Is it all worth it?

By Brian Schoenrock

I had the pleasure of playing with the Minnesota Wind Chill in its inaugural season last year, and have once again been lucky enough to play with them this season. This AUDL franchise has given me a chance to be a professional (semi-professional?) athlete over the last two years, something I had dreamed of since I was six. I am fortunate to get to play with this team, but boy has it been a roller coaster of a ride.

There have been a lot of times over the last fifteen months where I have questioned whether playing with the Wind Chill is the right decision. I think about how we have at least one game every weekend for three months straight. How one game’s soreness is comparable to one day at a tournament. How more playing time increases chances of injury. How uncomfortable the travel schedules are because we play teams from Detroit, Cincinnati and Indianapolis. Just last weekend we had a game in Madison on Friday night (left at noon on Friday), a game in Indianapolis on Saturday night (ended at 10:30pm), and then drove straight home so we could all have a chance to spend some time with family on Mother’s Day.

While playing co-pilot at 5am on the way home from Indy after a 0-2 weekend, I began thinking again about if it is all worth it. Playing with the Wind Chill does have its hardships, but I came to some conclusions I wanted to share.

  1. By playing with the Wind Chill I get to step on the field (in front of fans!!) and play the game I love with 19 teammates all working together to well represent our coach, our owner, and the state of Minnesota. This prepares me for a comparable opportunity with Drag’n when we head to Worlds this August.
  2. There are many people who I know would love to play professional ultimate, but do not get a chance. There is no women’s league. There are no teams in the southern United States. The league was not around 15 years ago. A person’s skill set does not allow for it. Yet I am lucky enough to live in a region with a team, have had fantastic influences on my game to mold me into the player I have become and am playing ultimate during the prime years of my life.
  3.  I get to play with and against the best of the best players in the Midwest. Players like ‘Goose’, Pat Shriwise, Cameron Brock, AJ Nelson, they all push me to be better players every time I step out on the field and match up against them. After getting to guard these players week in and week out, who at Worlds should be able to impress me? The players I get to play with push me to get better too, as I would never want to let them down while I get my chance on the field. My teammates also have so much to teach me. I am still just a young pup in this game and I have lots I know I can learn from the guys that have been around the block once or twice.
  4. By starting my season in early April I get a jump start on being in the best shape I can be in for club season (especially important this year with Worlds in early August) and I am getting in so many more reps with the disc than I would without the AUDL.

Thinking back to Eric Olson’s article about Ultimate Learning, I know that all this experience is helping make me a better player. I will be in the best playing shape I have ever been in this season, I will be better prepared for competing in the US Open in July, traveling to and competing in Italy this August for the World Championships, and for Nationals come October. When I weigh the arguments, the pros outweigh the cons, and it is no contest. Bring on the next road trip! Bring on the busy weekends! Bring on the long games! The pro experience is absolutely worth it! So Saturday when Wind Chill plays the Chicago Wildfire, you better believe I’ll be thinking about how lucky I am to be a part of it.

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