Friday, December 22, 2006

11th Edition

Someone on RSD requested that the blog folks express their opinion about the UPA's proposed 11th edition, so I will jump in. First, however, I wish everyone a happy holiday season. I will take next week off from posting, but I will resume posting on Jan 2, 2007.

I can sum up my thoughts about the 11th very quickly: I think you should vote to approve it. This is not to say that it is perfect or that everyone will like all of it. I really like the cap language, but I am not a huge fan of not having to acknowledge a goal. I think this edition does a pretty good job in further defining marker fouls....which is not an easy task. Overall, I think the 11th is characterized by streamlining and removing redundancies.

I think the biggest reason to approve it, though, is that the process was transparent. The creation of a Google discussion group was a good idea, and the Rules Committee can't be responsible for some folks communicating as if it was RSD. If you wanted to be part of the process, or had questions or concerns, there were clear opportunities to participate and get your say in.

This is a chance to move out of the comfort zone of what we are "used to". The 11th does not solve some of the gnarly rules issues that we have inherited, but it does clear up many inconsistencies and redundancies. Thanks to Peri and the SRC for doing a lot of hard work on our behalf. I think their efforts deserve a vote of approval.


Monday, December 18, 2006

I or D Part 3-Media & Technology

Before I launch into my usual weekly diatribe, I just want to congratulate Jim for winning Peter McCarthy's Woman of the Year Award on RSD. I am sure he will get teary during the acceptance speech.

A good place to start with imitation or differentiation is, hopefully, Ultimate and media and technology. Technology and the media have, obviously, played a crucial role in the development and popularity of sports. In my previous post, Blaine discussed the importance of the development of Youth Ultimate in terms of growing our sport and tied the increase in popularity of sports like football and basketball to the increase in kids playing those sports. I am not in disagreement that a robust Youth initiative could lead directly to growth in our sport, but I think the exposure that the Big Sports gained via the media could be equally, and perhaps even more, responsible for the surge that has happened over the last 30 years.

It could be argued even further that media has played a defining role in the popularity of sports. I think it is not a coincidence that baseball, which in my opinion translates better to radio than other sports, had its "Golden Era" (say 1925-1956, roughly) during the time of radio's peak (in terms of market share) as a media outlet. The emergence and domination of TV as a media outlet also coincides with football's (and to a lesser degree, basketball's) dominance in the media marketplace. It does seem like a case of one hand feeding the other as well as some synchronicity. In the case of baseball, the pacing and movement limited to the base paths translates very well to the spoken medium and our ability to abstract without visual aid. Football, while somewhat cumbersome in its stop and go nature in the live setting, translates very well to TV as there is plenty of time for instant replay and, of course, commercial interruption. All of the above sentences speak only to how a sport translates to a medium and ignores many other factors, such as great athletes, great stories, and the cycle of increasing money, that have also gone into the growth of our highly saturated sports market in the media.

It seems hard to imagine that Ultimate will benefit, in the near future, from some kind of technology change as significant as the change from the single dimension of radio to the two dimensional world of TV (like football did). The screens might get bigger, crisper, and flatter, and the sound might get louder and more "surroundy", but until someone figures out how to place me in some kind of virtual reality where I experience being in the Sockeye horizontal O ("Poach!") while sitting in my living room, looking at a screen is going to be where it is at for a while. It seems to me that many discussions of Ultimate and the media assume, with perhaps a sense of....resignation(not quite the right word), that content delivered to my TV in the "traditional" manner (meaning network or cable provided predetermined programming) is the ONLY way in which I will be able to experience our sport when watching a screen. However, this ignores obvious technological advancements that, while not being as significant as "virtual reality", could possibly be a springboard to a higher media presence for our sport. The ability to control and distribute content via the web has already drastically altered the media landscape and could leave cable and network providers gasping for air, much like the traditional record companies of today. We would be foolish not to exploit any advantage available to us. I think there seems to be a certain sense of desperation when talking about getting Ultimate on TV, and desperation is a common attitude of those that do not have options. To have options is empowering, and, as such, I think it would be prudent if both paths (web and TV) were explored. Now, my point is not to say that one path (distributed content via the web) is better than the other(getting Ultimate on TV). While it seems, at first glance, that Ultimate on TV is inherently Imitative and web content will be a means to Differentiate Ultimate, I think both tools come into play in both paths.

I am not going to spend that much time on the Ultimate on TV subject. The challenges here are pretty familiar and well known. I will say that Imitation of other sports will be largely present if Ultimate is make it on TV, and we should expect that compromises will be needed. The place where the line is drawn will be different for each of us, but there is clear precedent that compromise is a fact of life when Ultimate takes steps out into the "real world". For example, the decision to not air full games on CSTV could be considered a compromise. I am sure there are many folks who feel that the decision to have Mixed for the World Games is another great compromise. To be clear, I am not being critical of these decisions as I think both ventures are positive for the sport. As I said before, a clear understanding of the cost vs benefit analysis is needed for these decisions. I do think it is possible to consider that differentiating ourselves could be an asset when it comes to selling our product to TV interests. There are certainly plenty of examples of successful programming that was viewed as outside the norm when initially proposed. Here is just a random list of some interesting possible issues/questions:

-Would the Ultimate season need to be altered so that games could be shown during times that don't conflict with other sports?
-What is the best camera angle or method to film our sport?
-There are complaints about the time between pulls in a live game...might not this time be of interest to TV folks in terms of commercial time?
-Folks arguing? People seem to be pretty interested in that on TV these days........
-What about team names? I know the MLU created, shall we say, trite names for its teams. Do we respect the history, stories, and geographical alignment of the UPA club teams....or do we start anew?

The above list is not meant as a demonstration of anxiety or an attempt to set up roadblocks by creating "problems". I just think the issue is highly complex.

I had a conversation about 10 years ago with a musician friend, and I asked his opinion as to when music would be distributed via the internet. We discussed it, but the conversation was never "if", it was "when". We are at a similar place now when it comes to video and there will be an opportunity to control and broadcast content at some point in the near future. Ultivillage and the UPA/CSTV initiative are taking the initial steps down this path and I think this bodes well for us. I think the opportunity to differentiate ourselves and break some new ground, on our own terms, is staring us in the face. Here is what I would like to have:

-Full screen, high quality, streaming video
-Games presented in their entirety
-A library of available games with a reference database

Want to see the semis of Nats from 2005? No problem. NYNY in its heyday? That is there as well. How about when you need to teach the 4-person cup to your team? Simple, just stream the 03 Riot-Fury final. Scout your first round opponent at Nationals? Got it. Want to see the growth of Chase S-B as a player?......type in a query and you can view Chase playing in high school, college, club, and World Games. Etc...Etc.

I would probably stop blogging and spend all day just watching that internet content. Getting me to stop blogging has got to be an incentive for someone............

So, I think it easy to view media exposure as some kind of panacea. Perhaps it will turn out that way...I certainly don't know. The potential paths that the sport will venture down will offer us an opportunity, via Imitation or Differentiation, to examine what makes Ultimate what it is to each of us. I hope that many of us jump into the fray and offer up our opinions.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Whiptails: End of Semester

We had our last practice of the semester yesterday, and overall I felt like it was a very productive first half of the year. Our captains, Jess and Langdon, did a great job of handling the difficult task of coping with our large numbers this year. In addition, they showed great leadership and focus.

I think our primary goal of focusing on fundamentals was successful overall. It is a challenge to give enough individual attention, and, as such, it was great to have our assistant coach, Pete Zuraw, as he showed a remarkable willingness to spend individual time on the details of the forehand....or backhand...or whatever else was needed. Clearly we would not be as far along if not for his involvement.

There was a ton of improvement on the part of the girls over the course of the semester. Many girls went from no throws at all to a good command of the forehand and backhand. I think a number of the girls really "bought in" to Ultimate as well. Many of them attended practice diligently and showed a desire for working hard.

Of course there is lots of work to do. We are still too easy on ourselves ("I think you were in", "Sorry about that foul"), so we need work on holding each other to high standards. We also still feel like the dump pass is done as an emergency as opposed to trying to gain an advantage. We will continue with trying to keep the disc moving and gaining confidence in our ability to possess the disc.

In general, we get much more done in the fall than we did several years ago. I think our indoor practices are much more effective and this contributes greatly to being better prepared for the spring. Our ability to focus and concentrate over the course of a practice is improving and we will continue to develop this come January.

So, we have a long break until the beginning of February. I think it will be a good time to recharge the batteries.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Imitate or Differentiate Part 2- Goals

Last week I discussed Imitation or Differentiation as "modeling" tools for framing possible processes for moving our sport forward. I received some interesting comments. Thanks to those that took the time to write in. The comments made me realize that I had put the cart before the horse a bit and while it is good to discuss Differentiation, I needed to think more what purpose Differentiation or Imitation serve. Really, it is simply a goal discussion. So this post will discuss some of the goals brought up in the comments I received. I think I need to be clear that the goals discussed are not comprehensive nor meant to suggest a specific plan or set of priorities.

