BE Ultimate sponsored athlete
by BE Ultimate
or most of Jasmine Childress’ life, ultimate was a sport for gym class. As an elite volleyball player who had experience in basketball and track as well, Jasmine didn’t take to the ultimate field until the second year of pursuing her PhD. A shoulder injury had forced her to step back from volleyball, and a lab partner suggested she give frisbee a try. Despite the opinion that it was barely a real sport, Jasmine decided to go out to the first practice with the UCSB Burning Skirts. It was a rollercoaster of emotions. Throwing the disc proved to be a distinct challenge for Jasmine, and like most new players she struggled with backhands and refused to attempt flicks. But Jasmine found that her speed and willingness to go to ground were enough to highlight her athleticism. A libero in volleyball, throwing herself onto hard surfaces came naturally, so when an experienced player sent a huck downfield it was natural for Jasmine to lay out for it. The catch proved not only to be impressive to the rest of the team, but proved to Jasmine that this was a game she could excel at.
“The moment when it clicked for me, when I thought this could actually be something, was in that first night one of the returning players hucked it as far as she could. I laid out and caught the disc and just rolled and popped up. That was the moment I thought ‘oh yeah, I could have a lot of fun in this sport.’”
For the next couple of years, Jasmine would be plagued by ankle injuries and find herself relegated to the sideline for large stretches of time. But the frustrating reality of sitting out didn’t stop Jasmine from showing up for every practice and game, standing with others and talking with coaches. This, as well as listening to the players who had been around for a long time and watching to see what they looked for while on the field, helped to grow her knowledge and understanding of the sport. This incredible dedication meant that when Jasmine returned to play, she was able to implement her knowledge alongside her athletic prowess. She missed some tournaments due to injury and illness, but during the 2018 season Jasmine was able to explode back onto the field, going on to make the throw that would take the Burning Skirts to nationals for the first time in years. The team would dominate in 2019 as well, once again making it to nationals and giving Jasmine the chance to play at the elite college level. Unfortunately, 2019 was the only full season of ultimate Jasmine has had the opportunity to play, since tournaments were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I find myself really enjoying the anticipation of gratification. Being on the sidelines, I knew I was going to be out there one day. Every single practice I went to, whether I could play or I couldn’t, I would learn something.”
The pandemic has been a frustrating time for Jasmine. For someone who has always dedicated her time to school and sports, being told that sports were no longer an option meant finding new ways to be entertained and learn new skills. It also meant that Jasmine had the time to get surgery on her troublesome ankle, which did not go as well as originally expected. This contributed to Jasmine being unable to play other sports, as she was relegated to a boot for six months, followed by a rigorous physical therapy routine to get the ankle back into usable condition. Jasmine approached the pandemic with a similar attitude to how she approached her past injuries: she relished the anticipation of future gratification, knowing that games would one day return and she would be able to compete with the best of the best.
“I look forward to the day I can return to the field with these players who started off as the same oblivious player I was, and who have grown so much. It would be an honor just to get back on the field and scrim with them.”
But in the meantime, Jasmine needed to find something to do and decided to try pretty much everything she could think of. She perfected a no-knead bread, getting so good at baking she figures she’ll never buy a loaf from a store again. After that recipe, she decided to move on to other foods: dumplings and orange juice. For about a month Jasmine spent much of her time taking advantage of the many citrus trees around Santa Barbara to make fresh orange juice, in addition to rolling up dumplings. From here Jasmine needed something a little more physical and took to juggling. After being questioned about whether she was allowed to stand on two feet while juggling, she learned to juggle on one foot as well. Then a friend who is trained in aerial silks offered to teach her, and since silks don’t require standing or much in the way of ankles, Jasmine took her up on the offer. From there she took up knitting and then mask-making. The gamut of activities offered a break from the constant activity of sport and school, but it didn’t take away from Jasmine’s excitement to get back on the field. In the coming years she not only wants the opportunity to play with the friends and anchors of her college team, she’s also looking forward to taking on the challenge of getting involved with a club team, looking to play with the best of the best.
“I would love to get myself in a position where I can play against really good frisbee players just to see how I stack up. I really like pushing my body and mind in the ultimate realm, but now that I’ve had a taste of what club could be I would really like to immerse myself in a high-level team.”
Jasmine is excited for the days to come, but she still has some recovery left to do. She calls 2021 the year of grace, since all of us need time to recover. It is okay to be burnt out; it is okay to step back and care for your mental health. Caring for your body is impossible if you aren’t taking care of your internal wellbeing, and since there’s no guide for how to live during a global crisis, it’s okay to look after yourself. Jasmine is going to continue working on getting her ankle back in shape, striving to play at the elite level, and setting an example for how wonderful the ultimate community can be.
“It’s kind of like when you’re running. They say, 'Move your arms, and your legs will follow.' Well, your arms in this case are your mind staying healthy. And your body will follow.”
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