It feels nearly impossible to recap the whirlwind that has been the past few months, but I think reflection is a huge part of learning and growing, and I want to try to capture some of what I have been reflecting on with all of you.
On many levels, this was a great season. My partner teams were excellent, the teams attending my events were overall very well behaved and respectful, and the relationships (both old and new) that I built with players this season were extremely rewarding.
This was my 5th (official) year of partnership with Texas (only counting the years after I graduated), my 5th year of partnership with Wash U, and my 3rd year of partnership with UNC. These teams are all incredibly special to me, and I am grateful for their loyalty, their leadership's vision for their events, and the way that they embrace their responsibility as leaders in the college women's division. Plain and simple, I love these kids and would do anything for them. Thank you.
This season was the first where I did not overlap with any current players in college ultimate, and I thought that I would feel very out of touch with teams. While an age gap is clearly beginning to emerge (What is Snapchat? What does "ratchet" mean?), I am deeply appreciative of all of the teams who allowed me to be part of their journey this year. Thank you to all of the players who shared their struggles, worries, dreams, and victories with me. The hours spent talking strategy, building season plans, working out team issues, and discussing challenging life situations reminded me that organizing events is only a tiny part of what I do, and that the most important and meaningful work is what happens long after games are over for the day.
For the past few weeks, I have been feeling like I am suffering from a stress induced concussion. It's the result of an entire season of bad weather and bad luck, an introvert being stretched thin for 2.5 months, and perhaps a few too many challenging situations being thrown my way. The past few seasons have been challenging, but this one in particular took quite a toll and will necessitate a bit of self-reflection.
And perhaps most importantly, the time spent on the road away from family, friends, and teammates who I love, and who deserve my time and energy, is very difficult. I want to be my best self-- and that self includes being a daughter, sister, teammate, captain, and friend, not just an organizer.
A few life reminders that I'll be taking away from the season.
There is always time to listen, talk, or lend a helping hand. The times when I (think I) made the biggest difference were during the busiest, most stressful stretches. Those situations, while not the most convenient, were huge opportunities.
On Saturday of Centex, a tough situation arose after a week of challenges and Brittany, a RecSports Supervisor (who happens to be teammates with one of the Melee girls on the UT Club Soccer team), was a huge blessing to me. Filling water with her that afternoon and having the opportunity to talk with her reminded me that a little kindness when we are "just doing our job" can make a big difference, even to a stranger.
I can be be amazing at putting out cones and providing ample water, but at the end of the day, being excellent at what I do only matters because it is a means to an end. I don't want to be excellent just for the sake of being excellent. Being excellent is my way of showing players and teams my investment in them, and that opens the door for building community, cultivating meaningful relationships, and making a difference in people's lives. And because of that, I will gladly give my all toward being excellent at putting out cones and providing ample water.
As the season winds down, I have been receiving some amazing emails from college players. I am so appreciative of these emails as they have come from some of the players I respect most in the division.
This short email encapsulates what I hope every player takes away from my work. (It is being shared with permission):
"I appreciate what you have done for women's ultimate and most importantly the mindset you have modeled and encouraged in leaders and players--that we are here to love and serve our teammates and our community and that our teammates are far more important than any competition goals."
Best of luck to those of you who have advanced to the next stage in the Series. Work hard, love well, and I hope to see many of you soon.