As these posts come in the context of the UCPC panel discussion, I am sure that it will come across as overly convenient that perhaps the best way to frame a discussion of goals for Ultimate is via the means offered by UCPC's keynote speaker, Dr. Alan Goldberg. I have talked quite a bit in this blog about the difference between outcome and process goals, so I spent some of the past week thinking about goals for Ultimate in terms of Goldberg's definitions.

The real power in defining goals as Outcome or Process is in the fact that these definitions can help to identify the things that are in our control. I think discussions of goals for Ultimate frequently involve external (uncontrollable) means of validation, so identifying goals in this manner is essentially empowering and also helps to identify areas that could benefit from tools such as Differentiation or Imitation.

One of the goals that came up in my post and the comments last week is legitimacy. Meghann, Glenn, and Blaine had questions about legitimacy, and I might stretch a bit to say that underlying many discussions about the future of Ultimate is our coveting of legitimacy. I think we could maybe add respect as an additional component. There actually might not be a better example of an Outcome goal than legitimacy(or respect...just ask the Chicago Bears). Clearly, being judged as legitimate is something beyond our control and places great power in the fickle opinions of others. I am not sure that I agree with Blaine that legitimacy is the wrong word. The primary use of this word has to do with conforming with stated rules (as Blaine mentions), but there is a historical usage, which I might guess informs its use in the context of Ultimate, which separates musical comedy from legitimate theater. I do think that this is appropriate, especially considering Joel Silver's comments that the sport was created as a spoof of real sports. I think we need to be careful when wanting legitimacy as a goal as there is no clear metric by which to define when Ultimate has "arrived".

Ultimate as a sport sanctioned by athletic organizations at the high school and college level is another goal that was discussed in the comments last week. I think this is another example of Outcome goals and, maybe, a case of "be careful of what you wish for". Without much effort at all, several examples of concerns with this type of sanctioning came up in the comments. My point is not say that this Outcome goal is a good or bad thing. It is just to say that we need to examine why we want this and what the pros and cons are. Ultimate on TV or the Olympics are also similar Outcome goals. Again, highly complex pros and cons involving money, integrity, and this legitimacy thing.

Growing Ultimate, or getting more players to play the sport, is a different type of goal in that it is a Process goal. It is a means to achieve the Outcome goals listed above (and other Outcome goals). This goal, as stated, is something we have a large degree of control over. I think it is somewhat clear that as our constituency grows, our ability to determine our own destiny also grows. There is a lot of work to do here, however, and while the sport is growing, we need to remain humble. I have been working at Boston College football games this fall, and I would hazard to guess that more spectators (meaning non-players) watched BC play Maine (a Div-1AA team) in the relatively small (44,500) Alumni Stadium than watched the entire UPA College and Club Championships combined. So, while there is a lot of work to do, there is no question that growth, even slow and small in nature, will be an asset for the sport.

So, in summary, I think it can be helpful to view goals for Ultimate as controllable or uncontrollable as this has the potential to enhance our focus. Next week I will continue with discussing some assets and opportunities that I think Ultimate has and how Imitation or Differentiation can help to leverage these in terms of goals like increasing the number of participants in our sport.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Feed is up and running

Idris had a few extra moments in his day, so he reactivated my feed to Ultimatetalk. I did need to go in and edit some of the incorrect timestamps, and on the ones I did changed the author to "Idris".

I left up a few of my recent posts so folks could catch up.

Now I just need to figure out why the first few sentences of my posts are not showing up.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Imitate or Differentiate

One of the interesting components of this conference I am working on ( is the panel discussion that Tiina and I are planning. The topic is "What is the future of Ultimate? Where should we go and how should we get there?” I think this topic (Tiina's idea) is timely and relevant. It happens to sit well with the UPA's Strategic Initiative, "Ultimate Revolution". I did do the survey. Maybe I will win the iPod. This post will be an introduction to a series of posts that will attempt to provide my views on developing a context for thinking about the future of Ultimate. Perhaps this will help in focusing our concerns at the panel discussion at the UCPC.

The purpose of this introduction is to try to lay out my perspective on defining how to think about our sport in terms of proceeding out into the future. I think there are two basic approaches to considering what our problems are, what our strengths are, and how we should move ourselves forward. These approaches are: imitation and differentiation. Practically speaking, these two approaches exist on a non-mutually exclusive continuum, and, as a result, any policy or opinion about the future of Ultimate will exist as a combination, or amalgam, of these two opposing methods. I will discuss each as a separate entity for this post, but it is important to keep in mind that both can come into play.

Imitation could also be described as "modeling". Clearly, any vision of the future of Ultimate should incorporate the lessons learned by other organizations. There are constant discussions about how Ultimate compares to other sports. How do our athletes compare? How do we get sponsored and how have other sports attracted sponsors? Is Ultimate a good name for the sport? Why is poker on ESPN and Ultimate is nowhere to be found? Here is a big one: does the lack of refs in Ultimate hold us back from legitimacy? In the discussions I have read or participated in, the participants frequently cite examples of what other sports have done to become successful. It is hard to see, though, the down side of the cost of legitimacy. We see and covet what other have. I have one quick example that does not claim to indict imitation. It just speaks how a story has many sides to it. A few moths ago, I was at practice with the Whiptails when I noticed a woman standing on our sideline watching us. As is my custom whenever I see a parent, I go over and introduce myself and I did so in this case. When I asked if she was a parent, she said, "No, I am the AD for Wellesley". Now, like many schools, Wellesley's Ultimate team is a club team (like the debate team) and exists outside the realm of the athletics dept. We do not have access to trainers or support services that the varsity sports are entitled to. This does make sense to a large degree as there are the obvious liability concerns, etc. I think my girls would love just a bit of the support that the varsity teams receive. I had a very interesting conversation with the AD. She was very interested in how hard my girls worked, and she was very respectful of our efforts. She also indicated that she was working on ways to get the club sports access to the Wellesley trainers. She was quite surprised and impressed by the fact that we practice three times a week the entire school year. Then she made the point of this story. She asked me if I realized that if the Whips became a Varsity sport that they would only be able to practice 19 weeks a year (as opposed to 38), due to NCAA Div 3 regulations. My girls benefit greatly from having the freedom to practice all year long. I am sure that for every story like this that there is a contradicting example of how being like other sports would have nice perks. The point really is, though, that imitation, or modeling, takes an external point of view of our sport. While this can be positive, it is also important to realize the costs of success. I think another example is TV. I have said it before in this blog. Watching a televised football game live is like watching ice melt. The sport is so tailored for the TV experience that the "real" game, meaning the one occurring on the field, suffers in my opinion.

On the other hand, we have differentiation. While again an external point of view, differentiation seeks to examine and promote what makes our sport different from other sports. It can be hard to have confidence that non-participants will respond to the things that set us apart and that we won't just crash and burn in a failed social experiment. Clearly, though, this last sentence is overly dramatic. There is no end point in my opinion, worst case scenario is that things continue as they are now. Over the next few weeks, I will discuss some of the things that I think could potentially differentiate Ultimate. Essentially, what our "assets" are.

The discussion of the future of Ultimate incorporates assumptions about what legitimacy is and that our collective definition of legitimacy is something that we want. The purpose of this (and the following posts) does not attempt to impart my vision of legitimacy. It just seeks to identify possible tools that take us on different paths. Clearly growing our sport and making it "legitimate" (what ever that means) is a difficult task. As I have said before, when I started playing in the 70's, folks were convinced that Ultimate would be an Olympic sport "in 20 years". Well, "20 years from now" was 10 years ago and from my seat, it does not seem we are much closer. The idea of a definition of legitimacy is important because if we say that legitimacy is TV exposure then that limits us to roughly 5 sports all invented in the late 19th century when it comes to imitation. There are basically no role models for what Ultimate is trying to do (popularize a team sport invented in the late 20th century). As such, the primary focus of my subsequent posts will our differentiating assets as carving our own path might be the only choice handed to us.


What the Whips are working on at the end of the semester

The post-Thanksgiving period has been a tough time for us in terms of getting much done. Things get busy, we are practicing indoors in a basketball court, finals are approaching, etc. I think there is a natural tendency to relax a bit and let the end of the semester kind of just wind down. Over the past few years, I have really been encouraging the girls to actually ramp up a bit and try to get as much done as possible over these brief few weeks. So here is what I am working on:

-Continued focus on fundamentals: throwing and catching. I stopped by a ARHS game at Regionals in Oct to see how Tiina was doing. She said to me that the boys were struggling with throwing and catching and until they got it together that she "had nothing for them".

-Better decision making. One thing I have started to do at our indoor scrimmages is to make passes over head height a turnover. This does a couple of things: makes the players the think about their throws and forces them to exploit only the two primary lanes (open side or break side via dump/swing).

