Mandy Wintink

Valuing Women Role Models in Sport

One of the things that drew me to ultimate was the many nuances of gender equality that are embedded within the sport. One example is the mixed division – a division in which men and women play high-caliber ultimate together on one team  and using The Best Tennis Shoes For Women With Astounding Traction. Another example is the ‘Open’ division, which is open to all genders and all ages.

My appreciation for equality in ultimate was reinvigorated last week when Ultimate Canada announced the addition of the Women’s Master’s division in CUCs for Vancouver, 2013. This was reminiscent of the excitement when Canada agreed to send its first-ever women’s master’s team (+30yrs of age) to Japan to compete at the World Ultimate and Guts Championships 2012.

Valuing the Disc

One of my favorite moments of this past weekend was a play by our captain Nat. She was cutting in for a throw from a handler with a tight D on her hip. The throw went up and out to space but was almost out of reach. The beauty of the play was the look on her face in the moment before she grabbed it. It was a look that I know we’ve all seen in someone, somewhere, in sports and hopefully a look we’ve all expressed. It was the look of sheer determination.

Receiving Constructive Feedback

We all say we want constructive feedback, but not all of us are equipped to receive it, openly and in a manner that makes it a worthwhile effort on everyone’s part. Although there seems to be lots of opportunities to learn how to deliver feedback, I think what’s missing is learning how to receive it. Being skilled at receiving feedback can make the process more manageable and comfortable for everyone involved! And we just have to trust that our counterparts are doing their part in learning how to best deliver it. They have their work cut out for them, so let’s help them out a bit!

Getting Open Because You Think You Can

During a post-game debrief at Montreal Jazzfest, the other captains used me as an example of being able to “always get open” on my cuts. They qualified this by saying that it wasn’t because I was the fastest but that regardless, I still got open.

I do get open often and it is not because I’m faster, it’s because I BELIEVE I can get open. And for what my mind believes, my brain processes information accordingly and creates appropriate opportunities, and then the rest of my body follows.  One of my favorite quotes is by Henry Ford. He says “Whether you think we can or think you can’t, you are right”. I love it because it nicely sums up the power of the mind-brain-body relationship I have come to understand through personal experience and formal education.

Finding My Mojo

There’s something magical and truly indescribable about playing competitive team sports. If you’re reading this, you’ve likely had the experience yourself and have possibly struggled to describe it to people in the “real world.” While driving back to Toronto from the Boston Invite 2 days ago I was, once again, thinking about how amazing these experiences are, particularly this year as I struggled heavily with finding my mojo.

The Impact We Have On Others

I’ve had an amazing rollercoaster ride since arriving on the Toronto ultimate scene last July. First of all, I was scared to death to move here largely because I was scared of integrating into a new scene after having only played in Halifax.  Not long before my move, I spoke of my ultimate career as ending once I left Halifax. I was so sure that my level of play was not high enough for me to be considered for Lotus, Toronto’s top women’s touring team.

Positive Feedback

About a year and a half ago, I had the opportunity to see something from a different perspective. Having done several degrees in Psychology, I understood the concept of positive reinforcement and all of B.F. Skinner’s work. In a very simple way I understood it as such (feel free to skip to the next paragraph if you don’t want to relive intro psych):

Positive reinforcement is about increasing the likelihood of a behaviour by providing a rewarding stimulus. So for example, if I want my dog Jett to sit in the future, I will reward her sitting now with a treat. That should reinforce sitting and increase the likelihood that she will sit in the future.

In Perfect Shape

How often do we head to a competition in perfect shape? Cardio is up, no injuries whatsover, well rested in terms of sleep and muscles, mentally fit as we can be, and no leftover twinge in that sprained ankle, pulled hamstring, or that torn ACL.

I wish I could say that I was in perfect shape for the upcoming Canadian Ultimate Championships in Sherbrooke but the reality is that I am not. At fitness practice last week I felt like my quads wouldn’t kick in during sprints, likely because my hamstring was pulled and my SI joint was locked because I hadn’t seen my chiropractor recently.

Avoid Trying To Clone Yourself

If I learned one thing about leadership in the past 5 years it is to avoid trying to clone myself. Although I may be great (or think I am) at many aspects of the game, like defense, speed, agility, field sense, anticipating plays developing, I am by no means perfect. My throws are not technical, my confidence breaks down, I lose intensity and motivation when it’s cold, and I can rarely identify what the other team’s defensive and offensive strategies are, to name but a few of my weaknesses. Yet, erroneously, when I have been in a leadership role in the past, I have, inadvertently tried to create a team of “me’s”. I recently read an article on management tips and appreciated the one entitled avoid trying to clone yourself as a perfect summary of this type of leadership error.

Teaching Your Brain What is Possible

I started playing ultimate when I moved to Halifax in 2000 and began playing competitively on touring teams in 2003 but I have never played on any team outside of Halifax until recently. In fact, I became so comfortable in the Halifax scene that while in Winnipeg for the month, it was very stressful to play in the Winnipeg scene – an ultimate tradition that I admire greatly, in principle! But playing outside my comfort zone played havoc on my performance and confidence. My throws were horrible. I was cutting people off left, right, and centre. I turned away from several discs only to have them drop beside me as a turnover. Horrendous! And how I felt inside was equally horrible. My poor, shattered ego!

Individual Roles Within a Team

I’m just coming down from 2 back-to-back ultimate tournaments and I feel awesome. I feel strong, healthy, powerful, effective, and influential. I’m 33 years old and feel fortunate that I’m able to throw my body all over the field in the spirit of the game and come away with minor bruises. And I’m well aware of how ridiculous that seems to anyone who does not play ultimate, or competitive sports in general.

Myself, along with a handful of others, got a tremendous amount of playing time. Others were not so fortunate. Others stood on the sideline waiting their turn, waiting for their name to be called to the field while I just walked on, unassumingly.