DiscNW Person of the Month - August 2012
Many awesome people help to make the Seattle ultimate community something special. There are team captains who lead the thousands of players at leagues and tournaments. There are volunteers who help make those events happen. There are parents of youth players who drive the kids around and help to manage teams. There are coaches who teach this great sport to the next generation. There are the folks at parks departments who rent us the fields.
Because we don't get the chance often enough to fully thank and celebrate everyone, we are glad to announce this new feature, the DiscNW Person of the Month. Inspired by the fun Player of the Month profiles of Portland Ultimate, we will showcase a person (player, coach, parent, fan, volunteer, etc.) each month on the webpage.
For our sixth feature, we recognize...
Seoul -> NYC -> Livingston, NJ
Years playing ultimate:
25 years. I have a five digit USAU ID number that starts with 2. I guess that's a big deal? Just means I'm old.
How did you start playing ultimate?
In late middle school I attended a camp where many of my older friends were from NYC's magnet schools and played ultimate. Back in the day the best teams in the country (world) were from NYC. Stuyvesant HS, Bronx Science HS, Brooklyn Tech were all really good. I got hooked at camp, played with friends at Central Park after church and when I was a junior in HS I started a team in Livingston, NJ.
What are your former and current teams?
High School: LHS Lancers
College: Rutgers Machine
DiscNW teams: Whips & Whistles, Mr. Miyagi's Dojo, Doe, GST, GKW, Huckin Easy, Xante, Dead Mouse, and a host of hat league and corp league teams.
You have been the General Manager for the DiscNW YCC teams for a while now. This year you also were the Head Coach of the mixed team and won silver – the first medal ever for a DiscNW mixed team at YCC. To what do you attribute the success of the team this year?
There are a ton of factors that contributed to Pandamonium's success at YCC this year. First and foremost we had some amazing players from 11 different high schools and we peaked as a team at the right time. We shut-out two teams but also had to win on universe point against Bay Area in semi's after they came off their own universe point game versus Minnesota, where they reeled off three breaks in a row to win it. They were fired up and we knew we'd have a battle on our hands. I'm super proud of the whole team in getting the win! Secondly, I was joined by the amazing Jinny Eun of Riot who is a fantastic coach and a much better line-caller than me. Lastly, our warm up jerseys were pretty stunning and probably struck awe and fear into the hearts of our opponents.
You have a long coaching resume, having worked with coed and single gender high school teams at the local and national level. What is your favorite experience as a coach?
I'll answer this question in two ways. Overall - I think life lessons are deeply ingrained within competition and athletics and I love it when players develop in ways that aren't just about throwing farther or cutting better. When shy players come out of their shell or when players with less self-esteem realize they can excel at something - that's the best part of coaching.
Specifically - my favorite experience ever was just a week ago in Dublin, Ireland at World Junior Ultimate Championships through WFDF. The opportunity to see players I specifically coached at Franklin HS competing on Team USA and winning medals was spectacular. I'm super proud of Tiffany Phan and Henry Phan (no relation) for making the team and for competing with great skill and spirit! Also a shout-out to Mercer coach Sam Terry for traveling with me and to Mercer alum Khalif El-Salaam for being a baller. Sam and I got to take Henry, Tiff and Leaf out for Korean food in Dublin one night and that was my favorite part of the trip!
Also much love to all the Seattle players representing at Worlds - I've seen them come up through local leagues and YCC - Sarah, Nina, Claire, Margo, JThor, Kirstie, Qxhna, Kilian, John, Justin, Mikey, and Natan.
You were the first DiscNW Youth Coordinator, and you currently serve on the Youth Strategic Committee. What motivates you to do this organizational work?
One of my favorite parts about my current F/T job at City Year is the idea of ubuntu. Ubuntu is a West/South African proverb that basically says, "my humanity is tied to your humanity" - I know what ultimate did for me as a teenager and I want to give kids even better opportunities to learn the game and take great lessons away from the game. Specifically, I want to continue to light a fire under the huge growth for ultimate in Seattle's southend neighborhoods.
You started a team at your high school in New Jersey. What is the most notable change in the youth ultimate landscape since that time?
The level of professionalism, dedication and seriousness is definitely the biggest change. When I was in HS, we played every day in the summer and a few times a week throughout the year but we never had a coach. We didn't even have the internet to tell us who else played in NJ or what some common strategies were. We wore cotton t-shirts. We didn't warm-up or do drills really. Nowadays there are coaches for teams, there are things like NexGen, Ultivillage, Rise Up, Ulticards, etc. There are hosts of camps and leagues. There's Brodie Smith videos (love him or hate him - he does bring recognition to the game) that kids can watch. The jerseys look way cooler nowadays.
What do you like most about the ultimate community in Seattle?
Ultimate players in Seattle are down to help each other out. Just recently I had to couch surf and had multiple offers from frisbee players to crash on their couch. Big thanks to Sam Terry, the Gillespies, Ann Huang, Pat, Hall, Scott/Erin, and the Yen-Ladds for offering to help me out!
You are extremely involved in ultimate. What do you do for a living when you are not doing something disc related?
For a living I work at City Year. City Year is a national non-profit that utilizes AmeriCorps members b/w the ages of 17-24 to serve for 10 months, full-time in low-performing public schools. The basic requirements are the age listed above, a HS diploma or GED and the ability to work in the country. There are sites all across the country and you receive a living stipend and $5,550 in an education award to pay back college loans or pay for future schooling. Most importantly, you get a chance to impact communities and students stay in school and on track to graduate!
I run the admissions process for the West Coast region (LA, San Jose, Sacramento and Seattle).
If anyone is interested let me know. In Seattle we've had a number of frisbee folks serve. (Max Sutton, Hylke, Dan Curme, Jonathan Masler all served previously and this year Erica and Margo from UW are working at Denny MS and Aki MS respectively!)
Do you have anything else to say?
Youth ultimate is growing in Seattle but the two things that are keeping it from reaching more and more kids are: 1. field space and 2. coaches. If you are free to help out with a local program please try it out. Kids are forgiving and you can learn to coach from peers and from USA Ultimate's Coaching Certification classes. It'll be my 10th year coaching this Fall and I can't wait till our first game!!