Sunday, 7 July 2013

Interview #23 - Siobhán Abrook

So much determination doh...
Hey Siobhán, all well?
Hi Hogi! Yes not too bad, I’m back in Ireland for a few days for work.
Congrats on making the squad, your first time to represent the green. How did it feel when you got the call?
I was actually half asleep (after a day of moving country/house and travelling) when I found out but I was really ecstatic. I almost couldn’t believe it! I've also never been further West than Connemara and the Aran Islands so getting to go to Canada is huge for me as well.
Since the beginning you've been smashing it with the team's impressive D line. How has the team performed at their warm up tournaments in your opinion? Have they surpassed your expectations?
I think the thing with Irish players is that it is still quite a small community so we play against each other quite often but rarely get to play with the people you admire. What I really love about this team is I get to play with the people I have admired for their skill, knowledge and ability (but hate marking!). By playing the warm up tournaments you realise even more what people want to throw and how they think.
From the beginning to the end of Tour the team progressed so much. Being D line we did play a bit more than the O line but even watching from the sideline you could see the points that O line got to play they were really starting to work together. Then we moved onto Windmill. We had 2 training sessions after tour but there was a big gap between them because of exam time. The weekend before Windmill was one of the training weekends and we seemed a little rusty in playing with each other, trying to remember peoples speed and how they reacted in certain situations. We were going into windmill seeded quite low but the knowledge we had of the "Swiss draw" system meant we knew we had to fight for every single point because they made such a difference. We played our hearts out and I think we were rewarded by getting into the semi-finals. It was one place I hoped we would get to but at the time still didn’t quite believe it. We then came up against a few extremely experienced teams and we didn’t quite manage to get medals. I think we learnt more from this because we began to realise what teams might do and how we should change our game to react to different Ds and how to shut down different offensive plays. At the end of the day, we weren’t going to either tournaments to win but we were going there to challenge ourselves against some great teams and learn more about ourselves, which I think we did.
How did you get started playing Ultimate?
I started playing in my third year of college. I actually wanted to join in my first year, and a couple of friends signed up, but had no money left to join the club. Then in second year I actually managed to sign up but I was highly involved as Treasurer in Drama soc and the drama workshops were the same day and time as training. Finally in third year I signed up with the intention of definitely playing the sport because I missed the competitive edge.
Had you played any sports before Ultimate? How was the transition to this new one?
I played a lot of sports when I was younger but the main sports I was focused on were Gymnastics, Volleyball and Hockey. Gymnastics I was involved in from the age of 4 or 5 but I got heavily involved from age 9-11, usually training at least two hours on Monday, Tuesdays and Thursday plus training on Saturdays which sometimes lasted from 9-4. If you look at me know you wouldn’t expect it, mainly because I hit a growth spurt and got just that little bit too tall.
Then in secondary school I joined the volleyball and hockey teams and also played hockey with my local club. Volleyball I really enjoyed but I only played in school. While I was on the junior team the senior girls made it to the finals most years and won a lot as well.
While in hockey, unsurprisingly, even then I was all about the defence. I played as centre back, right back and sometimes goalie in hockey. I did have one incident when I was taking a free out from the top of the D, an opposition player managed to get the ball and when I went in for a tackle I angled my hockey stick the wrong way by mistake and the ball traveled up her stick and hit her in the face. A lot of blood and almost broke her nose, but she was OK in the end! I really enjoyed hockey and will probably go back to it in later years. Unfortunately I got very badly injured when I was 16, tearing ligaments all around my ankle and in my knee at the same time so it took a long time to recovery and then had a knock on effect with my hips. I tried to go back to volleyball for a while but my knee just wasn’t strong enough to get down on my knees to dig the ball up and then leaving cert caught up with me as well so I really cut back on playing hockey as well.
It took Ultimate to really get back into sport and I loved it from the very the beginning.  It is nothing like gymnastics which is very much a solo sport. While hockey is a team sport it isn’t really like Ultimate at all.  However, the defensive element of hockey and my instincts have never left me which has been really great. I suppose there is a small similarity with Volleyball because you are always trying to keep the ball/disc up in the air at all times. I just wish I hadn’t lost the instinct to dive to do this. I’m gradually getting back on track though!
What teams/colleges have you played with since? Are there any stand out memories from the last few seasons?
