Tuesday, July 19, 2011

NexGen Ultimate tour - coming to your town?

The NexGen Ultimate tour is doing some amazing stuff, so much so that I am breaking an extended radio silence.

The premise for those of you who haven't checked it out yet - take the top 15 college players from around the country (world?) and face them against the top club teams in each city on a huge month-long bus tour of America.

Results have been mixed so far in terms of wins and losses for the NexGen team, with a record standing at 2-4, but from the looks of things the crowds have been sizable - 300-400 in most cities at least. Additionally the coverage of the games has been incredible.  http://nexgentour.com have video recaps of every game, player profiles, player interviews, highlight reels, live scoreboards, game updates on twitter - I mean really fantastic stuff.

Next stop is North Carolina to play Ring of Fire, then on to DC for Truckstop and Philly where NexGen takes on Southpaw.... future stops include Boston, Toronto, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Madison, and Minneapolis.

If you love ultimate, and I know you do - get to these games. Bring friends to these games - bring friends who don't already play ultimate to these games, forward the links and the schedule to your teammates and your leagues, pay for the full game coverage on UltiVillage.com, like them on Facebook, spread the word.

Once you check out a game feel free to report back here and let us know how it went.

And, finally, a question for discussion - when you are playing in college in a few years, would you spend a summer playing ultimate traveling in a bus like this?

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Friday, April 29, 2011

Tournaments All Over

This weekend is a HUGe tournament weekend, with teams in action all over the place!

Open Tournaments: Madison MudBath, Georgia HS Championships, Middletown Invitational, St. Johnsbury, St. Cloud Faceoff.

The Madison Mudbath looks to be the big Open tournament of the weekend, with Paideia heading up to face off against top local seed, Hopkins.  Other big teams to look out for up there are DeSmet, Neuqua Valley, Memorial, and Denver.  Both Memorial and Denver have a chance to mix up the pools and seeding, but look for Paideia to take down Hopkins in, what should be, a very good Championship Game

The Georgia HS Championships won't have Paideia's varsity squad, but their JV kids are ready to put on a show.  This one will come down to Collins Hill and Lakeside, with Collins Hill avoiding the upset bid.  I can see Grady and Woodward giving really good games to the finalists in the semis, but it seems the match-ups favor CH and Lakeside.

Middletown features a number of northern teams, several of which are preparing for a run at Eastern's.  This one is just a one day tournament, lots of games for each teams, but expect to see Amity and Hotchkiss in the top crossover, with pretty good games all day long.

St. Johnsbury has a ton of teams and should be pretty wide open.  Top seeded John Jay hasn't played in a while, while Longmeadow has only 3 games on its resume.  Stuyvesant has played much more, but have not faired so well.  Should be a even, fun tournament, and anyone's to win.

Girls Tournaments: Madison MudBath, St. Johnsbury, O'Hara Invite

The MudBath has 8 teams, about half of which have yet to play a game.  Look for Armstrong to pull this one out, over Southwest in the final.

St. Johnsbury features Amherst JVA and Columbia, as well as host team St. Johnsbury.  Amherst JVA is a force to reckon with, but Columbia should be up for the challenge.  I see them falling short, but neither team should have much problems reaching the finals.  A win for Amherst is in the cards

Finally, the O'Hara Invite.  Having worked hard to get this tournament together, I am happy it is finally here.  Amherst and Paideia roll into Philly and plan to square up in the championship game.  In their way stand YHB and Watchung Hills.  Paideia beat YHB a few weeks back at Paideia Cup, and Watchung hasn't played a game since early April.  The local teams, Haverford, Lower Merion, O'Hara and the other Virigina team, WT Woodson, look for a chance to upset some of the best girls teams around.  I don't much see that happening, but with all the talent around, it should be a good weekend in Philly.  Look for Paideia to continue their recent streak of wins against Amherst in the final.

Check out youthultimate.com for an edition of On The Line with me about the O'Hara Invite.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Missed out

I missed out on a bunch of HUGE tournaments last weekend.  But the results are just as interesting to look at.

