Sentiments of a development player – Hannah Hoskins, October 2015
Back to work on a cold October morning, people ask how I spent my weekend.
I reply with “I went to Poland to play Ultimate Frisbee in the European club finals”…
This sparks a long conversion about Ultimate, but also a personal hit with an incredible feeling of how lucky I have been to be part of Nice Bristols this year.
My Story with Nice Bristols started in September 2014. I had only been playing Ultimate for 1 year at Cardiff University and I was feeling anxious about stepping up to be the university women’s captain for the following year. I was feeling relatively inexperienced and desperately wanting to improve, so I braved a Nice Bristols development session with a couple of my university teammates.
How was it? Well let’s just say, I to went to all of the development sessions thereafter, and then to all of the trainings I could!
The sessions were brilliantly organised, provided steep learning curves and mostly importantly, they removed the fear of joining a new club and welcomed us development players in spectacularly. The team was so talented and motivating that the whole time I was thinking, “Wow, I want to be able to be able to play like that!” If I’m honest, I still do.
Spring came and it was time for Tour 1 in Nottingham. My First Tour!
Nice Bristols continued to focus on development by splitting the experienced and new players between the two teams. This made me feel supported, boosted my confidence, and meant with every point I received invaluable feedback to better my next. My brain felt overloaded with so much new information but the support from the experienced players made it manageable and most importantly, enjoyable! Again, the teams were split for Tour 2 in London.
Tour 3, Cardiff. Two teams again, but this time split into a first and a second team in preparation for nationals. The team lists came out and I had to double check I hadn’t read it wrong; I was on the first team, along with 3 other development players. They seemed just as nervous as I did, but I couldn’t help but feel I was the least experienced there and a little anxious of what was to come. However, as always, a motivational speech by our captain Jen Hart, and some pump up tunes by DJ Arnold had us feeling confident. We gave it our all, and I felt a dramatic improvement in all of us by the end of the weekend.
We were not development players anymore; we were part of the team.
At Tour 3 the second team also went out and showed everyone just how much the army of Nice Bristols had grown. The new split into a second team provided great opportunities for the development players to highlight how much they had improved over the season. Persephone came into her shoes as captain of the second team. She championed this difficult task and the team went out fighting for all of their games. Tania said it had been “like learning to ride a bike. We managed it once we’d been taught the basics, then we were pushed and left to do it by ourselves!”
Nationals! I was devastated that I was away and not able to play this weekend. I caught the final Nice Bristols vs Iceni game on my laptop. I was screaming at the screen, so proud of everyone there! Saskia (another development player) said she was overwhelmed by the intensity of the games and how experienced some of our players are, but loved that “They always had something positive and constructive to say, and it made me feel that they cared about my development as well as wanting the team to succeed.” Nice Bristols came second in the UK and qualified for EUCF! That meant Poland?!
I let it sink in. Okay this is happening.
The excitement took over. This was going to be my first European tournament, so time to ramp up the intensity! Away from Bristol, I was nervous training on my own and trying to squeeze in runs/sprints around work without knowing if I was doing enough. Even so, I knew all the support from previous tours was going with me and I couldn’t wait!
EUCF, Wroclaw, Poland 2015. I’d never even seen Ultimate like that, let alone played it. It felt like the perfect place to be to put together all of the skills we’d picked up over the season and try to show the team how much we appreciate all of the coaching!
The first morning was so cold as we cycled to the pitches (Yes we were crazy enough to pick cycling as our means of commute). The cold weather and the looming threat of Atletico from Finland made the first game feel pretty daunting. But as the icing morning thawed into brilliant sunshine, my fears thawed with it. We ran hard through every game and it felt fantastic to be able to play Ultimate at that level, in the glorious sunshine, and in a country most of us hadn’t visited before.
Every evening we compared our individual highlights of the day, filling us with pride about being part of such a fantastic team. There was so much laughter and even a few tears after some heart felt team chats.
We finished the tournament coming 9th in Europe and winning Spirit! I had spent the whole season feeling like I was part of the most spirited team I had ever met, and this just confirmed that people from all over Europe felt the same. The girls at Nice Bristols have a unique ability to build your confidence and coach, whilst filling you with those warm fuzzy feelings you get around true friends.
When I think back on this season, I can only say that it felt incredible! In just a year, the level of ultimate I have played rapidly escalated from university tournaments to club ultimate at a European level. This wouldn’t have been possible without the commitment from the Nice Bristols team to training new players and I am so grateful to them all. I can only hope that us development players will continue to grow with the team, and hopefully make the Nice Bristols army even stronger in the future!
Group hugs x