Friday, July 8, 2011

How it feels to get second place

Its been about a month and a half since the college championships were over, but that weekend still lives on. Throughout this summer I've been doing a fair share of television and movie watching which has lead me to reflect over the weekend in which my team placed 2nd at the College Championships. Watching the NBA playoffs with Lebron crying when he didn't get his championship or Chris Webber crying when Michigan failed to win the NCAA basketball tournament for the second year in a row (thanks ESPN'S 30 for 30), it made me realize the opposite feeling I had been overcome with at the end of our game.

At the moment when Finney threw to her teammate in the endzone, I knew my season and college career was unfortunately finally over - but I didn't find myself with sadness. I remember, when UCSB scored the final point, saying in my head, "Okay - that is it... it is over" but not like in the hang-you-head-and-cry type of way. It was more of the OH-MY-GOSH-WE-FINISHED-SECOND-I-CANT-BELIEVE-IT!!!!!!!!! type of way. I was so thrilled and excited that I could not contain smiling and cheering with my teammates. I immediately ran over to them screaming, ''WE GOT SECOND!" and giving high-fives to each of them. I was so incredibly proud of our team that I could not be upset with that loss.

Believe me, I would have loved to win that game and say that we were the champions. But to say we got second place? That is pretty darn sweet sounding. We had beaten two hundred and some odd teams to get to where we were and only one team had gone further than us - only one team. To say that there is only one team better than you, I think, is quite an accomplishment.

When I saw the athletes on TV cry at their loss, I couldn't help but think maybe their attitudes were not in the right place. Yes, I understand that they wanted it more than anything (I did too) and were bummed that they couldn't be first (I was too) but crying over something isn't going to change it. Accepting it and being PROUD to say you got second is a completely different feeling. The only sadness I felt was that 1. I was never going to play with that same group of girls ever again and 2. I was not able to play with them due to a rib injury sustained on Friday. But that sadness was only felt for about 0.2 seconds.

Not everyone can win and you have to accept that both going into a competition and after the final result. When people ask how my team did at Nationals I don't tell them we lost in the finals. Instead I tell them that we got second place!

Getting second place is going to inspire next year's team to go even higher and get first and I wish I could be with them as they start their journey; but, ending my journey at 2nd place really couldn't get much better. I walk away from my college career having attended Nationals every year I played and in my final year having reached the College Championship game. There are not that many people who can say that and I am so proud and fortunate that I was able to experience it.

At the end of the day, I want to remember the weekend as a good thing, not as a "We lost in the finals but we really should have won" thing.

So to those people who cry after they lose in the finals, I know it hurts and you would have preferred to be first. But second place? The feeling is really quite nice.

I can't help but smile any time I say "We got 2nd place!" And that is how my college career ended - with a second place medal, a proud feeling of accomplishment, and an infinite number of smiles whenever I think of Michigan Flywheel.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Been busy since Regionals getting ready for Natties.
After Natties I went on a roadtrip and am finally back.
I will be posting about some things experienced in the next few days.

Monday, May 2, 2011

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

Flywheel made it to Nationals! It was not a fluke or one lucky play that got us there. Instead, we proved to everyone that we are a force in Women's Ultimate. No team scored more than 5 points on us (including Northwestern in the finals) the entire weekend. In fact, the final score was 78-21 after all of the games were finished. I've never been so proud of my team during one weekend. The winds were present with 25 mph winds on Saturday and 20 mph winds on Sunday. However, for the most part, we did not let that affect our throws. Its such an amazing feeling knowing that wind technically is supposed to be an equalizer on teams but that it was not the case this weekend. Out team was very excited about the next month ahead of us.

It was the best of times.

Magnum did not make it to Nationals. If we had time after our games, we went over to watch them play and cheer them on. They came over and supported our team when they finished early. However, we won our finals game during the same time that Magnum lost in Semis. Our team celebrated, took pictures, and talked about Nationals after our game, and then we decided to walk over to our guys team. It was silent. It was eerily quiet. Having a housemate, brother, and boyfriend on the team, it really broke my heart to know they didn't make it. This next month is going to be interesting with us practicing and them just chilling.

It was the worst of times.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Regional Preview

Rather than write another preview, I will put up the link of my writeup on USA Ultimate...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Regionals - get into it

Our Regionals is this weekend, along with many other teams, and boy I will not be lying when I say I am PUMPED UP! I've always been pumped up to play in this weekend but I don't know what it is about this year - maybe it is because it is my last year playing, maybe it is because I absolutely love this team... not sure. But whatever it is, I get so jacked whenever I think about this weekend.

Getting yourself 'into' this weekend is super important, I feel. I have spent this past week thinking about the teams that are going to be there, who their top players are, what style of offense and defense they run, and when we are going to play them so I can be mentally ready when that team steps onto the line across from us. I have memorized the schedule so I know when and where we are going to be playing. These details are important in focusing for the weekend. Nothing can distract you going into this and knowing all of the details takes away from the distractions.

I've also been visualizing. If I can't fall asleep at night or I can't find anything else to do, I've been visualizing my play at Regionals. I visualize myself getting a hand block, throwing the goal to Pimp, catching the goal from Adrienne, hucking to Bemu, switching on defense with Paula, etc. I also visualize Northwestern's (our biggest competition at Regionals) players and what I'm going to do to stop them. This task I also find extremely important in getting yourself ready for the weekend. If you can see yourself doing these things, you have a lot better shot of actually doing them.

