The Winner of the Phillis Award 2014 is:
Martha Elena (Meg) Goldbuch of Leipzig
Meg started playing ultimate in 2011. Now she plays for her local junior club team “Pizza Volante” from Leipzig, as well as the women’s team “Saxy Divas” and the mixed team “Saxy Divers”, also from Leipzig.
Last year Meg won the European championships with the German U17 girls‘ team. This year she will play again for the U17 team at the European championships in Lecco. Meg is one of the key players on the U17 team due to her strong athleticism and advanced tactical understanding. On and off field, she is always open-minded and fair. Therefore, Meg is spirit-captain of the German U17 girls‘ team.
In her application for the Phillis Award, Meg illustrated her enthusiasm for ultimate as well as her ambitious goals very convincingly and authentically.
Below you can find a report from Meg about her trip:
My Trip with the Phillis Award – by Meg Goldbuch (translation by Glenn Poole)
July 2nd – July 12th, 2014
My flight to Boston left at 12:50pm on July 2nd from Berlin Tegel Airport. I had flown once before, but never alone, so it was my first time flying alone and I had to transfer in Paris. The flight went smoothly, I made my connection and arrived in Boston at 6:20pm local time. My guest family picked me up and drove me back to Sommerville, a small city about 15 minutes away from Boston.
My guest family, the Mathews, included Morgane, the mother, her husband Rob, their three daughters – Gabi, 17, Katia, 15, and Dominique, 13 – and their dog, Jersey. Katia started playing Ultimate at the high school this year. The family heard about the Phillis Award from her coach and offered to let me stay with them for a few days before and after the National Ultimate Training Camp (NUTC).
I spent the next two days with the Mathews before camp began on Saturday. They were very kind to me; we did a bit of exploring and undertook some small excursions. Among other things we went to the 4th of July Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, celebrating Independence Day. Gabi performed there with the Boston Children’s Chorus.
On Saturday, July 5th my guest mother Morgane drove me to another family that was to take me to Amherst. That family had a son, Ethan, who was going to NUTC for his third year already. He and his father were also very nice, and they were interested to hear why I was there and how I had liked the United States so far.
The drive took about two hours. When we finally arrived at Amherst College, we were greeted very kindly by the counselors (who were supervisors as well as coaches). They asked where we came from and whether it was our first time at NUTC. When I told them that I was from Germany, they all realized right away and welcomed me again warmly, saying that they were glad I had arrived safely. Afterwards I got the key for my room and, just like all the other campers, a drawstring bag with a disc and a white t-shirt.
Everybody at camp was extremely nice to me. One counselor helped me bring my stuff to my room. He had hardly left when another counselor came in and asked if I would like to go outside with her. Then I threw around with a few people and, a bit later, we all made the three-minute walk to the fields to play some pickup together and meet other players. During the game I also met my roommate for the first time. She is sixteen years old and comes from St. Paul, Minnesota.
That evening we ate for the first time in the college cafeteria. Every meal throughout the week included a very large selection. The food was really good and tasty, and you could have as much ice cream as you wanted – for free!
After dinner the counselors introduced themselves and Tiina Booth, the founder and organizer of NUTC, explained the camp rules to us all. One important camp rule, for example, is that there is zero tolerance for offensive behavior, including sexism, religious intolerance, and abusive or disrespectful language. I think that contributed to the wonderful atmosphere in camp, so I’m really thankful for that!
There was also a big focus on having each person make sure they did not get dehydrated. They explained the warning signs and symptoms, the consequences and the remedies. In particular: drink tons of water! Throughout the week you couldn’t participated in any camp activity without a full water bottle.
Later that first night there was a so-called Floor Meeting, where all the residents on a particular floor – in our case, six girls and three female counselors – meet together and talk about their days. Lights-out was at 10pm. Most of us were so wiped out from the day that we fell asleep pretty quickly.
