DT11: A reflection
Hello and welcome back to the Dingo pack.
At the end of another year it feels appropriate to take a short journey through some of the impactful events we shared. There is time for one final Dingo Tracks.
For the Dingoes as a team, and I suppose specifically for the people who identify with that label, 2016 was a significant year.
We travelled to 3 international tournaments, spent multiple weekends together training and preparing. We subjugated large portions of our lives to the needs of preparing for a huge quadrennial championship. We held the inaugural Dingoes Dinner, which specifically sought to celebrate 28 years, and 120 individuals who form the history of this special team. Finally we won a bronze medal, and more importantly I think, at times we played at our peak.
We invite you to join us for a brief reflection on some of the experiences of this year. We are fortunate to have with us three Dingoes to answer some questions and share their memories of their year with the Dingoes.
- Matt Dowle who is the longest serving Dingo ever – 5 teams over 16 years -, our Spirit Captain, and has been a shining feature of the team since the year 2000.
- Rob Andrews who has just completed his first experience in the pack, and brings a new perspective to the team.
- Andrew Jackson who is currently living and playing overseas, after two campaigns with the Dingoes.
Please enjoy their thoughts and memories below.
Describe your year spent as a Dingo.
What a year 2016 has been. It would have to count as one of the best years of my life.
I travelled to Japan with the Dingoes where we came 2nd in the Dream Cup, losing an amazing final to the Buzz Bullets. I spent a few extra days in Japan catching up with my cousin and learning about Japanese culture, particularly enjoying the food. I then quit my job and flew over to Colombia with the Dingoes. I personally had an amazing start to the tournament, but unfortunately as a team we fell away in the last few games. This was definitely a disappointing moment for the team, but we continued to believe that good things awaited us in London.
I left the team in LA and met up with my Dad and had a fantastic week travelling to the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. These places definitely provided some great motivation for Worlds, and I did some training sessions looking up at the amazing mountainous backdrops.
One of my favourite things pre-worlds was being able to take a couple of trips to Sydney and Melbourne to train with my Dingo teammates (sorry Tim, Peley and Ryan for not making it to Newcastle and Perth). I don’t know exactly what it is, but being able to share some of that hard running training with your teammates brings you closer together.
Worlds were a great experience. As a team we achieved great success on the field, and topping that off with a bronze medal win in a stadium was undeniably a great feeling and something that I’ll remember for a long time.
I feel pride at what I have achieved, what I have accomplished and what I have survived. It’s such a great honour and privilege to put on the Dingo(e) jersey, and to have done that for a 5th time is special. I was surprised to be picked this year. I’m on the downhill stretch of my playing career, so my reflections are also bitter sweet. That’s it for me as a Dingo, I won’t get to put on that jersey again, I won’t get to compete with those guys again, and I won’t get to share the experiences again.
It was a huge sacrifice for my family and for those that I feel most dear about – but I believe I did them proud and I am most thankful, as I know I had their support right through the campaign. I will look fondly on all the memories, all the experiences and all my teammates, from 2000 to 2016 – they will be with me forever.
Beyond what I feel on a personnel level, I also feel immense pride and great satisfaction for the Dingoes and what the team as an entity has achieved. The development and growth over the years’ has been phenomenal. The one thing that stands clear is the ownership of the team I felt each individual had this year. Great sacrifices and commitments have been made in the past by everyone who has played for the Dingoes, however this year, beyond the previous years I’ve played, there was a unity – and I believe that came from the ownership, and the investment in the ownership each Dingo was willing to make.
It was a tough year, a big year, and in many ways, my most rewarding one. I went into the Dingoes campaign not knowing much about it. The hype was around for sure, but I think it is definitely fair to say that others were more excited about me being a Dingo than I was.
It was a potentially awkward situation to be in, knowing that other people had been training for a spot on this team for longer than I had known that Frisbee wasn’t played with a dog. However, I was given a great opportunity that I couldn’t turn down, and embraced everything that the Dingoes had to offer: the fris, the training, the tournament, the bant, and the friends.
Although the result that this team achieved was a great one, for me that is not what defines the Dingoes. This year my eyes were opened to the unique and powerful effects that the Dingoes can have. There has never been a team of which I am more proud to say I was a part of than the Dingoes, and for me that is something truly special.
I’ve made lifelong friends, and have had unforgettable experiences thanks to this Frisbee team, and that is something I’m truly thankful for. I have absolutely no regrets about the money, time or effort I spent as a result of this campaign and would do it again in a heartbeat.
Tell us about one specific moment that stands out to you from the 2016 team.
