I really don’t have any extraordinary talents. I can’t throw a 90 mph fastball, I have the vocals of a dying cat, and I can guarantee you that there were multiple revisions before this article even made it close to the paper. Needless to say, I was a little intimidated when figuring out what clubs I wanted to join here at MIT.
One of the activities that popped out at me was club Ultimate Frisbee. I saw the team’s table at the activities midway, thought it would be a great way to both stay active and have a lot of fun, and decided to add myself to the mailing list. I had played it a few times for fun, but had never even thought about playing it competitively and certainly wasn’t good. Even throwing the disc was a struggle, and I’m not going to lie, it sometimes still is. However, this was something I wanted to do. I decided that it couldn’t hurt to show up to the first practice, even though I had little idea what to expect.
When I got to Briggs Field on the first day, you could immediately tell who the veterans were — the ones already on the field flinging discs with a precision that I can only dream of. I realized that I had a very long way to go if I were to ever do the kinds of things that they were doing. Once everyone was all set up, the coach gathered us around so that he and the captains could give their first speech of the year. They talked about how competitive they managed to be last year, and how they hoped to accomplish even more this season. This only made me more excited at the opportunity of joining but nervous that a lack of prior experience could make things unreasonable.
Once our coach directed the other freshmen and me — those new to the team — my doubts started to fade away.
“Some of you may have played competitive ultimate before and some of you haven’t. That’s fine. Our goal is to put in work and by the end of the year make you kick-ass ultimate players,” he announced.
I’m not the only one who has to go through a learning curve, I realized. Sure, the veterans were very good but that doesn’t change the fact that the team is a community of players interested in something they all want to do for fun and get better at.
We spent the day doing various drills that, while new to me, were manageable. They didn’t expect us to be launching discs like the captains and certainly didn’t anticipate us being able to run a fully functioning ultimate offense. They were patient, allowing us to go out and really have a good time.
I may have been (and still am) one of the less talented players on the team, but that’s pretty insignificant. As long as I’m willing to work hard, they’re willing to help me get better — a trait that the entire MIT community embraces. This has allowed the sport to grow into something we can all have fun doing.
There are so many people on this campus who can do so many amazing things, but there are also many people interested in trying something new. Don’t let your background prevent you from exploring. You probably won’t start off impressing anybody, but if you really want to learn, the people here are willing to help. So if there’s a club, program, or organization you’ve been eyeing, but you aren’t quite sure if you’re competent enough for it, put your doubts aside. Give it a try; you can always quit if you don’t like it. You may just find a group of people willing to work with you, and an activity that may stick with you for the rest of your time here.
You really don’t have to be terrific to have fun.
Zachary Collins is a member of the Class of 2019.