Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Blessed in Core Principles

I have been incredibly blessed to have a very cool career in sports and business, travelling and speaking all over the world, and as a result, have learned non-stop my whole life.  If I knew then what I know now, through all this life-long learning…WOW…I’d have known a lot! Here are some things I know now:

Pursue joy not happiness.  Joy is enduring…happiness is fleeting.

Adopt perseverance and persistence as core principles.  Nothing meaningful in life comes without them…everything meaningful in life is possible with them.  Including athletic pursuits!

Have a strong core set of beliefs.  This will help  a ton:  I believe we all need a core set of principles that is our touchstone and guides us through the good and the bad that will surely come our way throughout life.  Develop and nurture your core, and life’s biggest challenges will be overcome by sticking to your principles and following them through thick and thin.  I have seen lots of friends become confused, depressed and anxious when they didn’t have a strong core to rely on during trying times.  Build a strong core in your life, just as great athletes build their core strength and a core of skills in athletics.

Tom Crawford
CEO USA Ultimate
Siena College Graduate
M.A. from Purdue University
Double Phd from Indiana University (Performance Psychology and Motor Development)

Fun Facts about Tom or Tom C as he says:

10 years as the Director of Coaching and Managing Director for high performance programs for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).
Has worked with NBA, NFL, MLB, and professional tennis players.
Senior Director for National Institute of Fitness and Sport

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Food, Roles and the Social Scene

One of the most overlooked aspects of training was the easiest to control: nutrition. As a team and as America we do not eat well. Frozen pizzas, soda, energy drinks…whatever is terrible we consume. Our team in 2008 did not think about this, because in 2008 we were the first team to make off the field training mandatory.  We thought we were putting so much effort in, we didn’t need to worry about nutrition.  In a way it was true, we were in much better condition, but in retrospect it gave way for a pretty unhealthy life style outside of Ultimate. I’m not saying eat only the healthiest, just be more conscious of what you are putting in your body, it will make a big difference.

On another note in ultimate and life, everybody dreams of being the difference maker.  We all want to  make the big throw and the score that wins the game or cut the big business deal and make the money; realistically this isn’t going to happen. Know what you are good at and play to your strengths. Once you realize where exactly you fit into the bigger picture, you can fine tune your skills. Don’t just accept your role, embrace it. More importantly, know your weaknesses and work on those during every practice. If you don’t know, ask the captains and coaches. They will tell you exactly what you need to work on. And don’t take it personally, use it fuel yourself.

If I knew now, I would know how important my Luther teammates and Luther family would be in the rest of my life.  They will be there for you too. This is the tightest social scene in which I have been a part. Your teammates become lasting friends, and an important part of your life. For how sardonic and cruel we can seem to be, we try to help. The team becomes an important social network that is unlike any others. That being said, it will be whatever you put into it. Don’t be a selfish, don’t kick your teammates when their down, and help them in any way you can. Those my year and older have seen former teams implode because of infighting, don’t let it happen.

Oh, and don’t ever let NexGen stay at your house. EVER

Eric Meyer
Luther 2008

Friday, February 17, 2012

Read Right Now

My resolution for last year was to read a book a week.  I made this resolution because it dawned upon me that if I lived to my statistically expected life expectancy, I only had about 40 years left.  And in 40 years, that meant I’d only read another 2080 books in my life, if I managed to read a book a week that entire time.  Out of all the millions of books in the world, only 2080 more to go, and that many only if I was super diligent about reading a book a week?  Better make that two books a week!!!
Happily, I kept my resolution, completing 56 books in 52 weeks last year.  Doing so taught me several important things.  One, achievement required constant, disciplined attention to the task.  If I slacked off for even a week or two, catching up required herculean efforts.  I soon realized that my goal was only going to be met if was disciplined, and worked towards excellence every day.
Second, even though reading is a solitary endeavor, I was helped towards my goal by many people.  Dozens of people gave me great book recommendations.  Many more offered encouragement.  And one true friend suffered through reading a monthly book report, which kept me accountable to someone for completing my task and where I could share my thoughts on my reading.  My “team” made me better than I was alone.
Third, and most importantly, I learned that I should do something worthwhile with every limited minute that I have.  Rather than wasting time playing Guitar Hero, I could be reading.  And through reading, I could broaden my mind, live multiple lives in multiple places, and rehearse empathy by living the emotional lives of others.
If I knew now to constantly read, I would have had a book holster to draw a book in my spare moments.  I would have the quickest knowledge on the block.  Be disciplined, Luther Ultimate, and work towards excellence every day.  Be great individually, but be greater as a team.  And do something worthwhile with every precious minute that you have.

