Last month I was very excited about an interview with Mark Lloyd concerning mostly pro ultimate topics. If you’ve missed it somehow, you can read it at April’s 5 Questions with…Mark Lloyd.
This time I’ve had the chance to talk with Meg Goldbuch, who I met at Igloo 2018. I played as a pick up on a rookie women team and playing against Meg’s team, Saxy Divas, was the most positive experience. Even though we had a rookie team, we felt the support from the girls. That’s the kind of energy that motivates you to go on. Below you can read up more about the issues while playing foreign teams and building a competitive women team.
Name: Martha Elena “Meg” Goldbuch
Number: 70, 7
Plays Ultimate Since: October 2011
Team: Saxy Divas/Divers (wmn/mxd) Leipzig, Germany U24 Womens
Cutter/Handler: I like to do both, recently I have been handling a lot
Favourite throw: high release lefty backhand
Favourite type of the tournament: competitive fun tournaments, like Gspot in Belgium, Played with a group of friends
Favourite division: Mixed for fun, Women’s for competitive
Favourite thing outside of Ultimate: evenings with my friends (which of course occur a lot „inside” ultimate as well)
1. How did you first get into Ultimate Frisbee?
When I was in (middle) school, a lot of my classmates used to play Ultimate and eventually, though it took some years, they talked, or rather sneaked me into coming to practice. A friend had stayed at my house for the night and the next day she said she had to go to a beachside close to where I lived, to play Frisbee. I offered to give her a ride on my bike and then it took the team about ten minutes to get me to play with them and maybe ten more minutes until I started to fall in love with the community and the fun they all had together. So, the next week I went to regular practice with them and I haven’t stopped. Going to practice as well as being in love with the people and sport.
2. What does this sport mean to you?
If you would have asked me a couple of years ago, I sure would have given you the answer: everything. I think now I understand better, what, back then, made me feel that way. Firstly I feel so much love for a lot of people who share my passion of this sport and I do get a lot of love back. Secondly, the community has always made me feel excepted just the way I am. For me the sport and its players have shown a remarkable ability to create connections all around the world. On the one hand, the sport means something really close to a loving, appreciating, refreshing and very fluxional family to me. And on the other hand, of course it provides opportunities for individual and shared competition, improvement and success.
3. Building a competitive women ultimate team is a difficult task. What are the major obstacles and how should a new team approach the subject? How could more experienced teams help out?
Major obstacles I have met being involved in building (competitive) women teams have been numbers, motivation/commitment and consistency. In my home team we have always struggled the most with problems related to at least one of the named issues. Very often, I feel, those are related to one another and therefore more difficult to solve. I think for building a competitive team, it is most important to create a team culture that is focused on progress. Which will naturally increase numbers and often improve people’s motivation. We had it going pretty naturally from that point. Having a coach who looks at improving the whole team helps a lot as well.
I think other, more experienced teams could help with simply providing numbers for shared scrimmages and practices. But at the same time, I feel it is important to not have the more experienced teams „soak up” the potential from smaller teams in form of their top players. I believe this is happening a lot in Germany, in the past and right now. People create regional “all stars” teams with selected players, to play more competitive. Which unfortunately leaves the smaller teams without their leading players. I would really like it if the progress focused approach would become more prominent in the scene here in Germany, both on club and juniors level, especially in the women’s division.
4. Junior, senior and national teams often vary in approaches and motivation. What are ambition differences? How does it change when a player moves on from junior ultimate to senior teams?
As I experienced, motivation in junior teams is often more momentous. If play is going well, everyone is super motivated. Ambitions on the other hand are always high and most times outcome focused. Both can lead to pretty big ups and downs, that can be difficult to overcome with the whole team. On senior level, I have experienced a clearer communication of individual needs and ambitions, which creates a clearer image of what the team wants and therefore is able to achieve. Also, level of playing gets more even in adult teams and values like leadership, taking responsibility, and also holding back to create a more equal experience, become more important.
Personally, it meant to reconsider and also give up the position I had become comfortable with at juniors level. Nationalteam wise the pool the adult teams can recruit from is much bigger compared to juniors level. Therefore competition gets harder. Skill is valued different, because general skill level rises. A lot of players are forced to become more „complete” in their skills and expand their comfort zones. Maybe you could say that the transition pushes people to become more „adult” players. Less naive, less impulsive, less self-absorbed. I think it is super interesting to see how players manage this challenge. A lot of players grow and improve unbelievably. Some need more than one attempt, I included, to find themselves on this different field, but still learn a lot in the process.
5. Based on your experience what can you say about ultimate frisbee in other countries? What issues can it cause while playing with foreign teams and how to overcome them?
Oh, simply that it is so so different in some ways but also still the same amazing family. Playing style is different, e.g. level of physicality, rooms you want to cut to and those you don’t, throws you should throw… Also, the level of competition varies and this last point is the most likely to cause misunderstandings in international games. I must say that I have had some not so nice experiences on international junior competitions, concerning the atmosphere between teams while and after playing. For example, not wanting to trade anymore, because the other team seemed to be calling or fouling a lot in a game. And those thoughts carry. You meet the same Nation (obviously with different players), but still don’t like them, based on the experiences made earlier. And then a country is quickly known to be and play a certain way, based on prejudice.
To overcome these problems a lot of patience, kindness and understanding is needed. I do feel that getting to know the other players on a personal level helps to trust the opponent’s calls. Additionally, embracing the fact, that we’re one big crowd of people loving the same thing and having similar goals helps to feel less distant. For me personally, playing international opponents always brings the opportunity to connect and learn from each other, in terms of sport and culture equally. It is a thing to be valued, because it ever so often presents you with friends, who give you joy, which is sometimes just all I need.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed the interview. If you have any stories to share about similar experiences on playing foreign teams or building a competitive team, don’t hesitate to comment here or on Introverted Ultimate’s facebook page! 🙂
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!