-Focus on executing "away" dumps: This is the dump pass in which the dump cutter cuts away from the thrower and into the middle of the field. The thrower throws it out into space. This is hard, especially when done as a forehand.

-Mental focus. We continue to work on improving our concentration. I will stop the scrimmages for a break when we lose focus. I am also working on the basics like "focus on the things you can control". I have been lucky this year that we have had tremendous interest in the Whips, and our numbers are up to over 30. Usually, by now, I might be in the low teens. Unfortunately, there has apparently (my captains keep me blissfully unaware of the social knot) been a bit of consternation about how our potential A and B teams might break come the spring. This is a perfect opportunity for my girls to work on focus. Not only is the spring many months away (the first snow of the season is lazily coming down past my window as I type), but I am not even thinking about A and B teams at this point. The goal remains the same: team-wide work on fundamentals. Come January, we will sit down and discuss goals for the spring. The viability of separate teams can be dealt with then.


Friday, December 01, 2006

UCPC: Registration is now open!

Early Registration for the UCPC is now live and open! Information about registering for the conference can be found here:

I have also updated information about the Conference Hotel. That information is under the "Hotels & Directions" page.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Quality as a Parameter for Policy

There has been lots of talk about quality on RSD these days. Most of the talk occurred after Nationals and was concerned with
whether or not the Mixed Div belongs, but there was also a more recent discussion about whether the glory teams of yesteryear could have competed with the teams of today.This second conversation is rather familiar and benign due largely to its speculative nature. Its an age-old argument in any sport and somewhat in the "glory days" category, but it does set up the general idea that quality is a dynamic and subjective entity. Not surprisingly this discussion is characterized by two age-based camps. The older folks who are adamant that Flying Circus and NYNY would have intimidated Sockeye, and the younger folks who swear by the athleticism of the current generation.

The conversation several weeks ago about whether Mixed belongs in the fall series is a different animal, though, as an assumed standard of quality is being presented as a means of defining policy. This is critical distinction, compared to the old vs new argument, as the highly subjective nature of quality is being asked to determine a course of action for an organization. Jim P succinctly breaks down the Mixed "issue" into two separate arguments: 1) the question of whether the inclusion of Mixed in the Fall Series limits the potential venues for Nationals, and 2) whether Mixed is high enough quality to warrant inclusion is the showcase event in our sport. This post seeks to deal with only the issue of quality.

I think before we consider the quality of Mixed Ultimate, we need to define parameters that define quality in general. There seems to be a general assumption that we all are in agreement about what quality Ultimate is, but I would argue that we are very far from all being on the same page as far as this is concerned. Part of this is the very nature of the shifting criteria that is quality. This point becomes very clear in the RSD discussion when Sam TH poses the question that if we consider that Mixed is lower quality than Open, then doesn't it follow that Women's is lower quality as well. Jim P's response is that "this is different because Women's is the best players of that gender". My point is not to say that I think Jim is defining a position as much as it is to point out that when we draw a line in the sand to define quality, we almost immediately need to start defining qualifiers.

There is a part of quality that can be supported by objective measures. Perhaps we could call this Absolute Quality. These are measures like speed, jumping ability, throwing distance, etc. For the most part, these measures need to take an athlete out of the context of the team experience and then measure their performance in isolation. This is basically the method of the NFL Combine and it does result in being able to say with some degree of certainty that "Person A is faster than Person B". Based on this standard,though, I might not consider # of turnovers as a measure of Absolute Quality as there are needed qualifiers (the teams were evenly matched and played real D). I think fewer unforced errors could be a measure of Absolute Quality, but, again, it involves subjective judgment in terms of defining events as unforced or not. While Absolute Quality might be of interest in terms of stats and playing cards, I think it is pretty obvious that it almost impossible to define a policy for a standard of inclusion based on Absolute Quality. As an analogy, Absolute Quality ignores "intangibles" (things like desire, work ethic, heart) and creates problems when dealing with player specialization (is a faster player "better" than a player who can throw farther?). Just as we don't expect team managers to make personnel decisions based solely on objective measures, I think concerning ourselves with trying to define policy in an internet newsgroup based on an assumed sense of Absolute Quality is at best a distraction.

I think an even more useless criteria could be called Relative Quality. Let's define this for the moment as quality defined by comparison(without objective measurement). To a certain extent, this measure is defined by the "Windy City vs Sockeye" argument. If we, for the moment, consider the 2002 Dog-FG semi as some kind of standard, could we therefore define a standard of inclusion based on that game? What do we do with games like the 2001 or 2005 turnover-laden Open Finals? Should the Open Division not be included at Nationals because the Ultimate played in 05 was not up to the Relative Quality of the Ultimate played in 02? Why is the Mixed Division the only Division that gets to be compared with Open? In the end, basing a standard of measure upon an opinion of Relative Quality looks a lot like any Dogma or Belief System. The definition of dogma actually works very well here ("A set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true") and certainly fits the standard means of communication of the RSD forum. Could there be a better example of this definition than the assertion that Open is the most compelling and most interesting Ultimate due to its quality?

I think one could argue that the above assertion is backed-up up by the bigger crowds that attend Open games. However, this makes the assumption that the number of spectators can somehow accurately determine quality. To me, this is a highly suspect means of measurement and it seems we have made a huge leap, in terms of defining quality, from objective criteria to the whims of spectators.

I think, when it comes to trying to determine policy, that we make sure we do not assume that the Ultimate that interests us as individuals is somehow what everyone should, or would, also find interesting. This discussion of quality seems to be an attempt to re-characterize what are essentially dogmatic assertions in some kind of objective cloak. Certainly, everyone is entitled to their opinion and will be drawn to whatever aspect of the sport that interests them. Quality, without the benefit of a defined set of measures and thus inherently subjective, is probably not a good parameter for defining a decision in regard to inclusion in the Fall Series.


Solo...for now....

I want to get started with my weekly posts again, even though my feed is still disabled to Ultimatetalk. Jim wrote recently about the number of hits his blog has, and while he certainly has the best name recognition in the blog world, I think he can tip his hat to Ultimatetalk for a large percentage of his numbers. Its interesting to see how visitors to your site become currency and can feed into some sense of self-importance. So, to still post without the benfit of Ultimatetalk is a good lesson.

Just a reminder that you can subscribe to this blog via the Feedburner form. If you do, updates to this blog will be e-mailed to you.

Thanks for reading.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

UCPC Website Update

The Ultimate Coaches and Players Conference has just been updated. Please go to for the latest updates, photos, and logistics information. Our goal is to open on-line registration, hosted by BUDA, on December 1st, so please stay tuned.


Monday, November 06, 2006

Upgrading to Blogger Beta

I have spent a bunch of hours over the past few days getting up to speed on this new Blogger Beta upgrade.

There are some pretty cool features and I hovered around on various Blogger Hack Blogs to customize my blog with "peekaboo" posts and nav bar. Geeky stuff, really. So my blog is pretty tripped out at this point...which is fun.

One of the big issues I have been dealing with the way that the rss feed is handled in Beta. In the old version, updates and edits did not affect the overall timestamp of a post in terms of its rss feed. Essentially, the rss feed made the timestamp the publish date even if a post was updated or edited. In Beta, however, all edits and updates to a post result in a new rss timestamp.....the time of the update. So, last week when I upgraded, Beta gave new timestamps to all my posts (the time of the upgrade), and my blog proceeded to flood Ultimatetalk with over 100 posts. I am working with Idris on this (he is being very patient with me), so I hope to have my feed to Ultimatetalk up and running sometime this week. This change will impact bloggers as they will want to keep edits of older posts down to a minimum. There is also potential for reader confusion as the new rss feed does not list posts in order of publish date, but by update or edit date.

In the meantime, you are free to use the handy Feedburner subscription on my blog if you want to receive e-mail updates when new posts are published on this blog.

Thanks, g


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Same As It Ever Was.......

I feel like this really should be on my "Joke of the Day" calendar. Its like deja vu all over again


Monday, October 30, 2006


If anyone is looking for a complete immersion experience into our little world of Ultimate, just come on down to the UPA Club Championships in Sarasota. It feels both luxurious and decadent and as we made our way through the finals yesterday there was a palpable sense of our attentions turning back to the concerns of real life. The emotional ebbs and flows on these vast green fields are unlike any other that I have experienced in Ultimate as there is both the sense of gratitude for the opportunity and tension due to so much at stake.

My wife and I roomed with Tiina B (making her first trip to Club Nationals) and Michael B, so needless to say all our post-mortem discussions on the day's proceedings were heady and invariably correct. Ruth seemed to have a pretty good time volunteering at the info table, and we did manage to go out every night for dinner. This was a welcome respite from Ultimate as she has no interest at all in the game, and I enjoyed the opportunity to talk about something else other than Ultimate (actually, the discussions at the hotel with Tiina and Michael frequently went to other subjects as well). There is no better example than the fact the fact that Ruth took about a hundred pictures, not one of which involved a single point of play.

