The end of an era

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life20 Comments

This past weekend, my college-bound son, Cole, competed at his final Youth Club Championships at the National Sports Center up in Blaine, Minnesota. It was a bittersweet weekend, full of the most exciting ultimate you can imagine, and Cole’s team, Minnesota Superior, made a serious bid for the finals, but lost in semis after mounting an amazing comeback that wasn’t quite enough.

Ultimate is a beautiful sport. I know they call soccer The Beautiful Game, but I can’t imagine it getting much more beautiful than this one.

Both of my children have played for years, Aidan coming off a national championship last May with her St. Olaf team.

And while Cole is planning to play for St. Olaf in the fall, and Aidan may try to play with the University of Minnesota team in the fall if her law school schedule permits, this chapter of youth ultimate has come to a close.

Yes, there may be club ultimate in both of their futures, but the youth games are now over. I have loved every minute of watching them play. In the heat, the rain, the snow… being an ultimate mom has been a true gift.

Last weekend during the US Open (which was happening at the same time as the Youth Club Championships), USA Ultimate released this new promotional video (featuring another recent national champion and now, US Open Champion with her Brute Squad women’s team, Aidan’s former room and teammate, Tulsa Douglas, #14):

This sport really is nothing if not about grit and grace. (Pictured below is Leo Sovell-Fernandez, Cole’s former high school teammate who will be representing the USA later this month in Livermore, Ontario as part of the U20 World Team.)

I was talking to one of my dear friends and a fellow ultimate mom, whose daughter is featured towards the top of this post and is also headed to St. Olaf to bring her remarkable mind to the school (and skill to the ultimate team!), and we both agree we want to somehow get more involved in bringing ultimate to younger players and expanding its reach.

I think we as parents are fully aware of the gift this sport has been to us, as well.

This sport has so much to offer and I have seen how it has changed the lives of my children for the better.

I will miss being on those sidelines with my big-assed rented lens, which is not to say I won’t rent it in a heartbeat for Cole’s coming college tournaments, but this is just one chapter that has closed.

Here are just a few highlights of the Zielske ultimate players in 2018. Thanks, Aidan and Cole, for playing this amazing sport.


Check out USA Ultimate’s home page for more information on this sport!

Cathy ZielskeThe end of an era

20 Comments on “The end of an era”

  1. #2

    Merci pour ce partage qui me fait découvrir ce sport. J’habite en France et ici c’est plutôt football et rugby.

  2. #3
    Corie Farnsley

    It’s funny, because I had never heard about ultimate until I started seeing you mention it on your blog. Now, I feel like I hear about it more often, but there still aren’t any schools near us that actually have a team, nor are there any club teams. That’s a shame; it looks like something my son would love to play!

    Love your photos, by the way!! Amazing!

    1. #3.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I had NEVER heard of it until my daughter started playing. I think my kids love that it is still sort of underground, in terms of the national and world sports thing. But it is literally amazing. Check out the links on the USA Ultimate page for Where to Play!

      Where are you in the country, Corie?

  3. #4

    Not a sport I have heard anything about in the lower Peninsula of Michigan. I was a bit perplexed when you first started talking about it. It has been interesting to learn more about it over the past few years. I truly believe participating in any kind of a team sport at least once in a childs life can teach many valuable life lessons. Thanks for sharing this up and coming sport with your readers.

    1. #4.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I, too, had never heard of it until my children started to play. Here’s the crazy thing: Dan played in college when he attended University of Minnesota-Duluth. We really are an ultimate family!

  4. #5

    Congrats to you and the whole family! I love seeing your evolution and am so proud to say, I knew you from the very beginning!

    1. #5.1
      Cathy Zielske

      YESSSS! I love that we will always have the connection of both ultimate and our awesome players!

  5. #6

    Merci pour ce partage de photos qui m’ont fait découvrir ce sport que je ne connaissais pas. J’habite en France et ici c’est football et rugby.

    1. #7.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Yes, one of the few sports where there are mixed divisions! People are working hard for gender equity in this sport.

  6. #9

    Very cool tribute to your kids and to Ultimate! My husband played a lot when my kids were young – for me it was a chance for a night off since he took them with him — his teammates were like family and other kids were on the sidelines to play with mine. I was even talked into playing one summer league when my youngest was 6 months old, and still immobile 😉 I have never run so much in my life before or since!! It’s great that your kids could play during high school and college, and depending on their location, there are adult summer leagues and teams that play all over if their interest continues. Might think about investing in your own lenses… 😉

    1. #9.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I think it builds a special community for sure.

      And those lenses… ha! I’ve thought about it over the years, trust me.

  7. #10

    Fabulous post, Cathy. My kids are interested in Ultimate and plan to be involved now that they’re in Uni and it is part of the club system. For them it’ll be a warm weather sport (with beach volleyball) and Dodgeball will be their “winter” choice – though it does go through the year. I’ve encouraged Claire to get in touch with Aidan as she will be in St. Paul at the end of the this month for a Dodgeball tournament. In the meantime, I totally LOVE your enthusiasm for Ultimate and wish it were more of a ‘thing’ here! Your photos are fabulous! xoL

    1. #10.1
      Cathy Zielske

      They should DO IT! And yes, for more schools here, it’s also considered a club sport, but… that doesn’t stop there from being national championships and more! And yes, tell Claire to message her! She’s living near the university now in Minneapolis!

  8. #11

    Another milestone in the books. Bittersweet, eh. (But man. Those shots. Nice work, mama!)

    A friend of ours just played in the WMUCC up in Canada (Team Surly). He and a few others that play club around here have been hosting “open play” nights at our local football field. It’s a good way to bring the sport to a lot of folks who have never heard of it. We have participants who are 5 up to 65. They split the players who know what they’re doing with those who don’t and don’t keep score at this point.

    I think the thing about Ultimate that’s so calling is we play it because we love it. There aren’t any parents pushing their kids into it to relive their glory days or because they think their kid is going to be the next #1 draft pick. Sure, it’s competitive and there are jerk parents in every competitive sport. But it’s not the insane atmosphere football, soccer, and basketball have become (around here at least).

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