Updated: Oct 19, 2019
Life is like a camera. Focus on what’s important, capture the good times and develop from the negatives or simply... take another shot.
Here is a few of my Snapchats of the AUL weekend.
It’s 7:03am in the morning. I wake up, extremely confused to hear the sound of a different coffee grinder spurring into action, the crisp air reminds me I’m not in North Queensland anymore and I gingerly pull the blanket up a little higher. I listen some more and hear a door slam and rippling laughter drifting up from below. I groggily realise where I am.
I am in the home of two of Sydney’s top ultimate players Michael “Henry” Thomas and Bec Carmen. There are three equally as groggy Canberrans on the floor downstairs. Today is the first day of the National Training Squad, a preselection event for Worlds next year.
If that’s not exciting enough, its also the final of the Australian Ultimate League tonight. The Brisbane Breakers verses the Sydney Suns. A game designed to showcase our players, sport and gender equity to the world.
To put it mildly, it’s a big weekend. I sigh and close my eyes.
Just five more minutes…I’ve never been a morning person.
It had all sunk in on Friday morning, when I walked into a patient’s room and saw my face plastered across the back page of the local Townsville Bulletin. This cannot be legit?! I made a supreme effort to resist immediately walking over to this poor patient’s side table and pick it up, finding the will power to wait until after my treatment... It was hard.
With an ABC Radio interview done and a 7 News story upcoming, it was all starting to feel very real. Up till that point, the AUL had been another fun tournament for me. A way to play some competitive fris, get some sick merch and reconnect with my buddies from around the country. But now…
I’ve played under pressure before, but this felt different. Most of my higher-pressure games have never been in Australia, not on my home soil in front of my family and with small children running around asking me for an autograph. Knowing my friends in Townsville and Brisbane will be watching from a overly crowded lounge room, I was nervous. I hoped I would live up to this expectation.
I can hear Peter Eley’s voice echoing through the tunnel of Leichhardt Oval, introducing the AUL, acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land, and welcoming the spectators. The Brisbane Breakers all happily cramped and close together, jostling each other and trying to disperse the tension and nervousness we all feel into laughter. I look around and realise most of these players are who I started this frisbee journey with.
All of them have supported and encouraged me over the years. Since back when I refused to throw anything but hammers and when questionable decisions were more common than not...
Come to think of it…this may not have entirely changed.
I look up and see Alex & Elliot’s ongoing bromance and Liam Grimmond’s encouraging smile and this feels like a kind of home for me. I see players like Ava Mueller. I remember when she was a complete newbie at league and watched with growing anticipation as she became the powerhouse thrower she is now. I shiver…she’s still a teenager and she’s already better than me.
To our left stand the Sydney Suns, a powerful and slightly ominous team. You can feel the poised strength just in the smooth rippling definition of their calves and quadriceps (the physio in me nods appreciatively). Instead of a Sun, they’re more like a storm you see on the horizon, when you’re in a small sailing vessel called the ‘Unsinkable 2’. They’re coming.
I also happen to know all of them, they’re our friends and later we will probably go to the pub and chortle about the game but right now…the tension in that tunnel is palpable, and you could cut it like a cheesecake.
I look down at my laceless shoes, I lift my eyebrows and grit my teeth and tell myself that once you get out there, it’ll just be a game of frisbee. You’ve played hundreds of these things before, you’ve got this. This is what you’re good at. Easy right? The internal positive Kat nods enthusiastically, whilst the scaredy Kat inside narrows her eyes and refuses to be swayed by the positivity.
“Kat Smith #64!” Peley’s voice rings out.
No time to think about it anymore, I can’t even procrastinate here. I run out.
It’s begun. I think I’m ready.
We’re on offense, I’m jogging down the field in the stack, trying to draw the fine line between creating space, analysing the disc movement and assessing when I can finally go to get the frisbee.
Liam Grimmond gets the disc in the middle, I can see a swing opportunity I think? I turn on the jets and charge into the space. The disc is up almost as I make the cut.
I catch the disc and see the ’soon to be dad’ and speed machine Braden Cheng streaking to the left corner.. How can I not do this?! In my mind I know exactly the shape and curve of the disc I want. It happens in a split second, no time to think or doubt yourself, you’ve just gotta chew it. It’s a goal!
The happiness bursts through and we both have a huge grin on our faces. This is the moment. The joy of playing a game where you can’t score by yourself, any success you have is because you worked with someone else to achieve it. I love it.
The AUL Final was honestly one of the most exciting games I have ever played. The intensity and pace of the game was challenging. Two hours, against the top/speediest players in the country, playing every second point, with one less player on the field. Being a bit cooked is an understatement.
I was hopeful the Brisbane Breakers would have snatched a win but I think ultimately (no pun intended) our patience and cherishing of the disc was what let us down. The first two sets happened quickly, but in the third set, we got the hope back. By the 4th set, the fatigue was starting to set in and it kind of surprised us that the Suns had won.
We were left standing, reeling. All that effort and sweat. It didn’t count? They were the better team out there on that night. This is a development from the negative Snapchat, to work harder to get stronger and faster and be a more intelligent player out on that field.
A few weeks before AUL I was grumpy. I’d gotten home from work, I was completely cooked and couldn’t figure out if I wanted to be with people or not. A strange concept for a raging extrovert.
Should I get off the couch and go train or just continue to scroll my reddit and instagram account? A close friend messaged me, and told me to get out and “Go be Kat Smith.’ It stunned me. Because at that moment, I didn’t know who that was, who was Kat Smith?
Was she a person that loved to sleep in on Sunday mornings and eat copious amounts of chocolate or absolutely froths an opportunity to do double leg day at the gym? Is she a woman with value to add to the world? What are her strengths and weaknesses? In my mind I see the name ‘Kat Smith #64’ as being someone powerful and insanely confident and self-assured on the field. Is that how other people see her? How do I actually see myself?
And it was that small message, that question. I got off the couch. I wanted to be that person.
I went to the gym. For that moment in time, I had found Kat Smith #64 again.
If we dwell too much on those weakness/ the negatives, we let our own faith and belief in ourselves darken.
So say your own name.
What does that name mean to you?
What are your superpowers?
And remember that we need our wolf pack around us, to occasionally pick us up so that we can find the belief again.
The strength of the wolf is the pack and the strength of the pack is the wolf.
During the last weekend I was given a lift from 7 different people - Henry Thomas (1.5hour round airport pick up), Bec Carmen, Sarah Perkins, Holly Reeve, Kirsten Mortimer, Martin Linus and finally.. my dad. The frisbee community is a complex web of relationships, connection and the pursuit of excellence.
This is my wolf pack AND that’s why I’m all in.