The job of Head Scorekeeper is a busy one, and I had the pleasure of working with two Rock Stars in the husband and wife team of Laura and Aaron, from Ottawa. Laura was in charge of entering in the scores to the SRT, and Aaron, in his third year as a Field Marshal, was invaluable in terms of his experience and his ability to do RUFUS statkeeping. I also had a great Field Marshal team who showed up on time and worked tirelessly. All these folks (Darren, Joe, Melle, Martin, Ephi, Suzanne, Seth, Kathleen, Amanda, Julia, Dug (explained as an "acronym" for Doug), Erik, Haley, Eric) contributed to the overall great quality of the event. My goal, which was shared by Laura, was that if we were going to be charged with a task, we might as well do it as best as possible. My sense that is that the folks looking in on the SRT appreciated that we were doing pretty much real-time reporting of scores on 30 fields, so again this speaks to the dedication of the Field Marshals. I did have a few moments to check in on RSD during the weekend, and it was remarkable to contrast the pro-active volunteers cleaning trash, filling water, checking scores, and the obvious commitment and work ethic of the players in all Divisions with the dogmatic bitch and whine of folks like Corey and ultimate7. If you want to make things better, then either play well enough to earn a precious spot on those beautiful fields or take some time out of your day and help clean them up. Otherwise...shut the fuck up. I was thanked on many occasions by the players for all the work of the volunteers. Your offerings of gratitude were appreciated by all of us, and it is nice to know that the efforts of the support staff are not met with a sense of entitlement of the part of the players.

I think the experience of a spectator at Nationals when the horn sounds at 9:30am on Thursday is quite similar to a 6-year walking through the gate of Disney World for the first time. It is completely overstimulating and overwhelming. I watched Ultimate 9 hours a day for 4 days and I didn't see 5% of what occurred. Here is what I did see:

-The is a discernible difference in intensity as one walks down the rows of fields. If we consider Open as a 10 (the most intense), then the other divisions are several notches below. To be clear, this is not a comment on quality, just how loud things are. To walk down the line of the 8 Open fields is like walking the gauntlet. 250 large men on the sideline screaming at the top of their lungs is intense. Things got much quieter as I would transition to the other divisions.

-Al Nichols should be a hero for us all. 42 years old and in the mosh pit with the best of them. I had a brief moment to say hello to him and remark on his longevity while giving him his second place medal, and he responded with grace and consideration even in the face of a disappointing defeat. Age can sometimes inform humility. I have been in a number Ultimate situations in which the hierarchy is in your face. Things like talking to someone as then have them walk away mid-sentence to go lick the ass of someone higher up on the food chain who just walked in the door. While it is easy to get seduced by being deferred to (even in this tiny little Ultimate world), remember that "this to shall pass" and that somewhere down the line you will need to make decisions about continuing your career or not. Ultimate as a documented entity is in diapers and while the Moons vs KD might be our best story so far, most of us, like the 99% of the players that played before us, will be forgotten....regardless of the creativity of the spike.

-Speaking of which, it was not a great weekend for the blog folks. We have Luke publishing highlights from a hat tournament shamelessly under a "Nats" moniker, Jim and Al getting dismantled, Idris spectating, Hector wiping his ass with the disc before spiking it, and my main contribution was Cone Bitch.

-There was a lot of straight up mark this weekend. Like most of the time off a turn or pull. It seemed clear to me that the defenses were challenging the O to demonstrate confidence in possessing the disc. I thought it was clear that the teams most comfortable with possessing the disc were Fury and Furious George. For all the talk about Huck and Hope, I did not see it in the 2-3 Furious George games I watched. In fact, I thought FG, as they have players that can throw and go deep, was clearly the best O I saw all weekend. Now, if that is "true" then that speaks very highly of Sockeye's D, which, to me, was the difference maker in the final. While FG was clearly able to possess the disc for high pass counts, it just seemed impossible for FG to able to sustain a high degree of efficiency. For the most part, however, they were able to and it was only couple of long pass (not hucks) that did result in the few turns that they made. I think if FG had been able to establish a deep game then it might have been a different story. Sockeye's O does love the long game, and their points went much faster than FG's. Sockeye attacks aggressive marks by calling the fouls, and, as many of the foul calls come on hucks, it seemed that fouling Wiggins resulted in another shot rather than a disruption of the "flow" (I am not saying that I thought FG trying to disrupt the flow, I just think that Sockeye, with their long looks, is able to absrob the fouls better).

-I was very impressed with Fury in the final. They are very deep when it comes to throwers, and, like FG, their throwers will also go deep. Fury was able to convert their break opportunities early on, so the first half was a surprising blow out.

-I was really happy to see Slow White as the only non-NW team in the finals. I did feel that the Mixed final was evenly matched, but that Slow made more unforced errors early on and had to play catch-up. I thought SW looked very good all weekend and they should be very proud of what they accomplished.

-I was able to watch DOG twice on field 13 and they really looked overmatched against both FG and Sockeye. FG beat DOG on both sides of the disc and demonstrated higher competence with a very DOG-like O (great end zone O....lots of changing the field).

-I was able to read the Mixed Div write ups on the UPA website, and I think Bil did a great job in his write-ups. He also managed to film the whole thing as well, which is awesome as he takes great photos (including a great shot of the winning Masters Final goal). I was a bit perturbed, however, to see that the very first sentence of the very first day is "Poor George Cooke". It then goes on, in faux sympathy, to describe how hard it is for me to seed the Mixed Div. First of all, I don't understand why I am even mentioned. Really, it is clear to me, based on the language of this paragraph and in his RSD posts, that Bil doesn't really respect my approach, thinks that I am "wrong", and thinks that I must be upset that I get the seedings "wrong". Hey, there was also a running joke among the ND's about who was going to get things more "wrong" (as if it was ever in doubt). I said many times during the weekend "Who is seeding the Mixed Div? They should fire the guy". I also think that a live broadcast of me doing "dartboard seedings" (throwing team darts at a dartboard numbered 1-16), would probably be exciting, boost ratings, and be more "correct". So, for the more time....seeding is reactive not predictive. Any language in the articles that indicates that I am upset by how things played out, or that the final results should be close to the original seedings("Fickle fortune's wind blew but lightly on some pools today, while in others, the seedings failed to conform" and "many prognosticators had penciled Slow White into the finals (although they came in seeded No.5")) is Bil's subjective take on the matter.

-As Jim posted a year ago, I cannot imagine trying to get on a plane later this week and flying down for worlds. I wish all teams the best of luck. In the Mixed Div, I would seed that 1) Mischief, 2) SW, 3) Brass Monkey, but I am sure that Bil would disagree.

Overall, I did not have much chance to socialize. I got a chance to say hello to Tully and Amy and their new baby, but that was one of many examples where I had to keep moving on to the next task. Each division has a different story. Many folks were talking about the blow-outs in the Women's Div. Masters and Mixed were all over the place. Open displays some parity, close games, and great intensity. I was happy to see both Johnny Bravo and Chain break through and shake things up a bit.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Off to Nats

My wife and I are catching an early flight tomorrow morning as we are making our way down to Sarasota for Nationals. My wife is going to volunteer this year by helping out with orgainzing the player packs and various other on-field duties. I need to get my scorekeeping stuff together and meet with the Field Marshals tomorrow. One of our goals is updating the SRT with every half time score, so keep checking that out. If you don't get the info fast enough, just comment here and I will be sure to get back to you.

Advice to the teams: LEAVE PLENTY OF TIME TO GET TO THE FIELDS ON THURSDAY MORNING. The traffic is traditionally horrible on Thurs. Last year, 6TM got stuck in traffic and some folks didn't get to the fields until 9:10am. I suggest hitting the road at 7:30am from Siesta Key. Worst case scenario is that you find your field early and have plenty of time to warm-up.

My concerns this year will be quite different: What games to watch?????

I think I have got my first round narrowed down to:


Seems doable, right? If I stay a whole 5 minutes at each one...I should catch them all. Maybe if my customized golf cart (all black, big rims, built in ipod and latte machine) arrives in time I can get it to 6 minutes per game.


Ultimate Coaches and Players Conference: Presenters and Seminar Topics Announcement

Tiina and I are very excited to release the list of presenters and seminar topics for the Ultimate Coaches and Players Conference! Please go to the UCPC Home Page ( and click on the "Presenters" link. We feel this is a top notch group of people and we are very excited by the diverse and informative topics that we have to offer. I want to take a moment to thank everyone that submitted proposals. We really appreciate all the interest.

There is also some preliminary logistics info to check out, so please come by the website for all the updates.

Tiina and I will both be down at the UPA Club Championships, so, if you are down there, please take a moment to stop either of us if you want to talk about the UCPC.

We will be releasing registration information at the beginning of December, so stay tuned.


