A Year In Introverted Ultimate: Everything changes

When the end of the year approaches we categorize the last 12 months either as the worst or the best of our lives. We forget about all the shades of grey and the road that lead us there. Sometimes that bad year lasts a few years. Sometimes it feels as if everything just happens and you’re the happiest person on the planet. If only it was as easy as a toss of a coin. Anything can happen, so what could go wrong, right?

In last year’s summary, I promised myself to face the bad and wrap up redundant plot lines of my life. However, I didn’t know I got signed up for drama-filled events that could easily resemble the plotline of every teen movie about overcoming obstacles. Turns out that’s exactly the kind of cards I was dealt. A short summary would say that it was the worst year of my life. But honestly, was it really?

There’re a few good lessons I’ve learned in 2019. But first, the easy part.

What the data tells ya

Writing in the past year was a real struggle for me. I could blame it on how tired I was with all the crazy changes or bad planning. That’s partly true. I’ve settled for 8 interviews and just 1 post concerning Zero Waste tournaments.

It was a difficult year and there was a lot of negativity. I kept writing down things just to get it off my mind. Whenever I wanted to post something on the blog I was just staring at the blank page, trying to calm my mind and get past the pressure of writing something positive. “Fake it till you make it” is just a catchphrase. Despite so many topics, I’ve completely lost the voice and rolled with just one bump in the road as you can see below.

That one interview that spiked some interest…

Not many changes when it comes to my “World dominations world map”. My top 5 reader locations remain the USA, Canada, Canada, Poland and the Philippines.

Looking back at 2018, I’ve had 17 posts. This year it was just 9. Content is like good wine – the older, the better. The top 5 posts concerned frisbee tips, Introverts vs sports, 5 Questions With…Zoltán Erdősi, INFJ struggles and Ultimate Frisbee pick up lines (any success stories?).

Last year the interviews took off with Ola Marszałek on self-confidence and women player confidence on mixed teams. The next interview with Kuba Wróbel concerned competitive mixed/open teams and building a national team. Julianna Czapska shed some light on how mindset can affect if your team is going to win or lose. Mark Lloyd got some tough questions concerning Men vs Women leagues, observers and SOTG and shared some thoughts about The World Games 2017. In one of the previous interviews, there were some thoughts on competitive mixed and open. In this one, Meg Goldbuch talks about competitive women teams and what are the issues in playing against foreign teams. If you’re interested in AUDL, club ultimate and going pro then take a look at the interview with Dylan Freechild. If I had to name the most controversial article on my blog it would be an interview with Zoltan Erdősi about the European Ultimate Championships 2019. After going radio silent, I’ve decided to go for one last interview in 2019. If you’ve missed the interview with Aurora Lešnik, who is one of those youth players you’d better look out for. She’s not afraid to fly!

Now off to the more challenging part of the summary of 2019.

The puzzle pieces

You’re never enough (or so they make you believe)

I’ve learned the harsh way that each little piece of life affects the other. I’ve tried to ignore some of them to the point when the borders between each of them were non-existent. There the first lesson behind it. Don’t ignore the problems and don’t be stubborn.

After 3 years of working in a job that was based on a Stockholm syndrome-like atmosphere, I finally decided that I was done proving I was good enough. It was time to call it quits. And let me tell you. There’s no better moment to tell your boss that you’re quitting when he invites you to a promotion meet-up, you listen for around 40 minutes how a bad employee you are, but they want to give you a promotion and a rise. How thoughtful. Such goodwill. And that disbelief when you say you’re done. In the next months, my co-workers followed down that path.

My next job was temporary. I didn’t plan on staying there long. I even managed to get fired along with my co-worker for reasons unknown. I think they knew I was not about to settle for less and the two of us were not afraid to openly criticize the dumb decisions. Later I’ve found out I was hired just to pass on the know-how. If someone told me that I’d be walking out of the office laughing after losing a job I would never believe it. Sometimes we’re bouncing from one bad thing to another to finally find the right place. That’s exactly what happened next. I finally got a workplace I was searching for and new opportunities still keep rolling through my private and blog inbox like an avalanche.

Road to European Ultimate Championships 2019

I’ve never considered that I would take part in European Ultimate Championships or in anything outside of my team. At first, it wasn’t even a dream, but it was an opportunity to see how much I’ve progressed through the years. At some point, it feels like you don’t learn anything new and training with Team Poland showed me where I needed to work harder. I was never a cutter and here I’ve had the best Cutter 101 I could ever get.

It was a tough challenge. It took a lot to work on my self-confidence, which had a funny way of coming and going. Training with some of the best players in Poland gave me lots of motivation and made me train even more back home. It was a great honour to be able to be a part of this project. It certainly left me with more awareness about what’s needed in your Ultimate Frisbee training.

Into the bottom of every bottle

Injuries are a bitch. In April, during a sparing at the beach I got injured with what I’ve feared the most. Supposedly ACL tear.

