Sunday, January 19, 2014

RISE UP World Tour :: Launched + Friends

by Mario O'Brien



Two years ago, I was involved in an email conversation between friends with the subject “Coached Practices videos: a possibility to put out there”. That conversation was essentially the genesis of RISE UP, and led me to where I am right now, in seat 28A, over the Atlantic, on my way to a connecting flight in Amsterdam, headed to Cape Town, South Africa. I feel so fortunate, so honored to have created an opportunity to work with ultimate teams and players all over the world.

One of the many things that still floors me is how important a role friendship plays in the ultimate community. This RISE UP trip is no different, friends have been critical. Before I wanted to be the best at ultimate, before I knew what a scoober was, before Skyd and Ultiworld and pro-leagues and Nexgen Tours, before I wanted to coach and lead in the community, it was just me and some new friends at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. Car rides and sleeping bags. Free bagels and cream cheese and oranges?! Cleats and flicks and stacks. Most importantly, new friends. After my first practice, one of the reasons I came back was “that” something about the group of people, something that reminded me of summer camp, but for college kids. These people were awesome, crazy, intriguing, active, welcoming and fun. Those people became my first ultimate friends, and since then I’ve shared houses with them, gotten wild at some of their weddings, and now I’m organizing a RISE UP event in Minnesota with one of them. For all of the 2-month trip in front of me, I’ll be traveling and working with friends I’ve made over the past 10 years.



Ryan Purcell  and I met at a mixed tournament in Portland, became friends, and have since played Paganello and Windmill Windup together. He is the singular reason RISE UP has the opportunity to come to South Africa, and he’s put together a fantastic team of coordinators who’ve organized several events over the next 2 weeks.


I met Alex Snyder in a straw hut-type structure on a starry night overlooking the Medellin (Colombia) valley at the post-tournament party of the 2011 Pan American Ultimate Championships. We also got a chance to play and kick it together at Lei Out in 2012. She’ll be a huge part of RISE UP Australia and New Zealand, offering trainings to women’s teams and working with me on coaching clinics and school visits.


I met Jake Henderson at my first ever ultimate practice. The only thing more fiery than his red hair was his intensity, he was one the Eau Zone captains. After college he played elite mixed in Minneapolis for the past several years, and was the coach of this year’s USAU mixed national champions, Drag ‘n Thrust. He’s also a high school ultimate coach, and is solely responsible for making RISE UP Minnesota a reality.

Each of these projects started as a brief conversation to the tune of “hey, we should do a clinic together”, nothing more than a conversation between friends. I’ve always believed that I’m nothing more than a reflection of the people I’ve been fortunate enough to spent time with, and I’m honored to be working with these 3 folks again.

Oh and then there’s this… I’m going to places I’ve never been, and am going to be making new friends along the way. Who knows how they will affect me, RISE UP, and the ultimate community in the future.

Always Building,