Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Road Trip: College Nationals 2006

[This is a long one, so click the "Continue reading" link below to read the whole thing.]

Friday night at around 11pm - I had just gotten off a 6 hour shift at a local movie theatre where i work, after a brief stop at home to grab my bags a friend picked me up and we drove to pick up a third friend who would be going with us to Columbus, Ohio.

After a slight detour we were on the PA turnpike and on our way to the Ohio capital, which was - for this weekend - the capital of college ultimate in the USA...

7 Hours later, with only 2 brief stops for gas and stretches we stopped for food at a Denny's in Ohio near the West Virginia border. It being around 5:15 at this point, we were relatively alone in the fine eating establishment which provided me with some wonderful pancakes, sausage, bacon, eggs, and toast all for less than 6 bucks.

Roughly 2 hours later we pulled into the parking lot at Spindler Fields and got out of the car, even though I hadnt slept in 22 hours at that point i didnt feel tired in the slightest bit.

The grass was beautiful and green, the former soccer fields were now blanketed with ultimate fields and players. Most visibly the UCSB squad was seen jogging around the fields to warm up in their somewhat legendary Black Tide jerseys.

Along the side of the parking lot before the fields were around 5 tents set up with food provided by a local pizza shop, merchandise from VC Ultimate, Gaia, 5 Ultimate as well as the "tournament headquarters".

A large buletin board was set up next to HQ, boasting the accomplishments and shortcomings of the teams thus far at the tournament.

In open pool play everyone had held seed, somewhat of a rarity in recent years.

We walked around a little bit taking in the sights and sounds of my first experience with college nationals. Everything looked professionally done, organized and ready to go off with out a hitch.

There were TDs zooming around the fields with golf carts refilling water jugs by every sideline. There were scoreboards along each field and little markers denoting which field number you were looking at.

I was definitely impressed and excited to see the games start.

We walked over to where Pittsburgh's En Sabah Nur would be playing Harvard's Redline at the start of the 10th place bracket? (i think) And the next field over was Delware's Sideshow vs. Brown's Brownian Motion.

Both games were hard fought but at the end both Metro-East teams reigned.

On the other side of the field complex UC Santa Barbara was playing Georgia in prequarters. We walked over just in time to see UCSB making a run late in the game against Jojah. Black Tide had a strong squad but was unable to hang with Dylan Tunnel and the rest of Jojah's O-line, the Tide seemed somewhat less athletic on average than portrayed in the semifinal team featured in I Bleed Black.

This sent Georgia into the semifinals where they would face Colorado and Beau Kittredge, and UCSB was relinquished to the consolation brackets - now facing Pitt.

Tensions were high going into the UCSB/Pitt game. Pitt had something to prove and UCSB seemed intent on proving that their program was on the rise again.

Points were traded early with both teams testing the deep game. The overall game mood led to a hotly contested point early in the game that lasted for easily 10 minutes. After numerous contested and some questionable calls observers handed both teams the equivelant of technical fouls.

The game remained close until the end with the Black Tide squeezing out two in a row to win.

After that game i moved to see the second half of Georgia vs. Colorado.

Jojah vs. Mamabird - Southwest vs. Atlantic Coast - Dylan Tunnel vs. Beau Kittredge - phew baby, ultimate fans need not ask for more. And they were not disappointed. The crowd of roughly 200 gathered on a hill next to the away sideline to watch the contest, with total fan presence probably weighing in at around 300.

When i got there i believe Georgia was down a break, and the first goal i saw was Beau Kittredge coming down with the disc out of 3 Jojah red shirts. Very nice.

On the Colorado offensive side of things Beau seemed to be handling the disc more than i had watched in the CSTV games, more of a resigned cutter role than a constant deep threat.

Somewhere in there Georgia regained that break, and things were tied up. Points were traded back and forth, featuring huge layout d's on both sides of the disc. A few big grabs as well led the game to 12-12.

Universe point.

I wish i could recall more individual details but it was one of those points/moments that only leaves you with an impression - i cant even remember who started on o or d, i just remember Georgia eventually scoring at the far end zone red jerseys storming the field. A few Colorado players making pleas to a nearby observer, him upholding the play and then watching the Colorado players realize that having been in the finals for the past 3 years (or more?) they have now been eliminated in the quarterfinals.

But thus is nationals, and the whole UPA series for that matter - any team from anywhere in the country can come together and win a national championship, all it takes is a team with the drive, determination and work ethic to make it happen.

You could see that the Georgia players wanted it more, and in the eyes of the Mamabird athletes all you could see is this look of "i cant believe this is happening, dont worry about it will end up winning this game, oh crap i really cant believe this is happening"

So that game kicked ass. Definitely one of the highlights of my weekend.

Next up was Florida vs. Stanford on the same field.

Florida is a very good team, let me just say that. The way they played was incredibly disciplined, their cuts were beautifully timed, it was a set of athletes all on the same page grooving like clockwork. This is the sort of program one who aspires to build a team should look to.

Yes they absolutely have their stars - Tim Gehret earned his stripes as callahan every time i saw him play. But he was a cog in an extremely well greased wheel.

Stanford also looked like a strong disciplined team. There are always teams at tournaments who are just kind of (to borrow an expression) "happy to be here", and then there are those who know they belong there.

Stanford looked like a team who knew they belonged there. This was also a team that sought to work smoothly within their set of offense.

The plain and simple fact of this game is that Florida was smoother, more calm collected and sheer out wanted it more.

Having a tad more athleticism didnt hurt either.

My only complaint was in their mindset of making everything is certain Florida landed a few endzone layouts (right by the cameras) that at least from the looks of it could have easily been run down, but alas thats life and now they are some pretty sweet pics.

Florida wins 15-7 - Did i mention they are good?

So that was it for saturday bracket play. We head back to the car - now around 5:30ish and drive to Ohio State to visit a friend and grab some much needed shower and food.

Around 9pm we leave OSU to drive to Athens, Ohio - about 1.5 hours from Columbus - where we are staying the night with another friend. We get there at around 11pm making total time without sleep at the moment around 38-39 hours. Finally fall asleep around 12:30 after a little Top Gun, and ro-sham-bo for the futon.

