So if you're reading this, you probably know about my previous experiences in Ireland in the sport of Ultimate, and you maybe now understand why I've made this trip to Seattle to play in the AUDL.
But now that I'm here, it's time to talk about my goals for the coming season.
My goal as a player.
I suppose my main goal coming to this league is to see how I compare to many of the top players and teams in the world. Coming from Ireland, the exposure you can get to high level ultimate is pretty low. There's really only one club in Ireland that actually has try-outs and can cut players. The other teams basically take all the players they can, and do their best to run a club that suits new and experienced players in the same training.
Obviously this is great for newer players, as you get thrown in at the deep end playing against players much better than you. I think this is a big reason why I devolved(developed?) so quickly when I started. However the past year or two I've realised, that I am now the old guy in the team, and the challenge and excitement of going to training each week was getting smaller for me. I've not felt fully challenged as an Ultimate player in recent years outside of national competitions.
That's one of the things I'm most looking forward to in Seattle. I know every time I have a game, or a training, that I'm going to be fighting for spots on the game day roster, or trying to stop a great opposition player. I just get to focus on improving myself. I'm not coaching or captaining this team, and it's been a long time since I've got to play on a team as just a player week in week out. I hope the combination of these new surroundings brings out the best in me.
What is my biggest worry about this trip?
My only worry is how long it will take to get up to speed. I've just come back from two broken bones in my throwing hand. A month ago I couldn't throw anything with my right hand. I'm out of shape, and lacking game sharpness. I'm lucky Mark had seen me playing for Ireland, because at least if I start slow, I'll know there is one person on the team who knows I'm better than that. I know that I owe it to my team mates who I have never met to not just arrive and use that excuse to not perform right away.
On a side note to this performing topic, I think about how I'll be viewed by those back in Ireland. I've had many people congratulate me, and wish me the best. I know that there will be a lot of people following my progress back in Ireland. Some friends and some family, but also a few who have told me about their potential interest in doing something similar in the coming years. These would be people who'd respect me as a player and know me as a person, and will expect me to go over, and do big things in the AUDL.
If I'm a success, it may encourage them them try it, but if I fail to perform to the level I'm expecting of myself, perhaps they won't look to do the same.
I feel like my ability to step up to the challenge could have a ripple effect in Ireland in the coming years, and if I raise my game like I intend, this will help move Ultimate forward in Ireland by getting more players to spend a season or two in the AUDL, and gaining valuable experience to take home. Ireland is on the verge of doing something special at an international level in Ultimate, and I've the potential to use this experience to help that happen in the coming years.
My personal goals.
As much as becoming a great player is a huge motivation for me, the real thing I will be getting out of this season is growth as a person off the pitch. I love the sport, and want to learn from better players and coaches. I want learn from coaches how to become a better coach, and as a personal trainer, I want to develop a better understanding for how to train for Ultimate at the highest level.
I'm a real believer that if you love something enough, and put enough time into it, you can eventually find a way to make a living from it. If you wake up every day happy with what you are doing, you will have a happy life. I love being involved with Ultimate, and while I know I'll never be able to make a living from playing it, I'm hoping that this time spent in Seattle will enable me to find a path which leads to waking up everyday, and being able to live off something I enjoy doing related to this sport.
I don't think there's a city in the world more suited to help me in all these areas than Seattle.
I'm excited about this new chapter of my life, and the possibilities it can offer me. If it doesn't work out, and I only end up here for a single season, at least I'll know I gave it a go. Looking back on life later, I know I'll only regret the things I didn't do when I wanted to, and not the things I did, and that's how I want to live my life.
I'd like to thank the Cascades for offering me a chance to write something like this, as I've never had the chance before, and it's nice to be able to do it.
Thanks to those who read it, and hopefully you now have a better idea of who I am, and for those who do know me, maybe you now know me that bit better.
I look forward to taking to the field in the AUDL this season, and the challenges and opportunities my time in Seattle will bring.
And on that, I'll sign off.
See you in Seattle.
John Doherty #13