Tuesday, July 17, 2007

NUTC: Week 1: Losing to Ego

Right before coming to camp I finished reading the newest release of The Inner Game of Tennis. Tiina put some copies out in the lobby, but we've received some comments from the campers in which they indicate that they're not tennis players. I think that the book should be called The Inner Game of Sports. The thing I took from this reading of the book is the battle between Self 1 (Ego) vs. Self 2 (the present mind/body). In general, I think I'm a person who manages this battle with a modicum of success, but this week I had a momentary failure in which I launched myself into the future and received a clear physical reminder of one potential consequence of forgetting to remain in the present.

This post will go into the NUTC happenings of the last day or so, while giving my own story, which provided fodder for this morning's presentation on remaining in the present moment.

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny, hot and full day of Ultimate. The campers seemed re-energized now that they have been assigned to their teams for the rest of the week. I think that the development of team-based bonds helps to break down the pre-existing alliances and cliques that the campers bring with them. The morning featured a lecture by Zip and Micah on some new NUTC offensive ideas. The teams put these ideas into practice in their first set of scrimmages with good effect. Dylan's team seems very strong and will probably get a Number one seed in the tournament.

During the day there was the usual smack talking about the Camper-Counselor game. Clearly this is a highlight for the campers as they get to match up against some of the game's biggest stars. For the counselors it is a chance to have some fun and blow off some steam. I felt that the big story might be Andrew Hollingsworth is his debut on the Destructor side erasing six years of humiliation by now being on a team which would score more goals in the first half than the total number of goals that he had been involved in as a camper.

In the course of this smack talk the subject came up as to whether I would participate. It was hard to communicate my personal reservations to our young bucks, but some of my concerns were chance of injury, being out of shape, and no real upside for any showboating, as my skills have always been mediocre at best. When Dylan asked me if I was going to play I said, "Probably not," and he replied "Well that's too bad, but I'm sure that you thought about it a lot and made the best decision for you." I always appreciate Dylan's sense of the big picture, and I had been giving it a lot of thought, weighing my above concerns against wanting to be team player and not a party pooper. My wife, of course, who is typing this post via dictation, was adamant that playing would be a bad idea. I even talked to Ruth and Tiina about how I really have nothing to prove, and wanted to keep my dignity intact.

So, after lunch we moved back out to the fields and did skill stations. The kids seemed a bit lethargic after lunch and being in the heat, but they still seemed to gain a lot from our counselors' excellent teaching. We finished the afternoon off with scrimmages in which teams are putting the finishing touches on for the tournament.

After dinner we headed out to the fields for the Camper/Counselor game. I deliberately showed up late in flip-flops with my daughter so that I could avoid any pre-game peer pressure. I arrived with the counselors up 2-1 as the campers were able to put a very good line out there, including the three kids from Columbia who play on the national team. The game was very entertaining as the Destructors inevitable began to trounce the campers, and we had a sideline show in Tiina's not surprisingly excellent Frisbee dog, Roo. I spent most of the game tossing with my daughter and viewing the proceedings with a slight detachment. The camper team did manage to score three goals, one of which was eerily reminiscent of Zip's follow-up catch for a goal in college finals. We did manage to have two all-female points played, which reinforced the general sense that our girl campers (27 this week!) are excellent players.

As the game wound down I started to think about how cool it would be (first mistake) if I were to play offense in the last point of the game. Of course, this means that the campers would need to score, so I had conveniently created a nice foil for my participation. Well, what do you know, the campers managed to score a goal, so I thought: this is the perfect time to go out barefoot and throw the final goal (second mistake). As I got to the line (Ruth turned to our nurse and said "Get ready") it became obvious that the play was going to be either George to Ted or Ted to George. At this point I was so caught up in the future that scoring the final goal seemed even more glorious (third mistake). It was decided. Ted to George. I said to the folks on the line that i. f it was a turnover I was going to call an injury time-out. We received the pull at the brick and I set myself up on the break side, and broke for the goal. Ted put out a disc that I'm sure Dylan or Zip would have caught easily, but for me, in my bare feet, was just slightly a stretch. As I entered into the end zone it became apparent that I was going to have to lay it out to catch this goal, so I did. I didn't get the catch, and my bid was slightly above falling down . I did manage to get my arms out in front of me and my legs fully outstretched, but as I landed I realized that something was very wrong. I immediately noticed a numbing sensation in my left shoulder, and as I stood up I realized that I had dislocated my shoulder to the point where my arm was hanging unnaturally by my side. I couldn't move my arm nor feel my fingers. I did not however want to freak out any of the campers or counselors, so I walked off the field (remember, I had pre-called an injury time-out) and indicated to Tiina that I needed to go to the hospital. I started walking toward the car, then my wife, my daughter and the nurse cam running up, and my family and I got in the car after the nurse quickly confirmed that I needed to go to the hospital. On the way to the hospital my wife never said I told you so and was incredibly nurturing.

A dislocated shoulder is a very painful injury. I was in a lot of pain, and I thought I was going to pass out a number of times. The Greenfield hospital staff, while busy, did seem to push me along as fast as they could. However, each wait along the way was excruciating. I only became comfortable after getting an IV with morphine in it, and it was at that time that two capable doctors put my shoulder back in place. They gave me a sling and pain meds and set us on our way.

Thanks to the wonders of morphine and Percaset, I slept fine, and the NUTC staff has been incredible in picking up my duties and being supportive. Dylan's first concern was whether I'd be able to play guitar in the talent show. We shall see...

So this experience has been a not-so gentle lesson in listening to your body, minimizing fantasy and expectations, and not letting one's ego override the body's sense of what is best for itself.


gapoole said...

Wow, George...my condolences for your bruised ego/shoulder. Other than not trying to make the play, was there a way to prevent this injury? For instance, assuming it would have still been *just* out of reach regardless of how fast you ran, would you have landed safely if you had been playing more and/or staying in shape? Several of my teammates/friends have injured their shoulders from layouts, and I've heard that lifting is effective for injury prevention, so I tell them that. But dislocation is a different beast...did you land funny?

Julian said...


I did the same thing last Thursday, but was spared the agonizing wait to relocate the joint because it relocated by itself. The good news is that with some dedication to PT you should be just fine. The bad news is you'll be scared it's going to happen again for the next several years.

gapoole, being very strong can help prevent dislocations, but if you land just wrong, there's not much can be done.

Best of luck recovering, George!


parinella said...

Well, that had the making of a very funny story up to the point where you got hurt.

Sorry to hear about it. I had an incident where I thought I had ended my career with a shoulder injury on a gratuitous layout where I landed funny and got driven into the sand by the opponent landing on me.

gcooke said...

hey thanks guys.

typing with one hand here.

i didn't land funny, really. its more that i am/was afraid of leaving my feet. i never developed the ability to arch my back in the air and take the impact on my chest. i actually landed flat but at enough of an angle that my elbows took the shock. i think my elbow basically pushed the shoulder out.

i would like to think, glenn, that in my day i would have caught it pretty easily.

julian, i think you know that i am retired, so if it happens again it won't be on an ultimate field.

tiina's second question to me this morning was 'are you still married?"

camp went great today. we started the tournament so the kids have renewed energy.


ben h. said...


so sorry about your shoulder.

but how cool is your wife for helping you to type/post? lucky guy, you.

please please tell her that your minions require daily dosages of nutc info.

get well.

ps. tiina is pretty much awesome too.

Marshall said...

That sucks man.

Let me know if you need someone to sub on guitar.