That meant I had a lot of time at night to talk with my roommate, Eleanor. We would talk about the daily training and, especially that first night, about the coming team selection.
Each day of training proceeded pretty much as follows: breakfast at 7am, then the first training session from 8-11:30am, in which each day a particular rule would be presented and explained more closely (e.g. Marking Infractions on Sunday, Pick Calls on Monday, etc.). By then we would have all warmed up together and gone through various drills. At the end of the first session we would do another small (or not so small) fitness drill, for instance line-sprints or hill runs, where you’d have to sprint up the hill next to the fields and then to a bunch of strength exercises. Afterwards we’d all be pretty exhausted, and we’d have a well-deserved lunch break.
At 1:15pm the second training session would begin, and it would last until around 3:30pm. First a strategy would be explained (e.g. Handler Resets on Sunday, Horizontal Stack on Monday, etc.) along with when and how it should be used. Then we would do a drill related to the strategy at hand, and then we would usually play against each other in teams. After the second training session, anybody who wanted to could go swimming in the nearby pool. Then we’d have dinner and the respective day’s evening program.
On Sunday evening we were finally divided into the aforementioned teams, with which we’d train and play for the rest of the week. I think everybody had been waiting for that all day. After the first two days you got to know a few people who you’d like to maybe be on a team with, but just a few, so it was possible that you might not know anybody on the team you were placed with.
There were seven teams all together. Each team had from then on one to two counselors who took care of “their” team. Then there were various competitions, such as Mental Battleship (sink your opponent’s ships, but without a board) or Clothespin Competition (whoever could attach the most clothespins on their face within 30 seconds would win—the camper who won for his team clipped 23 to his face!), and the winners got first choice of jersey color for their team. My team got the very desirable blue shirts.
From then on I spent most of my time with my team. Our team counselors were Wesley Chow and Eli Motycka. Wesley studies at the University of Colorado and plays with Mamabird. Eli studies at Brown University and played with the United States U19 Open Team in 2012 and 2014. I met him again later at Junior Worlds in Lecco, Italy.
Eli also, at Tiina’s request, did an interview with me which was released on Ultiworld. We talked about my experiences in camp and the difference between juniors Ultimate in Germany versus the United States (http://ultiworld.com/2014/07/22/nutc-chat-2014/).
Wesley and Eli coached us and, in the short time we had together as a team, helped us grow. We all had an unbelievable amount of fun together, both on the field and off, whether when eating or just spending time together.
On the other evenings there were various social activities: a Campers vs Counselors game, a Trading Night, the so-called Disc Olympics, where each team could compete in other disc disciplines like disc gold or spinning the disc on your finger. On the last night we also had a talent show, which was a special highlight for me, because it was really cool to see how all the campers could already laugh and have a great time together, feeling very close despite only knowing each other for four days.
At the end of camp the seven teams played another small tournament. The semis and finals were played on Thursday, with the sad certainty that it was to be the last day with all the wonderful people I had gotten to know during the week, but also with the cheerfulness of so many great people around me. My own team had already been knocked out in the quarterfinals so we slept in, went to our last breakfast together, and then went to the playing fields to watch the other teams. Along the way we honed our throwing skills with Wesley and Eli. After the finals were over, everybody met together for the farewell ceremony.
At the ceremony various awards were given out to teams and individual players. For example, the team that won the Disc Olympics was given an award. Another was given to the campers who had most supported the counselors. Another was given to the player who worked hardest to improve during the drills and training sessions throughout the week. There were also awards from the team counselors for the player from their own team who had worked the hardest, improved the most, or shown the best Spirit during the week.
I had won the Distance Contest for the Women’s Division, a competition which took place the day before to find the person who could throw the farthest in each age division. I was also given one of the two awards for Hardest Worker of the week.
In addition, there was special recognition given to the campers who had been to NUTC for at least three years and would be too old to return the next year. They were met with great applause by the rest of the campers and a thank-you from Tiina and the counselors.
