Five months ago I sat across a table eating lunch at a diner in Fresno, California with one of my friends, when she looked me straight in the eyes and said, “I’m not going to babysit you. You have to have the drive to do this on your own. I can only help you start.” We had been talking about my dream of making Fury for the upcoming 2014 season and how I needed to get into the best shape of my life to even compete with some of these champion players. I knew almost nothing about how to train, and spent previous off-seasons sitting on the couch until my usual wake up call during Lei Out when my out-of-shape body would suffer from two days of running in loose sand on the beaches of Santa Monica.
I looked back at the 6-foot-tall, powerful woman before me and said, “I’m willing to do anything at this point.”
The reason I started training five months ago is because I love ultimate. I’m obsessed with ultimate. For the past nine years I’ve spent more time, energy, and money on ultimate than anything else in my life. My husband always jokes that ultimate outranks him in my list of life priorities, and although it’s not really true, I can see why he thinks that way. I just can’t seem to get enough, and the higher and more competitive the level of play, the better. I had the opportunity to play at the one of the highest levels with Barrio, an Arizona-based Mixed team, when we went to Nationals from 2008 until 2010. I loved every nerve-wracking, muscle-aching minute of it, and I want to do it again. I want to see how far I can take my ultimate career, so why not try out for one of the best teams in the world? I couldn’t find an answer not to.
The journey began with my friend from the diner. She took me to our local gym in Yosemite and taught me the basics on how to weight lift properly. I previously avoided gyms, feeling intimidated by ripped men throwing around 50-pound weights like they were pillows. But in my mind, building muscle equals more power and more power equals a stronger, faster, and better player. I picked up my 10-pound weight, took a deep breath, and started.
In addition to lifting, my friend rummaged through my cabinets and told me about macronutrients and how much protein I should be eating every day (answer: a lot) to build muscle and prevent soreness. For the next six weeks I was in the gym weight lifting and eating chicken until it came out of my ears. I felt stronger, but knew that weight lifting alone wouldn’t get me where I needed to be. I had to work on specific skills to help with cutting, defense, and handler movements.
In January, I packed my bags, put my animals in the car, and drove 14 hours to Tucson, Arizona. This was my home and ultimate stomping ground for six years, and I fell in love with ultimate while playing out my last two years of college eligibility with the women’s team at the University of Arizona– I’m lucky to say that I’ll train here, in an ultimate player’s paradise where the temperatures reach into the low 70s almost every day, this winter in the lead up to tryouts.
I know I have to push myself more and more each day, but unlike what my friend told me months back, I’m not doing this all on my own. I’ve had an amazing outpouring of support from the ultimate community here this past month, with people offering to join throwing sessions, complete sprint workouts, and letting me crash their practices. It’s been easier to keep going knowing that my friends and family are cheering me on.
I have about two months left before tryouts begin and I have a lot of work ahead of me. I started a blog as a way of measuring progress not only for myself, but for my family and friends. So when Skyd approached me about transforming that blog into a column for their magazine, I thought it was a great opportunity to share my experience with others.
This is not supposed to be a how-to guide or instruction manual on how to train. I am not an expert. There will be times I fail, and there will be times where I will find something that works. I learned pretty early on that you have to do what works best for you. This is a way for me to show where I came from, where I’m going, and how I’m going to get there. Ultimately, it’s about one woman’s drive to see just how far she can reach in a sport that she loves. But I hope that my story may inspire others to start their own quest for ultimate glory, whatever it may be.