How many bids exactly?

There is controversy brewing between Ultimate Canada and Ontario with regards to C4UC. This past weekend OUC was held with the tournament format arranged to send 8 teams to Nationals. This was based upon the website which at the time indicated 8 bids for Ontario.

Following the tournament the bids were reallocated with Ontario now receiving 7 bids. This has ignited criticism from Ultimate Canada members in Ontario for a few reasons with the primary one being that bids for the regions should have been determined prior to regionals. No doubt Ultimate Canada shall take this into consideration in the future but the damage has been done and it is significant.

Ultimate organizations have typically enjoyed a comfortable lack of scrutiny but that is changing rapidly. Events such as this undermine credibility and bring into question the value that organizations provide. With the growth of local leagues, which brings easier access to competitive Ultimate, the National and Provincial/State Organizations rely upon the goodwill and trust of competitive players who wish to participate in their tournaments. Once trust is lost players shall have second thoughts about whether it is worth for them to participate in the system as it exists.

This controversy, though, may be second to something I find more troubling. While the direct impact is to Ontario there are few, if any, voices from non-Ontario players. The bid re-allocation and process affects all players that participated in the series and while today the axe falls on Ontario tomorrow it could be any other province/region. I hope it’s a one time issue it would be heartening to see others in our community voice their support. When they do it’ll be an important reminder to Ontario that we need to do the same.

I should note, this is not an issue about how many bids a province has but rather knowing the parameters of competition in advance. The players, to whom the sport belongs, deserve that.

CUC Mixed 2016 – Recap

Why is it that you play Ultimate? Do you play because of your friends/teammates? Love of the game? Or for money and adulation? Why do we push ourselves to play year after year despite recurring injuries, the financial strain of training and travel, and the horrific weather conditions that send players in more popular sports scurrying for shelter. What are we chasing? What are we addicted to?

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CUC Mixed 2016 – Quarters and Semis

On Sunday the 3rd place game followed by the gold medal game shall be played at Ron Joyce Stadium at McMaster University. The journey to this point has not been easy with hot weather, hecklers, and late nights. But I have persevered through all of this to bring you this recap of the top teams at CUC Mixed 2016.

If you want to read up on my predictions for Saturday you may do so here or you may read onwards for the results.

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CUC 2016 Mixed

Hamilton hosts CUC 2016 Mixed from Thursday till Sunday. Here’s what we can expect: rain, layouts, and plenty of drama. With 20 teams this year features the largest single division in adult division play with a focus on continued growth. Despite the growth in size all of the teams shall be quite competitive owing part to many elite Open and Women’s players opting to create or participate on Mixed teams. Combine that with Mixed touring programs that are using 2016 as a stepping stone to capture a worlds bid in 2017 and things are looking very interesting. Let’s dig into the division a bit more.

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2015 USA Ultimate Club Championships Thoughts

I’m lucky to get three seasons of Ultimate each year; the first is a European tour that starts/ends with Paganello, the second is the Canadian series (read thoughts), and the third is the USA Ultimate series. This year was interesting due to the level of competition but more importantly the level of frustration. I’ve waited a week to see what would happen and I’m a little disheartened with a lack of momentum on some key issues. Let’s get started.

The number one topic was, and should be, the TMFs for swearing. Without rehashing too much you can get penalized, through significant field position changes, for swearing even when you’re injured. While there is still some discussion ongoing I’m more interested in action. Action is needed immediately in order to ensure that the passion that we have for our sport is not contained in nice little neat boxes. What I’m disheartened by is that players debate back and forth and put blame on the USA Ultimate staff. The staff is not to blame, we are to blame. We elect the board of directors and they set the direction. We can make real change by contacting them. When you do please take a few minutes to ensure that what you send them is legible and polite.

The second topic was the format of the tournament and how some teams appeared to be sandbagging. Conversations with players had mixed results with teams that didn’t meet expectations wanting a format change and those that did better mostly ambivalent or supportive. From the sidelines I miss the setup that we had in Sarasota where there was constant activity leading up to the Masters finals. There was a build up in energy to Saturday afternoon that was a true display of passion for our sport. We’re not going to be able to go back to those days and the feeling is that we should change the current format. The question is what format to go to that aligns with ESPN. There were also questions, from the players, as to the value of ESPN at the tournament. Regardless, this is probably the second issue that deserves attention in the next few months.