It was my darkest moment. Some will say that injuries come and go – you live through that. I almost felt as I wouldn’t, so every kind word and the support I received meant the world to me. It kept me afloat. I don’t cry often. Well, maybe every time during The Lion King when Mufasa dies. On that day it felt like something died in me. Something got altered forever. The previous knee injury had me not training for around a decade (and I was told I’d never run again). This time I knew I didn’t have a decade to spare and I was about to give up. So, I entered the crying marathon for a few sad evenings straight and wrote some really dark stuff.

I’d certainly not be here where I am today if it wasn’t for my good friends who got me the crutches and set a plan in the motion of what I’m supposed to do. A spark of hope and great motivation came from another friend, who happens to be a physiotherapist. She literally made me walk again in no time. And so the chain of kind words and help came from the people I didn’t expect to care. Sadly, there was barely any support from my former team. I am grateful for those who didn’t let me give up, those who were there to help me out and those who are still here with me with advice on how to get back into training. My parents were also extraordinary heroes at the time. My dad went with me to every medical appointment and at one dark moment, he made an intervention when I went through a bigger crisis. He fixed my bike and announced that from now on we would go every day for a bike ride. He said that I was never a quitter, so I should stop mopping around and work harder because this situation was not forever. It’s as temporary as I let it be.

I was really crushed by what happened. I know I was a mess and quite a handful. As dramatic as it sounds, I know I wouldn’t pull through. This was exactly the moment where I’ve hit the bottom of all bad moments in the past few years. I was so tired of everything and couldn’t see any good anymore. So, all those kinder and harsher words to get it together meant the world to me.

In this world when the only thing that matters is the growing list of friends and followers, where people treat each other like temporary entertainment you need to distinguish a true friend. A friend will be there for you when you need it. They’ll extend a helping hand, but you can’t expect them to pull you out. You need to find it in yourself to reach out, to accept the help, meet them halfway. Otherwise, you are going to drown in the depths of your sorrow. I think it’s one of the most important lessons of 2019.

Adventures in event preparations

In the past 5 years, I’ve been involved more or less in Beach Ultimate Championships. Each year we have certain goals to reach and bigger challenges. Each tournament is a valuable lesson in event organizing. It’s also a great example of how difficult it is for niche sports to be taken seriously. If you’re not doing a marathon event you’re going to lose interest quite fast.

The 5th edition had its ups and downs. The first challenge was to find a new spot or change the date of the tournament. We’ve decided to find another beach big enough for 4 pitched close to one another. We’ve found a remote beach, which had its drawbacks (toilets far away from the beach and no electricity). The logistics overwhelmed us a bit with moving the equipment and setting things up, but we’ve managed to do that.

The past two editions had a live stream of the games from one pitch. This year we’ve managed to set up a special zone for the kids. We’re still working on the chill out zone. If there’s one thing that you can be sure of at the Championships is that you won’t be hungry. For us, it’s a priority to have breakfasts and lunches on those two days of the tournament.

In 2020 we’ve got another goal. Go Zero Waste. Youth Championships proved that it’s possible to make a tournament with little to no plastic use. It takes the effort of both organizers and the players, but I think that we can make it. Each year the amount of plastic left by the bins at the Championships was a very bad sight. All those plastic food containers and empty water bottles… This time we want to make the effort and make one of the best tournaments with as little damage to the environment as possible.

Posted by Plażowe Mistrzostwa Polski Ultimate Frisbee on Saturday, 29 June 2019

European Ultimate Championships 2019

Going to the European Ultimate Championships in 2019, in the end, was a dream coming true. I’ve trained like crazy to get back after the injury. A friend, who was overlooking the process, told me that I would be able to run as long as I don’t give up and put a hell lot of work. So, when I got fired there was only one thing to do. Train like my life depended on it. The tournament didn’t turn out for me as I thought it would. I know that without this motivation I would probably take so much more time to come back to Ultimate. The whole situation taught me a lot as difficult as it was.

One of the takeaways is how to build a good team in such a short time. I was always interested in how the whole process looks like. You can read it in one of the upcoming posts. Right now I can say that it was a good experience and everything seemed well-thought through. It was a good lesson of when there’s a place to act as an individual and when you the team as a whole is more important. It was a lesson of dealing with both wins and losses. I’ll remember Team Poland as a reliable and supportive people, who truly focused on a common goal. I’m looking forward to seeing what they’re up to at the World Ultimate Championships in a few months! 🙂

Posted by Poland Mixed National Team on Friday, 5 July 2019

European Youth Ultimate Championships 2019

After EUC 2019 I was pretty much done with Ultimate for a while. I’ve decided to take a break from the tournaments and be sure what’s going on with my injury before going anywhere else. It was time to take it slow.

Sometimes interesting opportunities present themselves when you don’t expect them. Guys from Ultizone.pl reached out to me with a slightly intimidating offer. Working with them as a media team at European Youth Ultimate Championships in Wrocław. Before I could say I’m in I’ve had to check if my new job was okay with me taking a vacation just two weeks after starting. They’ve had no problem with that, which surprised me.