Monday, October 16, 2006

Crap Formats #2

Very busy times these days.

I am working pretty hard on Nationals logistics. Seeding, observer rules, schedule, etc. It looks like I might be Head that will be fun.

Bumpersticker I saw the other day:

"George W: Pull out like your father should have."


Worked on the 2-handler set with the girls the other day. In my attempt to indoctrinate them in this set, I decided I wouldn't even teach the 3-handler set this year. My vets don't seem comfortable in the 2 set, though, so they fell back on the 3 set this past weekend at a Smith College tournament.

Speaking of tournaments, my girls have this format to look forward to this upcoming weekend:

I can't make any sense out of the seedings as I don't think that MIT and BU should be seeded behind us. Also, 16 teams in 3 pools??? I guess this is being driven by the 6 field issue, but 16 teams in 4 pools can be done on 6 fields in 4 rounds. The byes aren't any worse than the published plan.

Then there is the brackets. First, both A and C pools have their 1 and 2 seeds on the same side of the bracket. That's a big no-no. In terms of match-ups, A1(1) vs C3(8...9??) makes sense. B1(2) vs A2 (6). No problem, kind of. C1(3) v B3(8). Low seed plays a high seed. That's good. B2(5) v C2(4). Right on. What happened to 7??

I think 4 pools of 16 in 4 rounds followed by 2v3 pre-quarters makes a lot more sense.

Ok...that's the bitch for the week.......


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Best Mixed O Scheme So Far?

In 2004, I purchased some videos of previous Mixed Finals as 6TM was just forming and there was interest among the leadership in what prior teams had done in terms of organizing their offenses. After watching a bunch of film, we ended up using a variation on a scheme that Donner Party had came up with, and we had great success with it that year. In 2005, a decision was made to focus on a spread offense ("Pairs"), and I must admit that I was disappointed that we moved away from what had been quite effective for us.

The scheme is based on a T-stack. For those that have not read my previous post, the T-stack is 3 horizontal handlers and 4 vertical cutters downfield. In a sense, it just takes the handler in the front of the stack and flares them out to the break side to roughly where they would have received the swing pass.

In the case of Donner Party, they ran this O with four women. They would put two male handlers out on the outside, and they had very strong women handlers that could run the show as the pivot. This left three women cutters downfield with one male cutter. Obviously, this creates a very difficult 1 on 1 matchup downfield for the sole male defender.

6TM ran this in 04 with 4 men (a male handler at the pivot) most of the time. I am a bit surprised that more Mixed teams have not incorporated this look.


Nomenclature for Alternatives to the Stack

This post is inspired by yet another conversation that went roughly as follows (liberties taken):

"I haven't seen many teams playing the German anymore."

"Is that the one with the 4 cutters horizontal downfield?"

"No, that's the Swedish, its that one with the iso in the middle of the field."

"Right, that works well. I also like that one in which there are 3 handlers in a horizontal line near the disc and then there are 2 pairs of cutters near the sideline on opposite sides of the field."

"Don't some teams call that Brown?"

"I have no idea....I just call it 'the 2 pairs of cutters on opposite sides of the field'."

"Yeah, that's easy to call on the line......"

I propose that we lose the terms "German" and "Swedish" in terms of the everyday vernacular unless someone can write a paper that documents exactly which stack goes with which country. I mean no disrespect to the teams and countries that could have invented these stacks, but our ability to communicate is severely hampered by rumor and misinformation. I just don't want to slog through it anymore.

I need to say that I think teams should call these whatever they want internally. I am just speaking about general conversation.

So how about:

"Pairs"- This is the offense with 3 horizontal handlers back and a pair of cutters close to each sideline.
"3-1-3"- 3 horizontal handlers back, 1 iso cutter downfield, 3 horizontal cutters downfield.
"3-4"- 3 horizontal handlers, 4 horizontal cutters downfield
"T-stack"- 3 horizontal handlers, 4 vertical cutters downfield

Now that I am on a roll, I don't think "2-3-2" is a good term for a standard cup zone. I have played on teams in which we had a "2-3-2" zone (meaning a cup zone), and a "real 2-3-2" zone. This is just too confusing. I don't think that "2-3-2", when referring to a 3-person cup, accurately describes this zone either from a functional or visual perspective.

I tend to call a standard, 3-person cup zone a "cup zone". I think the case could be made to call it a "3-3-1". I call a 4-person cup zone a "4-person cup". Are there any practical versions of a 2-3-2 zone? I haven't seen any, but if there are, let's call it a "2-3-2".


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Quick thoughts about NE Regionals

For some reason, the weather this past weekend reminded me very much of playing Ultimate in my early years in Ithaca and Amherst. It was pretty much a perfect NE fall weekend with the changing leaves, picture book blue sky, and just a hint of coolness in the air. Almost made we want to play again..........

Well, not really, but I did have plenty of time to reminisce about what it felt like to play in the fall in the old days. I do love Regionals, and I could just enjoy the experience without the stress of worrying about whether my season was going to end prematurely. I was never on a team that would have caused me to consider that qualifying for Nationals was an afterthought, so I was always much more nervous at this tournament than any other.

I am quite touched by Jim's little compliment that the Mixed Div is exciting due to the upsets. In general, I thought Jim's post on Regionals was excellent. Funny and a bit of the old TM thrown in on the side. I do think that Jim's compliment was probably just a momentary lapse due to bathing in the afterglow of Dog's domination of the event. Dog did look great this weekend, and I think his summary of the improvement of the D's O is very insightful.

On the women's side, I got to hang out for moments with the Lady Godiva folks and it was great to see Lori Parham, Shana and Sarah Cook, Molly Brown, Amy D, Chris C all back on the field together. I think they will have a great time at Nationals.

The Mixed Div was topsy-turvey on Sat, and it played out much like the MA Regional in that the 3 and 4 seeds ended up playing in an elimination game in the 3rd round. It was sad for me to see 6TM not make it to Sunday and not give themselves a chance to play for Sarasota. I thought the 6TM-Tandem game was quite intense. Exciting, but difficult to watch. Of course, a few folks came up to me and joked that my stock really went up this weekend. I was able to get a laugh in as the humor is based on the ridiculous nature of the premise (any serious assertion that I could be the difference maker on a team like 6TM would frankly be an admission that the team was in deep shit). 6TM had massive turnover on the women's side this year, but as far as the men go....the real loss there is Olen. He was a sparkplug for that team and any real self-analysis will say that there is a hole needs to be filled.

I thought that Slow White looked very good this weekend as they got all their new Patagonia stuff. They also played very well. They ran a patient offense and their long looks were high percentage. I think they are approaching the season with a correct build and they look to be peaking in a few weeks. It is fun to watch them as it is clear that they are enjoying themselves without being cocky.

So, our attention turns south now. I look forward to seeing the NE teams down in Sarasota.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006


I somehow managed to escape alive from my teenage years despite a somewhat typical arrogance in my assumption that I could survive anything. Without the maturity to cope with the loss of my father when I was 12, I careened into my early 20's without awareness of the lessons that can be learned from losing someone close to you. Over time, I have been able to gain some perspective and not take things as much for granted to the point where most days I am able to remind myself of my fraility and insignificance. We are reminded of this message frequently, from our own personal interactions to the public declarations of survivors and familes of victims of 9/11. Sometimes, though, the facade of an awareness of perspective does not help to remove the bitter taste that is left in one's mouth in the face of the randomness of an accident like the one that took the lives of two players from the Gendors this past Sunday. Hh wrote much more eloquently about this than I ever could, but I was struck by the link he provided to Will Wiersma's MySpace page in which Will, one of the deceased, mentions "life is simple" and "living as if you are dying tomorrow". A few weeks ago, I got on a plane for Chicago so I could work at CHC. As I got on, it crossed my mind, as it does frequently these days, that this could be the last thing I do. I did not presume to take any comfort in the idea that I was "doing something I loved", and I was quite certain that my wife and daughter would not take comfort in such sentiment. So, the questions and struggles remain, regardless of how much we remind ourselves of the gift that is our time here: Do I get on the plane? Do I drive to the tournament? Do I leave the house today? On days like yesterday, I have no answers.


Monday, September 25, 2006


Luke says that nothing is going on in Boston. Last I checked I was still posting, but I guess my comment that I had heard OTHER people say that the West Coast Offense was a tacit agreement to neuter the meaning of a turnover really hit home.

In other news, the 11th edition draft is here. I have taken a cursory look at it. I like the new Cap language. I dipped my toe over in the 11th Edition discussion group and asked Peri if there had been discussion about raising the minimum number of players needed to start play (currently 2), and she, as usual, took a moment out of her day to inquire why I would ask (there had been no discussion on this topic apparently). Ultimate7, as usual, weighed in with the tact and finesse that we have come to expect from him, so I think I will write Peri directly as it seems like there won't be a conversation over in that least not when there is an "RSD voice" present.

