Before I started chasing plastic, I used to spend my time chasing pavement.
In high school, running competitively was my life, and I spent my freshman year at UCLA training to walk on the D1 cross country and track teams. Exhausted and longing to be a part of a team, I quit training and was lucky to find a new (and greater) passion in ultimate. However, a few things from my high-mileage days still resonate with me now.
One of them is a quote from track legend Steve Prefontaine: "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."
To me, ultimate seems like a gift. When training with the UCLA team, I never felt as though I was truly a part of the team. I was only able to train with the other runners one day a week. They were D1 athletes who were attending UCLA in part to run with the team, and I was just an outsider who had set her sights to making the team.
When I heard about ultimate at a club fair, I was frustrated and exhausted with cross country and track, and ultimate seemed like an opportunity to get involved in a different athletic activity. I went to a practice and almost instantly fell in love with Bruin Ladies Ultimate. My UCLA BLU teammates made me feel so welcomed and helped me stay passionate about the game. In turn, I wanted to give my best to them -- to grind through workouts, to sacrifice my body on the field, and to support them in their ultimate and non-ultimate related endeavors. I wish I had the time to give more. BLU and ultimate overall has taught me so many things about life, taken me to places I’d never thought I’d go, and introduced me to people that nothing else could, and I am forever grateful for that.
Since the beginning of this tour, Prefontaine’s phrase has resurfaced in my mind. Being a part of a project like the All-Star Ultimate Tour really does feel like a gift. There's no doubt that all the individuals on this team have worked hard to become the players we are today. Even then, the tour is the result of something far greater than any one person. It is in every essence a community effort. From the thousands of dollars contributed to the Indiegogo campaign, to the families that opened up their homes to us, to the fans who've watched our games in person and on the stream, to the crew who ensures quality of broadcast, to the volunteers who help us keep this show on the road, and to those of you reading this, the support has been incredible. The tour and its mission and values are working, and it wouldn't be possible without all these components.
As players, we're grateful for the fantastic opportunity to represent women in ultimate. And with that opportunity comes an inherent responsibility to give our best for all those who watch and support us. There's something about playing with hundreds of people in the stands - especially young girls - that makes you want to leave it all out on the field. So to all the people who make this gift possible and inspire us to give nothing less than our best, I think I speak for the entirety of the team when I say thank you so very much.