WORLDS #Relilvingthedream - Miranda Cole (Oct 2014)

So the dust has settled. It’s now October, we’ve all gone back to work, and I’m trying to remember what I used to DO with all this TIME I have now….

I miss it.

I feel like my #roadtoworlds started in November 2013, in the somewhat cramped function room of a pub, where we spoke about our aims for the season. I was seriously excited at the opportunity to play in the World Club Championships, but felt extremely novice compared to the players on our team who had played with GB, or attended this tournament the last time round. I had also just started my job as a doctor, and was dubious as to how on earth I would fit it all in amidst the night shifts and on-calls I would be subjected to.

I took it slowly at first and did what I could. I had always turned my nose up at joining a gym in the past; I played loads of sport and cycled everywhere; why on earth would I go and “work-out” (I still can’t say that in my head without it having an irritating drawling American accent attached to it) in a sweaty room with the rugby lads (LADS LADS LADS) checking out their bicep curls in the mirror!?!? No thanks. But then actually, I had to. Injury prevention! There’s an interesting concept… The programme designed for us was ace. Often the cardio sessions had to be my 40 minute cycle to and from work, but I did as much as I could to get them in there.

I had never lifted weights in my life before, but after the slight lull over Christmas, threw myself into it with the help of my team. We all found each other inspiring! If I could get to a gym session were others were going to be, I knew I would work harder, lift more, and yes, ache more the next day or so because my teammates could get the best out of me. The week I went to the gym and tried hip thrusters for the first time with Bridget, I jumped up from lifting 70kg I had been managing comfortably the week before, to 100kg! (NB I am aware this is not advisable!)

In the run up to the week of the World Championships, I barely saw my housemates. I turned down offers of catching up with Uni mates. I tried Bikram (or “hot”) yoga for the first time. I rarely ate my dinner before 9.30pm, and usually had a post-work-pre-exercise minimeal around 5pm. I frequently ate three puddings in a day. I explained multiple times to non-Frisbee friends and family that yes, last weekend I played Frisbee, and yes I still have Frisbee tonight, and next weekend, and yes, Frisbee is pretty much my answer to everything at the moment. Did I mention how much I ate? I went to the USA for the first time ever, for a WARM-UP tournament, and LOVED IT! I got really fed up of washing my sports bras knowing they’d be sweaty again the next day. I never left the house without my Nalgene. I went to trainings twice a week where I ran, jumped, threw, pivoted….. And laughed, and nearly cried, and felt frustrated, and wanted to shout at people, and wanted to hug everyone, and laughed even more.

And then it was time to go!

We went by train on the Friday before the tournament started. It was a looong journey but it went quickly with 18 other people to keep you entertained. We did lunges down the aisle to stop us getting stiff, and stretched as often as we could. There was also a lot of Hacki-sack, and sweets, and Dobble (Life-changing) and Dixit (less-so). (I apologise on behalf of Nice Bristols to anyone we annoyed on that train journey. All I can say is that we were very, very……very…..very excited!)

Our hotel was amazing. A four-star establishment with friendly staff, who stayed friendly despite being invaded by Frisbee players from Sweden, Australia, Japan and the UK. We definitely made the most of those breakfasts!

The first day with the WUCC Parade was coooold. The weather in Northern Italy had been very British (read: rubbish) in the run up to the tournament. But yet again, not much could dampen our excitement. We’d been waiting for this for so long! One or two (or seven) rain showers couldn’t hurt us.

Sadly this wait continued, as the first day’s matches were cancelled due to waterlogged pitches. I was pretty gutted about that, and even more so when I rolled my weak ankle in a warm-up game we had arranged in a nearby park. AAAARRRGH!!! Terrified I would be out for the whole week, that night I felt utterly devastated.

But on the Monday, things started to finally look up again. A gloriously sunny day and the spectacular mountain views from the pitches distracted somewhat from the squelch underfoot. A fantastic McDavid’s ankle support and my first ever successful full extension layout in the first warm-up had me personally feeling renewed in confidence. I could play! This was it! Nice Bristols were absolutely raring to go, and played spectacularly in our first game against ze Germans, though the win escaped us.

There was a lot of waiting at Worlds this year. Frequent Schedule changes frustrated some members of the team, and tournament glitches occurred. I think Nice Bristols were fairly lucky with our experiences; I know other teams were less happy with their lot, and I can see where they came from hearing some of their stories unfold throughout the week. I would have liked more games, but I also had nothing to compare it to as it was my first Worlds, so didn’t feel as let down as some other players did.

The sun shined for the rest of the week, and it got hot; more like the Italy we were expecting! But it was tough. I looked at the entire Japanese team in their black head-to-toe under armour and wondered how they could manage it! Loads of water, Elite, and staying in the shade whenever you could were really important. As were the lemon slushies…

The Frisbee was great. Fantastic to get the opportunity to play against Canada, Japan and Australia. Nice Bristols gelled as the week went on, and in our “circle-of-ego-boosting” as Coops called it, we shared the moments on pitch that had really stood out for us each day. Warm fuzzy feelings all round! It wasn’t all perfect though. I felt frustrated in some games: as a cutter in the LMS game against an irritatingly effective zone, I felt useless! I also think we sometimes played it too safe in one or two games, and could have put more points on the score-board if we had played some of our “50% throws” rather than “100%” all the time. I may also be wrong, and I’m sure others in my team will have differing thoughts!

The “Mental Game” was an important one in a week-long tournament; keeping positive when we had waited all day and were then thrashed by the Canadians; trying to forget about personal errors in one game when we needed to get psyched up for the next; listening and staying focussed on the line-calls when worried you didn’t time your pre-game wee quite right and you need to go again now, the sweat is tickling as it dribbles down your face, and each time you put your foot down on the muddy pitches it almost gets stuck. Which way was the force again?!

My personal favourite game was on the last day against Yaka. Despite going down at half time, the belief that every team-member showed was unreal. We knew we were going to win. The side-line was phenomenal. I don’t think I have ever run so hard, but I felt like I could keep going all day, despite the soft-mud underfoot sapping energy from your every stride! When we scored the winning point I felt absolutely ecstatic. TWENTY SECOND PLACE!!!! COME ON!!! You’d have thought we had won the final.

Other than the queues for topping up your card…. and then your drinks receipt… and then your actual drink… the party at the end was incredible.

Halfway through the night it started pouring with rain, and most people rushed from the uncovered part where people were dancing, to get under the shelter provided by the tents. With the same attitude that had us all (even Maria) dancing like idiots, despite losing all our games, whilst waiting for the shuttle bus back on the Thursday, my team danced on in the rain. Captain Jen explained to everyone and anyone under cover who would listen to her, that this (dancing in the rain) was the “fun area”, and that they should step out of the “non-fun area” to join us…..

Our Nice Bristols #roadtoworlds may not have culminated in becoming “World Champions”, like so many of my friends asked when I got home, but we sure as anything made the most of the experience. We were incredibly lucky to have such great support, and I think our final fundraising total reached over £6000! This meant we could take a full squad of players, some of whom would have struggled to make it fresh out of (and some still at-) University.

I am so proud of Nice Bristols and all our supporters for working so hard to give all our players that opportunity.

Phenomenal effort.