experience, launched a social media campaign called ‘Why do I tour’ to share stories of the touring aspect of Ultimate. I’m not sure where the term ‘touring Ultimate’ is used, as I found out Americans call it ‘club’ or ‘rep’, Asians call ‘training’ what I call practice, and most American club teams practice on the weekend where almost all Canadian teams I know practice on weekdays. I often use the term ‘club’ now but touring will always sound like home to me. The Ultimate Experience, or the UE, likes to define touring Ultimate as a group of people travelling to play a tournament. Whether it’s Nationals or UE’s Ontario 4v4 Circuit tournaments on a Saturday morning, you are touring.
How do I begin to explain my passion for chasing plastic and all that’s associated with it?
I picked up my first regulation disc at Toronto Ultimate Club‘s junior summer league in 2010. I went on to join Torontula at the University of Toronto in 2012.
Five years later, I am in my last year of undergraduate studies, won some hardware with Tula and have two seasons of touring under my belt (Lotus in 2015, 6ixers in 2016). I’ve attended tournaments that have solidified my love for the international Ultimate community – Whistler 5 on 5, Pan-American Ultimate Championships 2015, Bangkok Hat 2016, and Bali Nusantara Cup 2016… and this summer, Amsterdam Windmill Windup and hopefully, World Championships of Beach Ultimate 2017.
Sports began as an escape for me – for a moment in time, I leave the realities of dysfunctional relationships, deadlines, and both trivial and vital life decisions (which pizza do I order? What am I going to do with my life?) – but now, it’s about personal growth, national- and international-level competition, and the incredible people I meet along the way.
I tour because I’ve watched other players play with grace, intelligence, athleticism and humility and think, /that could be me/. I tour because I want to set the bar higher for both mixed and women’s Ultimate and challenge those around me. I tour because I don’t know any other sport comparable to