"Think outside the box. Think about what you want to achieve and then create the exercise or constraints led game that will get this."
What's your background in Ultimate?
My sister first told me about Ultimate back in 2002, she said that when I went to Uni I should join the club. I went, I met awesome people and never looked back. My first time playing for Great Britain was in 2007/2008. I also played and captained GB Women in 2010-2012. I played GB Women’s Masters at Euros in 2015 and then for Canada Women’s Masters for worlds in 2016 where we won the sliver medal. I’ve been lucky enough to play for and in so many different tournaments and leagues and with different teams. I think this variety has been one of the biggest contributors to what is driving me now to bring to the teams I coach.
What's your Ultimate coaching experience?
I have been very privileged to have coached Great Britain U20s, U24s, and I've coached/captained GB Women. I’ve also done guest coaching with different teams in the UK and in Canada. I’ve worked with the Manchester Women’s and Men’s team. In January 2019 I was accepted as the Head Coach of the Korean Ultimate team and that's where I am now!
Why do you coach Ultimate?
Honestly, I think a big part in the beginning came from my own frustration as a player and the way I wanted to train. I kept thinking, there has to more than this. There has to be a way to let players feel unique and free; I wanted to design trainings that would challenge players to have deeper learning, give them a sense of ownership as to what we were creating, and make them feel excited that they could come up with their own special solutions.
How did you start coaching?
In 2010, the GB U20 open team needed a coach; at that time I was doing the fitness programme for the U20’s teams. Two good friends of mine, who were involved in coaching at the time, suggested that I take on the role and said they would support me. That year I coached my team to a bronze medal at World U20 Championships and found my love for coaching. I’ve never looked back!
What do you enjoy most about coaching Ultimate?
I love the interaction and connection to my players. I always call them my athletes, my players, my team. I think because I invest so much in their individual and team journey that they are connected to me; it is a relationship and with that there are all the weird and wonderful ways that different personalities make the game of Ultimate come alive. I’ve experienced the game in more ways than anyone has any right to, I’ve seen and done things that I personally could never have achieved; there are times when my heart feels so full like it’s just not big enough to hold it all, and then it grows! And when it grows it allows me to share more, to give more back to those who I have the privilege of working with, and be more as someone who can inspire those around her.
What’s been your coaching highlight to date?
Honestly, all of it. No moment is more or less special than another. Each one is as important to me as the rest, and has made me the coach I am today. I would never want to lose any of them. I need all of them to create my world and be there for me to remind me or guide me.
What are your top three tips for a new coach / getting started?
- Have someone to share it with. It’s too much for one person. Either a mentor or a friend who can geek out with you. When you share is when you can think bigger than just what your own mind is capable of conceiving.
- Look at other sports and how they train. They have been around for longer and there is a wealth of knowledge out there that can support your choices as a coach. It doesn’t just have to be team sports!
- Think outside the box. Think about what you want to achieve and then create the exercise or constraints led game that will get this. Start from the top down: this will give you clarity for your choices and guide you when things are getting confusing.
Any other tips?
Yes. You don’t have to have all the answers. Or better yet, you don’t need to have any of the answers; that is for the team to come up with. Why? Because it is the answer that is right for that team, based on their players, based on their abilities, their game IQ, their situation. It’s the hardest thing to do as there are times when it’s easier to just tell them, but my challenge to you is, are you 100% sure? Is that really the “right” answer?
What’s coming up next for you?
For me right now we are building towards AOUGC 2019 where we will be competing in the mixed division as the Korean National Team. After that I genuinely don’t know. This has been my hardest journey so far as a coach, and I don’t know how long it will take me to recover from it! I love the idea of staying in South Korea to take the team and build for Worlds in 2020, to help get a women’s team together to compete in other tournaments, to help develop an U24 and U20 programme, as well as helping local club teams and universities ... all the while supporting coach development and leadership development.
My heart and mind soar so high with all the things I know I could do and would love to do. Then I become exhausted and afraid of the seemingly insurmountable tasks I’ve set before myself and all I want to do is hide under my duvet. Right now all I can do is peak out just enough to set my sights on AOUGC 2019 and desperately keep the blinkers on to help me make it through.
I know all those things are out there waiting for me, but we will have to wait on all that for now.