Paideia Cup saw both Paideia teams, Open and Girls, losing to Seattle Fryz.  Seattle dispatched all challengers, impressively, only yielding an average of 8 goals against in the open Division, and only 3 goals against in the Girls division.  

In the Open Division, the top two teams will not be at Easterns' but the rest of the field gave us a look at how Easterns' might actually break down.  3rd through 6th place will all be at Eastern's, and if this tournament gives us an accurate look, that tournament will be even better at the top than I had expected!

In the Girls Division, Paideia girls did not have a problem with any team, until the ran into Fryz.  While 5 of the girls teams involved with the Paideia Cup will be at Easterns', the O'Hara Invite looks to have a huge showdown of Amherst and Paideia, so I am really looking forward to that, and not just because I happen to be the coach of the host team, Cardinal O'Hara.

Back on the north side, Born 2 Dive also showed some great storylines.  Amherst showed they are still at the top of the pile, crusing by all competition by at least 5 goals.  On the other side, Hopkins had a little more trouble getting to the final, including a close call against North Hills.  Pennsbury and NH decided not to rematch their Steel City final, instead, choosing to save it for the State Championships.  Radnor managed to show some chops, avenging a earlier loss to Watchung Hills to finish 5th, and Stuyvesant finished well in 9th place.

All said and done, on the Open side, Easterns' look way more interesting with at least 5 teams proving they can compete for the title.  The Girls' division looks like it belongs to Amherst, but an unblemished season will rest in the outcome of the O'Hara Invite.

Side note, Paganello, one of the largest beach ultimate tournaments in the world, is this week.  I am coaching a team of players over in Italy in the juniors division, just a handful of players from Philly, the team name is PHUEL.  We are the only juniors team from the US in the competition, check out the tournament at www.paganello.com for updates.

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Friday, April 08, 2011

Weekend Tournaments - HipHop, East Invite and Texas Championships

In what seems to be the earliest HS State tournament in the country, Texas kicks off the HS championship season.  Predictions again are all guesswork as it seems that none of the teams have played any games as of yet, or at least, reported any scores.  I will take LASA in a nailbiter over McCallum, 15-12.

East Invite is the first big tournament in CO this spring, with both Open and Girls divisions.  Out of the 12 teams in the Open Division, with a complete guess, I take Boulder over Cherry Creek in the championship, 15-10.  In the Girls Division, I'll take Denver East, undefeated in the tournament, with an average margin of winning of at least 6 points.

HipHoponPop is the largest of the tournaments this weekend, 12 Open Division 1, 4 Girls teams and 6 Division 2 teams.  In Division 1, I pick Radnor winning this year, taking out Lower Merion in the final 13-10.  Girls division looks a bit more hectic, but I will pick my own team, O'Hara as the eventual champions.

I won't be betting on any teams though, I'm not Pete Rose.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

HS Eastern's and Western's

So I have been pretty focused on PA Youth Ultimate, something I know I need to change, but, given that I see that everyday, it is hard not to be.  Sorry for that, I will try to do a little more coverage of other areas, but, I will definitely be guessing.  Unless someone helps by directing me to highlights or some kind of coverage of other areas.

Let's take a look at USA Ultimate Eastern's and Western's.  First off, let's not get overly excited as to what these tournaments are, invitational tournaments of teams that were in the previous year.  In order words, teams that have yet to prove themselves in the current season.  

Teams are invited in based on a paper application and how they finished last year at the State Championship tournament.  It is rare that young teams win State Championships, so, in essence, graduating seniors win the right for the younger players to play at a tournament that confuses most other sports.  Ever hear of a HS Baseball team bragging about winning a regional tournament?  No?  Me either.  I hear tons of boasting about State Championships, but these regional tournaments really don't mean anything more than great tournaments like Amherst Invitational, Paideia Cup, Hopkins Hustle, or Madison Mudbath.

I am not saying they are a bad thing.  I am just really looking forward to the day, in about 3 years, when USA Ultimate exits the regional tournament model and fully embraces the State Championship as the end of the line for HS teams.  Then, those other tournaments, like Amherst, Paideia, Hopkins, and MudBath, become even more sought after, and followed HS tournaments.