So Sectionals is complete. I have been "on-call" for the past three weekends. I work sometimes on the weekends (lately I have been doing audio work for BC football games), so my colleagues don't know quite what to make of me stopping work to discuss the placement game rule in the 13th place bracket of a tournament 2000 miles away. While all the results are not quite in, I think things seem to be playing out as expected. Mischief beat Brass Monkey to win the NorCal tournament. All the talk this year has been around Brass picking up Griego, Casey, Coco, and Greenough, but Mischief must have done some serious recruiting as they are playing very consistently in a very tough Region. Moe beat the Carleton folks to win NWP. I will be watching to see if they can do it again in two weeks. Slow White went through ENE without much difficulty. They seem to be ramping up very effectively. There was talk on RSD about the Gendors "curse" and them not being able to beat a team twice in a weekend. We shall see this upcoming weekend when we have three Regional tournaments (anyone else notice that there is no RSD talk about the other divs for yet another year. Someone said it is because the results in the other Divs are probably set in stone. This goes back to my post last fall about upsets equaling excitement). I think Regional is the best time of the year.......

On the home front, practices at Wellesley started last week. As usual, we have many brand new players, but this year the new folks seem to be hanging in there a bit longer. I have been impressed with my returning players as they have been working very hard to teach the new players the basic fundamentals. I think we need to remain committed to working very hard to push the new players through this stage even though it feels like the vets are not able to focus on their skills and progression. This is going to require patience and I hope it will pay off in a few months as there is a great deal of energy and enthusiasm overall. Things did get off to a bit of a rough start at the first practice, however. There must have been forty people there and it was very exciting. We introduced ourselves, and then the team went for its usual jog warm-up. I made my way around the field putting down the eight cones. As the team passed me by, one of the girls toward the back of the pack said to me "What is this? The track team". Weird, but I could let it slide. We stretched out in a circle and went around and said names. We then did the NUTC throwing demo. Have you ever noticed that people from Canada and Minnesota manage to work in how great those places are into most every conversation? You can say something like "I saw this coffee mug I liked the other day", and the response will be "Yeah, I have this friend back home in the Twin Cities that is a potter, and she makes the BEST coffee mugs!". Etc, etc. I am like this about NUTC now, and my captains have pretty much had it with me. They will say "Let's do go-to today", and I will say "Great idea! Let's do the REALLY GREAT version we did at camp". So far no one has rolled their eyes at me (which was a big camp no-no), but I think we are close. Anyway. So we are doing the NUTC throwing demo. I have Jess, Angie, and Peter out there to demo the basic throws (Peter is a Wellesley employee and an Ultimate player. He has been at the school for a year now and is coming to pretty much every practice to help out with things. He is great with the girls and with so many girls right now we are able to split up the squad and be
much more efficient). We start with flat backhands. I am talking while they are throwing and I go through the basics of the motion. As I start to talk about body rotation for power, I hear giggling from the circle. I turn around and it is Track Girl. I walk over and ask if there id a problem. She says "I just think talking about this is so funny. I mean.....its just frisbee". Now, I think I have demonstrated that I maintain my sense of humor through most circumstances. I do have a problem, though, with disrespect. My first thought was to tell her to get the fuck off the field and don't come back. I did manage to have some self-restraint (which my captains thanked me for later) and I just walked away. Peter came up to me once we started to drill and said "We won't see her on Thursday", and, indeed, we did not. While I was quite taken aback by such of show of disrespect for a voluntary activity, I have to say that was far and away the only display of this sort that I have experienced so far at the school, and in all other respects, it has been a great start to the year.


Monday, September 18, 2006

The Break

So it is reiterated frequently that offense has the advantage, the offense should score most, if not all the time, etc. While I recall someone saying that they thought that the West Coast Offense was actually a tacit agreement among the NW teams to neuter the impact of a turnover, I think we can mostly agree that the goal and expectation of most high level offenses is to become automatic. I know that some teams give their O only one shot to score before going with Plan B. Having said all that, it seems to me that, like tennis, one of the most significant and exciting moments in an Ultimate game is, therefore, The Break. The Break is a coveted opportunity, but only if set up by efficient offenses. The Break will lose much luster in a game of many turnovers and inefficient offenses, but as a team develops confidence in the efficiency of its offense, it can start to turn its attention to converting its break opportunities.

To me, this just reinforces my feeling that the most important position in Ultimate is that of the D handler. A player that can play intense and focused D and then turn around around and run the show is special indeed. Is there a better historical example of a D handler than Lenny Engle? Mid-Mid in a zone that actually worked, good person skills, and got as many touches as Mooney. While it is obvious which side of the disc won the Dog media battle even though Zaz wrote a great article on Lenny a few years ago, is there a player more under the radar, in terms of recognition, than Lenny? Perhaps it is in the nature of this position to go unheralded. It seems to me pretty obvious, though, that if a team is going to truly focus its energy on coverting the rare break opprtunities that come along in high level play, then it must make sure that it has the D handler position well-covered.


Monday, September 11, 2006

My CHC Trip

I arrived at the fields on Sat am and I was greeted by two surprises: 1) the fields, while still a bit hard, were as nice have they have been in several years, and 2) one of the first players I saw warming up was Ken Dobyns. Ken was there to play with the new NC Mixed team, Black Molly. Nice to see him out of the fields again. This post is not a blow by blow account of the tournament, but will be random observations that I wrote down from my golf cart.

-It was fun to check in folks I haven't seen in a while. I greatly appreciated that folks would come up to me and ask, "So, how is the...uh....spectating going?" or "Thanks for organizing and..(pause).....watching". While I am touched that folks would appear interested and I thought it was cute that some seemed to not quite fathom how I could possibly be enjoying myself, I did enjoy checking out a lot of Ultimate, helping out in a small way, and I think it was a productive trip.

-The visor is out. Way out in terms of fashion. Pretty much dead. The few that make the choice that a visor is cooler than a baseball cap thankfully do not wear them brim up anymore. While there are many creative ways to deal with hair and the sun, a baseball cap is the way to go. However, I think throwing one's baseball cap dramatically in order to make a play is unnecessary. I saw the following exchange:

Floaty pass into the end zone
O guy takes off his hat and tries to throw it on the ground, but the disc drops too quickly. O guy jumps up in the air and catches the disc with one hand while holding his cap in the other hand...still above his head.
D guy makes the a play on the disc, can't catch it and calls "Foul" saying that the O guy with the hat had violated his vertical space by pushing down on him with his elbow.
O guy then does a full reinactment of why it was impossible for him to have pushed down on the D guy while holding his hat above his head.
D guy is unconvinced and the disc goes back.
O team scores after a pass or two. O team captain (not the O guy with hat) says to his team "Ok, we need to work harder on preventing D guys from jumping into us and calling fouls."

-"Fire!". When did we all decide that "Fire!" is the "code word" for man in transition D? I saw 10 teams from different Regions and Divisions use "Fire!" for this purpose. I spent most of last Feb vacation reading about Baseball signs and codes in other sports. Compared to many other sports that use real codes and signs, we are still banging on rocks and waiting for lighting to strike a rock to create...."Fire!" My feeling is: why not just say "Man!"? We can't really think we are fooling anyone. While we are on the subject, why does the transition always occur at 3 or 5 passes? I think if I had heard a line call like "Zone for 4 passes to backhand, silent count", I would have fallen out of my cart.

-It was pretty windy all weekend which I thought was good for teams with an eye on Sarasota. While this made it tough for good Ultimate, especially on Sat afternoon, I saw lots of "casual" passes become turnovers across all divisions. There were many, many examples of players rushing their throws or not setting up their bodies correctly, and this resulted in turns that could have been avoided. When folks did set up and respect the wind, there were some amazing throws..which was great to see.

-Maybe this is an obvious statement, but intense D makes things exciting. I found myself walking around during rounds looking for the best any division.

-Having said that, I was pretty impressed with DoG this weekend. They are a fun team to watch and the overall feeling from the team is quite positive. When I talked with the guys that I know, they would all say that there is a lot of work to do, but the games I saw were well played, very physically intense, and enjoyable. I thought the O was well-focused on their system and at times looked automatic. They are playing very good D, though, and have the depth to put out some varied looks with confidence. In the final, SubZero had to work very hard against Dog's man D and, at times, threw many passes. Dog did have the depth and conditioning, for the most part, to hold the line without concern about roster depth. While there can be arguments about the effectiveness of the Dog O vs the West Coast run and gun, the answer, it seems to me, will come more from Dog's D providing answers for Nord, Grant, etc, rather than the O proving itself.

-Nemesis looked goos this weekend. Amy D and Lryica seemed very confident and unruffled by the wind. There was nice trophy presentation after Nemesis won the tournament. The trophy was in honor of Dean Smith, a Windy City player who passed away in 2005. There was some discussion about whether or not the trophy should be spiked in rememberence of the Windy City championship. After a brief talk, the trophy was indeed spiked. I overheard a rather interesting debate afterwards about whether spiking the trophy is actually a sign of respect.