I started playing with DIT who didn’t have enough players for a full women's or mixed team so I played a lot of open as a beginner. DIT is also known to play a lot of zone D which took a while to understand but I really got into it.
I think in DIT there are two stand out memories, one from each year of playing. In my first year at the end of day one of Open Intervarsity’s we were playing UCC2 in a very tight match to get into the top 8. We were 2 or 3 points down when time was called, UCC2 only needed one point to win (I think). Then a thunder storm started so we had to stop play and finish the match the next morning before the quarterfinals. We managed to win the match, even though the first point we played was into the wind on defence. The second stand out memory was in second year as vice women’s captain and at women's indoor Intervarsity’s DIT got their first women's team out in history for any tournament. We were seeded quite low but managed to work our way up to 6th out of 13 teams.
I joined Jabba the Huck early enough in my first year so my first non-university tournament was a very high level Tour 3 in Cardiff. One stand out moment was getting a huge D on an experienced player and then going on to score the point a few passes later. Jabba haven’t been able to get rid of me since! :P
Earlier this summer you did some off the cuff PR work for the team, getting on the radio and promoting the team and tournament a little bit. How did that come about?
Well…. At one of our training weekends I was breaking in my sexy new American football boots (that cost an arm and a leg). It was a lovely sunny day so I was covered in sun cream from head to ankles. Unfortunately the boots gave me really bad blisters on the backs of my heels, tried to play through it but when they started bleeding as well I had to stop so I took off my boots. Rookie mistake, I didn’t put any sun cream on my feet so they ended up quite burnt.
The Monday morning I was listening to the radio while getting ready for work. There was a piece about getting burnt over the weekend and what were you doing when it happened. I text in about my burnt feet and blisters and mentioned that I was at Ireland training weekend. I got a call a while later to speak on the show about it, which I did. The presenter Hector asked about the team and I proceeded to explain that he had gotten some people on the show to talk about the World Juniors held in Dublin the previous year and then explained about the Mixed team, where the tournament would be and the basics of ultimate as a game.
You're now working in England (or has that finished?). Where are you situated? Have you got involved with the Ultimate community over there?
 It's been a very stressful year for me. This time last year I had just finished my finals and I was going through sets to qualify for a graduate program with a post-grad program joined onto it. I eventually got onto the program and got a job with Grosvenor Services as Marketing Coordinator. As part of the graduate program I had to move abroad for approximately one year. Try-outs for the Mixed team were second last weekend in October and I moved to Birmingham the next weekend. While in Birmingham I trained with Leamington Lemmings once a week indoors. I was based there until January when I moved back to Ireland. I was supposed to move back to the UK, to London, in August. However, at the beginning of June I was told I had to move before the end of the month to make sure I was as close to the one year abroad as possible. So since the 22nd of June I officially live in London but I am over and back to Dublin office for meetings. I have played one summer league match with Thundering Herd and one training session with Crown Jewels.
To be perfectly honest, I think I will have to wait and see if there is a major difference between the two communities. I haven't played enough in the UK to give major differences. I think one thing about Ultimate is that no matter what country you are in at the time, ultimate players are usually quite friendly and 'bond' to a certain extent over a sport that so many people do not fully understand. 
Focusing now on Worlds, what are your goals, personal and team goals, for Toronto?
A personal goal for me is to remain confident and to be really tight on defence. For the team I think it would be to play to the very best of our ability. Obviously I would love if we won! But I think making it to the semi-finals would be a huge achievement for the team.
Who do you want to play most, and why?
I really want to play Australia! Jabba the Huckers played a warm up match against the Aussie girls last year before World Juniors in Dublin and it was a really enjoyable match. I also have some cousins in Australia so would really love the bragging rights :P Other than that I want to play Colombia. Seeing the juniors last year in both the women's and open final was fantastic. Also, they were so up beat and sooo much chanting! I think if you ask any Irish player who they want to play GB will usually be on the list. Watching the Ireland Mixed Beach team at ECBU was really inspirational. On a personal level, again, I want the bragging rights because my Dad is English :P
Tell us a joke.
Not good at telling jokes but Google found me this 'so bad, it's good' joke :)
Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, 
which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. 

He also ate very little, which made him rather frail 

and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. 

This made him...

A super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.
Thanks for the chat, Siobhán. Best of luck in Canada!
Thanks Hogi, see you soon :)

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