With discs around the world
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In Europe, summer is coming to an end and I am still not back on the tour. My injury-caused absence is taking much longer than I had anticipated and every day the urge to return is getting stronger. I miss my sport, my friends and colleagues, the fans, the tournaments and also the travel, which is my topic for today.
"I guess, as a professional sportsman you are traveling a lot. How does it feel to be on the road for such a big part of your life? Did you imagine it to be like this?" These kind of questions I hear fairly often. To be completely honest, it is hardly possible to explain all this in words. I use to take part in tournaments since I was seven years old and especially during the last two years extremely much has changed in my life – and this feels simply great! I don't want to tell you that I am living the life of a rock star, but when I really think about it, this is exactly what I do right now. Let me tell you, how it all developed:
Developing my dream - step by step
My first tournaments were great, no doubt about it. After all I had made my dream come true
and within a few years I had made so much progress in Disc Golf that I could take part in official competitions. Once or twice a year we drove all across Germany, spent a weekend with a tournament in Disc Golf and went back home afterwards. Well, this was nice, but each time it passed by way too fast.
Just a few years later I started focusing more and more on the rest of Europe, especially on Scandinavia, and my trips got longer. I got to know foreign countries with their people and landscapes, and I enjoyed it more than I can tell. At that time I got familiar with the international life, I made acquaintances and friends, and I knew that most of my former school mates could only imagine a life like this while I lived this dream – at the age of 16 and with a sport that most people had never even heard of.
Saying hello to the big wide world
My very first trip to the U.S.A. was deeply impressing. At that time I saw limited opportunity to make further progress with Disc Golf in Europe as my competitors were on the same level as me or not even as good. So, the United States offered me the only opportunity to move on, if I truly wanted to proceed with a career as a professional player. Yes, I already had a contract with a sponsor with improving conditions - from free discs and shirts in the beginning to real pay while I got better and better. But my plan to pay all my bills with my sport was still far away from being realized. Fortunately, my sponsor Discmania
had also decided to expand its business to America. This meant for me: Let's go to Los Angeles!
There I was soon lucky enough to get in closer contact with Avery Jenkins, one of the very best Disc Golf players of the world. We had already known each other for a while, but now we became friends and we intensified our partnership when Avery started guiding me and my professional development in the U.S.
After all we ended up traveling all over the United States in a mobile home, taking part in one tournament after the other. In between we organized workshops for interested beginners and for amateur players. Avery's popularity was a guarantee for enough participants in these workshops as (among all other successes) he had been World Champion in 2009. But the more I played, the more American fans got to know me and the more people came to see me as well.
The feeling to be on tour was breathtaking from the very first moment on. With every competition I got better and better, and consequently my earnings increased. I got closer and closer to my dream to be able to pay my bills by playing Disc Golf. I had just moved up from the so-called C- to the B- and then to the A-Tournaments and in those I regularly made it to the Top 10. A short time later I was allowed to play in the U.S. - National Tour and then even in the Major Tour that takes place all over the United States and Europe. When I had won a tournament in Europe, I went home with a maximum amount of 500 Euro. Nowadays my pay is in the low- to mid- four-digits in dollars, depending on my result and the importance of the competition. So, I am really able to make some money when you consider that during the season there is at least one tournament in every second week.
This sounds a bit like the life of a rock star, doesn't it? Somehow it truly feels like this. I travel from town to town, by now I visited 40 of the 50 American states and I got to know a lot of people who are now friends of mine. On the other side this is also awfully exhausting. For instance, my year 2015 started with a tournament in Australia. Only one week later I played in New Zealand. From there I moved on to Los Angeles and then to Las Vegas before the American Disc Golf season started in Phoenix/Arizona. During the season I visit another city every weekend. There is hardly any time left for my family or for meetings with friends. I am always on tour.
But let's be honest. Can you imagine anything better for a professional sportsman? I really want to be on tour and I want to travel the world to play in tournaments and to develop as a player. And for all the people who come to my workshops to get a disc or a picture signed, I gladly accept it to live in a mobile home most of the year.
Well, I need to leave for practice now, but I hope you join me soon for my next article on Dreampions.