With that said, I think I should give my (way-too-early) predictions of the final standings for HS Eastern's and Western's.  To save me some grief, I am only predicting top 4 finishers.

HS Eastern's Girls:
Ok, this one, I think I have the best chance of predicting, because I have already seen a bunch of these teams.  YHB is very good, they split their squad at their own Invite and still won, beating Columbia (after CHS beat the other half of YHB Girls) at universe despite an injury to one of their better players.  Allerdice simply kicked everyone's butt last weekend at Keystone Classic, in some windy, and very uphill, conditions.  But, Amherst Girls are coming, and as Larry Bird famously said "So, who's coming in second?"  (Paideia has graduation this weekend, and wil end their season at the O'Hara Invite)
1. Amherst
2. YHB
3. Allerdice
4. Watchung Hills

*Check out O'Hara Invite at the end of April to see Paideia match up with Amherst, Watchung Hills, YHB, and probably Allerdice, and really see how good those teams are.

HS Eastern's Open:
So, keep complaining, but Pennsbury is out.  USA Ultimate allowed them to put a bid in, but ultimately, they decided to keep them out.  Paideia is not in for the same reason the Girls are out, graduation is that same weekend.  There is still some decent competition.  YHB has been whipping everyone, USN has lost only 4 games (2 to Paideia) and I have yet to see Columbia or Amherst play a game (against HS teams...)  Radnor has put up some impressive wins, but I mean, really, who have they played?
1. Columbia
2. Amherst
3. YHB
4. USN

*Born2Dive and Paideia Cup are on the weekend, April 16, tune in to both to see some fantastic Ultimate.

HS Western's Girls
Now I really have to guess.  8 teams playing, 7 from DiscNW.  I can't seem to find anything about Summit, though I have no doubt they are a worthy team.  Looking at the standings for the Girls League in DiscNW, The Northwest School is simply pulverizing everyone, only giving up an average of 3 goals a game.
1. Northwest School
2. Seattle Academy
3. Nathan Hale
4. Summit (because, hey, why not?)

HS Westerns' Open
I read a lot of Western teams complaining that noone writes about them.  Do you want to know why?  Take a look at the teams that are going to Westerns' and try to find out something, anything about them.  I have been searching for a while now, and I have very little.  Also, Louisiana and Minnesota, I feel bad for you guys, long journey to Oregon, Philly would have been so much cooler.  At least Catholic should come out with some medals, in what I am betting will be the best game of the weekend.
1. Catholic
2. Northwest School
3. Franklin
4. Summit (host team, gotta show some love)

Ok, make me look stupid, give me your predictions.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Season Picks - Girls

Last week, I looked at some of the top Open programs in PHUEL (Philly HS League), today, let's take a look at the Girls.

This year, the PHUEL Girls division has expanded to have 7 teams.

After back-to-back State Championships, Lower Merion lost Emily E. to graduation last year.  Still, captains Beah J and Rebecca H, and a huge number of girls give LadyBaba a solid chance at 3-in-a-row.

Haverford graduated a number of girls last year, but the entire team is incredibly solid.  While they don't play ultimate in the fall, most of the team is highly involved in other sports, making HUDA one of the most athletic teams in PHUEL.

Radnor Girls also have a substantial roster, full of girls with tremendous disc skills, and captains Amy M, Viv C, and Margie G provide awesome leadership, and Hannah H is a tremendous talent.

After a tumultuous 2010, O'Hara GirlSquad is led once again by Reg W, pound for pound, one of the best players in PHUEL.  Kaitlin M and Alex D add more veteran leadership, and an influx of freshman girls will put COHS back in serious contention for a State Championship

Pennsbury PUFF is returning for their second year, lead by Lindsey M, PUFF should make some solid gains on their performance of last year.

Pennsbury DiscThrow Inferno begins play this year after an off-season split with PUFF.  Led by Alyssa N, DiscThrow has yet to play a game as a team.

Central Girls also join the PHUEL ranks this year, with a great coaching staff, excited girls, and lots of passion, Central Girls are a welcome addition to the PHUEL Girls Division.