Hands down it would have to be the Quarter Finals day. The horrendous weather, the cancelled games, the postponed games, the denying of entry to any spectator, the team pub lunch at a historic 15th Century pub, being left in the rain at the bus stop for an hour (apparently they lost the bus), getting to the fields in time for only a 10 minute warm up whilst GB had their usual preparation time….. getting lightning postponed again, being stuffed into a change room with all the other Dingoes and being told we were not allowed to leave the building… there was still time to play the game, there was a high chance the games could be cancelled and we would be forced to play tomorrow……This, here, now is the memory…
– the atmosphere, the resilience, the bonding and just the pure and sheer joy from everyone. We were relishing the moment to share this time with our teammates. We were a world away, we were in bliss.
It didn’t matter that we could have been knocked out of the competition after the next game. It was amazing. It was magical. There was so much power and strength. We were never going to lose that game.
I think one of my favourite and proudest memories of the Dingoes was how much this team gave back to the community. In Japan this was demonstrated by how we included our host Butta as part of the team. It was a special moment when we presented him with a signed Dingoes singlet and to see how happy and emotional he was to receive that from us, an elite team that he looked up to so much. We love you Butta!
Another moment was the team deciding that we ‘needed’ to give away our jerseys to younger Colombian players who desperately wanted some Dingoes merch. Originally the coaches had decided that we needed to keep the two strips that Trio had donated to us for our remaining training camps. However the team decided that we could manage without one of the strips, and that it would be good advertising for Trio anyway. I’m glad we did because the excitement from the younger Colombian players that we traded or gave our kit to was very powerful. I know the strip means a lot to me personally but I know to these kids, the way they looked up to us as international players meant even more.
At Worlds a bunch of guys gave up their free time to go along to teach kids at a local primary school. The kids loved us and we were swamped by hundreds of kids wanting autographs. This definitely made us feel great and like professional athletes, but equally the kids loved learning ultimate and having us there even though we were just international ‘ultimate’ players and Australian not British.
Finally I’ve got to say the final evening of team time where we just said how good we all were summed up what an amazing team atmosphere there was and how close everyone was. In particular the way we celebrated the efforts of the off-field Dingoes (the support staff, coaches, physios etc) showed what an amazing team this truly was.
Remembering all this again has actual got me a little emotional, which for anyone who knows me well is quite unusual, so I guess that is a testament to what an amazing experience the 2016 Dingoes has been. I love you guys even if you’re all PB’s!!!
My specific moment may well be the fact that I am sitting at my desk at 4am trying to answer these questions in which I’m struggling to put my exact feelings into words. That is what the Dingoes does to you. It messes with your emotions in wonderfully unique ways and provides so many varied experiences. I couldn’t focus on a single moment before my brain would wander off to a tangentially related experience that was equally as amazing. Reliving those moments brings a smile to my face and makes me realize what a special team the Dingoes is.
What is one thing that the Dingoes of 2020 need to learn from this teams experience?
Continue the ownership that each individual has of the team. This is the pillar that will allow the Dingoes to build as a team and strive for that consistent excellence. All teams are beatable – I’ve learnt that over the years. Australia may not have the pool of players to choose from as other countries (athletes or skills), but we punch above our weight, and with buying into the ownership of the team, we will continue to do this.
I think that one of most important things that the 2016 Dingoes achieved was increasing the accessibility of the team. It was a strong conscious effort to go out and engage with the Ultimate Community and make the Dingoes a team for everyone. Involvement in coaching clinics, youth ultimate, player development and University Ultimate were all areas that were targeted by the Dingoes. It helped us become better players and better people.
Through the team’s strong community engagement we were able to reap the rewards of having strong support. This support was felt at home and abroad and was always appreciated. Every night in London the team shared messages of support from back home. It put a smile on everyone’s face and brought the team closer together. Just a couple of hours by each person on the team was all it took, yet the effects of the community programs were invaluable. I look forward to what the next iteration of the Dingoes can do to further this aspect of the team.
What is your message to anyone who wants to stand where you stood, on the line at Worlds with your Dingo mates all around you?
A Dingoes campaign is a hugely rewarding experience and I’ve been lucky enough to participate in 2 of them now. It’s also a very privileged and elite group of players that I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of. Only 120 people have ever had the chance to play as a Dingo. The bond that you form with your Dingo mates is undoubtedly a strong one. I still have fond memories of guys that I played with in 2012, it is a strong connection.
But it isn’t all easy. Dingoes campaign’s are often long and gruelling with lots of sacrifices. There is a huge physical and emotional investment that we make. Sometimes that is rewarded with a medal but often it is not. You have to be able to find motivation as well as satisfaction in all the other little aspects of the campaign, otherwise there is a risk that you may be disappointed at the end of it.
