Ultimate Frisbee 5 Questions With Aleksandra Marszałek

Last year I’ve started this ultimate frisbee interview series and at first, I didn’t really know for how long it would go on. I’ve started out with the people I knew. Then I’ve had friends help me out in contacting some people. In the end, I’ve started out reaching out on my own. There goes another barrier and “Do I sound silly asking for taking part in the interview on the blog that barely anyone knows?” Overthinking is overrated and it turned out that one simple question can open up so many possibilities, perspectives and new friendships. So, I guess it’s New Year, same interview series on Introverted Ultimate.

The outdoor season is coming up fast. If you’re looking for tips on how to organise a tournament then you can catch up on it with an expert in Beach Ultimate and the Spirit Of The Game in 5 Questions With…Patrick ven der Valk!

How about January interview? During one tournament I’ve talked a bit with Aleksandra Marszałek of BC Kosmodysk about self-confidence on the team and improving the skills when you feel like a complete rookie around people who play Ultimate for many years. It lead to this interview. What’s Ola’s perspective on self-confidence? How about the highlights of 2018?

Photo by: showGame UKNationals
5 Questions With Aleksandra Marszałek

Name: Aleksandra Marszalek
Number: 5/11
Height: 1.63 m.
Plays Ultimate Since: 2010
Team: Troubles Warsaw / KS BC Kosmodysk Warszawa
Cutter/Handler: mainly handler but like to do both 😉
Favourite throw: forehand huck / IO break
Favourite type of the tournament:  I love tournaments in all shapes and sizes
Favourite division: women for competitive, mixed for fun
Favourite thing outside of Ultimate: spending time with people I love

1. How did you first get into Ultimate Frisbee?

A friend from high school kept inviting me for months to go to my first training but I was too into other sports at the time. I finally attended it just before graduation and fell in love at first sight with both the sport and my BC Kosmodysk team. I went with them to my first tournament shortly after that and the love has only grown since then.

Photo: Łukasz Zdunek
5 Questions With Aleksandra Marszałek
Photo: Łukasz Zdunek

2. What does this sport mean to you?

Well… It’s hard to say because I really owe most of the good things that have happened in my life to ultimate. I’ve met most of my closest friends playing ultimate, even if they’re not playing anymore. Whenever I have travelled anywhere, I’ve felt like part of a family just because I have been part of the Ultimate Frisbee community.

So I think, except for the fact that it’s a really nice sport and you can get in shape while training and having fun, the people are the biggest value of ultimate.

Troubles Warsaw
5 Questions With Aleksandra Marszałek
Troubles Warsaw

3. Skills and progress are important for each player, but the right mindset is also crucial. How does self-confidence affect the way players act and play on the field?

It’s funny because if you had asked me about it years ago, I probably wouldn’t have even thought it might be important at all.

I started to think about working on self-confidence as a part of my preparation for Ultimate training after my second ACL injury 2 years ago. I felt a bit overwhelmed by having to go through another surgery only about 4 years after injuring the other knee.

Even with significant progress in getting back in physical shape, I was still having a lot of doubts about my mental strength. I started working with a sports psychologist, Julianna Czapska, which gave me a lot of confidence and a different outlook on all my feelings when playing ultimate. I continued working with Julianna even after I got fully back on the field and I’m clearly seeing the improvement in the level of playing, which I never achieved through gym or team trainings.

The other thing I really appreciate is that I’ve recently been playing on many different teams. The support I’ve been given in all of them and all the nice words I’ve heard have really improved how I feel on the pitch now and how well I can actually play.

I try to introduce / develop the culture of supporting each other to every team I train with, as it’s really visible how feeling better directly impacts performance. There’s nothing worse than having to prove to the team that you’re worth something every time you’re playing. Backing  each other up, sometimes even exaggerated, might benefit the whole team, especially a team with a mix of experience.

5 Questions With Aleksandra Marszałek Poland Ultimate Frisbee Team
Poland Women Team

4. Ultimate Frisbee focuses a lot on equality on the field, especially in Mixed teams. How do you think women in Ultimate gain confidence and what are the key ingredients to ensure that the female players are confident on their teams?

Just like I said earlier, I really think it should all start with taking care of the atmosphere in the team. We should focus on giving only constructive feedback and try to appreciate our teammates’ efforts. It’s really good to find the personal strengths we value people for and focus on those abilities when cheering for them. It’s hard not to compare people to each other but it’s worth treating everyone individually.

I think we, the Polish Frisbee community, can learn a lot from the experience of countries where ultimate is a more ‘mature’ sport. Putting more responsibility on women in our mixed teams may benefit us in the future, even if our male players are more experienced at the moment.
I also think that it’s important to include women in every aspect of team organisation, from formal stuff, through presenting the drills to the newcomers, to engaging them in planning the trainings and leading some sessions.

And what might be obvious but I still consider being an issue, we should all take care not to tolerate any signs of discrimination, any comments which might cause harm or any other things that could make the women in our teams feel insecure.

5 Questions With Aleksandra Marszałek
Photo: Aga Skorupka
Photo: Aga Skorupka
5 Questions With Aleksandra Marszałek Photo: Flyons
Photo: Flyons

5. In Ultimate, 2018 was an eventful time. What were the most important events and highlights for you in the past year?

From my personal perspective it has been a really difficult season, but with three highlights – WUCC with Troubles in July, EUCF with Troubles and EBUCC with BC Kosmodysk in October.

My best memory is definitely EUCF, where we won the bronze medal and managed to keep the atmosphere at the highest possible level. I felt plenty of support during the whole tournament and it was a pure pleasure to play with the girls against the best teams in Europe. And it all happened in Poland!

Apart from those events, I took part in many competitive and fun tournaments, playing in at least 7 different teams and meeting people from all around Europe (and the world). It gave me a new perspective, a new approach to the game and I’m thankful to everybody who I met throughout this season for making me the player I am now.

5 Questions With Aleksandra Marszałek Photo: Sławomir Wrzosiński
Photo: Sławomir Wrzosiński

Hope you liked the interview. Any advice to maintain self-confidence to grow as a player? I’d love to hear what you guys have to say about that either here in the comment section or on Facebook. 🙂

What’s your Ultimate Frisbee story? Would you like to share it? Feel free to message me on Introverted Ultimate or via email. I’ll get back to you with 5 Questions. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

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