7:30 AM the next morning - its go time. National championship awaits, Wisconsin vs. Florida - the two undisputed best teams in the country. Both leading incredible seasons: Wisconsin 48-3, Florida 49-1

Wisconsin has lost to Florida twice, Florida has lost to Wisconsin once: finals at Centex.

The boys in baby blue from Madison, Wisconsin vs. the CollegeUlti kids from the retirement capital of the world.

As a fan you cant dream of a better game than this. The whole season when people talked of championship these two names came up, and now im taking my seat among 900ish of my closest ultimate fan family members to watch and see who will be crowned king of 2006.

There is no possible way i can encapsulate the game in a single rundown, like i mentioned before this as well was more of a game that just left an impression. But i can tell you this, there is something inspiring - as someone who works to promote and grow the sport - about sitting in a stadium with that many people who came to watch this game. Yes - many were players, some were family members, but there were also fans. There were people there who had no connection with those guys on the field other than that they played ultimate. That they knew what the game was.

I ended up driving a total of 1,200 miles that weekend in less than 48 hours, i was awake for more than 40 of those hours and ya know what i wouldnt trade one sleep deprived second of it.

Florida ended up winning the national championship, capping off a very near perfect season (only missing it by one point at centex), but who won barely even mattered to me. On that 9 hour drive home all that mattered is that we had made the trip.

I invite you to watch the national championships when they air on CSTV on July 19th. And every once in a while take a glance up at the blurry crowd in the background and realize what the sport you play has become. Its no longer only a game for barefooted kids just looking for a good time in a park, or varsity sport rejects in a New Jersey parking lot - this is real, ultimate is a sport with the capacity to fill a stadium with spectators and fans.

The trip was a ton of fun, and i hope that in the future each of you has the opportunity to not only play at college nationals but watch.

Pictures from nationals...

UPA Rundowns
open final
womens final
other rundowns
final standings

Sunday, May 28, 2006

this week in comments... 5/20-5/28

the beginning of a [hopefully] weekly feature on the site, this week in comments...

Vacaville swept their pool with only 6 players, Alameda did it with 7. The two teams met in the semifinals (with Vacaville's roster bolstered) and at 6-6 one of Alameda's girls broke her collarbone on a layout bid in the endzone.

Alameda was left with 5 players (one went with the girl to the hospital), so they tied with Vacaville and went on to play in the Finals as a combined squad.
... from Thomas Sanchez in the weekend open thread 5/27/06

Best thing ever! http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2396411865404687179&pr=goog-sl

Beau gets skied!
... from Earmuffs in College Nationals begin tomorrow!
(in case you have no idea what is going on - watch this video first - ok, now you get it.... right?)

From the Bird perspective we brought a really young team to Easterns (and States), with very few having any real tournament experience. Most of the players didn't run at Easterns so we got beat by teams that wanted to win more we did. We also used our result from Easterns as a motivational tool to beat our main geographical rival (Yorktown). We were also missing our best player and captain (his brother was getting married the same weekend). Again, more than missing the one player it was lack of experience and desire to win.
... from Nick L in the Virginia State Championships - Recap

Not having Amherst and Northwest play this year is one of the disadvantages of going to a Easterns/Westerns format. The Northwest team has a lot of juniors. Maybe next year Northwest will enter one of the East Coast tourneys for the opportunity of a matchup. It would be sweet to see!
... from Anonymous in the weekend tournament - Western-sized open thread

I totally disagree with the last comment. Pennsbury and Columbia have no chance of touching Amherst next year. Regardless, Amherst will always be the best team on the East Coast, atleast in the next couple years.
... from Anonymous in the weekend tournament - Western-sized open thread

and ok, so i lied its actually 8 days this time. each week ill try to feature some of the best comments (debate inducing, breaking information, humorous, whatever my little heart desires), so the more you comment and interact the more chance you have of being "featured"? idk, everyone loves the discussion, so if you've got something to say - say it.

What I did on my summer vacation... 1000 miles. 48 hours. 1 national championship.

Just got home from Columbus, Ohio watching college nationals.

Very exausted, ill sum it up like this

woke up at 10am friday morning, 22 hours later (a 6 hour shift of work included) i arrive in Columbus, Ohio - watch prequarters, quarters, and semis games. dont get to sleep until 11:45pm that night. next day - Wisconsin vs. Florida for the national title, 9 hours later back in the Philly burbs having driven 1,200 miles and been awake for 40 hours in the last two days.

and ya know what? i wouldnt have traded a single sleep deprived second of it. college nationals is an experience you dont want to miss. whether through playing (obviously) or watching as a fan, if you have even a remote chance of going to see the tournament - do it.

ill get a recap of the games i saw (UGA vs. Colorado, Stanford vs. Florida, Wisc vs. Florida as well as portions of a ton of others), as well as other fun anecdotes etc as soon as i catch up on sleep (and see the PHUEL champs tomorrow)

OHSUC - June 03/04

OHSUC: Oregon High School Ultimate Classic
Our State Tournament for the Mixed Division

Date: June 03/04
Location: Bend, OR

Potential Teams:
1. South Eugene "Axemen"
2. Crescent Valley "Tribe"
3. Churchill "Lancers"
4. Castro Valley "Red Hand"
5. Sheldon "Irish" A
6. Summit A
7. Philomath
8. Churchill "Lancers" B
9. Lincoln
10. Summit B
11. Sheldon "Irish" B
12. West Salem
13. Merlo Station
14. Tigard
15. Hillsboro
16. Sisters
17. Eugene MS AllStars "Serious George"
18. Bend
19. Mountain View
20. North Eugene

Friday, May 26, 2006

weekend open thread - 5/27/06

Columbus is hopping right now with college natties, but that isnt the only action going on in the ultimate world this weekend -

On Saturday we've got...
Grass Burn 2006 in Grass Valley, CA
Know Swill in Ligonier, PA

Then on Sunday...
the 2006 UPA Maine State Championship in Cumberland Fairgrounds, ME
the Highlander Classic in Waterbury, Connecticut
the 2006 UPA Vermont State Championships in Rutland Town, VT

and then on Monday...
DEFJAM in Silver Spring, Maryland
PHUEL City Championships (Philly) in Perkiomen Valley, PA
PHUEL City Champs Div II (also in Perk valley)
the 2006 UPA Wisconsin Girl's State Championship in Madison, WI
the 2006 UPA Wisconsin Open State Championship also in Madison, WI

and all the while the top 16 open and women's teams are battling it out in the middle of Ohio for the title of best college team in the country!!

phew, holy hell thats a lot of ultimate this weekend!! looking forward to hearing the scores and stories...

consider this thread opened...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

College Nationals begin tomorrow!