At the end Tiina called Eli, Sebbi Di Francesco (another camper), and me to the stage, because all three of us were about to fly to Lecco, Italy to compete at Junior Worlds. Eli and Sebbi were teammates on the U19 USA Open Team, and I was a player for the German U17 Women’s Team. We were also recognized with loud applause.
I’d like to quickly add here that, compared to Germany, there is a big difference in the significance of playing on a Junior National Team in the United States. There aren’t nearly as many juniors players in Germany as in America. That means that in the United States, the national team and the national team players are looked up to much more than they are for us. It’s really special for a player to be accepted on the national team roster. The selection criteria in the United States are very strict and the competition is very high. For example, thousands of athletes apply for the U19 Open Team and only around 80-90 are even invited to try out. From those 80-90 at tryouts, only 20-25 actually make the team. The scale is simply huge compared to the 50 or so applicants for the German Juniors Open Team in 2014.
At NUTC, however, this performance gap is a bit less obvious. The camp was conceived for middle schoolers and high schoolers (14-18 years old) and the training topics are designs so that beginners as well as more advanced players can manage well. It’s simply a super cool vacation camp, where young Ultimate players can come together to learn and improve, but also have a wonderful week together making new friends.
After the farewell ceremony each camper received a certificate and an evaluation from their respective team counselor. Mine was from Wesley and it really helped me. I now know pretty closely what I have to work on for the next season and moving forward.
Then came the farewell from all the wonderful people. Many simply said goodbye by telling each other “See you next year at NUTC!” In my case it was more “Thank you very much for the opportunity to get to know you all!” and I’m really infinitely happy about it!
My guest family picked me up afterwards in Amherst and we drove back to Somerville together. The next day we went to look at new cleats for me, since cleats and other sporting goods are much cheaper in the United States. We also drove out to the sea. On Saturday my flight left for Germany, again with a layover in Paris.
All in all it was only ten days, but in ten days I learned a whole lot: from Ultimate techniques and tactics to the various aspects of Ultimate culture. My English skills also got a lot better. I am very thankful for both!
I would like to encourage every juniors player in Germany who loves to play Ultimate with others, who wants to make international contacts and friendships, and who simply wants to have an unforgettable summer experience, to apply for the Phillis Award! Because it seems to me, the way I feel now, that all of that doesn’t seem thousands of kilometers away anymore, but instead very close and routine, just because you’ve met the kind of friends that you can’t forget so quickly!
I still keep in contact with most of the people I was with at NUTC. It was amazing to see some of them again already this summer in Italy, like Eli at Junior Worlds or Sam Greenwood (also a counselor) at the WUCC just a few days later. I hope that I’ll be able to see a few more people from my NUTC session playing for the USA U19 team at the next Junior Worlds. It would be unbelievable to meet them again after all that time and be able to relive that week with them.
Since going to NUTC I also have a concrete desire to go back to the United States to live and play in the Ultimate scene for a longer amount of time. Maybe it would be possible to do that later through a study abroad program or similar…
To this day, when I think back on my time at NUTC, a smile forces itself immediately onto my face. That’s the best present anyone could give me, and I want to thank everybody who made this unforgettable journey possible! I’d like to especially thank Stefan Rekitt, Sonja Timmermann, and all the others who participate in the Phillis Award and made this unbelievable experience possible for me, just as they did for Johannes Schall and will do for all the future Phillis Award winners!
A huge thank you also to Tiina Booth, without whom it would not be possible for so many young Ultimate players to experience these unforgettable weeks at NUTC! Additionally a tremendous thank you to my guest family in Somerville, who took me into their home so caringy.
Finally I’d like to thank my entire NUTC session, all the campers and all the counselors, for making me feel so comfortable – especially Wesley and Eli, who welcomed me with open arms and taught me so much!
Thank you, it was such an unforgettably wonderful time for me!