Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It's about so much more than the game

On November 9th, it will officially be 4 years since I created this blog. Life was perfect as a college senior with way too much time on my hands to just think and write about frisbee. After over a year hiatus from writing on here, I can’t help myself but to return and post a few thoughts about the things I have learned in life since entering the wonderful alumni world.

Let me begin by saying that I love frisbee. I love everything about it. I have been lucky enough to experience the Pacific ocean at sunset, the Atlantic at sunrise, the view from the top of a mountain, a completely silent street on the first snowfall of the season, but none of these compare to the feeling of walking onto an ultimate field in the morning with dew on the grass and the sun burning off the fog as you prepare to spend the next two days with your best friends playing with all your heart against the people who you will spend that night celebrating life with. That’s ultimate. That is the happiest of my happy places. If you are a rookie, I am so excited for you to fall in love with this lifestyle. If you are a veteran, I am glad you are part of what makes me love this community so much.
Due to traveling and the time consumption of 4th year of veterinary school, I was forced to take this year off from ultimate. For the first time in 5 years, I was going to enter a year of life without a team standing next to me, working together and providing support every day. It was scary, but the hardest part was that all of my best friends, who had been my teammates for the past 5 years, were continuing on without me. Frisbee and my teammates are what have got me through the past 3 extremely challenging years of school, and now I was about to have to finish this last year on my own… or so I thought.

The past 10 weeks I have been traveling around the United States doing veterinary rotations in different locations. I have stayed in San Diego, San Francisco, Boston, and Sanibel Island. The medical opportunities I have experienced through this trip have been unreal but what have taken this trip from “a great experience” to “the trip of a lifetime” is the people I spent time with along the way. In every city I stayed in, I was able to find ultimate friends who shared their lives with me and allowed me to be part of their team for the few days or weeks that I was there. From playing pickup beach ultimate, to getting my butt kicked at a workout in a foggy stadium in the middle of San Francisco, to practicing with elite ultimate teams just weeks before regionals, it turned out I was ANYTHING but without ultimate in my life. 

The point I am trying to make goes far beyond the few experiences I have had on this trip, and it lasts a lifetime if you allow it to. Ultimate is about community, and it doesn’t stay on the field when the game is over. Spirit of the Game isn’t just something that allows us to function without referees in our sport. It is a level of respect that leads to concrete friendships that form between you and that Asian handler you marked up against every time you played Michigan or the guy you played on a team with that one weekend at Poultry Days or the coach of the Wisconsin team who beat you all through college. SOTG is about respect. When you respect your teammates and opponents enough to play with spirit, a community is built that doesn’t let a win or loss keep anyone from caring about each other and building “unforeseen friendships.”

Everything you do in life has consequences. When I was in college, I joked around with my opponents on the field because it was fun. Never in a million years did I think that it would lead to places to stay, friends to hang out with, and opportunities to play ultimate in the middle of a veterinary trip, but I am so happy that it did. I love ultimate, and I am so thankful for all of the ultimate experiences I have been blessed with in my year off. I’ve learned that it is possible to leave the game, but good luck escaping the community. It’s about so much more than the game, it’s a lifestyle.

Lindsey Gapstur
Woman Scorned Alumni

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