Somewhat pertinent, since most high schools are very close or already finished their seasons and as a result all those seniors will be moving on to wonderful college programs somewhere attempting to make an impact and all that wonderful stuff.

And what perfect timing, because tomorrow begins the 2006 UPA College Championships (nationals, and yes this year it is nationals because there arent any canadian teams)

Anyone following the action? Your hometown favorites? If UltiCentral ends up doing u-pickem again who are you choosing to win it all? Florida? Wisconsin? Beau Kittredge by himself?

Ill be making the 7-9 hour drive from Philadelphia to go watch (leaving friday night at 11pm to hopefully arive by prequarters on saturday) and ill try to update from whatever hotel i end up at.

in the meantime...
check out the official site - http://college2006.upa.org
the scoreomatic page will have updates throughout the weekend -
and of course the score reporter site

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Sports Illustrated/CNN - testing the ultimate market?

if you read RSD perhaps you may have noticed an interesteding trend recently. there have been 3 posts this month with links to articles on the Sports Illustrated blog - SIoncampus.com

but i digress... for years upon years upon years (since the very inception of ultimate itself) there has always been talk of corporate sponsorship, national recognition, coverage from ESPN and the like. and while in other times in the past (background info c/o Ultimate history book) there have been little ripples in the pond it seems as if now there is a bit of a popular wave growing.

CSTV - college sports television now covers the college nationals semis and finals (this year held in Columbus, OH - if ya can go: go!) while it may be a small cable station with few subscribers other than those with very elite satelite packages it is still ultimate being featured (last year in a prime time slot) on tv. its not a humorous side bar "oh look what these crazy kids are doing these days" on the anchors way back to the "real" sports - it is a feature, a centerpiece and apparently something people watch, because CSTV is coming back for a third year i believe?

CSTV draws their coverage from University newspapers from around the country - and as you can see from this page, there were 19 articles written in all of 2005 compared with more than 17 articles written in the first half of 2006. (a side note - if your college runs an article in the school newspaper about your team email CSTV and let them know, more than likely they will put it on the site)

back on current news - SIonCampus, the seemingly somewhat experimental arm of Sports Illustrated now seems to be thoroughly testing the ultimate market - perhaps leading up to some sort of coverage of college nationals?

Since the beginning of May there have been three seperate articles - mostly feature type pieces, or ones looking for reader input - but three articles nonetheless.

Depending on the amount of hits the site received for those articles, compared with whatever else they are covering i wouldnt be surprised at all if they began to expand their coverage as a whole of the sport in the future.

Its all about the money. If people can make money from advertisements - bring people in to read those articles, and thus expose them to advertising, then it will continue and grow. So who is going to advertise to people who read ultimate articles? Thats the question. Once you can answer that definitively (and see in real life that said company is in fact interested) you will see an exponential growth in ultimate coverage.

So perhaps this is the start of something cool? Ya never know, but at least its nice to see a disc on a website run by sports illustrated.

Beloit breaks world record
Michigan women
Ultimate college sport

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Westerns Review - Teams

Hey all,

Some comments about teams that Northwest played at Westerns as well as some comments about teams we didn't play.

Teams we didn't play first.

Churchill HS: This is a great program that was unlucky two games in a row and ended up out of contention. They were in the toughest pool as it turned out. Look at their roster and you will see that they only have one senior. They will be right back in contention for the title next year. Not only that but with the work Luke is doing building middle school programs in Eugene that town will be huge at the elite HS level as well as the YCC level. Churchill and South Eugene have already turned out some amazing players who will be in the spotlight this weekend at College Nationals. Luke is probably a little down right now but watch what happens next year for Churchill. And then watch what happens when their middle school programs start sending kids into the high school program.

Crescent Valley: These guys and girls are great. This is the only team that I saw that had girls playing in the open division. We have only had great games with Tribe over the past two years and we are going to miss the seniors who are graduating. They are as classy as a team gets, but they can beat you too. Their coach, Jones, has done a great job with this program. Good luck to all the Tribe seniors, I hope you guys are playing in college and that we see you around at tournaments.

Lakeside: Lakeside was our biggest Seattle rival this year with our last game of the year ending in a tight 15-12 victory for us. There are also a couple younger siblings of NWS guys on the Lakeside team. Lakeside is led by a group of phenominal seniors who along with coaches Jeremy and Meredith have put together a strong program in a not always hospitible envioronment. In fact two of the Lakeside players missed their state quaterfinals soccer game to attend Westerns. Lakeside is a short quick team that also has a lot of freshman playing points in important games. These guys will continue to be strong if some of the younger guys step up and fill the big shoes left by the graduating seniors. Look for the seniors to make a big mark in college ultimate.

Seattle Academy: SAAS is a young team with a ton of talent and a great coaching staff. When they play well they are a very good team. Their main issue is their consistency, but that will improve as their strong freshmen and sophomores get older. It was great to see SAAS cheering for us in the final especially considering that we are arch rivals in every sport. We are very similar schools only a few blocks apart from each other in downtown Seattle and we compete in the same league in other sports.

Teams we played in order of when we played them:

Lakewood: This is an up and coming team and program. I was very impressed with their coaching, athleticism, and disc skills. They had a big guy on their team who is only a junior and will be a major player next year and in college. If this program can keep its coaches and continue to build support from their community, they are going to be very very strong. They seemed to be a bit nervous playing us in their first game of the tournament. I saw them play a little on the second day and it was clear that they had improved tremendously in one day which is what tends to happen to young teams at these kinds of tourneys.

Nathan Hale: Hale is another Seattle team with a great coaching staff. They were very unlucky in that one of their key players was too ill to travel to the tournament. That loss affected them tremendously. When they played us their heart wasn't in it because of who was missing and I think they might have been looking past us to their next game with Lakewood to decide who would get the second seed out of the pool.

Armstrong: We played Armstrong last year when they were stronger. Graduation affected their experience level but they still worked hard and they were obviously well coached. They had several chances to give up against us but they kept playing hard until the final point was scored. Plus they had a great team nickname.

