When I arrived in Tel Aviv in October, I thought the following three months would play out like this: classes, internship, research, some new casual friends, and an anecdote or two about what I would be studying – “conflict in the Middle East.” It seemed like a typical semester abroad. But that’s not what I wanted from my time here. I wanted a deeper connection with this place, a more nuanced understanding of what ails it, and an intimate group of peers to inform my travel and studies. Perhaps more than all of that, I wanted to really get to the heart of my research on sports for peacebuilding. I wanted to see firsthand whether and how all the things I’d been reading about play out in real life and in such an intense place.
Ultimate Peace brought all of that together. I started coaching during my second week in Tel Aviv and it quickly became my main purpose for being here. As an Ultimate player with some experience in the Middle East and in Africa, I had been watching UP for years, impressed by the progress they had made from that initial summer camp to include a year-long program and peer leadership training. I was ecstatic when I was invited to be a part of that. Continue reading
This past weekend, I played in a fun one day hat tournament. There were grizzled veterans and fresh faced newbies, players who have been chasing plastic for 20+ years playing alongside some who have been for fewer than 20 days.
These tournaments can bring out some of the best and worst in Ultimate players. So often we hear of new players, especially girls, who are excited to play with and learn from veterans leaving at the end of the day frustrated because they didn’t feel like part of the team. Too often we hear about these negative experiences, and it is avoidable.
My 13 Yellow Team teammates were a good mix of newer and more experienced players. Among us there were five of us with real coaching experience, and a couple for whom this was their first time playing real games on a full sized field. We started out the day slowly, but built up our team and were finally able to notch a win in our final game of the day. While a 1-3 record (a 3 way tie for 3rd out of 5) wasn’t the stuff dreams are made of, I think I can honestly say that everyone in yellow enjoyed themselves, learned something, and made new friends. A large part of that was due to how our veterans approached the newer players. Continue reading
For the past several months, I have been living in Israel. The majority of my time I spent studying abroad with Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI), along with 29 American and Canadian teenagers. While we spent Sunday through Friday morning in school, Saturday was generally our day off or “Open Shabbat”, and an opportunity to go off campus to visit friends and relatives around the country.
Luckily for me, I had many friends in Israel, all of whom I met through Ultimate Peace (UP), an organization that brings together Israeli Jewish, Arab Israeli, and Palestinian youth through the sport of ultimate frisbee. At the end of my study abroad program, I would be staying on in Israel to participate in UP as a CIT (coach in training) for a second summer. Needless to say, I was excited to see my friends and visit them in their cities and villages. Continue reading
It is the last night of camp and my coaching team and I just finished player evaluations. Basically, we write down a few things that each member of our team did well, what they can improve on, and any other general comments we want them to know. This week has been tiring and trying and I can’t wait to be able to relax and get some sleep, but as I go through and think about the improvements I’ve seen each of my players make, as well as special moments I’ve shared with them, I inevitably become sentimental.
We often speak about how Camp UP is all about creating a family. But some of us are lucky enough to share camp with actual blood relations. Head coach Erin Curme is one of the lucky few—her brother, Dan Curme, also coaches at Camp UP. Here Erin reflects on the power of camp and sharing with siblings and other nuclear family members: