Interview of the month: Nathalie

Today we meet up with Nathalie, a new recruit to the FlyHigh squad for the 2015 season coming from Belgium. Let’s hear what she can share with us!

M: Hi Nathalie! Mathieu here for the much awaited section of the FlyHigh Lausanne website.. you know what I’m talking about.. the player of the month interview!! Are you excited??

N: As excited as on a morning with a fresh snow carpet.

M: Did you come across the first interview about our american buddy Chris that was going back to the States? Please say yes, that would make the rest of this interview a bit less awkward..

N: Yes, great website BTW, compliments to the FH IT team. J

M: Thanks! Alright, you know the drill: can you introduce yourself for the Lausannois that don’t know you?

I’m a Belgian living and working in Lausanne since October. I love being outdoors and like to play games, any kind, all day. And I love dancing, any style, all night.

M: I think the first time I saw you, your team defeated FlyHigh at Talampaya 2014.. any memories of that?

Oh yes, I remember that bloody hot Saturday morning when we all woke up grilled in our tents.

For me that game was a special game, as it was the first time that I’ve played with BDM on our preparation road to Worlds in Lecco. Also, it was special because it was for me the first time that I met FlyHigh, and I knew that a couple of days later I would have to make a decision on a job in Lausanne.

Reasons enough to show my best game to both teams. 🙂 But most of all, a great opportunity to get to know both teams better.

I remember I’ve ended the game with an overheated head with a huge smile, not only because we won, but also because I’ve noticed that the FlyHigh squad as my future team had great potential. Excellent handler work, nice flows, sneaky insides, and a coed minded spirit. Your results didn’t lie: a nice top 5 end-ranking on a tourney with several teams preparing for Worlds. It gave me a good feeling for the year after to come.

M:  We don’t meet belgian players very often here, can you tell us a bit about the ultimate community there?

Where to start? Ultimate in Belgium, as in the rest of Europe, is evolving at high-speed. Growing in many ways: more teams, more players, more locations, more professionalism.

Also, the offer of tournaments within our small country has been booming, making it easier to play competitively without long travels.

The past years, huge efforts have been done to set up a federation and associations to streamline all initiatives and competitions.

All clubs are growing in numbers. In 2014, 34 teams of 17 clubs competed in the outdoor championships. Great initiatives for youth and social projects have been proven successful.

And over decades, there is a trend from “girls playing open” to teams playing mixed, and the past years I’ve noticed a strong drive to increase the level and athleticism in open. And more recently women’s ultimate has been starting to be more structured within the teams, whereas for years the only Belgian girls teams that existed were a get together of ladies playing in different clubs spread out over the country and travelling hours to a practice.

These days, I am just wonder-struck by the professionalism, around the world and in Belgium: strategies, playbooks, video analysis, internet footage, nutrition guidelines, injury prevention, defensive footwork, fat % measurements, sublimated outfits, fan pages, fund raising, blogs, newsletters, interviews, sprint training, musculation program, scoobers, lefties, teams of 25 players, private team physio’s, DVD’s, live streaming, friction gloves, drones, score/assist statistics, MVPs, live twitter reports, highlight videos, observers, app’s, … The sport has changed tremendously. Excellent progress. And a perfect ground for new athletes who are now being introduced to our sport. I hope one day to watch an Ultimate Olympic game!! I will be a big fan but probably tell my grandchildren that in my days, a bunch of guys and girls would meet up in a park for practice as a preparation of an international tournament, mark a field by planting shoes or socks and play savage seven in our cotton shirts with the only strategy “make a stack and feel the timing when to cut, ultimate is only about belly feeling and throwing skills; and in defense just always watch the disc”.

M: Is there any specific belgian ultimate spirit?

Belgian teams often win spirit prizes. I don’t know exactly why that is. It might be that we are overall laid-back people who are always seeking for fun and camaraderie, even in high-competitive games. Or is it related to our small-country-syndrome which makes us multilingual and reaching out to get in touch with friends abroad always showing respect for the opponent team? And yes, it is part of our culture to work hard, set goals, push your limits, show your best game but don’t brag about it and always be a team player. Being bad-ass with a humble attitude is culturally more appreciated than being cocky and selling yourself. Apart from that, off the field (check it on your next tournament) Belgians have an unstoppable party-attitude. That might contribute to our image.

Talking about Belgian “spirits”, jenever is a typical Belgian brandy. It’s distilled in a variety of flavours. Try it out yourself in the jeneverbar ‘t Druepelkot in Gent, next time you play G-Spot.

M: Is G-spot your home tourney? Do you recommend it?

My home team is JetSet from Leuven. Every 2 years we organize JetSet goes beach, a beach hat,(ask our guests Ulrike, Valerie, Julien), and we will organize our legendary JetLag coed challenge again. Somewhere soon.

G-spot is organized by our friends from Gentle based in the city of Gent. Highly recommended!!!

Every time they change the formula a bit, it has started as a hat tournament. The location with a lake and small beach is top. The past years high-level international coed teams have set the competitive level. And nice fact, the organization tries to maximize the ecological and fair-trade footprint. As FlyHigh has noticed, Kloten van Stael is a band of (former) ultimate players who start off the party. I remember the FlyHigh Bikers crew dancing and rocking hard all night long, fuelled by pasta salad ;-)!

M: What’s your ultimate background?

I’ve started playing in 2001. But I own a pink Wham-O disc since 1988, when the world championships were held in my hometown Leuven. My older brother used to play as a junior, but it took me till college to start playing ultimate. (Yes I hear you thinking, pretty stupid not to have started as a kid.)