South Eugene: We found out that we were going to have to play South Eugene, Lakeside, or Churchill in our quarter final and we knew that we had our work cut out no matter which team ended up across from us. The Axemen are another team that only has a couple of seniors and will be even stronger next year. By the time the game started the Axemen were down to 9 or 10 healthy players. The difference in the game were a couple of unlucky throws by SE and a greatest by one of our guys that saved us big time. I can't say enough about the heart of this team, they never gave up even though they were playing tired. The final score was 15-9. They are are also a very classy team. This year's group carried on the great tradition of Axemen ultimate. And no they don't need a coach but it would be nice to see them getting more support from their community.

Alameda: After South Eugene we had to turn around and play another strong team. Alameda has a great coach and great players. They are a classy team. We knew we were in trouble after the first few points so we jumped into a zone defense just as the winds picked up and that was the difference. By that I mean the wind being the difference, we are a good team in the wind. The final score in no way reflects how close this game was. In fact our semi-final lasted two or three points longer than the other semi so Hopkins got a good look at us before the final. This is a small school program that will continue to be strong as long as they continue to have strong coaching. They also have several players who can step right into college ultimate. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a callahan award winner to come out of Alameda in the near future.

Hopkins: This is a great squad and this program will be a huge player on the elite HS scene for years to come. They had great coaches as well as what looked to be great community support. The coaches from both teams talked before the final and we decide to request observers just so nobody was robbed on a final point or anything. This was a very classy final game. It started with both teams shaking hands and wishing each other good luck before the game started. We had observers, but as far as I could tell not one call went to the observers. Not one. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong on that. The game was back and forth and was very even. Both teams had athletes and skills. Both teams did throw the disc away a couple of times, but I think the difference in the game were three jaw-dropping defensive plays by a couple of our guys. I disagree with the UPA reporter who thinks both teams played a little loose because of the big crowd. I can't speak for Hopkins but we put the disc downfield because it is effective for us. It wasn't just one guy on our team either, it was two or three hucking and six or seven scoring. Anyway, if this game was played 10 times I bet it would go each way 5 times. People are talking about Amherst and Northwest needing to face off to prove who is the best team in the country, but in my opinion Hopkins needs to be conidered as a possible best team in the country this year as well. Our team is hoping that Hopkins will now be considered as a Westerns team from now on, because we loved playing them and want to play them again win or lose. They play the game the right way and are deserving of respect from all over the country.

One last thing. Did anyone happen to shoot the final game on video. We didn't but would love a copy of the game.

-Mike Mullen, Head Coach
The Northwest School Boys Varsity Ultimate Team

Westerns - Photographs

The Churchill High School Open Team did not do as well as it had hoped... in fact, much, much worse (2nd seed to 9th)... but, i'll save the story for a video sometime in the future.

In the mean time, many people have been asking for photos, and though our only game worthy of note was our Lakeside double-game point loss, Andrew Sheridan (amateur photographer on our team) did take shots of the finals game. You can see them all below:

Open Division (Almost only CHS)
Girls Division (Almost only CHS)
Showcase Game (Johnny Bravo vs Colorado Mamabird)
Open Finals (Northwest vs Hopikin)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Virginia State Championships- Recap

We held the 4th Virginia High School Championships this past weekend in Mechanicsville, Va. I know that more attention is going to Westerns, which it should be, but I did want to give everyone a recap of what happened.

It was clear from that start that there were two dominant teams in the state HB Woodlawn (Yorktown) and LC Bird. Both went to Easterns, with HB Woodlawn finishing in the final four and Bird finishing tied for 15th. Both teams went through pool play winning every game. Once you got past the top teams, I don't think anyone knew how the rest would fall out.

St. Christopher's (from Richmond) and Woodside (from Newport News) both had good Saturdays taking the second seeds. Woodside is a well disciplined team coached by Christian Lesnett and led by Aaron Richards a sophomore handler with unbelievable and smart cuts. Woodside knew what they needed to do to win the game. St. Christopher's might not be as disciplined but were smart with their throws and where to find the next cut.

Maggie Walker (from Richmond) with only 9 players led by Sami Ablouhosn as the main force behind their team took one of the 3 seeds and and Cave Spring (from Roanoke) took the other. Cave Spring returned for their second year. They played an intense defense, and ran hard throughout the tournament.

Patrick Henry (from Roanoke) and James Monroe (from Fredericksburg) took the fourth seeds. Patrick Henry was coached by Joe Antone, and in their first year of existence seem poised to make the step up next year. James Monroe was led by Maggie John and with only 9 players (one of which wearing a bee suit). Maggie has almost all of the throws needed for an elite player, and she is a sophomore.

The two B-teams took the fifth spots, HB Woodlawn B and Woodside B. Both were very spirited and well coached. There is a lot of potential on those teams that the A teams will be looking to utilize in the near future.

The quarterfinals had HB Woodlawn against Patrick Henry, Woodside against Cave Spring, LC Bird against James Monroe and St. Christopher's against Maggie Walker, with the last game being the most exciting. Maggie Walker went out to a 5-1 lead early on, then St. Chris started making their comeback. Maggie Walker took half 8-6. St. Chris tied it at 9's, then went up 10-9 when the soft cap hit so the game is to twelve. St. Chris scored again and all of the spectators thought the game was going to be over, but Maggie Walker clawed back and tied the game at 11. It was universe point, both teams were tired and there was some sloppy play because of it. Eventually St. Chris scored to win 12-11.

In the Semi's the St. Chris team didn't have too much left and they lost to LC Bird 15-1. In the other semifinal HB Woodlawn against Woodside, Woodlawn dominated winning 15-4. During this time we also saw the battle of the B-teams for 9th place. It was a fun game to watch with both teams being very spirited and playing games. The final score was 11-4 HB Woodlawn B over Woodside B, the score didn't matter though, because both teams had a lot of fun.

So the Third place game was set between Woodside and St. Chris. It was a hotly contested game, with some of the coaches getting into it with each other. After a moment to calm down, the game ended with everyone getting along. St. Chris won 13-4 as the younger Woodside team was wearing down after 7 games in two days.

In the other two consolation games Maggie Walker beat James Monroe and in the battle of Roanoke Patrick Henry surprised me and beat Cave Spring.