-The Mixed Division was able to put out a very strong field for this tournament. Four regions were there and the teams got in a lot of good games. While the wind made for Uglitmate at times, the quality of play was good. I found the most compelling game was the CLX-Mr Briefcase qtr match-up. Very good defense. Hard fought, physical, and aggressive. Mr Briefcase is a deep squad to this tournament, and they are able to put out varied lines. I think this makes it a little bit harder for their opponents to settle into matchups. Briefcase is a a physical team, but CLX does not seem ruffled by that. One quip of the day was by Briefcase, "Stop making shitty foul calles because your team can' read (the disc)." One point I saw had about four foot blocks. The game ended up with Mr Briefcase winning 8-7 on a Callahan by Tony Blanchet-Ruth.

-While the results of this tournament don't back me up, I thought Annapolis All-Stars had a good tournament, and they seemed as organized and focused on O as any team out there. They are a heady team and do lots of different things on O and D. They are fundamentally solid and experienced. I don't know who they were missing this weekend, but they did seem to have some trouble ramping up to play hard D. They did do this in the first half of their pool play game with Flaming Moe (and it was the other most enjoyable bit of Mixed Div Ultimate I saw), but I guess the second half was a different story. One bit of minutia is that during their qtrs game, one of their pullers kept pulling inside out...out of bounds on the same sideline..and then dropping it in, barely, on the same sideline. To me, this is highly risky as I have seen pulls that never come back in (think Condors in the 99 Finals) as serious momentum shifters.

-Anything can happen in brackets with a lot of parity, and in the Championship bracket of the Mixed Div (7 games) there were three double game points and four win by two games. At that point in the tournament, it is obviously about which team can focus, be mentally tough, and play with confidence. I am sure some teams walked away with questions, but, hopefully, the tournament provided a forum by which teams can get a sense of how they will be challenged, and how they will need to respond, come Regionals time.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Riding Self-Officiated Refs

I just finished reading John Feinstein's "A Season Inside". He spent a year in the mid-80's writing about college basketball (the year Kansas won). One of the chapters profiled several of the refs that work consistently for Div 1 college basketball. It was an interesting look at the lives of folks who get paid a little bit of money (they all have "real" jobs) to officiate big events. One of the interesting points is that this group of refs liked to test each other on new and/or obscure rules. The refs profiled were, at the time, some of the best in the business and yet sometimes they got the rulings flat out wrong. The book also went into the specific relationships between the coaches and the refs. Again, it was a good look at the personalities of the sport and the "game within the game" that is officiating. I came away from reading the book with great respect for the refs interest and energy in doing the best job they possibly could.

So, while I do understand Idris' frustration with Ultimate players not knowing our rules "inside and out" and I do believe that if Ultimate is going to differentiate itself via self-officiating, then a lot of energy needs to go into making sure we know the rules, it was interesting to read about professional refs getting the little details wrong. Now, this is not to say that Ultimate players deserve a wide berth when it comes to getting the rules wrong. Quite the opposite actually. While we can take it for granted that self-officiating players will make mistakes in their interpretations of the rules, we should, in the spirit of Idris' comments, take pride in individually developing high standards for our knowledge of the rules until say, a rules test is needed to step onto the field.

I think it is safe to say that heckling of players about the quality of their play is considered socially acceptable on a broad level. There does seem to be a sense of etiquette that heckling is more acceptable at "social tournaments" than during games "that really matter". Again, it is a difficult and shadowy thing to try to define "good taste" as we all have different interpretations of exactly when it is the best time to get shit-faced and ride someone about their play, and that is not the purpose of this post. So, while we can say that in a general sense that heckling is considered OK, depending on the circumstances, I think we are are a bit more unsure about what happens when we disagree with someone's call or interpretation of the rules. I think we have a bit of trouble differentiating between the player that is cheating and the player that made a bad call. Clearly, this has to do with the interpretation of intent, which is highly subjective. Add to this the bias of either being a player and inherently impartial or rooting for one team over another, and it is clear why aggresively disagreeing with a call could be considered in "bad form". I do, though, think it is possible to disagree with a call and not define the player as a cheater. While riding the refs in other sports has become routine and often crosses the line of acceptability, I think it is possible to consider that Ultimate, as it transitions to bigger venues, could benefit from our very loose social contract of not riding our self-officiated refs.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

UCPC: Venue, Date, and Request for Proposal Announce

I just finalized the permits for our venue, so I can announce that the Ultimate Coaches and Players Conference will be held at Newton South High School in Newton, MA on January 27, 2007. Newton South has just undergone a major renovation, so the UCPC will be held in a new venue that should suit our needs.

Also at this time, we are seeking proposals for presentations. We are hoping to have a wide range of topics at the UCPC, so we are excited to hear about your ideas.

Please go to for the latest updates. If you wish to submit a proposal, please click on the "Submit a Proposal" button and fill out the form. We look forward to hearing from you.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Where is the D?

It is interesting to be attending tournaments as a spectator these days. I enjoy watching games, which is good, but my viewpoint is understandably quite different than when playing or coaching. I find myself sometimes watching the games with the underlying question "Is this something that the general public would find exciting?" I think this is because I am highly invested in the sport and want it to grow, obviously, but I am also subjecting the sport to my awareness of the "issues of the day": how does the sport flow, how is the self-officiating working, would it work on TV, etc. In general, I find that the sport has a varying degree of excitement very much in line with other live sporting events I have experienced, and, as I have said before, there are predictable circumstances that contribute to excitement such as semis vs pool play, athletic plays, good stories, etc.

In any case, it was with the above baggage that I decided to take my daughter to the end of Saturday's play at Chowdafest in Seekonk, MA. As an aside, I have been very much enjoying my new found free weekends with my family, but as my wife was not feeling well in the afternoon, I decided to pack up my daughter, hit the zoo, and then catch the last round of pool play.

After driving down south and arriving slightly after the last round had begun, I managed to check out all the games in the round, say hello to a few folks, and even grab a bowl of the Chowda, courtesy of Matty B, the TD. Maybe my expectations were too high due to not having seen any club play since the Boston Invitational, or perhaps it was the last round of the day and the games didn't matter, but I found the overall energy of play to be quite low. Don't get me wrong. I have slogged around with the best of them at this very tournament, especially in 04 when it was 100 degrees and we had 10 people, none of whom were younger than about 30. Mostly I just felt, from my spectator viewpoint described above, that the intensity on D was non-existent. Teams were able to score without many turns, but it seemed that this was the result of a lack of adversity rather than excellent O.

It did make me realize that when it mattered, the D line of 6TM 04 (I was on the O line) was about as fierce as any I have experienced. This is not meant as a reminiscence or a "Glory Days" moment. It is meant to say that while there is a lot of focus on offense in this sport, watching seven folks sprint down as fast as they can after a great pull knowing that the other team will be lucky to complete three passes is quite exciting. I believe in a previous post about what creates excitement in our sport, that Jim P said that "either team having the potential to score" was a big factor in contributing to excitement. I agree with this, but I also feel that great defense, and the resulting intensity, is as compelling as a game with very few turns. Perhaps this is due to a lack of publicity. I recall that in one of Seigs' posts that he said that Jeff "Dick" Brown said that the D line should never talk or write about what they do. On the other hand, Jim P has said several times, when talking about Dog's D "Well, that is enough about the D"(I am sure that this is his blog point of view and not the point of view of his book). Steve Mooney's Conceptual Ultimate articles were very balanced between O and D, and while a bit outdated (the articles are 12 years old now), they do offer some interesting and fundamentally solid perspectives on how think about defense. So, while the D does not get much lip service in our sport, I think the lack of intensity of the defense during the games that I saw on Saturday contributed greatly to an overall lower level of energy than I was expecting and made spectating not as exciting as I hoped.. I am sure that as the Series begins that this will change.


Monday, August 21, 2006

Upcoming Pre-Season Events

As I have said before, I am really excited about the Fall Series this year. The first big milestone is the early deadline for online roster submission, which is this Friday. In addition, there are four pre-season tournaments that I will be watching via the trusty SRT. These events all look to be competitive and will provide important intra-regional data points.

Aug 26-27:

1) Chesapeake- Mostly top MA teams like AAS, AMP, Olio, and Hooray. I will be watching to see if newcomer, Black Molly, can follow up on its Howdown win. Garrett says that this team, with a full roster (it looks like Spear/ Raleigh Llamas), can play with anyone in the country. Added in are NE teams Puppet Regime and Tandem.

2) Chowdafest- Since this tournament moved from late June to late August, it has become an important preview of NE Regionals. This year should be no different as Slow White and Chinstrap will be there plus MA teams Philly KRU and Animal.

Sept 2-3:

3) Labor Day:

Highly competitive 10-team field with 5 National Qualifiers from the NW and SW. Throw in the Gendors and this is a great group of teams.

