Growing up in Marseille, of course you’ll want to be a football player; everyone does.
Every day, you’ll be out on the streets, playing. As a goalkeeper, you’ll spend a lot of time watching the play. You’ll see fights break out in front of you and people shit-talking each other. As you get older, you’ll find that the trash talking, the attitudes, the fights on the field just aren’t for you. When your brother brings you out to try ultimate, something will click. It will feel right.
Most of the time you’ll play indoor ultimate; with smaller sides, it’s easier to book space. You’ll get your first taste of real competition when Ultimate Vibration Paris needs a couple extra players for a tournament. You are far from the best, but the introduction will be perfect. Exhausted and covered in dirt, you’ll return home feeling exhilarated. Over the next 25 years, you’ll play on more than a dozen teams at hundreds of tournaments, you’ll experience heartbreak and triumph, but most importantly, right from day one, you’ll start your never-ending journey of learning.
The things you’ll learn:
- Ultimate Vibration – Paris
You’ll learn patience. You’re young and full of energy, but you’ll learn how to harness it. You’ll learn when to shut up and how to stay humble. Your journey begins here, and you’ll never forget your home.
- Clapham United – London
You’ll learn how to be an athlete. After years of battling against Clapham, you’ll make the move and join them. Before, it was all about running, throwing, and trying to make plays. With Clapham, you’ll start to take your training and preparation seriously; you’ll start to understand what it takes to get to the top. You’ll also start to obsess about playing in North America. One day you’ll get there; just use that patience you learned.
You’ll also start to obsess about playing in North America. One day you’ll get there; just use that patience you learned.
- Skogs – Gothenburg
You’ll learn how to value the disc. After many years of battling against Seb Sporong, Nik Tehler, and the rest of the Skogs team, you’ll be invited to join them. You’ll have been playing for 10 years now and can bring something to any team you join. But the Swedes have such a different culture. They are so tight, they stick together, and they go to tournaments with short rosters. You’ll have to get really fit to be on this team. You’ll have to value the disc. Every turnover means more running, and with 16 people on the team, that is not an option. Your time playing for two of the best teams in Europe will give you the confidence to arrive ready for the American challenge.
- Ironside – Boston
You will learn to bounce back, to build confidence, and to win. You will have developed a winning mentality, but you’ll hone it here. You’ll come back from an ACL tear and worry about joining a new team. You’ll take a risk and leave Skogs to join Boston for WUCC 2010 in Prague. It’s a risk you’ll know you have to take. For years, you will dream of playing in the U.S. Now you can do it. Even though you get layout blocked on your first point, you’ll start to believe you belong, and you’ll improve drastically. In the American series, you’ll lose one game all year (in the finals of USAU). There will be heartbreak, yes, the closest you’ll ever come, but there will be so much success, too.
You’ll take a risk and leave Skogs to join Boston for WUCC 2010 in Prague. It’s a risk you’ll know you have to take.
- GOAT – Toronto
You’ll learn different perspectives. Once you’ve begun playing in North America, you’ll start to get used to the level. It will be a step up, but you can handle it. John Hassel and Andy O will approach you and enlist you for GOAT. It will be a change of style, but you’ll want to play with them, and you’ll want to keep playing in North America. You’ll learn perseverance. You’ll suffer more close losses and miss another chance at a championship. It’s these small steps each year that will keep you going.
- Flying Angels – Bern
You’ll learn how to be the old guy on a team. Switzerland will become your second home, and playing with Bern will be amazing. Dealing with the different cultures of the German and French players will be a humbling and challenging but rewarding experience.
- CUSB – Bologna
You’ll learn how to set an example for younger players and prove that you still belong on the field. You’ll also come to understand that you still have more to learn. You’ll have a long-standing relationship and friendship with Davide, the heart of the team. You will be in a unique position to tell him when to shut up, and you might be one of the only people who can get away with it. You’ll still be friends after. With so many strong, young players, you’ll also learn how to keep your body in shape as a much older player.
- Royal – Montreal
You’ll learn how to play the pro game. It’s funny that after 20 years of playing, you’ll still have new experiences. Playing in the pro game will be a whole new process, a whole new skill set. At 39, you’ll once again be learning how to play with an older body.
At 39, you’ll once again be learning how to play with an older body.
- PoNY – New York
Full circle. You’ll learn how to play humbly. You’ll continue to adapt your play and figure out how best to fit into another community. You’ll learn patience and support, and mostly you’ll learn to reflect—reflect on how a guy from Marseilles could make a life in the ultimate world and play with so many teams. This time will make you appreciate the ultimate community more than ever.
I’m writing this to you as an experienced man, as a family man. Take your time, and enjoy the ride; you’re in for one: hundreds of tournaments, hundreds of cities around the world, and hundreds of experiences. There are times you’ll consider stopping, but you’ll keep pushing. You’re meant to keep learning, keep advancing. You’re meant to be an ultimate player. As long as there is more to learn, you may never hang up the cleats.
Nasser M’bae Vogel