So the final was set between HB Woodlawn and LC Bird. They are the only teams to have won the state title, alternating back and forth. HB Woodlawn coming off their great Easterns performance were ready play. LC Bird was looking to prove that their Easterns performance was a fluke. Bird went out fast taking a 2-0 lead. Then they traded some points bringing it to 5-3. Knowing that this was not a big enough lead, Bird kept up their intense zone defense with the cup running hard, and their deeps knocking HB Woodlawn's hucks down field. Bird eventually won 15-7.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

weekend tournament - Western-sized open thread

If other weekends in the past have been big, then this weekend is huge -

On the right half of the Mississippi -
UPA Pennsylvania State Championship - check out the PlayUltimate preview here
UPA Virginia State Championship
St. Johnsbury Invite - Girls / Guys
Sidwell Invite

on the Left Coast there is only one set of games that matters this weekend, its the big dance baby - Westerns - Open scores, Girls' scores.

Check out our previews from earlier this week...
Crescent Valley Open
South Eugene Open and Girls
Churchill Open

feel free to post any updates you hear, and look for recaps from respective contributors to come soon after the tournaments. I gotta be at work today, but tomorrow i will be at day 2 of the PA State Championships - read that as a promise of a solid recap.

Houston High School City Championships

The text of this post is courtesy of Dave Edwards, HUC President and director for the spring high school league in Houston.

Championship Saturday started off with a bang – with thunder, lightning, hail and heavy rain in the early morning. But by mid-morning, the rain had disappeared, and the sun began to peak in, creating very humid conditions. In the first semifinal, Cinco Ranch Greenway came out firing against Langham Creek. Will Wilson led the enormous Greenway team with stylish layouts and well-coordinated offense to a first half lead. But Langham reeled them in with one big huck after another, pulling away at the very end to win 13-10.

In the other semifinal, top-seeded St. John’s senior-laden team was surprised to find Deer Park with their spirited leader Tim Records hucking with success. The teams traded leads throughout the game and suddenly, the score was 12-12. Since the game was being played to 13, the teams were off to overtime! St. John’s quickly moved the disc down the field and scored 13-12. Deer Park missed a couple of big hucks and St. John’s prevailed 14-12.

Early afternoon brought the sun out full-force. The soupy, hot conditions were tough on the smaller teams, but alas, they were both into the final. Langham and St. John’s played very well, with both teams trading huge hucks and mid-range scores throughout the first half. St. John’s took half 8-6, but Langham Creek’s Tyler Nissen led his team back to tie the game in the second half. Langham tied the game at 12, but to everyone’s surprise, St. John’s slowed the game down with short passing. This possession-style offense and Evan Winograd’s hustle defense, was the answer for Langham as they scored the final points to win 15-12. But look for Langham Creek to be the favorite next season as they will graduate very few players. In the third place game, Cinco Ranch had a lot of fun in their 13-9 win over Deer Park.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

PA State Preview

UPA PA States '06 Preview

While this state will get overshadowed by Westerns this weekend, PA is a big deal. With 3 of the top 6 teams at Easterns this year (Pennsbury, Wissahickon, Mount Lebanon), this is a field that will give you some good Ultimate.

I've written a lot about the top guns in PHUEL over the year. It still comes down to Wissahickon and Pennsbury. The Peyote had a better showing at Easterns this year, but my money is still on Wissahickon.

Lower Merion and CB East will certainly not be pushovers as the other top seeds, however.

Pittsburgh is sending another 4 contendors, in Mount Lebanon, Hampton, North Hills, and Montour. Lebanon came in off the wait list at Easterns to come in 5th with a win over Columbia. Any of the top Pittsburgh teams could turn in a good day and make some serious noise.

State College is the unknown dark horse in the race, rolling over their CPHUL competition, but with no teams from CPHUL playing outside the league. SCUF has played in PHUL in previous years, and brings an young, talented team to the table.
There's a thread in the CPHUL forums about State College Ultimate. (It didn't feel right to just copy-paste it).

You can find all the PA Teams on the score reporter -- they're all descending on Fairmount Park in Philadelphia to crown the cap of the keystone state.

Westerns in less than 36 hours

Westerns begins in less than 36 hours now - so if you dont have your flick down yet its beginning to be a lost cause.

The open pools are up, as are the ladies'. With the Northwest school topping both.

Last year the Northwest School dominated - winning in the finals 15-7 over a Churchill squad who had just won on universe point the previous round. Will Northwest reign supreme again? Or has Churchill set their sights on upsetting this grudge match.

Will Alameda be the first California team in history to make it past the quarterfinals? Can the Hopkins boys from Minnesota bring the HUrt in Boulder?

Will a team from somewhere other than Oregon or Washington become a contender? (Junction City, Lakewood im looking at you guys)

Only time will tell, but perhaps the talk in this open thread will give us some idea as to how this weekend will turn out...

Westerns Preview - Crescent Valley Trip Open

I should have asked Crescent Valley what they would like to have written about them earlier this week when I fogot they could not post articles... But, I'll let them comment and then I'll get it added to this main post.

Tribe, anything to say?

Tribe was accepted late into the tournament as an alternate... Something not based on performance as they nearly took OHSUR, Oregon's first State Tournament for the open and girls divisions. Tribe is a highly talented team with the greatest spirit in Oregon. If you haven't seen the OHSUR HL video, you should as it shows their battle in the finals against CHS: OHSUR - mpg

Westerns Preview - South Eugene Open & Girls

I should have asked South Eugene HS what they would like to have written about them earlier this week when I fogot they could not post articles... But, I'll let them comment and then I'll get it added to this main post.

So, South, what do you have to say about yourselves?

From my perspective, South Eugene is a team I am happy CHS doesn't have to face on Saturday... To see how they nearly took CHS out at OHSUR, our first Oregon State Tournament for the open and girls division, check out the video: OHSUR - mpg

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Westerns Preview - Churchill HS Open & Girls

The CHS open & girls squad has finished their last full practice of the week. Instead of focusing on conditioning, offensive & defensive strategy, or other things essential for highly competive play, we did something else.
We called our boys and girls together (usually we practice side by side), and shared about how much we want to go into Westerns as one team, one body, one group, united with one purpose. We then choose three freshman and had them pick teams. With less than 3 days before some the most serious competition these boys and girls will ever face, we played some incredibly spirited and fun mixed ultimate. The winning team was declared by a cone race.
Tonight our open and girls team is getting together for dinner. We are excited for this opportunity to play some sweet disc, but we will not forget that we play this sport because it offers an amazing community of players and friends. We look forward to this weekend!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Perhaps you notice some changes?

