Ultimate in the US… So Far

I started to play ultimate (disc, ultimate frisbee) at Valparaiso University. While running around campus, I was asked by two ex-swim team hippies to join their game. And so I did. This might say more about my personality than I’m willing to admit, and you’re free to add your input in the comments.

The hippies and I had fun, and the legitimate rules and strategies went out the door simply because no one actually knew them (and the Google search engine was not widely popular yet). Ultimate at Valpo was just known as “4 o’clock disc” and was open to any able-bodied person. It was glorious and entertaining and social and epic email stories were woven by one Adam Ortman (thank you sir).

However, I walked away with precisely 1.5 types of throws and was full of bad disc habits.

Fortunately, that changed when I joined club ultimate in Hong Kong. For five years (minus two years of injury) I played and competed in tournaments with HKUPA, which vastly improved my ability. Those five years were also glorious and entertaining and social, but this is a post about my US ultimate experience.

Kristin and I are now back in the US, and we’re eager to continue playing ultimate. USA seems to dominate the world, so I’ve been a little intimidated by this prospect.

After 12 days in the US, we’ve played two games. The first was with the South Bend club in Indiana, and the second with a group mainly composed of engineers from Hamilton-Sunstrand (United Technologies) in Rockford, IL. Though I know they are not anywhere near the level of top club play, it’s been fun and has put me at ease regarding US Ultimate. It’s shown me that I’ve learned a few things while in Hong Kong, and I know that I can keep up with some good players.

Our next stop is Princeton, New Jersey, and I hope the club team there will be a good fit for me. I’m not as nervous, but I’m sure I’ll be challenged in lots of ways. For now, I’m thankful for all the groups that have helped me along the way – Valpo for helping me fall in love with ultimate, HK for teaching me how to play competitively yet still have fun, and South Bend/Rockford for giving me a smooth transition to the US game.

Surprised By Life’s Simplicities

SOME BACKGROUND…

In the spring of 2005 I was a clueless undergraduate.

I was about to finish degrees in Spanish and International Service at Valparaiso University. It appeared that my best prospects were to work at an NGO somewhere in Latin America. As a 22-year-old person at the time, that seemed a bit daunting and ambiguous. So what does any lost undergrad do at moments like this? The answer: Go back to school!

So that’s what I did, and it turned out to be a good decision. I went on to complete the LEAPS Program (also at Valpo), which was basically another form of Teach for America. This not only gave me a useful set of skills, but it helped me discover that one of my gifts was teaching. After two years of teaching in Cleveland, my wife and I moved to Hong Kong, and I taught at the International Christian School (ICS) for four years.

Unfortunately, I let my teaching license expire two years into my time at ICS. Since ICS never asked any questions about it, I simply ignored the problem! (Yes, I realize how ridiculous this is now that I’m typing it) I continued to ignore this fact for two years and seven months.

NOW, THE POINT OF THIS POST…

Recently, Kristin suggested I begin the process of renewing my teaching license. My first response was less than mature. I knew how difficult this process can be, and I dreaded the amount of paperwork to complete and the hoops I would have to jump through. However, I realized that I’m trying to be a better and more responsible man, so I set forth on this process, most of my grumbling set aside.

I logged on to the Indiana Department of Education’s website, and it was quite daunting. Form upon form and endless links and potential tasks laid out in typical governmental officialdom, lacking all aesthetic appeal. [grumble, grumble]

I settled upon one form that seemed like the best place to start, filled it out, and submitted it. Message: “Your form will not be read until you pay a fee of US$35.” [grumble, grumble]

PAID.

I’ve learned that when lost, it’s a good idea to ask questions. I sent an email to licensinghelp@doe.in.gov explaining my situation, asking for logical help. Someone responded in one day! Unheard of in the civil service! Maybe it’s because I mentioned that I already paid the form fee. Ha!

Wrapping up this story, after a few emails and submitting a letter of recommendation from the ICS middle school principal (a rock star btw), I not only renewed my teaching license, but I was also upgraded to a five-year license!!! It was one of the quickest, most painless processes I’ve ever experienced in education circles. Praise God for such a good surprise!

I wonder what this means for my future… [feelings of content, feelings of content]