First day of competition. 14 guys. 6 girls. Not really sure what to expect. We were slated to face Mofo, RessureXion and X2 and would have to win at least 1 game in order to have a shot at top 8 (our pre tourney goal). Leah and I had CUJO get in a good warmup before the game since we knew that the guys wouldn’t get a ton of play time since we had so many dudes. We had had many talks before nationals about how we wanted to run our lines and decided that because we are a developmental team, we would try to get everyone playing – many of our guys are in grade 10 and have 2 years left after this so we wanted it to be a great experience for them so they keep coming out and will be that much better for the next 2 nationals.
Well, in theory our line plan worked – but in execution it turned out to be more difficult than we had planned. Before the game we found out there was going to be someone timing in between points – meaning we only had 90 seconds from when a point was scored to have the disc pulled. This caused problems between how Leah and I run our lines since that meant we wouldn’t have much of a chance to chat between points about the adjustments we were going to make. Normally we have time to discuss who we want on the line or if we should change the force, but the time limit definitely threw us a bit off. What ended up happening during the day was that some guys didn’t get as much play time as we had planned and so they got frustrated. I was glad that they came up to me and were asking when they were getting to go on but the overall sense was that 14 guys was just too much. If we had cut the bench then it would have been fine but our goal isn’t to do that just so we can make the games tighter/win. We have a multi year goal in mind and so we want to make this Nationals as much fun as possible for everyone on our team. Cutting the lines won’t accomplish that – doing our best as coaches to monitor who is doing well in certain positions will help us get there. And having the best system in place will help us as well.
As for the game against MOFO, there was certainly some bright spots. We had some great D’s, some great O and overall learned a lot. We finished scoring a point at the very end which fired us up so it was good to end on a high note. Final score was 15-2 for MOFO.
One issue we’d have in the past was having our kids keep well hydrated and having them eat enough food during the day – so far they were doing well having had breakfast a few hours before the game, drinking water constantly and having some field food before/during the game. It was super hot and so after the game we got in the shade to get ready for our next game – RessureXion after a 2 hour bye.
Ottawa’s top juniors team, RessureXion, was a team we didn’t really know anything about so going into the game, we approached it much the same as we did our game against MOFO. We kept showing flashes of brilliance but we were plagued with more turnovers this game than the first game so a few points were very frustrating to watch (and I’m sure play as well) but Leah and I did our best to keep things positive. We’re not a fan of the constant cheering (Mo what? MOFO!) but we are a fan of our sideline talking. Our kids are pretty chill so they’re not going to be the type to get up and scream from the sidelines but there were a few points during which they did – when we had a sick layout D or a big grab in the endzone. Leah and I had a few issues with the lines again, most notably a situation where we were down 3-1 and I didn’t put on the strongest handlers for her – we got it sorted out so I’ll be more aware next time. We did slightly better on the scoreboard in this game, with the final score being 15-3 for Ottawa.
Our final was was right away and was against X2 (Ottawa’s 2nd team). All we knew about this team was that they were much weaker than Ottawa 1 and that we needed to win this game in order to have a chance at top 8. We tried to switch up the lines a little bit in an attempt to manage our personnel better and to try and have a more solid and consistent handler core (something that we’ve been struggling with all year – NOTE for anyone reading this: Get out and throw more! Handlers are the key part to a good team!!!!) After a slow start, we pulled away at 5-2 and ended the game with our first win, 15-2.
After the game, we had a post game chat with CUJO, going over how the day went, our frustration with having 14 guys and our promise that we would work on a better system for them so this wouldn’t happen on Day 2. What the kids don’t realize is just how difficult it is to get them in the game – we know the benefits of having players play more points (and sometimes in a row) so they get in a groove, get their heads (and bodies) into the game, and feel like they’re more a part of the game. On Day 2 we are going to manage our sideline better – we want to have the players not in the game to be more in the game from the sideline. We were great at some points but other times were just way too quiet.
After heading back to the dorms, Leah, Tim and I went to the CUC2010 Juniors Meeting. Lots of juniors initiatives were discussed – the most notable one was the request to move the juniors division to men’s & women’s instead of coed. This was met with lots of support from the coaches in attendance; however, not until CUC 2012 at least. The most major concern is having enough girls to make up a full team to send. But, everyone agreed that it’s something we should make happen.
On an aside, Calgary has been working hard at our juniors program for a couple of years – but we are still years away from having a sustainable, supported program. From last summer to this summer, we have more juniors involved in the game and increased the number of teams at a junior high tournament we ran. In my opinion, it’s important to get ultimate in at the younger ages – before they really have a chance to pick one sport to specialize in. At the high school level there are many kids already committed to soccer, hockey, volleyball, etc and are on track to get a university scholarship. I don’t want to take that opportunity away from them – but ultimate is great cross training so it’s definitely an option for many kids who already have a sport they play. But that’s why getting ultimate in with the younger players is good. Plus they grow up with ultimate and have more desire to play it when they are in high school.
That’s pretty much all I have to say today. It’s late, I’m exhausted and I need sleep as Day 2 will be another long day!
Hope everyone is having an amazing time at Nationals and if you haven’t said hi, feel free to come up to me and introduce yourselves. I’m selling Ultimate Rob dvd’s at disc central at the VC booth – $15/disc. All of my videos are on youtube and facebook – just search ‘ultimate rob frisbee’.
aka Ultimate Rob