Well, we had dealt with that interim layout and design long enough. And so, without further ado in honor of reaching our 25,000th visitor I present to you the brand new and improved PlayUltimate site.

Feel free to browse around try out some of the new features. I still have to work out a few kinks, but i think pretty much everything should be good to go in the next day or so.

Are things looking a little funky? Well thats because you are using an outdated browser that leaves you vulnerable to viruses in addition to not allowing you to see the PlayUltimate site in all its glory. Wanna fix that stain on your computer's hard drive? Well get firefox.

That out of the way, you should definitely check out the main different options on the RSS tab to your right. Tons of different ways to stay in touch with all the latest news and updates from the site.

After you browse all the recent entries perhaps you want a little background on the current scene, well click the "archives" tab and search through our old content.

Other things of interest...
- the compilation of various resources for your browsing enjoyment.
- our collection of high school ultimate videos (scroll down on right)

And as always, if you like what we are doing here on the site, please link to us, scroll down on the right hand side for 3 easy ways to promote the site.

And while you're at it, join the Frappr! for the site.

Hope you enjoy all the new features and the layout in general, thank you for reading and stay tuned all this week for previews of the 2006 UPA High School Westerns.

So far...
Alameda Preview by Thomas Sanchez
Colorado State Championship Preview by Harrison Fast

Coming soon...
Churchill preview and more - stay tuned.

Monday, May 15, 2006

In the wake of Easterns...

Amherst wins again.

Extending the streak... 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007?

Familiar story? Pretty close -

2003 - the Hurricanes won 15-10 over Paideia in High School nationals
2004 - 15-5 over the Northwest School again at nationals
2005 - the switch is made to easterns and westerns, Amherst wins 15-9 over Columbia
2006 - continued dominance, this time Amherst over Madison West 15-6, which was the most points scored against the Hurricanes all weekend (McCallie of Tennessee racked up the same number and they finished tied for 13th)

The highest score by any high school team this year versus Amherst was 10, by Hopkins, who wasnt at Easterns.

Quite simply put, no one got close - at least thats what the scores say. So what is it? Is it an unmatched superiority rivaled by none east of the Mississippi? Are the Amherst players simply just better athletes? Better fundamentals? Better coaching? Varsity support by the school?

Is there a team in the forseeable future which will be able to unseat Amherst? Once they are beaten will it mark a huge watershed in high school ultimate - perhaps that there can be more than one concentration of elite high school ultimate?

One thing i used to tell my team, and think to myself after we would lose a game, or before we were going to play a new opponent - "look at them, figure out the difference between us and them, and close it. what do they have that we dont have? throws? athletic ability? know-how of the game? nothing is unchangeable in sport."

you just have to look at the differences between those who are better than you and yourself and close the gap.

perhaps gradually, but those scores will get closer, and not just because amherst has an off day or someone else plays out of their skull. they will get better because people will realize what they need to do better and they will start to do it.

i am in no way rooting for amherst to lose, but i know if i played for amherst and in an entire year no one got within 5 points of tieing us it would get a little bit boring. not that i would ever advise bringing ones play down, rather i think it would be more exciting and enjoyable if the entire level of competition were raised.

within the next two years amherst will lose a game to a high school team. an illusion of invulnerability will fall, and as a result USA high school ultimate as a whole will rise to a whole new level.

i can only dream.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Easterns Day 2

Well day two of the 2006 UPA High School Eastern Championships has just kicked off moments ago.

The quarterfinals show...
Amherst vs. Lebo
Columbia vs. Pennsbury

Madison West vs. Wissahickon
Princeton vs. Yorktown (HB Woodlawn)

updates? post em if ya got em, its gonna be an exciting day at the fields, looking forward to hearing the results.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Easterns Live Updates!

We are nearing the conclusion of round two - c/o of commentors and Nick Kaczmarek at the fields we have the following updates -

Round 1
Pennsbury won their first game 13-8 over Lincoln Sudbury
Princeton beat Milton 13-9

Round 2
Madison West is currently beating Pennsbury 10-9 with the cap on

also at this point it has come to my attention that we are the only source for updates at the moment - RSD is silent (and by in large hates juniors) and the score reporter has been closed to updates from anyone other than the TD, so keep it tuned here.

if you have any updates, post em as a comment.

Friday, May 12, 2006

it begins in less than 8 hours...

[to be read exclusively in voice of monday night football celebrity tease]

You want a tournament? Ive got your tournament.

16 teams - most have already made their long car rides or flights, and are nestled tight into their Holiday Inn sheets and blankets, they sleep - dreaming of a glimmer of coming glory.

Its the UPA Eastern Championship, featuring the best teams from the Mississippi to the Atlantic Ocean, from Massachussettes to Wisconsin to Tennessee - and everywhere in between. These teams carry with them the dreams of their cities, their schools, their local leagues, and their team mates. Battle forged by seasons of long practices and trips to some of the most prestigious high school tournaments in the country - The Paideia Cup, the Amherst Invite, the 13th Annual Hip Hop on Pop.

But no matter what road led them to the tournament, they will all descend upon the same Pittsburgh fields at 8am tomorrow morning.

Seedings, late drops and team signups, injuries, games lost - they all mean nothing now. Its time. You wanna game? I got your game right here. Grudge matches, bragging rights - whos taking it home - Amherst? Pennsbury? Columbia? Wissahickon? a dark horse from the south or west?

Two days. One championship. Right now. Its Easterns time baby

Colorado State Championship Preview

Although Easterns action is sure to overshadow it, May 12-13th mark the final days of High School Ultimate in Colorado. This year’s championship looks to be a toss up. The strongest team in the state (Lakewood) has decided to split into two teams for the tournament, spreading it’s skill across both. The thought process behind this can only be that they are looking to Westerns as their priority. This puts several teams in vying position for first. The tournament will be played in a 5-2 mixed format. The 6 teams to look at for contention to first place are: Broomfield (1), East (3), Cherry Creek (4), Lakewood Orange (5), Lakewood Black (7), and Fairview (8). Even split up Lakewood’s teams could surprise a few schools. With 24 teams participating in the tournament, each team will play five, 85 minute games on Saturday with no byes (except for lunch and in A pool). Read on for more.

