Last Sunday I started the long drive home from Berkeley to Yosemite, reliving the past seven hours with Fury. I smiled about the great plays, chuckled over the goofy moments, and reeled over the mistakes– how could I have made those mistakes? Did Fury like me? We had some great times together– did we click? I think we clicked. I couldn’t stand the idea of waiting around for the next few days, wondering if I would get a call back. I furrowed my brow for a moment. This sounds really familiar. Where have I heard these words before?
Then it hit me: I’ve been dating Fury.
Tryouts are the emotional equivalent of dating. You have a short amount of time to lay all your cards on the table, hope that you don’t come off too strong, and wait for a phone call. You wish you could change all those awkward things about yourself that might ruin your chances of a second date. But maybe those quirks are what make you stand out? Thoughts rush around your brain and you wonder what to do next, how to play, what to say. And then the loud chatter halts. You stop worrying. You walk onto the field and feel comfort. You chase around a disc and feel free. This is what dating a team is all about: thrills, excitement, and discovery.
As much joy as I felt during tryouts, they were still more emotionally and physically taxing than I anticipated. For two weeks, I experienced the same series of events: adrenaline started pumping in my veins during warm-ups. As I began running through drills, that fake boost of energy faded and I was left on a field feeling like I was about to puke from nerves and fatigue despite feeling in good shape from all the pre-season training. Trying to learn new systems while displaying my strengths was exhausting, but I drove myself to keep going, because I had something to prove: that I deserved a spot on the team. I picked myself up and focused on two things: play my hardest, and be a better teammate. It didn’t matter what came next– one-on-one defensive footwork, scrimmages, or huck drills– I just needed to push myself right now and recover from exhaustion and pain later. Then, in a heartbeat, it was over. Two days and seven hours of playing just disappeared and I’m driving home, with all of these leftover emotions from the weekend. When tryouts ended, I sat in my car saying to myself, “I don’t want to get broken up with…”
For the following two days, all I could think about was the final round of tryouts. I liked Fury, I had fun with Fury, and I couldn’t stand the idea of not going on a third date with Fury. I would glance at my phone, hoping for an email alert, but none came. I waited and waited, wondering how foolish I seemed to my friends when they excitedly asked me how it all went. “Fine,” I would reply. “I think we got along well. I think we connected.” They would ask when I would hear from Fury again. “I don’t know, perhaps Tuesday? Wednesday?” They wished me luck, while I battled between feelings of self-doubt and overconfidence.
Finally it arrived: “I’m writing to let you know that unfortunately, Fury is not…” I stopped reading. My heart sank and I knew it was over. Fury just broke up with me. I told my husband, who gave me a consoling hug as I tried to comprehend what just happened. I lay awake in the dark, listening to the soft snores of my dog, still trying to understand how I truly felt. I couldn’t seem to fall asleep. I opened up the email and reread it. I clicked open a document and started writing. Finally, I came to the conclusion that although I’m disappointed in myself for not being what Fury needed me to be, I’m not devastated. I’m not crying. It is what it is.
As hard as breaking up is, I could never be angry about it. Fury is a world caliber team and they deserve world caliber players. Not only is the team comprised of some of the most athletic and skilled individuals in the world, but they are fun. They are welcoming and passionate, and even in two short weeks, they made me feel like I was one of them. For two weeks, I was a Fury. I still smile, thinking about it.
As much as I want to focus on what I need to do to be better in the future, I think it’s important to also look back at what I’ve already learned and how I’ve grown. Over the past few months, I’ve had some truly amazing experiences. I reunited with friends and teammates in Tucson and dedicated most of my time and energy to a sport I love. I learned how to develop my performance on the field by utilizing tools in the gym and on the track. I felt a new drive and passion about women’s ultimate I never knew I had before. I had the honor of writing and sharing my thoughts and experiences in a weekly column, read by fellow ultimate players from around the world. I had the opportunity to grow and learn from some of the best players there are. It’s been a fantastic, crazy, emotional, and exciting journey. And, when it comes down to it, the journey really isn’t over. There’s always next year.