We were very inspired by her determination and drive for perfection, so we decided to ask about her ultimate story.
Introducing Jamie Eriksson, captain of the UT-Dallas Monstars women’s ultimate team.
When did you first start playing ultimate?
I first discovered the sport at a summer camp before my 8th grade year. We would all play after lunch, and that’s honestly when I first fell in love with it. When I was a junior in high school I found a “Frisbee Club” at my school that was basically just a bunch of really athletic guys who would get together every Friday after class to play pick-up. My best friend and I were the only two girls who would show up to play, but it was always a ton of fun and the guys were really encouraging and welcoming of us. I was very grateful for that. We always talked about trying to start an actual competitive team but didn’t know how, so it never happened.
When I was heading off to college at UT-Dallas, I discovered they had a women’s club team. I ran track and cross country in high school and wanted to continue playing team sports, so I never had any doubt that I wanted to join the team. That’s when I started playing competitively.
Where do your work ethic and motivation come from?
Winter of my Sophomore year I got to know Gabriel Hernandez (Callahan winner for 2018). He is such a hard worker. I remember him telling me how he challenged himself to throw 100 days in a row and that’s how his throws improved. It really inspired me to do the same. Seeing how passionate he was about the sport made me realize what it would take to accomplish the things I said I wanted. It sounds a little cliché, but my motto the spring semester of my Sophomore became “Just Do It” from Nike. I realized that I often wasted so much energy trying to decide if I had the time or the willpower to throw or do a workout that I would just end up exhausting myself to the point of not doing it. I got tired of always wondering if “I had the time for it”. So, that semester I stopped thinking about things so much and just began to do it.
The best thing I did for myself that year was make measurable goals, write them down, and plan my time out better. I organized and made a weekly schedule, specifying what times I could throw and workout every day between classes and work, printed it out, and taped it next to my bed. I also printed out a calendar where I could write down what workout and throwing routine I accomplished each day. After a little while it all just became habit. It got to the point where my day wouldn’t feel complete unless I had thrown, kind of like forgetting to brush your teeth. It just felt wrong not to do it. I was honestly surprised by how easily I could make things work. No matter what, I always found the time. I was kind of forced to learn how to manage my time effectively because I simply didn’t have any time I could waste. I also got pretty addicted to coffee that semester. That helped too.
My dream to eventually make Texas Showdown was a big driving factor for my motivation, and showed me the importance of making goals. That following summer I ended up making the team, which was honestly one of the most rewarding things I’ve experienced. It was the first time that I felt like I had truly set a specific goal, put in a ton of hard work for it, and ended up accomplishing it. Ultimate kind of became my practice for the pursuit of excellence. It was a channel for me to prove to myself how hard I could work and sacrifice for something that I loved.
When and why did you start your frisbee Instagram account?
I started my frisbee Instagram account (@jamieplaysfrisbee) the spring semester of my junior year. My good friend Christian, who is on the UTD men’s ultimate team, had decided to make a @christianplaysfrisbee account to hold himself accountable to working out and throwing. He was the one who came up with the idea. After a while it inspired me to make one too, not only to hold myself accountable but because I also had dreams of creating a platform of visibility for young girls getting into sports, specifically ultimate. Everyone says you can’t be what you can’t see, and I wanted to be able to share my journey and motivations with other people. My sort of secret wish is that my account might eventually reach and inspire young girls who are discovering their love for ultimate frisbee or sports and give them something they can see and relate to. I really don’t know if that will ever end up being accomplished, but I figure even if I can inspire one person to pursue what they love, just as others have inspired me, then that is already a huge success.
I have had a few people reach out to me through the account. It’s really fulfilling to know that it has encouraged and motivated some people, and I really hope that it can continue to do so. I think being able to inspire people is one of the bigger assets of social media.
What has your experience been with captaining a college team?
I’ve talked a lot about my own playing experience so far, but my other big love is definitely for my college team. I am now in my third year of captaining and the growth the program has had consistently astounds me. Ultimate frisbee has given me so much, and I want that same opportunity to be present for other women as well. Building a college women’s ultimate program is such a great way for creating those opportunities.
