Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Interview #16 - Sarah Cummins

Hey Sarah, how are you?
I’m not too bad Hogi. Just enjoying a rare weekend with no Frisbee. Unfortunately the tea I’m drinking has gone cold, so that’s getting my mood down a little. Other than that I’m really excited to get back to training with this team next weekend, it’s been a while due to exams and the likes! And of course Windmill is hardly more than a week away, I’m very excited about that.

First off, congrats on making the squad way back when, the season has been flying by! How have you found the process so far?
Thanks Hogi, and congratulations to yourself too!  Ever since taking up Ultimate last year, I have been trained by Ian French and Fiona Mernagh (both in UCD and in Jabba), and captained by Emer Staunton and Liam Fletcher (in UCD), so I found the transition onto the team quite easy. Being familiar with a lot of the strategies, coaching structures, and general attitude of the team made beginning my time with a national team a lot easier than it should have been, especially given my limited experience. Other than that the process has been great, I’d have expected nothing less from the team in charge (and Emer in particular) but the whole thing has been so well organised. From the get go we knew when we were training, what tournaments we were going to, what our goals for the year would be, what fitness we should be doing when (so on and so forth) and all of that has made it really easy to stay focused and stay motivated, even after the last 7 or so months of preparations. On another note, it’s been really great to get used to playing with players from other clubs and colleges, who have very different ways of playing, and trying to mould different playing styles together.

How did you get into Ultimate?
Not willingly… My friend Roisin and I had decided to get involved in one of the clubs in college coming into 2nd year (I think this was largely to compensate for the excess of nothingness I did in 1st year). She had gotten into her head that we should start Ultimate (and I have no idea why), but I wanted to join Mountaineering. We were having this argument while ‘hiding’ in the stock room in work and had come to a bit of an impasse, when one of the other girls (Lorraine) came down and we managed to rope her into our plans. Now, unfortunately Lorraine is scared of heights, which ruled out Mountaineering, so I lost the argument and Ultimate came out as the winner. As it happens, Lorraine never so much as signed up in Fresher’s week, and Roisin only lasted a couple of weeks, but I haven’t looked back since. At this stage, I’m just describing it as a happy accident.

We're happy to have such accidents have now and then... Last year you were the Ladies Captain of the club, right? How did the season pan out for you?
We had lost all of our experienced players the year before, with only 2 returning players (myself included), so we really began the year with an uphill battle in front of us. Luckily Fiona Mernagh had (thankfully) agreed to coach us again, and Emer was still hanging around, so we did have a lot of help and a lot of back-up available to us. Recruitment was always going to be our biggest battle and our most important goal, and luckily we hit the jackpot on that front. We got some really enthusiastic girls involved in the 1st semester, girls that were athletic and eager, and we managed to do the same in semester 2. We were also blessed with a few experienced girls coming to UCD. We even finished the year with some pretty good results behind us! My goal for the club for the year had always been to rebuild the team, to put us in a good stead for next year, and I think we’ve done that. I’m actually quite excited to get back and wreak havoc in the IV scene, it’s definitely going to be our year ;)
From a personal standpoint, playing with UCD this year has been hugely different from any other team I’ve played with. I’m a cutter through and through, but I had to spend the year as one of our main handlers. This was frustrating at times, but in hindsight I learned a huge amount from the year, probably more than any of the beginners did. I’m a lot more confident with the disc, and my throws have improved monumentally (they used to be seriously embarrassing).

You've been heavily involved in Dublin based Jabba the Huck since you started and recently won All-Ireland mixed nationals with them. How was it to win the championship? And what were you personal highlights from the weekend?
Winning Mixed Nats for the second year was great, there’s nothing better than working really hard towards a certain goal and then having all of that hard work pay off. I’ve had a really successful Mixed season with Jabba, so hopefully that will continue with this team!
To be honest, I find it incredibly difficult to remember anything that’s happened after I’ve finished playing… I watched Pitch Perfect on the Friday night, that’s an excellent movie and definitely a personal highlight from the weekend. And I didn’t get sunburnt, which is both a success and a rarity :D  On a more serious note, when I played Mixed Nats last year, I was still in my first year of playing and hadn’t been training with Jabba for too long, so when I was put on the 1st team I was genuinely terrified of being the dead weight on the team. So my personal highlight from this year was seeing how far I’d come in the last year. I had so much more confidence in myself this year, and felt like I could make a real contribution to the team.

