Trust, Growth And Legacy: “It’s Time To Leave The Safety Blanket Behind”

This article was written two weeks ago, the day before our last training camp: the Newcastle ProAM tournament. It’s now Day 6 of our 10 day long pre-tour and we’re almost all on a train to Prague. Almost. #chrissydidnotknowbest. We’ve eaten more Pretzels than days we’ve been here, I’ve got a cold and we’re ready for a touch of R and R before heading full pelt back into Worlds.


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28 June 2019


My Grandma just got home to Canberra after a voluntary hip replacement cum marathon hospital saga in Sydney. My brother tag-teamed with my Uncle to drive her home. In the front seat on the drive to pick her up from Goulburn: a plush Ikea piggy which is an exact match (bar many months of love and attention) to my very own Ikea piggy to keep my Grandma company while she recovers.


Today, I’ve also been aggressively packing my new 60L pack to within an inch of its life, trying to fit in everything I’m going to take to Europe. I want to make sure I’ve got everything I need so when I get to Germany all I need to think about is playing the ol’ catch and toss. One thing that didn’t make the cut: my Ikea piggy. It’s time to leave my safety blanket behind. But I won’t have to go it alone, I have three sufficiently unique and inspiring core words which can support me as they have numerous Australians teams before.



Trust


This one’s a good one: a true bread but also butter of any three word motto. It has deserved its role though. Like a good fitting bra, trust can support you to feel like you can take on any challenge. In the Bluebottles, we have no shortage of trust. We have a lot of faith in ourselves and, failing that, in the team around us.


I am one of the few Bottles who’s coming from a place of no AUS rep experience. I don’t know what Worlds is going to be like and no amount of preparation or hearing stories from previous Worlds will change this. It’s not every day that you do something that’s a big jump from what you’ve done every other day. I find strength in the team and, at the end of the day, I’ll be going out there to play fris. And in the scheme of my “cans” and “cannots”, it is definitely a “can”. As Nic Lelli determinedly and consistently muttered at TC3, “It’s just 8 cones and a disc”.


But we do all have some slight trust issues at the hands of our coaches who, after a promised 10am start and beach session, woke us up in the Devil’s Hour no less to do an undefined number of sprints and throws at TC3.


For the Bottles, trust is based in honesty. Every Bottle has given themselves to this campaign and has no fear in being honest with the team*. I think this is pretty exceptional for a group of circa 30 people of different all different personalities and, to Ava Müller’s dismay, heights. It’s no accident though, we’ve all worked hard to follow the lead from our staff and be trustworthy teammates, athletes and friends.


Quite genuinely, I’m a comfortable lady. I like my life and my people and I have no particular desire to push myself out of my comfort zone on a regular basis. And yet, I’m about to do something where I don’t know most of how it’s going to go. I don’t have any of my closest support systems coming with me, the Danni Sutton to my Mercedes Janecek is not on the team and I have no space for my Ikea piggy. However, I do trust that I’m heading over to Europe with good people. People who, despite no direct evidence or experience to support this, I know will metaphorically or, if the circumstance necessitates it, literally hold my hand while we attempt to blitz the World U24 Championships.


*addition from Day 5 of pre-tour, i.e. today. Maddy “lawns” Owens approaches me while I’m packing to inform me that I am the second funniest person on the team. That woman does not shy away from the truth.


Growth


We left off with an insight into the Showcase game at BCI which provided a bite-sized taste of the Bluebottles to come, not only to the people watching but also to ourselves. Post Nationals, we have hit the accelerator. Hard. This has been some Tesla level shit. Since Nationals it’s been 100% Bottles and we’ve been able to focus our training accordingly. The frequency of our training camps has reflected this as we’re about to head into our third training camp in 7 weeks (Newcastle Pro-AM). This camp is our very first tournament, which is hugely exciting and daunting. We’ll finally get a proper taste of how each of us acts in a tournament setting and what this means for the team. We will be locking down our structures, figuring out what each player can add to them and putting in our last push of learning before we head off to Germany. This whole campaign has been a big learning opportunity, I really believe each player has pushed themselves to achieve and improve in their game, their training and their lives.


We only have three weeks left before the tournament is over, a comparably small amount of time considering we started this process in October last year. And yet, it feels like we have most of our growing ahead of us. We have been training the past few weeks in faux adversity; the coaches are working hard to present us with challenges (waking up many hours before planned and going into shuttles sans warm up or coffee, for example #trustissues) so that we can be resilient in Germany. We’ve taken them entirely in our stride though and I think the real challenge will be when we’re hangry (@Ynez Ruiz and @Maddy Owens), when we’re in a new country and we’re feeling vulnerable that we’ve left our Mums (read: best friends) behind. This is where we will see our biggest growth.


Our quad bulk has probably peaked, though. And Michael “Mike Chang” Truong would really be facing some big health problems if he attempted to squeeze any more muscle under his skin.


Legacy


Our final value for this campaign is Legacy. From sessions run by ex-bottles at our first training camp to messages of well wishes coming from Laura Manescu at AOBUC to scratch matches against Bluebottles alum, our campaign has been shaped by the learnings and experiences of Bluebottles past. There are 85 Bluebottles in Australia (referring of course to Ultimate players, I do not want to be quoted in some nature magazine regarding the number of Portuguese Man O’ Wars we have, which is of course, far greater) and we’re about to set out onto the World stage to join them.


We are determined to have a meaningful contribution to the mixed scene in Australia. We want to show up in Heidelberg and play in a way where people can go home and say “we have something to learn from how Australia plays mixed”. We want to show, through who we are and how we play, that mixed is a destination for Australia’s top players. There’s not much more to Legacy yet, as we haven’t left ours behind. In three weeks, maybe I can follow this up.


It’s now the week before that pre-tour starts. In the words of Molly Valencour, ‘give me a W O W’. The Bluebottles are doing last minute preparations before we head to the Newcastle this weekend and then get on our roughly 15 different planes. Destination: Frankfurt. We’ve put in months (read: years) of work. We have our custom hats and backpacks and have never felt this broke before.


Our final week in Australia has been different for each player: the Melbourne team (Josh Lipari, Simao Dhaliwal and Kate Roberston) has been hitting the gym at every available moment. The Sydney contingent has been popping innumerable herbal immune boosting tablets in order to kick their collective cold ahead of the 30hr trip across the planet. We QLD, SA and ACT players have continued our independent preparations which involve everything from solo throwing sets to watching as many Marvel movies as possible (Ironman 3 is a fantastic film) before heading off.


Ready or not (but actually we’re just ready), the next stage of the campaign has started. Arguably, it’s the beginning of the end of the campaign. Really though, most of our growing is ahead of us yet. So why should you care? Well this is hard to answer as Gus “the Man” Macdonald continues to censor my every word and we’re under strict instruction to give you no information regarding Ultimate Frisbee. So instead I’ll leave you with these sufficiently exciting and ambiguous words:


The U24 cohort is the future of Australian Ultimate. We’re young and exciting and, trust me, you’ll want to watch us play.

To follow what we’re up to, like and subscribe to our Facebook and Instagram (@BluebottlesU24) pages.


Update: I arrive in Sydney, reconciled to the reality that I have to go out there on my own to see that Matt Daly has brought piggy, pictured below. Looks like I don’t need to leave my safety blanket behind for a couple of nights yet.