Pre-tryout nerves and how travel has made me feel (almost) invincible!

This weekend marks the start of the tryout season for club teams in my sport of ultimate. Commonly known as ultimate Frisbee (but for trademark reasons officially “ultimate”), this is a pretty intense sport that has dreams of someday being a part of the Olympics.

Featuring full field 7 on 7 gameplay, this is the sport I’ve played for nearly 16 years now. Time and experience doesn’t mean I’m spared from nerves and butterflies, but if I can travel the world solo, then I can do this!

At the top of Lion Rock Fortress in Sigiriya Sri Lanka

Me at the top of Lion Rock Fortress in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Springtime in the city

Spring has barely sprung in New York City. As I’m sitting at home looking at photos of blooming trees on Instagram (so jealous of everyone in Japan right now!), the weather has finally gone several degrees above freezing. We don’t have many flowers or even leaves yet, but it’s getting there!

That’s good because having to run around outside for several hours this weekend will be much more enjoyable! I haven’t had spring or summer in NYC since at least 2 years ago. This summer is going to be great! I’ve already decided this, so it’s gonna happen. 🙂

2017-04-05 14.11.22-min

It’s spring in New York City!

Ultimate is my jam

Ultimate is my favorite way to get active. The club season runs from about April to October in the US, and World Championships alternate every 2 years from Championships where national teams compete and Championships where club teams compete (i.e. a country can have multiple club teams in each division).

Three years ago, I competed at the World Club Championships, which were held in Italy, with a club team from Singapore. It was my first time in Italy, and my first time really experiencing continental Europe. It was the best way to combine my two passions: ultimate and travel!

ultimate frisbee, 2007, taken by Mike Dormer

This is me playing ultimate in 2007, can’t believe this was 10 years ago! (Photo by Mike Dormer)

Most of my travel is solo travel

I didn’t travel much until I had a job that required occasional domestic and international travel. I had to travel alone most of the time and didn’t have a choice in the matter (not that I’m complaining!). I was a solo female traveler by default. Now it’s no big deal for me, at least most of the time.

Traveling alone can be one of the best things you decide to do. Others may wonder and say they could never do it. But those who have done it and love it know its true power and value.

I love reading all the blog posts about solo female travel, and hope that other women are encouraged to try it if they haven’t yet. Here are a few of them:
25 Promises for All the Single Ladies Who Travel
Why you should give solo traveling a try

I’ve grown to really love solo travel. It’s relaxing and empowering!


In some ways, ultimate parallels the rest of my life. I showed some early promise, but only in recent years have figured out that I actually do have some ambitions. Going into this tryout season, I feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been for this time of year in New York. I joined a gym that wasn’t my university’s gym for the first time in my life. Weird! I’m hoping to make it onto one of the best club teams in the city, and I hope that I’ve done enough and can offer enough to do it.

Mentally, I still have some hurdles ahead of me. I haven’t played ultimate in the USA for a few years, so I don’t know that much about trends or how I match up against others. This makes me a little nervous, regardless of any physical preparation I may be doing. Since I’ve been gone, tons of new people have moved to New York and joined the ultimate community here. This means there are fewer friendly faces around, and makes the tryout process a little more social anxiety-inducing.

How travel has changed me

When it comes down to it, it’s all about perspective.

This is where travel has helped me the most.

Sometimes when you travel, something doesn’t go as expected. But there’s no point in getting too upset about it. The best way to deal with it is to make a new plan and start following through with it. It’s not always easy, but sometimes you have to accept that you have no control over circumstances.

Sometimes you’ll have to make decisions with very little time. This requires knowing what you want/need and being able to assess that in a reasonable amount of time so you can make your decision. It requires a bit of conviction in some cases. It’s funny how when I’m at home, it may take 30 minutes to decide on a movie to watch, but when I’m traveling I’ll change plans for a few days at a time at the drop of a hat.

Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island, Australia

Climbing into rocks in Australia

Sporty inspiration

I’m currently about halfway through the book The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. This might be the first sports book I’ve ever read. It’s about the rowing crew of 9 young men who came mostly from farms, shipyards, etc in Washington state to win the Gold medal in the 1936 Olympics. I didn’t know that much about rowing before, but the talk about how all the people in the bow had to be perfectly in sync and in tune with each other really resonated with me.

Maybe other team sports don’t require as meticulous coordination, but my sport does require coordination and team cohesiveness. One of the more interesting things about it is that we have a Mixed division which is coed (usually 4 men and 3 women per side on the field). There’s been a lot of talk about gender equality in the sport over the past few years, and especially in the last several months. Not only do we try to balance roles on the field, but gender roles too.

When I get out there on the field, I’m totally focused in doing this one thing the best that I can. I’m trusting that my body will know what to do, and I’m trusting my brain to make the right split second decisions.

I’m not so good with sports metaphors, but maybe traveling is like an individual sport where you have to strategize, plan, and adapt to whatever the world throws at you.

What the travel mindset does to you

Travel changes you because of the constant exposure to new things. I’ve grown as a person because of travel. I’ve also met so many different people that I would never have met if I didn’t leave my home country.

The travel mindset makes you believe that you can do things, and you can! You can climb that mountain. You can ride that wave. You can hike to that gorgeous waterfall.

It makes you consider the possibilities, and you make them into realities.

In my book, this is a great thing and is even better when it carries over into other parts of your life.

2017-04-05 13.53.43-min

Look familiar?

Still have some butterflies…

I’m still nervous about tryouts, but I’m much more confident in myself in terms of this aspect of my life. If it doesn’t go perfectly, then I’m prepared to accept that, too. Things happen, and maybe I won’t have a perfect tryout, but that’s not the point. The point is that I’m going out there and I’m showing them all I got. You could even say that I will (try to) hit them with my best shot.

I’ve got to find a balance of confidence and humility.

Traveling has taught me to trust myself, and to trust my instincts. Not every team will be a good fit for me, and not everyone will want me on their roster. It also goes the other way though. I may not want to be a part of any or every team. If something isn’t the best fit, then I’ll be ok with letting it go.

The best that I can do is plan for it and mentally prepare myself for the process, not the outcome.

Do you get nervous before a big event? How do you deal with it?

Enjoyed reading? Pin this for later!