At first, my concern was if I can write every day. This blog was a good example of giving up as the words wouldn’t just work together. However, it turned out to be a really interesting experience with lots of work and fun. I won’t forget for a while the atmosphere of the event, great work that everyone involved with Duch Gry carried out during that time and how the young athletes put so much effort into playing engaging and high-level matches.

You can read articles concerning each day at EYUC at Ultizone.pl:

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Wrocław is getting quiet ? Most of the teams are gone. Staff, Volunteers and the whole organizing crew is getting their well-deserved rest ? (…well nearly whole crew…media guys are still working). We hope that all of You players, coaches, friends, families and team staff will also get home safely ??? To somehow digest the post-tournament depression you can check what we’ve provided for you during this amazing week: -Daily articles from @ultizone with support from Introverted Ultimate -Clips from @ucek.incognito from Piwnica Film Studios -Photos from @klaralipertovaphotography -Photos from @focus_ultimate -Photos from Nadja Kappel -Full games and highlight day summaries from @fanseat_official -Instagram of @duch_gry with photos, videos and stories -Celebration videos and “Fame in the Frame” photo series on our @duch_gry facebook fanpage More photos and videos should appear within the next week ? If you enjoyed our work and you would like to support us, please click the like button on the Duch Gry Ultimate fanpage and each of the media crew channels listed above. ???

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This event was one of the best memories of 2019, so thank you so much for making it happen!

One door closes…

For the past 2 years, I was in the process of quitting my team. It took me so long because I was looking at all the reasons why I should and shouldn’t stay. This year the reasons for not staying outweighed all the others. Even all those sunken costs of time, effort and emotions. It was my first Ultimate Frisbee team and the first 3 years were the best. There was a lot of good and bad.

Sometimes you need to put some distance and take a few steps back because you can’t try to fit in when you don’t. It’s clear to me now that things change and people don’t see eye to eye, so at some point, it’s better to let go. It’s a tough decision and may seem wrong at first. The details are in how you start to act around people and how they react. It’s how you treat and trust each other. When you say that you don’t feel like a part of the team and someone tells you that you’ve passed the try-outs, so what more do you expect, then you pretty much know everything your answers.

In the end, there are just two questions you need to answer to yourself. Do you like that frustrated, negative person that takes control over you every time you realize you don’t fit in? What’s a bigger loss: a change of environment or quitting the sport?

…and another opens.

By the end of September, I was no longer a part of a team. It was weird and I’ve had my doubts. I’ve decided to just see what happens and let things be. During this time I’ve finally made up my mind about a tattoo. It took me 10 years to figure it out. The inspiration came from not giving up and getting back up no matter what happens. Like a phoenix from the ashes (some see a Skyrim logo).

Funnily enough, opportunities really come when you’re ready to accept the changes. I got a chance to join Zawirucha (who turns 10 years in 2020 and is organizing Top Cat 2020 tournament as a celebration) for Warsaw Ultimate League in mixed and women divisions. I got to know some new great people and feel like a rookie once again. It motivated me to look for ways to get back into the training mode after slacking off. A friend convinced me to start going to the gym with her and work on getting some strength back.

The league proved to be a challenge at first as my injury would remind me each time after the first game. The trick was not to get discouraged. At Igloo 2019, where I went with Lost’n’Found, I’ve had a breakthrough. I played the whole tournament without my leg acting up much. There’s hope after all!

The end of the year turned out to be promising and hopeful. I’m glad I could join Zawierucha and Lost’n’Found during those tournaments and for the first time in a while, I felt the pure happiness of playing Ultimate.

It’s time for the roaring ’20s

The 1920s was a decade of changes. It was the time of carefree living and economic prosperity (for some) at first. It was the decade which began with the roar and ended with a crash. Now, how the 2020’s turn out? I’m looking forward to it. It’s about time to look at life with a more positive mindset. While the bad news sells it’s up to us to look out for those good ones. It’s up to us to find them in our lives and write them down, so we don’t forget.

You might have felt at some point in life that things are always going downhill. You might be wondering when you hit the bottom of the bottle only to find it’s got another lid, another bottomless pit. But life is a rollercoaster and at some point, you’ll find yourself slowly climbing. You might not notice it. One day it will catch you unaware and you’ll realize that all the pieces of the puzzles start to fit. On that day you’ll realize that you’re actually happy and the things are looking up.

My favourite actor once said:

You never know what’s around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you’ve climbed a mountain.

– Tom Hiddleston

You never know what twists are waiting for you out there. Sometimes it’s one step forward and two steps back before you find the right path to follow. This year I don’t have New Year’s Resolutions. All I hope for is to get back to full health and take small steps with not many expectations as the next chapters write themselves. 2019 taught me that as much as I might dislike changes they are refreshing. They’re necessary. The bad things are just obstacles that let us grow in a way, but we need to act on them instead of waiting for things to fix themselves. We need to welcome those changes and shift our mindsets.

What does a New Year have for you in-store? No one knows. I wish you all that you’ll overcome your own obstacles and you’ll keep fighting no matter what. This year you get 366 chances. How many of them will you take advantage of?

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