Our Story: What’s Your Chapter?

by | February 2, 2015, 9:34am 0

This is the second installation of Carolyn’s journey in “One Tiny Pop,” which can be found here.


We hear it all the time. We all know the standard response. Surrounding players take a knee as teammates help the afflicted person off the field to the sound of respectful applause. This customary ritual usually takes around three minutes, and happens so frequently that it often appears to be just another part of an ultimate game. But this seemingly common and swiftly forgotten occurrence lacks a fundamental element: a story. What injury did the afflicted player suffer? How long was he or she out from playing? How did this affect his or her life? How did it affect his or her team?

About two months ago, I had the opportunity to share my experience with an ACL injury on Skyd Magazine. After receiving a whirlwind of comments and positive feedback from the ultimate community, I learned a very important yet unexpected lesson: the importance of sharing my story, even when it was hard to tell.

In the beginning, I was very nervous to submit my story to Skyd. As a person who tends to keep thoughts to myself, I was apprehensive to be vulnerable to a large set of unknown readers and face potential criticism. I did not want my story to be thought of as melodramatic, poorly written or sappy. Ultimately, I decided to submit because every time I read or heard about someone else’s experience with injury, I was relieved to find that I was not alone in my thoughts and feelings.

After posting, my original anxieties quickly melted away as I saw the ultimate community open up and share their stories. Many people told me about their own experiences with injury and voiced how they related to and differed from my own.  Others simply told me that they appreciated hearing my perspective. Through this eye-opening feedback, I realized the importance of sharing and listening to relieve the mental toll of injuries. In the case of my injury, it was extremely difficult to step away from a sport that consumed my life, and it challenged strong bonds I had with my team. By sharing our injuries, however, we discover profound connections between experiences and develop camaraderie and understanding. Players can also find the uniqueness of each story and recognize new points of view. This dialogue creates a critical safety net for all players in order to feel that they are supported in stressful times away from the game.

In the spirit of continuing the story, this is where my post-rehab story picks up. Around the time I returned to play ultimate in full strength, I sprained my ankle, which set me back another couple of weeks. It was frustrating to finally begin to feel healthy again, just to have it taken away in a small misstep. The weeks I spent resting my ankle felt very long, but watching my team develop both on and off the field made it worth the wait.  Eventually, I was able to play ultimate in full force, and it felt incredible.

Many people ask me if I am still scared to play with my recovered knee. The brave answer is ‘no’ while the answer I generally give is ‘eh’, but the truth is that I am worried.  It will always be in the back of my mind that I could get injured again. However, through the success stories of others who have torn their ACL and the constant inspiration of my teammates, this thought increasingly gets smaller. Right now, coming off my first tournament of the spring season, I feel very confident in my health. I feel mentally and physically prepared, and am very excited for my final college season of ultimate. I’m not sure how this story will continue. What I do know it that being a part of the ultimate community makes the hard times a little bit easier.

My story is only one among a vast series of diverse, interweaving stories that all have unique and important learning curves. Whether it’s injury-related or not, I encourage all ultimate players to reflect on and share the challenges, frustrations and positive moments that have shaped their ultimate experience. What has been your greatest barrier to playing ultimate? What experience has impacted your ultimate involvement the most? What has been your greatest joy in playing? By answering these questions and sharing our answers, we realize that while our experiences are individual, we are by no means alone.

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