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John Sandahl


It's been a while since I've met an instant friend. Today, fortunately, ended that while, and I met John Sandahl, Instant Friend™

John was the instructor of the UPA Coaching Clinic (Level 1) that I attended today. As a motivational speaker by day, he's a Sub-Zero player by night, or at least in the evening and on weekends, which is the same schedule as most modern superheroes. After our mock practice, not enough clinic participants wanted to play a game of ultimate, so dinner was the next offer.

I thought about the suggestion for a moment: sit at home, maybe work on projects, maybe waste time (shudder) mindlessly watching television, or head out to dinner with Kate and John. That moment was about 2 microseconds long.

I arrived late to the brewery to find Eduardo (a clinic participant), Jess, Brian, Kate and John downing beers, waiting for table. I started talking, and said something about my phone, which John laughed at and played with a bit. ALL the fourteen year old girls have them, you know. Eduardo said I was off by a year, the phone was too big. Now the fifteen year old girls, they have Sidekicks.

I started hearing the various stories when we all sat down at dinner. John currently plays for SubZero, in Minneapolis. He's up for the captaining position, as all four captains from last year quit or moved away or lost heart (my words, of course, should any of John's teammates be reading (hi!)). John went to Worlds, playing (expectedly) with SubZero (shock, eh?). He stopped by to visit with Mischief on the sideline, but I don't remember him at all, if he said hello to me. He then tooled around with his college roommate afterward, driving across both islands before flying home.

He works as a motivational speaker at Youth Frontiers, which works with youth "teaching values," helping them become more respectful, "better people" through workshops and various programs. Listening to John, I can't help but believe he's really good at his job: the teaching he did at the clinic definitely had everyone drawn in and actively participating, which is hard with a group of adults, early in the morning. Many times during the clinic, he would

John played trombone in high school, and sang choir until some trip to NYC where the choir director (the husband of the band director) forgot to set ground rules, so John broke one (he broke curfew and needed to be in his room before 11, but wasn't explicitly told curfew was room, so he was in the hotel, in another choir member's room, at 11), and was nearly sent home. This was John's example of both "be explicit in the ground rules, set expectations," as well as "praise in public, criticize in private."

He also mentioned that valve trombone players are clearly inferior to slide trombonists. When I mentioned I played baritone in high school, he asked if that meant I was better than he was. I said no, but I could play his music for him.

John likes mango sorbet, having been introduced to it, and subsequently hooked on it, by a girlfriend (ex? not sure) years ago.

As a speaker (they speak four days a week, having Monday off),

John plays at Poultry Days each year, with his team Breasts and Thighs. I somehow managed to secure a tentative (heh) invite to play on his team this year. I was convinced that I should go when John mentioned one of my ultimate idols, Paul Greff, only I didn't recall his name when John mentioned it. Paul looks like Eric (Mom's husband), so when I watch Paul on the various ultimate videos, watching always with admiration, I think "Eric." John said I'm sure to confuse the heck out of Paul when I call him Eric. But seriously, how can I not weasel my way onto a team with John and Paul-Eric? Seriously.

We went to Brian Greenough's family's house after dinner, with Brian and Jessica. They told us about the international teachers interview processes, which did not sound like fun, and we ate the super duper ultra premium chocolate ice cream that came in a metal tin and tasted MUCH better when slightly melted. I kept the tin.

Eventually, John's flight neared (flying out tonight because he couldn't find a good ticket, a team to play on for Fools, or an uncle who had an open evening), and off to the airport we went. Brian lives in a great place, with the directions "go down the hill, turn left at the big street, right at Peninsula" to escape the area. John made his red-eye flight, and my new Instant Friend™ was on his way home.