Introducing: Mailbag with Mario O’Brien

RISE UP's Mario O'Brien is starting a mailbag.

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This post is sponsored by RISE UP Ultimate.

Hello to everyone trying to get better at Ultimate!

I’m Mario O’Brien, offensive handler for Seattle Sockeye, and Producer/Creative director of RISE UP. I wasn’t always those things. When I was 19, I was just a decent ex-high school athlete who picked up ultimate because I missed being part of a team and being active. I joined my college club team (Eauzone – University of Wisconsin Eau Claire) in the spring of 2003, there was no coach, and the team did its best to teach itself how to get better, despite no one on the team having ever played at a high level. We had no resources to help us get better.

Fast forward to January of 2012 and I’ve got a teaching degree plus four years of classroom experience under my belt. I’m living in Portland, captaining Rhino for the 4th year, addicted to ultimate. I say yes to an opportunity to play and coach with Sockeye in Colombia. I’m inspired. I decide I want to give back to the ultimate community in a more meaningful way than just leading my team or coaching in my city. I reached out to other like-minded individuals (Ben Wiggins, Andy Lovseth, Elliot Trotter), RISE UP was born. I wanted to create something for the ‘me’ that desperately wanted to get better when I was in college.

Since then, RISE UP has allowed me to continue giving back to the community in a meaningful way. We’re six seasons deep with the world’s only professional instructional videos, and we just wrapped two new weeks of video shoots in September. I’ve also been invited to coach in the US and all over the world in the past few years… Colombia, Italy, Germany, Russia, Hungary, Canada, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea.

I want continue sharing what I’ve learned with those who are trying to improve, just like I am and was.

What is RISE UP; what’s it all about?

RISE UP is ultimate’s only professional instructional video company. We also put on ultimate workshops and clinics.

RISE UP is all about excellence in ultimate education. We believe great teaching and coaching is more than just passing on information, it should empower you to improve. It should be put into context. It should build from basic to complex. It should be engaging. It should emphasize the why, not just the what and how.


What is Mailbag with Mario? How does this work?

I want to engage with you, the community. I want to help people feel empowered to be better players and leaders. I want to answer (and ask!) important questions, start conversations, and share what I’ve learned. I want to dive deep into critical elements of leading an ultimate team and becoming a better player so that we all can grow as players, as as leaders, and as a community.

We’ll use this article and discussion section as a forum to understand what people want to hear about. Then I’ll choose the questions and topics that I think will produce the most meaningful and impactful conversations and discussion.


What can you expect? What should you do?

These discussions will be focused on how we can improve as players and teams, likely from both the player and leader perspective (many of us are often both;). The goal is depth and detail about improving, let’s turn the soil and see what grows. I’m happy to share my experiences as a player, coach, and captain. Active participation by readers will be critical to making this a success.

If I’ve learned one thing about our community after traveling and coaching, it’s that everyone around the world is struggling with a similar challenge: “I want to get better at _____, but I don’t know how! Help!” Now’s your time to ask. If I don’t answer your question, it’s very likely that someone else will have some insightful thoughts that can help.

The more specific the questions, the better. Feel free to give some context to your situation. I’ll likely be answering multiple questions over a few different installments of this series.

I can’t wait to be a part of this with you.


Always Building,


[email protected]

RISE UP Website

RISE UP Facebook

  1. Ultiworld

    Ultiworld is the premier news media site dedicated to the sport of ultimate. This article includes the work of a number of our staff or contributors that have been identified within the piece.


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