With our first tournament of 2014 out of the way, I can’t help but think of the opportunities we have this summer.
As mentioned in my previous post, 2013 seemed like a season of challenges – hurdles, speed bumps, struggles – that were overcome. Seemingly negative in context, due to the stresses they cause, challenges are what make us learn and grow as individuals and as a team. They are what make us better and are necessities on any road to success.
Opportunities are often the flip-side to challenges – hope, excitement, possibility. This season, we have afforded ourselves many great opportunities due to the challenges we went through last year. We have the opportunity to:
- call ourselves National Champions and wear gold with pride
- prepare the team – training, roster, strategy, fund-raising
- attend the US Open – likely the most difficult and deepest tournament in the world
- play in Italy for the World Ultimate Club Championships – #notbad
- meet and tackle a whole new set of challenges – injuries, burnout, defeat
We get to say we are Canadian National Champions! We worked our asses off, we were considered the underdogs despite our 2012 silver but we won.
We get to seize the opportunity to train and make the most of our physical abilities, pick from the best players to fill roster gaps, refine and prioritize our strategies and host kick ass, bleary-eyed, team building fundraisers to help alleviate the financial worries that these opportunities can create.
Our success over the past two years has given us the opportunity to play in the US Open and hopefully repeat what Odyssee did last year – a Canadian team taking home the cash prize. This is the premiere event on the planet, with the deepest field of any tournament we will play.
Gold has given us the opportunity to represent Toronto, Ontario and Canada in Italy to show that we can play with the big boys and girls from the US, UK, Japan, Australia, Columbia and Japan. We get to go play a sport we love, living in Italy, on the shores of lake Como, while sipping prosecco from our water bottles.
As a team we should feel very excited and fortunate to have these opportunities – to represent our country, play the highest calibre Ultimate, meet new people and travel to fascinating new places. Opportunities also lie within each game, each team meeting and every team bonding experience – take control of a game, 100% cuts, full attention in strat sessions, giving feedback, being the dude that orders shots. We have the opportunity to face new challenges this summer, learn from them and succeed because of them.
However, the summer will be measured by what we do with these unique and thrilling opportunities. The key is to make the most of our opportunities, to have no regrets and be content with our efforts as we dissect our play on the long roads home from Boston, Minneapolis and Lecco.
We cannot rest on our laurels as Canadian champs, because no American teams will care, let alone Stache, TFP and Gecko. We can’t go to the US Open simply happy with the opportunity, we need to show the world (ESPN 3’s world) what Union Ultimate is all about. We can’t go to Italy simply to enjoy the sights, we need to show how past challenges have galvanized us and to take advantage of the biggest opportunity of our playing careers by winning Worlds.
One of our players recently said this:
“Our time together at practice and on the field is precious. There will always be work stress, family, babies, and the all important question of what’s for dinner. None of that matters when we’re on the field. We need to be in the moment. While you’re climbing those steps to Sunnybrook use each one to clear your mind and prepare for practice. Opportunities like this are few and far between so let’s not let it slip away.“
Boston Mixed Easterns was our first challenge. We finished 5th. We had higher expectations. But I’m excited because we have another opportunity to compete with Wild Card, and the other elite teams, this weekend at Boston Invite.
Our goals are to win and be the dominant team from Canada. The challenges we faced last year have provided us with many excellent opportunities. It is not everyday that we get these opportunties, so it is up to us to make the most of them.