On a related note, I have been visualizing things I have done in games. I'm not visualizing a layout Callahan, a 'greatest', or throwing a full field huck. I wish I could do all of those, but I have not yet done them this season, let alone my college career. I don't find it beneficial to be spending my time visualizing those things when I can visualize things I CAN do. If I happen to get a layout Callahan, I will be extremely happy. But if I can shut down my girl and not let her score a goal while I am throwing our team's goals, I will be more happy.

This isn't the time to be trying ridiculous new things. Your team has gotten to where it has because it has been doing certain things. Keep doing those things. You can always improve on those fundamentals - no team is perfect. But trust in your team and your players and your system. You've been great so far and now its time to be the greatest in the region.

You have many other days to eat a bunch of sweets, drink alcohol, or do other 'harmful' things to your body. This week is not the time. This may be the last weekend your team plays together, and honestly, who wants that? Get yourself mentally and physically prepared.

Go get 'em.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Conferences: Ours plus notes on others

Trying to find something to distract me from studying, I decided to write my recap of our Conferences Championship this weekend. Approaching this tournament is always interesting for Michigan. For the past few years, we have been the clear number one seed at this tournament, and that showed again this year (Michigan with a USA Ultimate score of 1868 and the next highest was ND with 1112). However, it is the post season and anything can happen. The weather in Michigan in April is unpredictable and it gave us a temp of 53 (felt like 37) with 20mph winds and sleet/rain/some snow. Even though we were favored, we couldn't let that get to us and we had to perform. This is not a tournament to sluff off. We had to prove why we were favored.

For the most part, we did. But there were moments of some really bad Ultimate on our part. Overall we scored 59 points on the weekend and had 10 scored on us. Those stats are pretty decent but could have been improved. Some of our games went to cap and that was all our fault. Silly drops, not thinking about the wind when throwing, and a stagnant backfield left us playing longer than we should have. Don't get me wrong, I am not attacking or downgrading our opponents - I just personally think we could have played better than we did.

On the plus side, it is really nice to walk away from a game winning 15-3 having a list of things to improve upon. While that says something about our game (we weren't playing like we should have), it also says that our team has not reached its potential yet. We have a lot to improve on before Regionals in 2 weeks. Being ranked 5th in the nation has put a target on our back, something we haven't had for a few years. We cannot get comfortable with where we are.


On a semi-related related note, I looked at scores from across and the nation and was surprised by a few:
1. Northwestern lost 2 games on Saturday but ended up winning the Conference (I'm guessing the wind helped with those losses)
2. UNC beat UNCW 13-9
3. Stanford crushed Cal 13-5
4. Wisconsin Eau-Claire beat Wisconsin 8-7
5. Iowa State beat Iowa 11-6

Who knows what will happen next week in the last round of Conferences and then again at Regionals in 2 weeks. Interesting interesting things I'm sure. But that is not something I can control. What I can control is how often I get outside to practice throwing, how hard I work at practice, and how I mentally prepare myself for the big weekend.

2 weeks. Get er done.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Missing Graduation

After much debate and discussion, the decision was finally made for me to not attend the University of Michigan graduation in the Big House (our football stadium).

Michigan's graduation each year falls on the same weekend as Regionals. It is up to the Seniors each year to determine if they are going to graduation or Regionals. Whatever is chosen, there are no harsh thoughts or feelings towards those going to graduation. I emailed Jeff Kula and other USA Ultimate people and tried this year to get Regionals on the second available weekend, but there are more schools that graduate then so the weekend of April 30th was chosen. After I heard that, I accepted it with a heavy heart because I knew my parents were going to want me to go to graduation over Regionals. Its something that I accepted and just had to move on from it.

But the other day, I came to a realization that led to an interesting phone call with my parents. At graduation, each Senior is allowed to sit wherever he/she wants - allowing each Graduate to sit among his/her friends. I started to think about who I was going to sit with and it left me stumped. I started to think of my close friends - my house came to my mind first. My house has 5 Ultimate players (out of 6 people total) and only one other is graduating, Becky. Becky and her parents decided for her to skip graduation and attend Regionals. My other close Senior friends are taking a fifth year. My other other close friends have either graduated or are graduating next year. So really, I didn't know who I was going to sit with. Graduation is a time to acknowledge your achievements throughout your college career and to celebrate with your friends the success you've had on the way. If almost all of my close friends were going to be at Regionals, then that is where I wanted to be.

Don't get me wrong - I find the ceremony of Graduation really awesome. But I didn't want to spend the entire time sitting among other random groups of friends thinking about my friends who were going to be playing Ultimate in Rockford, Illinois. These were the people that I spent most of my college career with. I've grown with them, played with them, traveled with them, cried with them, laughed with them, matured with them... Ultimate, and the friends I made within Ultimate, is what defines my college career. THIS is how I wanted to spend my graduation.

To compromise with my parents, I'm attending my department graduation on Friday afternoon. They will still see me graduate, hear my name called (which is actually different than if we went to the one on Saturday), and get to take pictures of me in my cap and gown. But then I will get to go and join my team and play in order to make it to Nationals.

This is how I want my college life to end. I want to be among my team, my friends, and my Flywheel family. Not to mention I want to be with MagnUM guys as well - certain ones in particular being Spencer (my housemate), Jonathan or "JAMP" (my brother), and Jeff (my boyfriend).

I am now SO looking forward to both graduation AND Regionals. I get to graduate, participate in the ceremony, and then play in Regionals as we fight our way to Nationals.

In the end, it all works out.