I’ve always wanted to help build the UTD Monstars into a successful, inclusive, and lasting program. Our team was pretty new when I first joined, maybe just 1 or 2 years old, so I think I really lucked out with the unique experience of being able to help build something that wasn’t extremely established. Our team made it to college Regionals for the first time this past spring season and it is one of my most cherished moments. I cried my eyes out when we won the game to go to Regionals that year. A lot of teams might not think much of making it to Regionals, but I knew how far our team had come and was incredibly proud and happy. Captaining has had its ups and downs, it can be a tough job, but every year it seems like the team falls more and more in love with ultimate frisbee and that it the best feeling in the world.
This year we have had so many new rookies come out to our fall practices and they seem to really be enjoying the team. Several new members have made comments about how inclusive, friendly, and welcoming the team has been to them. I think the most important thing for our team is creating an accepting environment for all types of people. Regardless of their background, regardless of whether they’ve grown up always playing sports or never played one before in their life, regardless of their sexuality, race, or any other diversifying factor, every female deserves a safe and comfortable environment for them to learn and explore what sports and being active has to offer them. That’s what really inspires me most of the time.
What’s your favorite/most recommended training, workout routine?
Beginning to lift and practice my footwork/agility skills is what truly began to step up my game. I knew some basics from my time in track and field in high school, but I also followed a few different sport-specific Instagram training accounts and got several ideas from there. My favorite thing is analyzing what specific skills I need to work on and then trying to come up with creative ways to train those areas. I am also really grateful for the fact that I have been able to train at a gym called PPT Elite with Jordan Pugh. He has helped me immensely with increasing my strength and explosiveness while also becoming more quick and agile.
I am constantly working on different things. I’ve gone through focuses on my defensive footwork and hip movement, strengthening my lateral movements, improving my movement reaction time, increasing my vertical explosiveness, and a lot more. There is always a purpose and focus to what I am doing which I think is important for any workout or training regimen. Analyze what you need to improve on, what your goals are, and then create your workouts around that. My schedule is usually all over the place with being in school, working, and fluctuating between club and college seasons, so my training routine is constantly changing and being adjusted to the time of the season and what I feel like I need the most focus on.
Does your height help at ultimate?
My height (6'0", 183cm) often does come at an advantage in ultimate. My college teammates know they can put up a disc with enough height and there’s a greater chance that I’ll come down with it. However, being tall does come with its weaknesses. While being taller than most other women I play against is great in the deep space and for floaty discs, it also means I have to work on my agility and quickness a ton. More length means my steps are naturally larger, so while I can generate a lot of power and love gaining large yards as an offensive cutter, I frequently have a harder time defending smaller and quicker players who are speedy with their feet and direction changes.
A memorable ultimate highlight?
I don’t think I have had any one single uniquely notable ultimate highlight, but I do have a few that I will always remember. I think I would have to go with my first layout D, though. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but for whatever reason I used to have the largest mental block with layout Ds. I could layout on offense all day, it was one of my favorite things to do, but I simply couldn’t figure out how to get my body to do it on defense. I tried visualizing it countless times, but it still never seemed to work.
Then one weekend, while playing a super causal overnight tournament, a huck went up to the person I was defending. I was coming in at an angle where my only chance at a D was to layout, and if I didn’t it would be a surefire score right into the hands of the opposing team. All that went through my head was, “I have to block this disc.” And my body just did what it had to. I was so ecstatic and immediately texted all my close frisbee friends to tell them I finally had my first layout D. It felt like such an accomplishment for me.
Finally, what are your favorite things about your Greatest Ultimate Bag?
I honestly love the Greatest Ultimate Bag. I like to carry a lot of different stuff around with me, which increases tenfold when I’m traveling to tournaments. Lacrosse balls, white board markers, clean clothes, dirty clothes, a hat, sunglasses, cleats, snacks, you name it. The Greatest Ultimate Bag seems to have a pocket or compartment for all of these. It helps keep all my items organized and separate.
My other favorite part is the backpack straps. It makes traveling in the airport a ton easier, and the hip straps make a heavier bag a lot more comfortable as well. It also comes in handy when I find myself dragging the disc bag, cones, and a speaker to college practice and can find solace in the fact that I can at least carry my ultimate bag hands-free.
For more stories from Jamie, follow her ultimate adventure on Instagram @jamieplaysfrisbee.