cross posted for convenience, here they are...
Thursday, August 9th - Thursday marked the first full day of practices for the two US Juniors Teams. Both teams took the time over their six plus hours of practice to focus on individual defensive skills that require teamwide understanding and execution and basic offensive strategies.
The US Junior Girls used their morning session to focus on man offense including cutting skills, some set pieces, and finishing up with a scrimmage. In the afternoon the focus switched to man defense including talks and drills on the mark, dump defense, basic man defensive strategies, and downfield defensive positioning. The afternoon session finished, as the morning one did, with a scrimmage.
After a thorough warm-up in the morning the US Boys went straight into a scrimmage. The scrimmage was followed by a "pace" drill (focuses on pushing upfield and clearing), discussion of the vertical stack offense, and focused (prescriptive scrimmages). The afternoon included marking, defensive positioning, and concluded with more focused scrimmaging. Unfortunately, Columbia HS star Stephen Panasci reaggravated a hamstring early in the day. While his talent will be missed on the field, he has already begun to make an impact from the sideline.
Dinner was followed by interteam socializing, whiffleball, and ping-pong. At 8 both teams retreated to team meetings where the boys talked more about offensive strategy, goal setting, and the mental game while the girls bonded through charades.
Both teams looked crisp for their first days together.
Wednesday, August 8th - Today the top under 20 players in the United States arrived at Northfield Mount Hermon in Gill, MA to begin their quest for two world titles. Players from around the country flew in to Boston's Logan Airport and met and greeted each other as they waited for the bus. The bus, which arrived 30 minutes late, transported the players to the beautiful Northfield Mount Hermon campus where at 8pm regional players and players that arrived earlier met them. The players and coaches enjoyed box lunches (the cafeteria was closed) and then separated into their respective teams. Many of the players on both teams had never met before.
The players spent the evening in team meetings and playing outside and in the plush Northfield Mount Hermon dorms. There is a lot of work to be done over the next 10 days to mold 18 boys and 21 girls from highly skilled and athletic individuals into championship teams. But the work will be exciting and fun and the players and coaches are up to the task.
[Kyle Weisbrod writeups c/o UPA.org]