How did I not know about Rudy’s BBQ until this trip? I guess I’ve spent so much time at the fields and stayed away from the venue that I preferred eateries closer to the hotel. Unfortunate but good to know in case the tournament returns to Frisco. I hope the tournament does return there someday much like I hope it returns to Sarasota for a brief visit, even if it’s a tease. Returning to Frisco is more likely though.

Next year the tournaments in Rockford Illinois. Chicago Ultimate is running it with Gail Reich (we first met at Gender Blender) the TD. D3 championships were held there so the team already has experience. Gail was in Frisco shadowing and learning from the team. While USA Ultimate bring some staff there is a huge local volunteer presence required. The location of Rockford is interesting given the distance from Chicago (about an hour) and it should result in decent crowd sizes. No doubt we’ll also see plenty of supportive fans from surrounding states. Plenty of players were wondering about the weather as it could be great or it could be cold. Definitely a risk that USA Ultimate is taking with this one but they should be safe considering that it’s in September.

It was a great tournament and both USA Ultimate and the Dallas Ultimate Association deserve credit. The staff were always friendly and they have improved each year. The weather helped with only one “off” day with some rain. Generally speaking it was good weather and the wind, while it played a part, wasn’t the story like some years in Sarasota. I’m looking forward to a year in Frisco at some point in the future.

The general energy of the players seemed a bit more subdued than in past years. Not sure what it was but it wasn’t quite the same celebration of the season that we’ve seen in the past. I can’t quite put my finger on it but the players seemed more cynical and perhaps the TMF issue and the schedule issue had collectively caused players to be more subdued than usual.

Level of competition was good with relatively few flaws. Players are getting better and better. More coaches on the sidelines as well with some teams have three or four coaches/support tracking and assisting full time. Many were concerned about the program and experience that their players were gaining which means that they’re focused on not being one and done. Some teams were concerned that they finished too high, in Elite flight, and the travel costs would be prohibitive so they’d decline the placement.

Capitals made it to and played at Nationals with 18 players. Think about that for a few seconds. Input from players was they did well and need more depth. What cannot be argued is the incredible skill and ability that already exists on the team. They came in seeded 13th and left 13th after a tough tournament.

Traffic finished 5th over Scandal on Universe point in a very exciting game. The sideline had many spectators and when Traffic won they fell absolutely silent; it was an interesting experience. Traffic did have some issues against Riot in the quarter finals at the start but were on the path to recovery in the second half. Still things for them to polish before Worlds next year but they’re looking strong.

Iris had a great tournament and are a team to watch. FQU has made the right move by focusing their development on a provincial team. The team in the US series had 10 players from the CUC series which shows the availability of talent in Québec. Even so there were a few players that clearly got more touches and were much more talented than the remainder of the team. We’ll see how they develop over the next few years but the program is looking good.

Not a great tournament for GOAT but they finished well. Mentally they were also looking good at the end of the tournament despite key players on the sidelines. They were also missing a few of their stars and combined with injuries they managed to improve upon their 15th seed to finish 11th.

It’s a joy to see CLX play and tough to see them lose in the quarter finals; they play with an amazing intensity and consistency that I hope to see in the finals sometime soon. The Mixed division, as a whole, didn’t get as much attention as the other divisions. Also many grumbles from players about seedings being out of whack. It’ll be interesting to see who makes the Mixed National team considering the talent and egos present in the top tier.

Amazing defense by Brute Squad throughout the tournament but especially in the finals. They won 15-12 vs Riot; the team that came closest after that? Iris: 15-11.

Periscope is amazing! I was shooting from the sidelines on a few games and feedback was that it provides a good experience. I’m looking forward to seeing games from that view.

Heartbreaking to see Bravo lose the way that they did. The team was defeated for the rest of the tournament, you could feel the spirit wasn’t there any more.

15th place game in Open was ridiculous with players playing in street shoes and not taking the game seriously at all. I’m not sure what to make of it as they clearly didn’t take it seriously…but isn’t that the point of this? All of this?

CUC 2015 Thoughts

Well then! The quadrennial event of teams competing to form the selection committee that represents Canada at WUGC has passed and a number of important outcomes should be discussed. I have a few thoughts from my armchair that I’d like to share with you.

First, it’s the last time that we’ll have a large combined CUC barring one of the big cities stepping up and hosting both gender specific CUCs and Mixed CUCs together. From the sounds of things it went very well and congratulations to all of those that made it or participated in the series. Even if you don’t make it you’re an important part of the community that develops and moves our sport forward.

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