Well, it's official and all now. For the first time since 1993, I am no longer on an ultimate team roster for the season. I requested a practice player spot for Mischief this season and heard the news this morning that, yay!, the rest of the team is good with the change. So that's now my official standing with the team.
The change means I'm still with my friends for the season. I'll still practice with them three times a week. I'll still run track with them on Tuesdays (provided the track workouts don't interfere with my current sprint workouts or my soon to be started even-better-plan-to-get-in-shape workouts: Having spent the last 10 years running different get-in-shape workouts, I've decided that, even though others may have ideas for what builds good ultimate fitness, I know what's best for my body. And I know what has worked in the past and what hasn't worked in the past, through Kris' and Chris' various track workouts, with Velocity Sports now, and ASA Baseball then. Certain workouts work, others don't. I'm done wasting time on the ones that don't work for me).
Being a practice player admittedly feels weird, though. It's the right decision, and I know it is. I'd been playing worse and worse over the last three years as I stop playing for the joy of the sport and the thrill of success, and started playing not to lose, not to throw it away, not to embarrass myself. What the hell is that about?
I think a lot of it had to do with the 2004 season, where I trained and trained and trained, managed the best amount of fitness, skills and mental preparation and toughness (fighting through self-doubt and questioning my desire to compete, all while continuing to push), only to be schmooshed and fail.
Kris says I didn't fail. I was injured due to an unfortunate accident on the field. Okay. Sure. I didn't succeed that season. I had four broken ribs when I played at Regionals that year.
Okay, fine, I didn't fail. Looking back, it felt like failure to me. As the team has done better each year since then, I've done worse. I know the problem is mental. Things like Andy intimidates the hell out of me, like I worry more about what other people are doing instead of how I'm doing, like it's so easy to make up an excuse on why I failed instead of working hard not to fail.
It's hard sometimes doing what's right, and I know this was the right decision: to walk away from a guaranteed roster spot. I'd have that roster spot not because I was the best fit for the team, but because I was grandfathered in. I dont' want that. Neither do I want to lose the contact I have with the friends I have on the team.
I think this is a really good compromise between the two: I can continue to play with my friends, have my weekends back since I won't be travelling to tournaments, all while finally starting to grow again as a player. So what if I throw away the disc trying a throw I haven't mastered yet? People will just roll their eyes, mutter something like, "practice players, sheesh," under their collective breaths, and I'll get the chance to try the plays, throws, moves that I thought I'd lost the courage to attempt.
Yeah, this will be a good season.
Even if it's a little uncomfortable in the beginning.