Our High Performance Athlete - Jessica Bonham (March 2014)

Meet Jess Bonham, our Doctor of science in progress, who became part of the High Performance Squad at the University of Bristol.

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Last year was a very important year for me. I had just started a PhD at the University of Bristol and was also selected to play GB U23s in the World Championships in Toronto. I was lucky enough to have moved to Bristol, where I was welcomed onto the Nice Bristols team and with them I played my first full set of women’s tour.

As a result of this I was eligible to apply for the High Performance Squad, a program set to support and develop students who compete at a national or international level for their sport, and was one of the around 50 young athletes selected for this year’s squad.

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The High performance Squad is such a fantastic opportunity to meet athletes like myself who are balancing university studies and high level training at the same time. The amount of commitment other students give to their sport has been a real inspiration and everyone understands how much more stressful things can get around deadlines and exams.

A few of the other members on the squad were curious about Ultimate Frisbee, however, I am not the first Ultimate player to be on the squad, with fellow university player Josh Kyme also making this year’s squad and previous members including Matt Dathan and Matthew Beavan. I hope that Josh and I will not be the last Ultimate players on the squad as it is such a useful tool and really helps raise the profile of our sport.

The squad has given me a full sports pass, giving me access to all the university facilities as well as physios and pilates classes. This has really helped relieve some of the financial stresses that occur when competing at a high level and has made my training a lot easier.

Furthermore, as part of the squad I have my own person mentor who helps talk me through problems with my sport or studies, and the squad organises regular focus sessions on aspects of an athlete’s life other than just training. One of my favourite sessions was when we were instructed to read a book called “MindSet” by Carol Dweck. This book made me re-think my mindset during training and competitions but also in other aspects of my life too.

We’ve also had sessions on how to plan your year as an athlete, which I found really interesting, and on nutrition and mental health. I am very grateful for everything the squad has given me this year and I know how lucky I am. I often wish the rest of Nice Bristols could be in the High Performance Squad to get the same benefits as me.

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It has been a real journey for me, from a Frisbee novice 5 years ago, to where I am now and it has taken me some time to really see myself as a High Performance Athlete. However, my advice to everyone going to WUCC this year or any other World Championship in the future, is to think of yourself as an athlete and to consider all aspects of your sport, not just the physical training. Hopefully in the future more people will recognise Ultimate players as High Performance Athletes.




A Peek into Markey's Life - Kate Markey (March 2014)

Here is a peek into Markeys’ world of big hair, long working hours and Worlds.

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Working a 50 hour (sometimes more!) week and training for World Championships can prove interesting but it is also fair to say training is possibly one of the things that actually keeps me sane!

My job can be pretty hectic, helping to run a charity involves everything from directly managing people to advising various Government officials and law enforcement agencies about how they should respond to the issues of human trafficking and modern day slavery – not a particularly light or easy topic and after a long and usually hectic day I don’t always feel like rocking up to the gym, heading to the track or to team training session - especially in the winter, when I know I won’t be able to feel my extremities within 10 minutes of being outside- and yet I do, I have to! Most of the time I am glad that I have eked out my last bit of energy to do it, motivated by the fact that I know my teamies will be training their socks off and I don’t want to be left out or left behind!

World Clubs feels like a long way off but it will come around quickly and I, along with the rest of the team want to be prepared and ready, knowing I have put in the work required to play the game I want to play. If I have to work away from Bristol I try to make a plan to get back in time to make training or will do a session on my own when I get home – I find training on my own really hard, I feel self-conscious in a gym setting and find 101 other things to do for work that can easily distract me – so ensuring I get to a session with team-mates is a priority for me and something I really have to plan for and balance with work and life in general.

Training is usually the one time in the week I get to switch off and just be myself whilst playing a sport I love with a bunch of amazing folks. With world clubs around the corner at a minimum I now get at least three nights a week of training, which should mean I will be getting gradually saner over the course of the next 6 months, we shall see!

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I love the encouragement and the sense of team and of friendship that Nice Bristols offers and I truly miss this when I have to prioritise work commitments. A great bunch of women – work hard, play hard on the field, we laugh lots and play hard off the field too. We are all so different, with different backgrounds; we have different jobs and careers, we are different ages and have different interests outside of Ultimate but when we come together with a common purpose we are a force to be reckoned with. It is a privilege to be going to World Clubs with Nice Bristols and as one of the oldest NB players I am hoping it will be one of the highlights of my playing career – who knows at the end of it I may even get a new hoody!