Do you have a great passion? Something you devote several hours a day four to six days per week for twenty years? Something where pain and injury makes you like it more?
If you have something like that, you’ll know what playing Ultimate Frisbee meant to me. If not, you’ll have to imagine. And I hope you some day build yourself a passion for something like I did for Ultimate.
Anyway, toward the end of my competitive playing career I played on an elite team with some of the best players to have played the sport.
I learned a lot from how I made that team.
In late summer of that year I was looking for a team to play with. A friend said he was trying out for a team and invited me to join the practice. Living in New York City without a car meant having to get rides to playing fields, in this case in West Chester, maybe a two-hour commute. I got a ride with my friend.
When we got there, one guy, Matty J, whom I knew from summer league, approached me and said
“Great to see you, but I’m sorry to say this is a team practice. I’m the captain. We already had final cuts and there aren’t any spaces left.”
I guess my friend didn’t know all the planning for the team. In any case, probably acknowledging the effort I put into getting to the fields, knowing I was a decent player and probably not wanting to have me just sit there until my ride could take me home, he added,
“As long as you’re here, you might as well play.”
So I played with the team for that practice. Since I didn’t have any reason to play like trying out, I just played for fun. Of course that meant playing my heart out. Now fifteen or so years later I don’t remember how I played, only that I would have given my all. I only remember what he said to me at the end of practice.
“Why don’t you come again to next practice?”
In other words, I made the team. At least I had a shot.
I can’t tell you what it means to make an elite team like that. To realize somebody great — Matty had won Nationals many times by then — not only liked your play, but liked it enough to override a decision he had made to others and something he had said to me. Granted, many players lead such teams, not barely make them. but he didn’t have to say anything to me at all and could have let me leave without a problem. I wonder what other players he had let go.
In any case, this moment was one of the greatest achievements of one of my life’s greatest passions. And I got it not by trying harder but by being myself.
Anyway, I made the team. We eventually missed making Nationals by two points in the fall.
Sometimes just showing up is the best strategy.
Of course, by that point I had played years and had a solid foundation, but I know if I hadn’t shown up I wouldn’t have made the team.
Same for you in your passions. Always make sure to show up.
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On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees