The Mohawk Lifestyle – Reflections on five years of being a (student) Mohawk

I’ve thought about this post a lot, an awful lot. And often wondered about how I can possibly fit 5 years worth of reflections about my time as what I will call a student Mohawk (because, as our motto says, I will ALWAYS BE A MOHAWK) into a piece of writing that people will be bothered to read to the end. Truth be told, I don’t think I will. I believe most readers will start reading this, switch off and find something better to do. That’s not a challenge, nor a call for you to read it all to its bitter conclusion, merely my thoughts on the matter.

If the reader has themselves a cup of tea and a comfy seat, or a while to kill on a train ride, then maybe, just maybe, they will finish my drivel. Either way, I’m writing it.

I hope that this blog comes some way close to summarising my time as a student Mohawk and the absolute joy it has given me. I’ve so many memories, some of which will feature, and have met so many incredible people who I will consider friends for the rest of forever – I hope the reciprocal can be said from them, from you. I’m not sure whether I would have gotten through university without the Mohawks. Many people say that their degree got in the way of playing Ultimate; they’re right and I wholeheartedly agree with them, but equally I think without the Ultimate I would have struggled to get through the degree itself!

Year 1. 2008-09. The start

For those of you who don’t know, officially I am a failed Sussex footballer. I came to university intending to try Ultimate frisbee out but definitely wanted to play football. I didn’t even make the third team (I still maintain that this is their loss, but I’m delighted). So I went to my first session, had a chap called RimJob teach me to throw sidearms and then had Duncan MacDonald as my captain (for the Lewes Court team). I had no idea if I was doing anything well or not, I just remember feeling shattered BUT I did score on Felix for the win in the final. Ask him about how that felt, he might come up with some story about it being a pick.

I was told that day that I was pretty good at the sport and I became hooked. I signed up to the beginner’s tournament, got given a nickname on the way to it and have been referred to as that forever more (I will exclude writing it here, for the obvious reasons and maintaining professional dignity). Despite the horror of the name, it is mine and there is a part of me that smiles everytime I hear it, because it shows me that I belong somewhere.

Something I have often struggled with in life is not wanting to be left out. So for somebody like me, who didn’t go out all that much for a while, to have an identity felt amazing. People knew my nickname who I hadn’t even met yet which was unbelievable and eventually, this acceptance into the club, made me come out of my shell and start embracing every second of Mohawks I could.

The year ended in a blur, being made Open Captain for the following season, the awards dinner and then playing my first season of Tour with Brighton Ultimate. This was it. This was now to be my life. I have to, at this point, thank Nick White for being my first ever Mohawks captain. Whilst I was always be indebted to Longface and Bob for captaining my beginner’s team, it was Nick who was Mohawks captain for my first season, and I will always be grateful for that.

Year 2. 2009-10. The Stress

The second year of my university studies will always, I believe, be the single most stressful year of my life. I was a fairly clueless Open Captain but somehow managed to blunder through and end the year with some BUCS points! This was all to be eclipsed by Beezer’s Open Captaincy the year after but hey, I am one of many proud Mohawks Open Captains.

I can look back at captains before me and be humbled to be included in the same list as them, then I can look forward through the list and see some phenomenal people and to be a part of that is incredible. I know as well that the longer the list goes on there will be so many people who I don’t deserve to have preceded, but somebody had to and I’m lucky enough one of those folks was me. And nobody can take that away.

People have complimented me on my year as Open Captaincy and said what a good job I did do, but I was just part of the machinery. The club has seen extraordinary growth since then, as demonstrated by the end of season photos, but that could have happened with anybody else in my position.

I always, always strived to put the club first, and endeavoured to ensure that the members were happy but then that’s what I assume everybody else did, too. So I don’t consider myself special for doing that. It is true that nothing came before the Mohawks that year, and still doesn’t now if I can engineer it, perhaps to the detriment of my studies and friendships outside of frisbee, but it was completely worth it when, at the end of the year, I was finally able to look from the outside and see where the club can come to. I was just a part of that year, and I’m delighted I was, but so many people had probably more of an impact.

I cannot thank Beezer enough for his support during that year. The simple act of going to the pub with me (Park Crescent, still one of my favourites) and letting me destress onto him was something I can not thank him enough for. Couple that with Callum joining the club, quickly becoming one of my best friends and reminding me that, when trying to study, frisbee was still more important made the year bearable. And it wouldn’t be far to talk about my second year with mention to an American friend of mine so thanks to Kristen to, for helping to keep me sane and grounded. These three people, along with others (particularly my three amazing housemates Becky, Carly and Kat), helped to make that year one that I am immensely proud of and will always look back on it with a big cheesy grin and tell everybody I meet that I was once Open Captain of the Mohawks, please bask in my glory.

Year 3. 2010-2011. The successful Mr. Beezer

Making Beezer my successor for Open Captaincy was a good decision. Results certainly confirm this as, finally (in our eyes) Mohawks Open won some nationals. It was tough but we had the drive, the desire, the belief, the ability and now the leadership to succeed on a national scale. That first gold medal is still one of the first things I see when I wake up in the morning and helps me start everyday knowing that I can accomplish stuff. It might take three years but I can.

I also, finally, managed to captain a team to national glory in St. Andrews in the outdoor mixed division. What a team that was and that tournament was easy, because of us. That trophy, and those memories, sit high up in my mind of achievements.

I don’t recall much else from the year, to be honest, it was massively successful on pitch with the club winning 4 of 6 national titles (never bettered? by anyone?) and a joy to be a part of in that sense, but we had also grown a fair bit and so were dealing with larger numbers. It was an exciting challenge and I know the current committee are playing a difficult balancing game with this in mind, but from what I’ve seen, they’ve done great as shown by the 50+ people at the AGM.

Ah! The only other stand out memory from the year was cycling to Burla. I’d say that ranks alongside those nationals in terms of life accomplishments. I know Beezer has taken cycling to the next level, so he would probably spend half the time getting to Italy now and so might be embarrassed by the 9 days it took us, but I’m still living off of that brag.

Year 4. 2011-12. The year of Mr. Yeo

Having been overlooked by me for captaincy the year before, Ashley stepped into the shoes left by the Scottish defector Beezer and, by all accounts, did brilliantly. We had lost Beezer, Bumfluff and Nick from the year before which are not easy people to replace. But Ashley managed to get the team playing the way he wanted, whilst showing us all exactly what sort of efforts was required off the pitch. His Open team successfully defended our outdoor national title – boom.

The year was odd for me, in many ways. The boys whom I had grown up with were gone. Callum, Robbie and Kneetu were soon to be going, too. The team of people who I had captained and had around me had left or were leaving, and I was sad. It had been, in my mind, some sort of mini-era and it seemed to be coming to a close.

That’s not to say that I wasn’t excited for the next year, my final student Mohawk year, and nor is it to belittle the pride I took in being President of the club for the year, but it was certainly noticed by me. I should definitely add that being voted as President was a huge thing for me. I absolutely love the club and wanted to help out and support in any way I could, officially or not. I was delighted to be President and hope I did the job with the respect it deserves. It’s a strange role, because for all of the grandeur in the title, the President doesn’t have all that much power and I hope, more than anything, I didn’t overstep my mark at any point.

Despite the on-field successes during the year the proudest moment for me came at the awards dinner. As much as Rear of the Year 2012 is an award I am wonderfully happy with, being told that I was Spirit of the Mohawks was without doubt the best memory from the year.

To be recognised by my clubmates as somebody who put in everything for the club whilst trying to run after plastic in a dignified manner, is something that brought an emotion I’ve not experienced before to the forefront of my being. I honestly did not know what to say, such was the humbling nature of it. Having been somebody who got to decide on Spirit of the Mohawks previously I knew just how important this award is and I still struggle to comprehend winning it.

Year 5. 2012-13. Stepping back

Having been a committee member for the previous three years, therefore having a say in how the club was run, I knew that this year, my final as a student, would be tough. Not only that I had to step back from the running, but also from seeing people due to essentially having a full time job all of a sudden. This could have alienated me, easily.

Luckily for me, the captains for the year (Lawrence & Ed and Shimmy) made me feel very welcome and like a part of their respective team and as though I could contribute on the field of play. Whilst Open results weren’t quite what we wanted I can always look back on this particular year as the year when I won my “missing” national crown – mixed indoors.

I would like to make a special mention to the job that Lawrence and Ed have done with the Open team this year. Having to captain a team containing the like of me, Frank, Ashley, Shimmy, Hayden and others whilst being less experienced on paper is not an easy task – and they did admirably. I hope that they both, along with all captains of the Mohawks from time gone by and in the future, will look back on “their” year with a smile and know that they have contributed to something special.

I don’t know how this year will end. I am writing this before the awards dinner so that I can claim that I haven’t cried when thinking back to over my time because I know that I am almost certain to that night.

A special thank you

I’m going to try and sum up my thoughts and feelings on the five years in a moment or two, first I need to thank a few people specially. There are many, many more people I should thank and I hope that everybody reading this feels some appreciation from me because chances are you’ve contributed in some way to my time as a student Mohawk, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Felix. My coach. Thank you.
Bumfluff. One of my boys and somebody who always helps me to enjoy my Ultimate.
Eunuch. My first ever Open Captain.
Beezer. One of my best friends, helped me through my Open Captaincy and then captained my to Open glory.
Jimmy OB. The nicest, warmest person I think I will ever meet.
Skinny. My first ever captain on a Wednesday. And he was great company on a drive to Glasgow.
Bob & Longface. My beginner team captains.
Ashley. The most dedicated man I’ve met, an inspiration.
Kneetu. The best hugger in existence, and he saved regionals for me in year 4.
Kristen. Became one of my closest friends despite only being here for a few months.
Megan. Another completely dedicated, inspirational person who is excellent company for cups of tea.
Easey. Lived with me for two years! Has become a truly wonderful friend.
Shimmy. Captained me for my missing national title!
Tom White. For shouting abuse at my poor play – I will always better myself when he is around.
Becky, Kat & Carly. My first ever housemates at uni, for two years as a collective! Despite not playing Ultimate they supported me no end and put up with a lot from me
Callum. I don’t know where to begin. This man is incredible.

Final thoughts. Impossible

Trying to sum up everything coherently is nye-on impossible. I know I have focussed mostly on Open but every club member who I have encountered, past or present, is a somebody I hold in high regard, because they are a Mohawk. And Mohawks are special people.

I have no idea where this final chunk is leading to. I cannot express in any words in my vocabulary what it means to have been a student Mohawk for five years. I’m not sure that they words even exist! What I do know, though, is that whenever ANYBODY asks me about my Ultimate frisbee the first thing I will say is that I AM a Mohawk.

I will always be one.

When I look back on the five years I cannot find words to begin comprehending what this club has done for me. Socially, confidence, physically. It is unbelievable. It has caused me to become me, if I’m honest, and without it I don’t really know what sort of a person I would be. I am sad to go and leave student ultimate but I do so with my head held high. Most importantly, however, whilst I have a tear in my eye, I also leave with a huge level of excitement for the future of this club.

The club has given me so much, and so much more than that, that to have been even a little part of it is something incredible. I hope that you, if you have read this far and are affiliated with Mohawks at all yourself, appreciate how fantastic the club is and revere it as much as I do whilst knowing that you, too, are always a Mohawk.


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