The final seedings are as follows:

1. Broomfield
2. Arapahoe
3. East
4. Creek
5. Lakewood Orange
6. CA
7. Lakewood black
8. Fairview
9. Dakota Ridge
10. Boulder
11. Open
12. A-West
13. Monarch
14. Columbine
15. North
16. PS1
17. Grandview
18. DU High school
19. Compass
20. Overland
21. Rocky Mountain
22. CA-B
23. Heritage

Twenty-three teams is a few too many to do a profile for, so I will opt instead to profile the top 8, the “contenders”:
1. Broomfield. This may be Broomfield’s year. Following with the usual cycle of junior’s ultimate in Colorado; this team has a line up of mostly seniors with a legitimate ability to play. After a reasonable finish at the OPEN East invitational (5), the team looks poised to strike, if they can beat East—who they lost to 14-6 at the Invitational.
2. Arapahoe. The 2nd seed is given to Arapahoe mostly for their season record (they did not participate in the East Invitational). Arapahoe will fall in seeding at the end of Sunday, though they do have the ability to remain in the top 6.
3. East. A team that, annually, has the highest level of intensity, East finally has the skill to match. The only team in Colorado with a team USA member (junior Brenna Hokanson), East may well be crowned champion by the end of Day 2. Their OPEN team at the Invite took third after a Fairview forfeit and their Women’s team took first in the women’s division. The mixed format certainly favor East.
4. Cherry Creek. Creek is one of the best teams in the state every year. In the first year of a state tournament, this was the school that won. With the number four athletic program for public high schools in the nation, athleticism is a perk Creek enjoys. This year Creek is in a “rebuilding” year, with a team consisting of several seniors and juniors and a lone freshman. The team could be a dark horse of sorts, seeded fourth and poised to win their pool.
5. Lakewood Orange. The first division of the otherwise dominant (9-0 in Open, 8-0 in Mixed) Lakewood team, may be strong enough to upset seed. Certain to beat anyone seeded below them in their pool, their biggest challenge on Saturday will be whether or not they can overcome the #1 seed in their pool, earning a bye on Sunday and a near certain semi’s berth.
6. CA. Colorado Academy is a school with amazing spirit. This year they certainly have the ability to place in the top four, though 6th is likely where they will end up (narrowly beating Arapahoe).
7. Lakewood black. The second division of the ever so dominant Lakewood squad, this team WILL take their pool, earning a bye on Sunday.
8. Fairview. At the East invitational Fairview took fourth place (though they did come out of a much weaker pool). This team is coached by Club/College all-stars Hector Valvidia (Bravo) and Josh “Richter” Ackley (Mamabird/Bravo).

Finals: East-15 to Broomfield- 9
3rd Place Game: Lakewood Orange-15 vs Creek- 12

These are guesses, but who knows. Here are the pools, updates Sunday evening.

A (in order): Broomfield, Fairview, Dakota Ridge, PS1, Grandview
B (in order: Arapahoe, Lakewood Black, Boulder, North, DUHS, Heritage
C (in order): East, CA, Open, Columbine, Compass, CA-B
D (in order): Creek, Lakewood Orange, A-West, Monarch, Overland, Rocky Mountain

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Easterns (Open) Preview: Virginia

The LC Bird team has been in existence for 5 years now. Last year the team surprised many by playing both Columbia and Amherst tough, and finishing tied for 5th. This year, we probably won't be sneaking up on too many people. A few standouts from last year's team remain including senior Chris Bowling and junior Alex Foldenauer, both handlers. The offense has solid handlers returning with plenty of playing experience and our deeps (Chris Wu, Matt Harris, Robbie Atherton, and Brian Bondurant) are smart and quick. Over the course of the last month, our defense has been clicking well with players growing more accustomed to their roles. We are 9-2 this school year with a close win against Yorktown on a windy day in D.C. in March, and the two losses coming to Pennsbury and Chapel Hill in December.

Speaking of Yorktown, I will do my best to talk about them, unfortunately I don't know any of their names. They are the longest running high school team in Va, with a wealth of knowledge from their coaches they are generally ready to play. They are a smart team that has been tested. Many of their players play in various WAFC leagues. They have lost to LC Bird and Pennsbury this spring. I know they were somewhat disappointed after last year's finish and they are working to finish better this year.

Easterns (Open) Preview: Both Sides of the Delaware

Easterns (Open) Preview
Both sides of the Delaware




Who knows what the right order is. Whatever it is, I agree that those 4 teams should constitute the 2-5 seeds at Easterns, after Amherst. Unfortunately, they've been moved about, and curiously Mount Lebanon was given the 3rd seed. Princeton's tanking at the Amherst Invitational may not be indicitave of anything, and they come out with the 2 seed, but Pennsbury and Columbia have clashed 3 times this spring, with Colubmia winning 2, but Pennsbury winning the more recent (at Amherst).

My personal evaluation of the 3 teams I have seen live, puts it at Wissahickon, Pennsbury, Colubmia. Did Princeton overperform at Hiphop? Underperform at Amherst? (Probably yes to the latter, without many top players... but yes to the former also, I think, with Columbia missing their own players... and what if they hadn't made that comeback against CB East Nasty in pool play? Princeton also performed much more poorly in the fall than the other programs.)

Wissahickon plays a spread offense, and knows exactly how to take exactly what the defense is giving them. Aman Nalavade has a top speed unmatched in PHUEL, and Kyle Baines has the throws to get it to him anywhere on the field deep. They have the speed, endurance, and discipline to keep up with anyone.

Pennsbury has no lack of players who know what they're doing with the disc. Noah Saul and Mark Dundala are patient, skilled handlers, though who knows when Noah will be injured. Franky Frank's dreads have the ability not only to psyche out inexperienced teams, but the guy can read a disc like a children's book and layout smoothly right at any disc. Their entire offense flows smoothly, but their defense can be lazy at times.

Columbia has the experienced, patient team you'd expect from the school that invented the sport, but lacks the athleticism some top teams are demonstrating.

Princeton has... Eddie Huang. And he's cool. I wish I had seen them play.