David Lietz
Washington D.C. Lawyer 
Luther Board of Regents

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Think Like a Bumblebee, Train Like a Racehorse

I recently heard an idea and the idea hit me like a sack of nickels. To be truly successful you must do two things: think like a Bumblebee and train like a Racehorse.

Many of you may know the story of the Bumblebee, so please bear with me as I explain it for those who don’t.

Years ago, a group of scientists at NASA became interested in the bumblebee. They would spend countless hours hypothesizing how this big, furry insect with wings much too small for their body be able to fly with such ease?  More importantly, if they could figure this out and replicate it, the US would be able to build aircraft and flying weapons far more powerful than any other country.  So hours turned into days, into months, and years.  Finally, this group made up of some of the smartest aerophysicists in the world came to the conclusion that it just doesn’t work.  The bumblebee, according to the laws of physics, is too large and too heavy to fly using such small wings.  But the bumblebee keeps flying. Why?

You see, while the scientists stated their doubts and reasoning, the bumblebee didn’t listen. The bumblebee has faith in itself. As an athlete, more importantly as a human, you need to have a belief in yourself that far surpasses anyone else’s. Don’t let your parents, your professors, or your teammates limit your abilities by forming to their beliefs.

And now the Racehorse.

Speaking physiologically, racehorses are absolutely phenomenal specimens.  Their O2 kinetics are a thing of beauty. The power that they are able to produce is something of mythical proportion. They are absolute phenomenal athletes.  And the thing is, they know it.  They know it isn’t normal for a horse to have a heart-rate monitor hooked up to it. It is not normal for a horse to run repeat intervals at threshold paces, to eat a diet made up of grasses imported from halfway across the world.  An just like humans, when horses toe the line before the race they are nervous as hell. They know something special is about to happen. And in there is the subtle difference between a racehorse and a human.  They KNOW something special is going to happen.

A racehorse trains hard every day with the occasional rest day scheduled. They might even see other horses training. But at no point do they question their training. You won’t see a horse running a few extra miles because they “need it”. Horses recognize their role, they are the athlete. Their trainer creates the plan, and the horse executes it.  The horse knows that it is a strong and fast athlete, and knows the trainer is smart and wants the horse to be as fast as possible.  There is never a moment of doubt or second-guessing.

In sport and in life, no plan is going to work until you buy into it fully.  Execute the plan, whatever it may be, with your best effort and you will then reach your fullest potential.

Ben Skutnik
Luther 2008
Physiology Graduate Student at Kansas State

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Career Arcade

As a kid, I never thought, “When I grow up I want to be a college administrator!”  Frankly I never had a career clue in my life and it bugged me that other people had such a clear direction.  I took the pinball approach, bouncing from this to that, building on what I learned along the way.  I figured out I was good at administration and that it was important for me to work at a place that had a mission I could wholeheartedly support.  For 15 years that has been Luther.  Some colleagues say working on a college campus keeps them young.  For me working at Luther keeps me hopeful:  hopeful for the future because of the genuine goodness I see in Luther students and the way they care about people and issues beyond themselves.  The sense of community and encouragement I’ve seen in Luther Ultimate is an example of that spirit.  Thank you for the way you inspire Luther staff and faculty. If I knew now bouncing like a pinball would eventually give me such a high score at Luther College, I would have started at the arcade a long time ago.