Well, from what I heard you did just that! The week before you went to Mixed Tour 3 in Cheltenham and came back undefeated, an ideal weekend ahead of nationals in Maynooth! How did this weekend compare to attending Tour 1 with the Irish team (other than the obvious win to take 13th)? Did you take home different personal lessons to be banked from those you might have learned in Cardiff?
MT1 was not only the first time I’d played a tournament with a national team, but also the first time I’d been to Tour, or any foreign tournament for that matter, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I found that the lessons I learned from MT1 were much more mental than anything I took from MT3 with Jabba. We had a huge squad so I really had to learn how to stay focused when not being on the pitch for prolonged periods of time, to stay involved from the sideline, and to always be ready to go on and play clinical offence after having being off for several points in a row. This was especially hard to get used to, as I had been accustomed to not taking any points off, ever, when playing with UCD.
At MT3 I was playing with a team I’m quite used to, and I was playing D-line instead of O-line, so it was a very different experience. I got to concentrate a lot more on just playing. 

What are the goals for Jabba for the rest this year? Is the club travelling abroad again?
Now that the Mixed Season is over the club will be concentrating on Open and Women’s. Unfortunately I’ll be missing quite a bit of the Women’s season, as I’m not coming home right after Toronto. The Huckers are going to a tournament in Germany, but I’ll have to miss out on that. I’ll get to play Munster Munch though, and I still have every intention of coming home right on time to smash it up at Women’s All Irelands in September.

What are you most looking forward to over the rest of the international season?
I just like playing Frisbee… so that’s really what I’m looking forward to! I can’t wait to play against some really high quality teams that are gonna push me and the rest of this team to be better than we thought we could be. I’m just looking forward to putting on a green jersey and playing like I deserve to wear it. I also can’t wait to layout D some Columbians :D

Pity you're not on the D line so, or you'd have a ton of time for that! Outside of Ultimate, you played gaelic football and/or camogie, do you still play? Or has Ultimate taken over?
I played both, since I was knee high to a pigs eye, alongside a handful of other sports as well. I had stopped playing both by the time I got to the Leaving Cert, and by the time I started college all I was doing was some Athletics. When I started Ultimate I was ready to commit to a sport again and start training regularly (at anything at all), but didn’t really feel like going back to Camogie or Football. At this stage I think it’s fair to say that Ultimate has taken over! It’s the only sport I’m playing at the moment, so it gets all of my attention!

When you first started playing ultimate was the transition from one sport to the next difficult? As in did you need to learn a completely new skill set or are they similar enough?
Having played sports before there are certain skills that will always translate, no matter what sport your background is in. Having good hand-eye-coordination and having a basis of athleticism and fitness will always be super helpful. I know that I relied on those sorts of skills a lot in my first year, when I really didn’t have a notion what was going on.
Other than that however, I found that Ultimate is a really unique sport, and there are a lot of aspects to it that were completely alien to me. I’ve played a lot of different sports before and the transition to Ultimate was definitely the most difficult.  Most of what I remember about my first year of playing is just being really confused, all of the time. So there was only so much GAA helped me once I started Ultimate, and I know if I go back to Camogie now I’ll spend a good while making a complete fool of myself making Up calls and stall counting.

Back to ultimate, Windmill is 2 weeks from today! What can you expect from this legendary tournament, both on and off the pitch? What are you most excited about?
I’ve never been to Windmill before, and honestly I haven’t a notion what I should expect! Although feel free to fill me in… I’m just looking forward to playing with this team again. I think it’s really important to have these warm up tournaments just to have an incentive to keep working hard and stay focused. I find it’s a lot easier to get myself pumped up for Windmill in less than two weeks, than to keep trying to motivate myself for a tournament that’s months away. I’m looking forward to playing teams that are a lot more evenly matched to us than the teams we played at MT1. I’m hoping the O-line will get to play a whole lot more than we did in Cardiff. Like I’ve already said, I just like playing Frisbee, so that’s what I’m really looking forward to!

Sorry, us D line heads are selfish so I'd suggest to bring a good jacket for standing around in. As per usual I'll ask - Who do you want to play most in Toronto?
Like most people, I’m pretty excited about playing GB! I got to play against them at MT3 with Jabba, and I can’t wait to play them and beat them again in Toronto where it really matters!
I’m most excited about playing against Columbia. I got to watch them a lot at WJUC in Dublin last summer, and they play the sexiest brand of ultimate, so I’m pretty excited to play against that.

Tell us a joke.
I wanted to believe that my dad wasn't stealing from his job as a road worker, but when I got home all the signs were there!

Thanks for your time, best of luck over the next 2 months!
Cheers Hogi, best of luck to you too! 

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