Thursday, February 09, 2006

impending spring season....

can you hear that? i think its getting closer, is it spring rains? melting snow? visible grass? perhaps even the sun? no! it is the high school ultimate spring season!

hark! it approaches.

captains and coaches alike know now is the time to begin figuring out their seasons if they havent already. do they want to travel? tournaments or individual league games? the possibilities are numerous, and ultimately each team's organizing powers must of course decide on a season or plan of action that best prepares their team for whatever their goals may be - league championship, state championship, or easterns/westerns.

thus leads me to another vague open question in this still pre-tournament season - what does your team plan to do? mostly tournaments? mostly individual games? traveling far? what are the benefits that you personally see.

the way we ran it in my days at Prep was primarily single games, because a) thats what time allowed given the busy schedules of players etc, and b) it allowed us consistent (At least once a week) gauges of how we were (or werent) improving. interspersed on a few weekends were tournaments, most notably in the vaguely mid-season Kit Kat in the Hat in Philly, and then it all culminated in the PA state championship, and then PHUEL championship. which i think personally is a good way to do it, idk about other leagues nationally but around the Philly area there arent very many tournaments, if you want to go to em you have to travel, which is a tough thing to do. so primarily you rely on the one on one contests.

but enough of my blathering, what does your team plan to do in terms of scheduling this year?

ps - anyone reading RSD lately? hmm, is playultimate creating a bit of a stir? ... nah, just a mediocre hype thread, ah well


Fantusta said...

Lower Merion plans on playing as much as possible... submit bids for every tournament we can get our hands on, and then scheduling PHUEL games in the meantime (SJP being among our hopeful victims). Our team is new, senior-heavy, and Ultiamate-hungry. This leads to a desire for as many games as possible, with tournaments being the best way to guarantee games. Single games find themselves prone to cancellations much more easily, which is one of my major concerns.

-Chris Vanni
LM Babaganouj

McCabe said...

i completely agree on the single games being more prone to cancellation.

last year we had a significant problem with teams cancelling. and on top of that, we consistently attempted to get family friends and fans out to the games, so we would have games scheduled, people invited and coming and then have cancellations the night before.

my advice to those who would do this to teams - dont.

if you dont think you will be able to garner enough people to play, try to cancel the games 2 weeks in advance minimum. its just common courtesy, kapeesh?

good points

Jake said...

i coach hopkins and our spring schedule starts with a tourney in wisconsin apr. 1&2, followed by paideia cup/madison mudbath (apr. 21-22). we have a tournament pretty much every other weekend until the state tourney june 3&4.

in between times, we'll be trying to schedule scrimmages with st. olaf, UofMN, UMDuluth, and CUT (or CUT-B). after that, it's all practice and fundraising. i try to get the college teams in the middle of the week and we have usually travelled to their school just so the kids can check it out. if we can pin the captain down a week or so out, we're generally guaranteed a pretty good game from the college team.

it'll be a hectic schedule this spring, but i hope it will also be the most rewarding.

Coach Becker said...

The team I coach will be attending mostly single games; however, I agree with the aforementioned woes of facing cancelled games. I just started our program last year, and to avoid having this happen, a friend and I organized a HS league in our area. Once teams had a regular schedule (for us, games on Sunday afternoons), I believe they were much less likely to no-show. Let me explain.

I feel that local league play should become the epicenter from which growth in the juniors game radiates. Weekend tournaments, many of which require a chaperone to deal with the legal worries of watching over a group of minors, are ill-designed to encourage maximum participation from the juniors crowd. Consider the following example. Before we established the HS league in St. Louis, there were really only 2, maybe 3 teams in the metro area playing ultimate on a regular basis. With only a little publicity last year, we were able to find/create 8 teams for the league. But here’s the kicker. Now that there’s an established institution (i.e. the league) where teams can conveniently, consistently get games, teams have come out of the woodwork. Way up from last year’s 8, we’re looking at the possibility of FOURTEEN teams in the league this year! Just two years ago there were only THREE! The Missouri State Championship Tourney (St. Louis Classic) last year couldn’t fill 10 slots for the juniors division (and 2 of the teams that DID play were out-of-state). This year, the Classic has expanded the juniors field to TWENTY-FOUR! If we truly want to build the sport, not just at the highest levels, but among the general public—more local juniors leagues must be established. Since they provide ready-made local communities of potential players, organizing the leagues through the high schools makes perfect sense.

In addition to this local growth, I suspect that fostering more and stronger HS leagues will also help to grow the game in general. Baseball, basketball, football—they all get kids started young, and while youth leagues would provide an even greater needed foundation for ultimate at the higher levels, we must walk before we can crawl. Since the mean age in the club circuit is still around 30 (the subject of a series of Ultimatetalk posts a while back), building the juniors community can only help to further establish and legitimize ultimate.

Not that tournaments don’t provide their own unique, valuable experiences, but local leagues ensure a base-line of interest and participation, and grow ultimate’s player-base MUCH more effectively than juniors tournaments. It only takes the two of us to organize and run our league (plus each team’s coach/captain/chaperone), and it seems like not enough local scenes have made an effort to create such a thing. It’s so easy, and yields such huge benefits! Sorry about the rant, but I feel rather strongly about this.

Jake said...

leagues: base line interest

tournaments: players get much better, quicker

leagues are great, and hopkins will be participating in the MNHSUL, but please understand that i am coaching the varsity team, and going to tournaments is one of the largest draws to be on the travelling, competitive team.

our team's growth has mirrored our state's growth in that we started with 15 players on HUrt and (i think) 8 teams 4 years ago, and now we have over 80 players registered for spring and over 24 teams in the league.

we don't take the b teams to nearly as many tournaments and travelling scrimmages because of transportation issues, chaperones, etc. but i feel tournaments are the single best way to hook a player and keep them interested in the sport as opposed to practices and single games.


Coach Becker said...

I agree with everything Jake says. Tournaments improve individual players MUCH more effectively than weekly games, and there's an element of community that shines during tournaments that does not appear, at least not as noticably, in leagues.

But I still maintain--in the interest GROWING THE GAME, of making ultimate accessible to a larger NUMBER of potential juniors players, leagues are the way to go (for the aforementioned reasons). By the way, leagues are also MUCH less expensive, opening the door for those who may not have the scratch to pay that bid fee every other weekend.