A few minutes after I arrived at the dorms today I ran into Rob McLeod (of ultimaterob.com) who is where coaching the Calgary juniors team: CUJO. We chatted face to face for the first time and afterwards Rob indicated he’d send me a blog post. Much like a lack of Women’s coverage (which we’re working on, I swear!) we have a lack of Juniors coverage. Hopefully the contributions of the Juniors writers for CUC will help you in recognizing how important and vital Juniors development in and outside of CUC is. Now, the post:
CUJO, the Calgary Juniors team, is made up of mostly grade 10’s, a few grade 12’s and a few grade 9’s. It’s good that most of our team still has 2 years left; it’s tough because coming to Canadian Nationals means that the top juniors teams will be grade 11’s and 12’s so we are at a disadvantage. However, since it’s the first Nationals for 19 of our 20 kids, they aren’t really thinking about that. They’re thinking more about how excited they are to put on their cleats, put on their CUJO jerseys and start playing ultimate.
To introduce our team before I get into our 2010 CUC experience, I first have to explain that Calgary, compared to cities like Vancouver and Winnipeg, doesn’t really have much of a juniors scene. Between the popularity of winter sports, the difficulty in cracking the sports curriculum within the Calgary Board of Education and the lack of good fields, we have a pretty small scene. However, this year has been the first in quite a few years in which we’ve seen some growth happening. CUJO has attended 3 tournaments (CUC2010 will be our 4th) and we play in an adult league every Thursday (winning most of our games). The decision to attend Sherbrooke didn’t come without some difficulty but once we committed to going, we now had the task of having our kids commit to going. Well, between family vacations, work and school commitments, we were finding ourselves coming up short on a roster. That’s when our esteemed Juniors Coordinator, Tim Friesen, stepped up and started to make things happen. CUJO, now in Sherbrooke for CUC2010, finds itself with 20 players – 12 of those players from Calgary, 3 from Halifax, 1 from Fredericton, 2 from Edmonton and 2 from Vancouver. if it wasn’t for the passionate kids from these other cities (and the hard work of Tim in organizing the team), CUJO would not be in attendance at these championships.
The Calgary CUJO kids (along with myself and some parents) left Calgary around 1am on Wednesday, August 11, landing in Montreal around 7am. Some of the kids slept but most didn’t since it was such a short (well 3.5 hour) flight. Arriving in Montreal, most of the kids were surrounded by an unfamiliar scene – a French speaking population. Not only had most of the kids never been to Montreal but it was also the furthest East most of the kids had ever been! Sitting around waiting for our shuttle, we do what we do best – just hung out. I can honestly say that I have the greatest non paid job in the world – these kids are just awesome. So funny, clever, smart and attentive. They soak up new information like you wouldn’t believe, are some of the funniest people I know and just have this innocence about them that you can’t help but laugh at. From stealing seats to making fun of the random people walking through the airport to complaining about how tired they are, I knew right away that this was going to be a great trip! Add to that fact that for 5 days I was going to be surrounded by close to 1,000 ultimate players from all over Canada (included in that number being some of the most amazing people I am lucky enough to call my friends) and I grew more excited.
Well, as usually happens, the shuttle didn’t leave on time, it was a super hot and bumpy ride to Sherbrooke from Montreal, and it took us around 3 hours to finally get to Bishop’s University – the place we would call our home for the next 4 nights.