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Season Picks - Open

With the NCAA Tournament happening, I started thinking - "Who are the big players in the hunt for State Championships?"

PHUEL looks more wide open than ever before, in both the Open and Girls Division.

For the Open side:
Haverford graduated a ton, but the coaching there is amongst the best around and Connor L. will provide some matchup problems.
Radnor has a very strong core, notably Trent D., and will kick off their tournament schedule with their own Green Eggs & Spam.
Mastermann lost a good bit of players to graduation, but still retains some very good chemistry with Jake and Eli leading the way.
Lower Merion is just tenacious, and their tournament win at KitKat in the fall proved that Tim G. can lead his team well, even in times of adversity.
Cardinal O'Hara is getting their act together, and has a core of 8 juniors & seniors who have been playing together for 3 years, Zack P. and Brian O. will simply will this team to some victories.  COHS starts next weekend at the YHB Invite.   
Pennsbury is looking strong again, after a year absence, and led by Paul K., with plenty of chances to get better, starting this weekend at Bring the Huckus.

Anyone I missed?

Girls next week.

Quick Note:  I am the coach at COHS, but have tried to remain impartial.  Did I succeed?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Pre Season Routine

HS Ultimate has a great structure.  Our big, competitive season is the spring, which lets us use the fall to recruit and have some fun teaching the sport.  

At the school I coach at, we set up our year in two distinct seasons.  The fall is set up like a hat league.  We teach a lot.  Almost the entire fall, we are teaching how to throw, catch, cut, play D, and most importantly, we are building a solid foundation of Spirit.  We only play one tournament, KitKatInTheHat, and then, lots and lots of pick-up.  I love the fall, I love the ability to focus on the fundamentals, and recruit.

Our veteran players love it too.  Some of them love to teach, and some of them really love pickup.  Others really like the chance to assemble something on their own, and this year, they put together a mixed team for Club Sectionals.  Nevermind that they didn't win a game, they learned a ton.

Spring is when we break out the big guns.  We talk to the new recruits from the fall, and we make it very clear, if you are not here to work, see you next fall.  We don't want to chase anyone away, but, we also don't want players to get the wrong opinion of what we are doing.  We workout to get better at Ultimate, so that we can play the game at a higher level, and have a great time.

Our workouts start with a captains' meeting.  The team captains meet with me and set our goals.  Usually 3-5 team goals.  We also work out 5-10 strategies to meet these goals.  I want my captains to see and experience the process of planning to win.  It is crucial to actually playing good Ultimate and success.  We then explain these objectives to the team, get complete buy-in, and start working out.

We have a 12 week workout that meets the players where-ever they are in their own fitness.  We set realistic goals for each other and ourselves, we push each other, we encourage each other, and when necessary, we heckle each other.  We workout twice a week, and we also include a classroom session every week.  In the classroom, as a coach, I attempt to teach the rules more in-depth, I teach more about SOTG, and strategy.  Players don't seriously touch the field without a solid foundation of practical knowledge about the game.  Our favorite part is watching other games, muting the commentary, and providing our ow.  YouTube and UltiVillage are AWESOME for clips, and full games.

We try to plan our workout season to end with our first tournament.  I schedule our tournaments, the captains schedule all the individual games with minimal guidance from me.  I just give them a calendar of other activities and limit of games.

Preparing for the season is a long process.  As a coach, it is vital that I plan, or else every practice, and the entire season loses focus.  I have found that my players love a solid structure, they don't want to waste their time.  Neither do I.

How do you prepare for the season?

Thursday, March 03, 2011

New Contributor - Tom Cook

It has been a while since PlayUltimate was updated, but, I hope to start changing that.

I have just signed on as a new contributor, hopefully getting some conversations started about Pennsylvania youth ultimate, and youth ultimate in general.