I think this is very true of the selection process, which is a tough process as lots of excellent players invariably miss out. What I would say to someone who missed out this time or hasn’t tried out before is; don’t be afraid to be cut. Being cut from the Crocs in 2013 was a devastating experience for me, but one that helped drive me forward and something that I believe helped me grow as a player and a person. Being a part of these processes still has value and significance. I won’t lie, you feel crap, and equally not getting the results at Worlds in 2012 that we wanted feels terrible as well, but I believe that the measure of a team and an individual is as much about how you respond to the difficulties as how you carry yourself in the good times.
The most important thing is that you have to love a challenge. I firmly believe that all the players on the Dingoes are there because they love pushing themselves and seeing what they are capable of. There is something thrilling about being the worst player on the field (yes, I have definitely been there), marking someone who is twice as good as you, or who has been playing twice as long. When you inevitably get scored on, broken, or skied, it is easy to get down and think that you’ll never be up the challenge. However that is the perfect moment to improve, to learn and to take something away that would have otherwise been lost.
I would like to think that every now and then I get one back on someone who has previously wiped the floor with me (Mike Neild, I think you’re still winning by a bit) and that is one hell of a good feeling. I encourage anyone who is serious about improving to constantly challenge themselves. Seek out opportunities where the odds are stacked against you, and learn from the results.
Aspire to achieve and take ownership of your role on the team. Don’t be afraid to try at excellence.
Never feel like you’re not good enough or that you don’t offer something. I have a very strong memory in 2000 prior to my first game against the Swedes (Australia had never beaten them) and I was warming up. Nerves were abundant and I couldn’t get my forehand to work – I was turfing it, so I kept resorting to throwing my backhand. A very wise teammate (thanks Sol) who I was throwing with at the time stopped us throwing, came up to me and said “keep throwing your forehand, throw until you get it…I know you have it, I’ve seen it…Nerves are a thing we all have and you’re on this team because you deserve it! You have something to offer like all of us, otherwise you wouldn’t be here”.
I didn’t mention this above, but I should have. It still resonates with me today….Everyone is unique and has their own skills to offer.
On behalf of all the readers I’d like to say thank you to Matt, Andrew and Rob for their time and honesty. It is a treat to hear about your personal experiences, and listen to the wisdom and hope you have for Dingo teams to come.
Thank you to everyone who has joined us on the journey this year. As you read above, and as I hope we have made clear during this campaign, the Dingoes are overjoyed to be connected to our Ultimate community. It has been great, thank you.
The Dingoes will be back, in some ways it will be sooner than we all think. The next team will probably be selected in a little less than 3 years from now. We are quietly, secretly, and kind of outrageously already a little bit excited. See you then.
Still ran Dingo, yellow dog Dingo,
Dusty in the sunshine, always smiling.
And readers, just for your own information, Matt Dowle is chock full of Dingo memories. If you ever have the good fortune to catch him on the topic here is some of the rarified gold you may uncover:
I’ve had other memories on the previous tours…camping under the Olympic ski jump in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Swiss national day, beating an American club team for the first time in 2004 and beating all US club teams on our tour, Tom Rogacki celebrating the score after a huck with a bus driver routine only to have a travel called on the thrower…Tom then reversed the bus back to the thrower (Greenie). Play was called in and Greenie hucked it to Tom again for the score (after letting everyone know that is exactly what he was going to do)…New York….., Turku Pig Duck, Playing the showcase game against Finland and tearing my hamstring, getting bronze and feeling short-changed because I didn’t contribute on the field at the tournament….Tearing a massive hole in my hip flexor 3 months out from worlds in 2008, vice captain for 2008, being beat by the Poms in the quarters after smashing them in the round games (thanks Mike)…the pre-tour of 2012 in the US, getting injured again just before worlds (my shoulder) after all the time and effort spent getting my legs rights only to be thwarted but an unlucky collision, the artificial turf fields in Sakai, playing well at the tournament, almost being the yanks and going down on universe with a chance to score, getting beat by the Poms in quarters in absolutely horrendous conditions and after finally injuring the shoulder beyond repair…2016..the build-up and anticipation of whether I could / will make it on the team, dream cup, watching the team play TEP….But nothing comes close to that change room.
Are there any people you’d like to thank Matt?
Those who supported and gave me encouragement over the past year – most significantly Erin and Chloe.
My family, namely mum and dad for having a somewhat blind trust in Anthony and I to go off to play Frisbee as 15 year olds at league and tournaments when all other players were at least uni age.
Those guys and girls who came to Mac Uni field on a cold night in August 1995 as a sense of community to play with us kids…in no particular order (and excuse the patchy memory as I know I can’t remember all)…Greenie, Pottsy, Piers, Tom, Rod, Simon, Nicole, and all others that I have forgotten to name (my apologies). The community of the sport for me really started there.