With just a week until opening day, Tom Doi has high hopes for the 2016 Breeze season. He is coming to the team after an invigorating winter, having been invited to join the WUGC 2016 men’s team. Making team USA “was huge” for Tom. “Going into tryouts with this feeling like it was a long shot and being offered a spot was really amazing.” He’s particularly looking forward to another opportunity to play at the highest level on the international stage.
Tom is well qualified to speak about the international ultimate community. After leaving Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont after his sophomore year, Tom “became a ski bum” traveling west, and then to New Zealand where he deepened his understanding of ultimate and got more serious about the sport. “The whole experience of traveling around, playing with different people… it’s all been an amazing time. The camaraderie throughout the frisbee community globally is remarkable.”
In 2010 Tom returned to to the states and settled in DC, playing for Medicine Men men until 2011. In 2012 he joined Truck Stop, where he’s been ever since. “When I look back, I wish I had gone to a big university, played at a big frisbee college and had that experience. But by the time I started to get serious about frisbee, I didn’t have that itch to travel,” he muses.
Maybe it was the residual itch to do something new that guided Tom to join the Breeze this year.
Like many of his teammates, 2016 is Tom’s first season with the AUDL. As Tom contemplates the season, team chemistry tops his list of factors that will make the 2016 Breeze squad stand out in the Eastern Division and across the League. He credits Coach Alex “Dutchy” Ghesquiere with supporting and driving off-field camaraderie. “That’s one thing Dutchy realizes, the social aspect of 28 guys hanging out off the field is just as important as being at practice.” It’s also a time for team and leadership to build mutual trust and confidence.” Tom believes that time spent building bonds off the field can only have positive returns at game time.
Tom’s personal goals for the season center on his own mentality. “It’s more ways than just being physically ready to play come the start of season. It’s being mentally ready. Burnout is the biggest challenge that I’ve felt as a person who plays frisbee from February to October. How do you manage maintaining a high level of performance during those nine to ten months?” It’s taken him a couple of years of making mistakes– being tired and sore come August, or being out of shape at the start of the season– to establish the healthy mental and physical patterns that make for a successful season. “It’s finding that fine balance of being in performance shape and not being pushed over that edge– listening to you body.” Tom staves off mental and physical burnout by working to keep his elite player status and his relationships off the field in perspective.
One part of maintaining a positive mental attitude, Tom says, is staying involved with ultimate at the league level, especially in the off season. “I sill love to go and just play pick up with random people, and indoor winter league is a highlight of my year.” Tom counts on ultimate to be a long-term social and athletic outlet. “When walk away from pro and elite club, I will still get the same level of enjoyment from league.”
Some familial sideline support also helps Tom feel balanced during the season. “My wife Natalie, she’s a very big supporter of frisbee. She travels around a lot with the team, and is there on the sidelines in the team hat. She rides the [team] bus with us, she comes to almost all the Truck tournaments… Natalie is good friend with the Wodatchs, and Alan’s mom. They’re good friends and good fans. Natalie is always hanging out with the moms.”
At the end of the day, “all things need to balance themselves out: working out, going to practice, my work, being with family.” For Tom, and likely his teammates would agree, frisbee is serious. “We take it very seriously, but we do it because we love it. Every day, I want to be excited to lace up the cleats and go out on the field.” Keeping sight of that passion will keep Tom on the field for many seasons to come.
— Libby Chamberlin, Breeze Staff Writer