Living in a small country, with not so many ultimate girls at that time, has catapulted me to play tournaments abroad as a beginner. My first tournament for example was a European Championship in Prague in 2001. Ridiculous, right? As a beginner I was just filling up some field space and I was probably more interested in kicking the hackiesack in between the games and making new friends all over Europe, then ultimate itself. J Some of the people I’ve met there are until today very close friends.

As a student, I’ve heard my teammates often talk about the problem of  having no vacation days left to spend on tournaments cause if you wanted to play, you had to cross the border. I had time, but no money. My strategy became taking crappy student jobs, and travel for ultimate. I was lucky that very often a team could use an extra girl on the line, that’s why I have been playing for many different teams. My advice is to reach out to other teams: be a pick up player and play hat tournaments. That totally hooked me up on the sport and the friendships from Tenerife to Denmark, and USA to Australia are priceless. Later, I had more money but less time. But ultimate often helped me to stay focused, work my ass off to efficiently beat deadlines and to deserve to go out and play. After the weekends, starting a new week with mud or sand in the ears and a big relaxed smile and usually small eyes (and walking a bit cripple ignoring a sore or wounded body).

For me ultimate is besides a passion, a sport and a social network, also a way to stay in balance.

M: How is your 2015 ultimate season looking? Playing FHL coed / women national team?

EUC in Copenhagen is my big goal. It’s only the second time ever that Belgium sends out a woman’s team (last time was 2007). Super excited about the mix of grannies like me and young talent. Last EUC in Maribor, we won bronze in mixed. This year we are happy to send more teams in more divisions.

And no doubt, I’m also looking forward to the season with FlyHigh. I’ve always been looking up to the high-level competition that a small country like Switzerland shows. And I know that the past years, Lausanne is a favorite in the SM. Happy to become a hippocampe and be part of that. Thanks already for welcoming me!

M: Your first impressions practicing with us?

I am impressed by the structure. Clearly, this team has goals to attain and wants to get everyone on board. Not always easy when you have a rather small club in a college town where people constantly come and go. The structured trainings and communication are key in such transient situations. Congrats for that!

Further, FlyHigh has a nice mix of ages, nationalities, athleticism, experience in other sports and/or in ultimate. From the start it is clear that this is a 100% coed team. Love that!

But what I love the most is the atmosphere. Spontaneous clapping and compliments for a nice catch or a sweet throw, high-five’s for D’s, randomly explaining the strategies to newbies like me or beginners. You might think that is normal, and I know it should be natural, but I appreciate it even more, cause I know that is not the case on every team.

I do hope, that after snow and icy rain has stopped, we hang out a bit more around the fields or hit a bar after practice. Bounding makes a good team a super-good team, spending time after practice might be as important as practice itself.

M: Did you know anyone of FlyHigh before arriving here?

I had met Ulrike and played on the same team a couple of times on hats. There are a bunch of FH players that I knew from saying “Hallo, how was your game?”. And I remembered vaguely, two Swiss guys from Lausanne with whom I’ve played a tournament in Chinon in France years before. I had to send a team picture to Ulrike to remember their names. Cause I could only remember how they won the Air Guitar Contest wearing a skirt. Arnaud and Achille, the legendary duo.


Mixed savage & Open de Tourrain, 2009 (?)


M: Your secret to be in shape during the season?

My big cardio-fun is spinning. I’m kind of addicted to it. J Unluckily my knee won’t allow me to run too much. A bummer cause I would love the suicides of the notorious SGRC.

My other hidden but far from secret fit-keeper is cycling. Belgians bike. Every day, any weather, everywhere. I used to take my bike even for the shortest distances like a bakery 300m down the road. Our hilly streets in Lausanne make it extra challenging. Always take an extra shirt along 🙂

M: How’s life treating you in Lausanne so far?


The lake and mountain are just astonishing. Every day, I stop in Beaulieu park to take a moment to watch the view for 10 seconds or 10 minutes. I can’t get enough of that.

I’m pleasantly surprised by the huge cultural scene: concerts, festivals, alternative movies, dance, theatre, always something going on on every day of the week. Also, I love it that people are hanging around on the streets even on winter days. And the multicultural factor spices the city up. I love living here and I will stay for a while. And now the snow has finally arrived, it has become even better. 🙂

M: Your favorite place to have a drink in town?

This question reminds me that I should urgently go an a pub crawl!

Belgians have a bar culture. That is where you get together after work and catch up, or meet friends before going to a club.

I would answer the Great Escape, only because I have been there the most. I hope I can answer you with a long list of favorite bars in a couple of months. Still looking for a bar with live music or a lounge with live DJ. Suggestions anyone??

M: Five Ultimate or Force Ultimate?

VC! All time favourite.

And Flipwear from my Tenerifian friend Gavi.

M: What would you rather be: an epileptic cobra or a claustrophobic marmot?

A claustrophobic marmot without a doubt. I love open spaces and nature, as a kid my favorite animal was a squirrel, I am a night person, but once in my bed, I would love to sabotage my alarm clock and keep on hibernating forever. Now I think about it, it should have been my scouting totem. J

M: Have you had the chance to play the famous FHL coed “jeu des glaçons” yet? hehehe..

Ohwoooow there u mention something. At Halloween, I’ve entered the party around midnight and immediately got involved in the game. I’ve mumbled something like: “Gimme a break, please, I just got here, I only know 3 persons and you don’t know me”. But quickly I’ve found out that no resistance was accepted. Enchanté!