Karen Martin-Schramm
Assistant to the President

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


As a student and as an alumnus, I sometimes wondered why I attended Luther.  Would I have been better off going to UW?  Obviously there would be a wide array of academic opportunities, amazing social scenes, more high school friends, and of course the ultimate would have been better at UW during my freshman year (2000-2001).  Despite the glamour and exciting prospects of a big school, there is something special about the liberal arts experience, especially at Luther College.  

Look around at your teammates and classmates.  Is there one thing or one talent or one passion that defines you?  Generally, no, aside from being a stellar ultimate player, your buddy is likely a talented musician, a varsity athlete, a polyglot, an academic, ventriloquist, gardener, aquarium expert… etc.  Luther is unique in that you are able to continue striving towards excellence in a number of fields.  It’s always been common to have friends on campus who participate in a sport, an ensemble, a choir, a club, a term abroad, a frat, and whatever else.

A childhood friend of mine and former University of Wisconsin (Hodag) player once told me “you can be a jack of all trades, but a king of none” when I said I wanted to be both a handler and a cutter.  He might have been right in that particular scenario, however, I don’t think that can apply to the individual as a whole. 

What about Leonardo Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson?  Were they great because they were notoriously one-dimensional?  Were they merely “jacks?”  No, they were the epitome of mastery with regard to about everything they achieved.

If I knew now, I would be mindful of and challenge this notion of "jack".  As a student at Luther and a member of Luther Ultimate (LUFDA), you don’t have to settle for “jack” or “mono-talent”, when you can achieve mastery in a multitude of arenas.  Embrace your ambitions, develop that diverse array of talents, and become the renaissance man that is within.  In my opinion, there is no better place than Luther, there is no better time than now.

Dave Curtis
Luther 2004  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Between Good and Great

I Michael Joseph Joe Tweeter Billy Wheeler Wheelock would like to discuss the difference between a good player and a great player.  Now those of you who know me- may think I am unqualified to speak on such a subject.  Normally I wouldn't object.  However, I have watched/played with/ been apart of some very good teams &players.  Not that any of that has helped me throw a flick, play in the wind, learn to lay out, or just be generally better at the sport-but that is beside the point.  In my experience, Good players make big plays happen even if they have to force them.  This may seem fine and dandy, but it can seriously hurt a team if you only have a collection of good players.  There is a point when you simply just cant force anything to happen.  At this critical point teams fall apart.  I would say that for those of you who were there, this is what happened to us at regionals my Jr. year (2010).  Everyone was trying to be the hero and in the end we lost to an Iowa State team we walked over twice prior.   

So then this brings up the question- what defines a great player.  In my opinion, which you can hate it or love it (see what i did there), a great player is some one who allows big plays to happen by executing every little detail to perfection.  Notice** you do not have to be touching the disc to facilitate big plays.**  I know it probably has been beaten into your head, but it cant be stressed enough.  Play your role and you will be a great player- try and force it and in the end things will likely fall apart.    

Side note- If you are unsure of your role on the team- just ask, anyone will tell you what they expect of you and what you need to work on.  No matter the attitudes it is an open and caring environment.  In the end Luther Ultimate (LUFDA) is all about free love.

Hate it or love it, LUFDA's on top.

Much love,

The Start

If I Knew Then Now, which is read If I Knew Now starts today.  The project will be dynamic.  Multiple writings every week.  Contributors will include Luther Ultimate Alumni, Luther Faculty/Staff, and Luther College Alumni.  The project is reaching out to inspirational and influential people who do not fall in the categories above as well.  Luther culture facilitates strong connections inside and outside the college.  By calling on the talents of many people we can find creativity from a plethora of resources.  With many minds putting on their wheels we will see unlimited topics:  sports, competition, life, things to do in Decorah, Is it good to live in Iowa? (yes), greatness, etc.  The common thread between the expanse of topics is that the writers are giving you a piece of knowledge to ponder and practice.  Enjoy what you see here, be a fan of Luther Ultimate, and remember to assimilate and create ideas in your own life.