Unfortunately, there's nothing to suggest that Amherst will get a real run from this groups, though Pennsbury did give them the best game of their own invitational, losing 15-9.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

open thread - Easterns Edition

we should have some previews coming in soon from our contributors, but holy hell the Easterns tournament is only 3 days away!!!

So feel free to ask your questions, make your predictions, call your favorites - anything you want about easterns - just comment here...

PlayUltimate Contributors - Nick Ligatti

Name: Nick Ligatti

High school team: I played on the Monacan Ultimate Club in the early 90's and currently coach LC Bird High School from Chesterfield, VA.

College team: I didn't play in college, the school I went to didn't have a team and made us jump through a lot of hoops to get it started so we gave up.

Current residence: Chesterfield, VA

Where you first heard of ultimate: A few of my friends would play after school every Friday and I joined them. After about a year it became an official club, our sponsor was the principal. Sadly the team dissolved a couple of years after my class graduated. Many of my teammates went on to play at UVa, William and Mary and Virginia Tech.

Notable accomplishments while playing: I was an average player at best. My favorite memory was during summer league a few years ago my team (purple) was playing against the top team (white) and we went savage through the first half, our captain showed up at halftime, we finished with 8 players and beat the number one team. At least that's the way I remember it.

Why you have expertise on the region you are reporting on: I have been coaching LC Bird for 5 years, and we have been competing at a high level for the past four years. I am the UPA State Youth Coordinator for VA and we host a tournament every December to raise money for the leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Any high school or college accomplishments in regards to writing/journalism: No. I was a History of Math major so I wrote some long papers on David Hilbert and Francois Viete, but nothing journalistic.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Westerns Preview - Alameda Open

Two years ago, a team traveled to Corvallis, Oregon to compete in the 2004 UPA National High School Championships. They lost every single game. By a lot.
- - - -
Two years later many of the same players will step back into the National spotlight, not as the unknown, undisciplined 16th seed, but as one of the most feared teams in High School Ultimate.

Since those awful defeats in 2004, Alameda has spent nearly every waking hour perfecting their game, throwing discs through hail storms and desert heat, preparing for their perfect season. Now, May 2006, their time has come. Alameda began training in September (practice began on the first day of school) and has not taken a single break since the Fall. Thrice crowned tournament champions, the season found them unrivaled, placing second only to Churchill HS (when more than 1/2 of Alameda's players were injured), their only loss on the season. Rarely was an Alameda player out run, out leaped or out thrown all year and they found themselves slicing through competition with controlled, athletic offense and vicious D. Now, on the verge of National competition, Alameda celebrates their achievements with sprints up San Franciscan hills, weekend-long beach endurance training and mandated frisbee-throwing periods (12:00-1:00, 3:00-4:00) everyday.

The team is led by a core of seasoned Juniors and Seniors, who have played together for 3+ years, living and breathing Ultimate from sunrise to sundown. These talented veterans are complemented by a group of athletic Sophomores who have earned themselves a spot on the A-Team, and a trip to Colorado. Training together for 7 months, these players have become a family, bonding through the sweat and blood of Ultimate and the sweet taste of victory.

If any team beats Alameda weekend after next, they will be truly indomitable and worthy of whatever title they recieve.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Quick St. Louis HS League update

Division 1
Parkway North (5-0)
Desmet (4-1)
FHC Varsity (3-2)
Clayton (1-3)
Lindbergh (1-3)
CBC (0-5)

Division 2
Marquette (5-0)
Priory’s Jeromans (4-1)
Parkway Central (2-2)
SLUH (2-2)
FHC Junior Varsity (1-4)
Kirkwood (withdrew from league)


*You’ll notice that several teams are a game short (most have five, some have four). Division 2 especially was plagued with forfeits and even had a team that dropped out in week 4. This was a serious annoyance for other teams who then had fewer games. Disappointing to say the least.

*These last two weeks of the league are for seeded, cross-division play (the 1 & 2 seeds from division one play the 1 & 2 seeds from division two, the 3's and 4's play each other, as do the 5's and 6's).

*Because Marquette, seeded second, lost to the tournament's 4-seed, Desmet, at the MO HS State Championships, the league’s two undefeated teams, Marquette and Parkway North, never faced off! Although they do scrimmage often, that will be the game to see this year.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

OHSUR - Full Feature Film (Oregon State Tournament)

This is my first full feature film of the 2006 Oregon High School Ultimate Remix State Tournament for our open and girls division. The film is only of our open team, but chronicles their fight to the top spot in Oregon. The film is much longer than anything else I've ever done for Ultimate (nearly 18min), but hopefully this will be a preview of what is to come with Westerns in a few weeks.

OHSUR Feature (ipod video - mp4 - 107.1MB)
OHSUR Feature (mpg - 184MB)

weekend open thread - Amherst Invite / GCC edition

a little bit late posting this one, but alas i am out of town and away from my computer (bumming one from a friend at the moment.)

this weekend is really something of a easterns preview - at the Amherst Invite (Division A) we've got pennsbury, amherst, columbia, paideia all in one place. (also essentially a rematch of the Paideia Cup)

The same goes for the women's side of things - Amherst, Amhert JV, Beacon, and Andover will all be at easterns this year.

Feel free to use this thread to post any updates you hear from the fields, speculation and the like.

for our friends in the midwest - Granite City Classic is shaping up in St. Cloud, Minn. featuring the #2 team from the Paideia cup - Hopkins HS as well as some other big names from the "star of the north" state in a preview of the Minnesota state championships.

love to hear results and updates from anyone whos got em there too.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Spiking: 7OnTheLine

The UPA just posted the latest in their magazine's "7 on the Line" Survey question... The question is:

Do you view disc spiking as harmless celebration or in bad taste and against Spirit of the Game?

Many of you commented on this subject... I would encourage you to again share your comments with the UPA in their online survey submission. And maybe, just maybe, you'll be put in the magazine...

Click the image below to head to their online submission page:

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

OMSUC - Highlight Video

The highlight video from the first ever Oregon Middle School Ultimate Championship was finished earlier this weekend in preparation for our MS Banquet. The video shows the highlights from both the B Spirit Game as well as the Championship game between Kennedy and Roosevelt Middle Schools. Congratulations to Kennedy on their 12-7 victory!

OMSUC HL (ipod video - mp4 - 18.6MB)
OMSUC HL (mpg - 33.3MB)