First, introductions are in order:

I am Tom Cook, coach at Cardinal O'Hara High School, just outside of Philadelphia.  I have been coaching for about 8 years, for the past 7 I have been coaching both the Open and the Girls team, and I have one Girls State Championship (2008) under my belt.  This year, an alumni came back to take the reins of the Open team, leaving me to focus on the Girls, and a few other jobs.  This year, our Girls tournament, the O'Hara Invite, in in its 4th year and is shaping up to be one of the biggest and best in the country.

I have been serving on the PHUEL (Philadelphia High School Ultimate Education League) Board for the past 3 years, helping to direct competition, contribute to City and State Championships, advise new and existing teams.  I don't see many other leagues outside of PA, but I feel PHUEL is amongst the best in the country.

I hope to bring some of the workings of PHUEL to a larger audience so that other leagues can see what we are doing, how we manage, and maybe get some ideas on how to grow other leagues.  I hope to talk a bit about competition in PHUEL and hopefully PHUL (Pittsburgh High School Ultimate League), a lot about SOTG, and a bunch about organizing in general.

Lastly, I hope for weekly posts.  Let's see if I can hold myself to that one.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Chicago Invite - High School Edition

This coming March 20/21, the Chicago Invite will be taking place just outside the city limits in Naperville, IL. This year we have officially created a high school division and are already beginning to fill it out. Check out our website for it here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rutgers 3rd Annual Fall Juniors Tournament: Grease Trucks Classic, Nov 14-15

(sorry this is coming a bit late, but this come from Rutgers)

To all teams in the greater Philly, NJ, & NYC area:

The Rutgers Men's Ultimate team is excited to announce their third
annual fall high school/juniors tournament, the Rutgers Grease Trucks
Classic, on the weekend of November 14-15, 2009, on Rutgers' Cook
Campus in New Brunswick, NJ.

The tournament fee will be $160 and we will be accepting between 16-20
teams, with each team expecting to see 3-4 games per day. Food and
water will be provided on site, and the tournament will include the
chance to learn about the Rutgers Mens' Ultimate team, buy discs for
sale, and watch (or possibly even participate in) the Saturday night
club showcase game, which last year featured former Nationals
qualifier teams PoNY and Pike. Some teams that attended last year
included PA, NJ, and NY state champions Pennsbury, Columbia, and
Stuyvesant High School respectively, as well as Easterns qualifier
Watchung High School (NJ) and NY States 2nd place finisher John Jay
High School.


We hope the tournament to serve as a unique, season-finale opportunity
for those teams that attend. If interested, or possibly interested,
in attending then please send in a bid to ru(DOT)tournament(AT)gmail
(DOT)com with the following information:

1) "Rutgers Juniors 2009" and your team name in the subject line
2) your 2009 spring season results (leave blank if a first-year team)
3) number of players you graduated last spring (leave blank if a first-
year team)
4) a list of all current seniors on your team
5) a phone number by which you can be reached (please indicate whether
home or cell)
6) contact info for any other captains or coaches on your team

The bid deadline is October 31st, and PLEASE NOTE THAT all bids are
non-binding, so if in doubt, send in a bid anyways. Teams will be
notified as to whether or not accepted on November 1st, and any
subsequent teams who submit bids after the deadline will be put on a
waitlist along with the other teams not accepted into the tournament,
so it never hurts to send in a bid late.

See you all come November.....

-Machine Ultimate

Monday, August 17, 2009

IL State Tournament HL Video

2009 Jacobs Invite (IL State Tournament) from luke johnson on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

2009 UPA HS Western Championships - SEHS (part 1)

2009 UPA HS Western Championships - SEHS (part 1) from luke johnson on Vimeo.

Option click here to download the ipod version.

Quicktime Download (720p), click here to download the ipod version.

2009 UPA HS Western Championships - SEHS (part 2)

2009 UPA HS Western Championships - SEHS (part 2) from luke johnson on Vimeo.

Option click here to download the ipod version.

Quicktime Download (720p), click here to download the ipod version.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

[Video] Sharon High Highlights - and media coverage!

^ the A team

^ the B team

From Coach Dave Christiansen - "The A-team finished third in the state tourney for Division 2 and our B-team won the D3 state championship tourney"

The team also garnered some awesome local press. Click here for the article.

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