Sept 9-10:

4) CHC- Once again we get a nice blend of teams with 4 regions represented. All the top Central teams are there (CLX, Moe, ICE, Mr Briefcase, Salsa Police), plus top teams from the MA (Black Molly, AAS), NE (6TM, Slow White, Puppet Regime), and the SW (Pleasure town). Should be true to its billing: a great tune-up.


Monday, August 07, 2006

Looking Forward

I am going on vacation for the next 10-12 days, so I will not be posting during this time. I have been quite busy with Ultimate since NUTC, though. This is what I am working on.

First, the Fall Series is starting to ramp up. I am looking forward to the Series. I know I differ from some players, but I like Sectionals in the early fall as teams roll out their new rosters and are fresh with expecations and anticipation. I am doing a lot of work these as NXD on scheduling Sectionals, Regionals, and dealing with various issues. We also need to make a big push to make sure that teams understand that they can only use the on-line rosterinf system this year. No more paper rosters. Thst is a pretty big deal.

Second, I am working with a bunch of great folks on CHC. We are currently working on formats and team confirmination for that tournament.

Third, there is some basic debriefing to do about NUTC. I am working on notes about what worked well and what didn't while it is still somewhat fresh.

Lastly, there is a lot of work to do on the UCPC. I hope to have the venue permits done when I get back home and be able to announce the confirmed date and location. We are also starting to contact possible presenters and develop a request for proposal form that will go online in a few weeks. A big task that needs to start in Sept is contacting colleges about the Recruiting Fair.

There is a lot of work to do, but I am quite excited about the fall. It will, though, be nice to recharge the batteries for the next week or so.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

NUTC: 2006 is in the books

NUTC Sessions A, B, and C came and went this year bookended by heat waves. Combined with the large numbers in Session C, we needed to adjust the schedule radically this last week to keep the kids out of the mid-day sun. When we were on the fields, we provided salty snacks and took to having "salt parties" with each team during half time. I bought some sea salt and the kids responded well to the "Death or Glory Salt Party Half Time Show". I appreciate Al's reminder of this method back in Session A.

I became a bit concerned early this past week when I perceived that we were not being as diligent as I would like about certain parts of the schedule. We had trouble getting off the fields early enough for rec hour, and one of our evening events ran a bit late. However, when the heat wave hit, the counselors and staff went into "crises mode" and everyone had each other's backs. If tasks had been put aside due to concerns about dehydration, someone stepped up and took the initiative without being asked. Really, I can't thank the counselors and CIT's enough for their efforts.

A big story this year was Jody getting his first NUTC tournament win and emerging from a losing streak that had the emotional ups and downs of a Shakespearean tragedy. In session B, he won twice as many games as he had in the previous 6 sessions as a counselor. In session C, he went undefeated on his way to second straight championship. This is pretty disappointing really as there is nothing to talk about anymore under the tent.

The energy of the campers this week was great. They worked hard and played good Ultimate. There are a couple of young phenoms with good throws but also very good, albeit young, Ultimate minds.

The camper/counselor game was fun this past week. One point featured the counselors wearing old high school Ultimate jerseys. While the counselors were changing, however, some campers managed to steal their coveted NUTC instructor jerseys and then revealed them from under their camper jerseys while on the line. That pretty much one upped the counselors and there was a few minutes in which it was feared that one of the jerseys might have fallen into a campers hands permanently. There was also a point that featured the weird but compelling game, "Miniature Tanks". Ask an 06 alum about "Miniature Tanks".

So, I am off for a bit of a vacation with my family. I hope the campers and staff from NUTC 06 have a great rest of the summer.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ultimate Coaches and Players Conference: Boston 2007

After a year's worth of initial planning, I am pleased to announce the first Ultimate Coaches and Players Conference(UCPC). This event will be held in Boston in January 2007, and the website is The sponsors for the event are BUDA and NUTC, so my thanks goes out to them. The website is a simple introduction to the event, but we will be adding content about the venue, presenters, proposals, etc. Tiina Booth and I are going to host the event and we are close to signing the permits for the location. We have begun contacting possible presenters from the wonderful crop of Ultimate coaches and players, and, additionally, we will be soliciting proposals for presentations shortly.

The UCPC is being planned as a one day event, and it will feature seminars, presentations, panel discussions, as well as the Ultimate Expo. The Ultimate Expo will be a Trade Show with Ultimate vendors, and a Recruiting Fair for college programs.

The plan is to have content that will appeal to a broad range of attendees. We hope that people involved in Ultimate from the middle school coach to the elite player will find topics that interest them.

So stay tuned for more info shortly. It should be an exciting event.


Monday, July 31, 2006

NUTC-Session C

This is the busy week. 104 campers.

First, though, this story from the end of Session B:

Last Wednesday afternoon I came to the fields after running some errands and I saw two gentlemen, probably in their 70's, sitting under the tent watching the proceedings. I went over to introduce myself, and they introduced themselves as twin brothers who live in the area. They said that they heard that there was a frisbee camp in town and that they wanted to see what it was all about. They asked me how I liked the facilities and, when I described how much we liked Northfield School, they seemed delighted. I then found out that the brothers went to this school, one of them was a former Board member, and that their Great-Grandfather had founded the school. They were very happy that the school was being put to good use. By this time, the kids had begun warming up for scrimmaging, so the brothers and I began a lively discussion of the sport. They seemed to be endlessly enthusiastic and interested in what we were doing. We discussed the camp, the stall, self-officiating, and the club and college structure. They would ask questions like "What skill sets do you need to be a handler?". Every time one of the campers did an athletic play (they were scrimmaging by now), they would say things like "Look at that throw!", or "Isn't that wonderful!". I mentioned to them that we were going to have the finals in "Goaltimate Stadium" the following morning as they started to make their way home. The following morning, I walked out of the dorm to start the finals, and it is a nice scene. The dorm overlooks the field in a natural bowl, so campers and parents were spread out on the hill. It is a very nice way to watch the game. As I made my way down to the field, I noticed one of the brothers, my new friend, perched in his fold-up chair with his wife and a friend in prime spectator form, ready to go. I went over to say hello, and I noticed that they all had copies of the 10th Edition Rules in their hands! I asked where they had gotten them, thinking that maybe somebody from the camp had given it to them. They said that had printed them up from the internet and were studying them to get ready for the finals! I was pretty much in love by this point. I spent a few moments watching the game with them, and they appreciated the plays, but also enjoyed learning about zone to man transitions, skill sets, positions, and other strategy.

Onto the week at hand. Our counselors this week:

The All-In Crew:

Returning for second week:

New this week:
Tully Beatty

Yesterday we ran our normal schedule, but the focus, with double the amount of campers, was to move everyone quickly from place to place. We did have some campers struggle with the heat, but everyone made it through the day even though we ran them pretty hard with the sprints.

Tomorrow we break up into teams for the rest of the week.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

NUTCvillage-Disc 1 (Extended Version)

Disc 1 features the entire Session B camper/counselor game. All the highlights from the Destructors 15-1 win are available. Some exciting moments were Mike Wiseman landing on Chelsea Dengler after they both went up in the air. The Longmeadow program scored the only goal, and overall the game was a bit sloppy. I continued my trend from last week of finding myself matched up against the fastest kid in camp (perhaps they are trying to set up a mismatch. Hey, if I look down the line and see BVH, Graham, Chelsea, Micah, Dylan, etc......I would do the same) and then beating them deep. I guess I do have some legs left.

As the first game moved rather quickly, Disc 2 is the special "Extended Version". Game 2 saw the Destructors tighten it up for a 10-1 win. The major highlight was when a "ringer" from Amherst High went up and ripped a goal away from Graham and BVH.


Monday, July 24, 2006

NUTC-Session B

Session B dawned at NMH, the birthplace of Ultimate. It is interesting to imagine Jared Kass driving up from Amherst College on Route 63 over 35 years ago to teach summer camp at this very campus, and, while armed with the idea of the "ultimate" game, he did not know he would meet camper Joel Silver and that the seeds of our new sport would be sown. All of this is poignant this week as we have 14 campers from Columbia High Scool attending.

Our counselors this week:

The All-In Crew:

Dylan T
Lexi M
Emily B
Jody Y

Micah F-in week 2 of 2
Jeff Graham- MA
Mike Wiseman- MA
Amanda Strout- GA
Chelsea Dengler- OR
Jennie Yen- GA


BVH, Jeff, Dylan, and Chelsea showed off their diving skills in the pool this afternoon. We also set up the Goaltimate and DDC courts this week as it was just too hot last week.

This week we have a videographer, Jeff Irvine, filming the proceedings. We are hoping to have our first visitor tomorrow. Ted Munter will be coming out from Boston.

The weather broke yesterday afternoon, so it should be warm and less humid. Perfect Ultimate weather. The campers this week are mostly from New England, and two high school programs, Columbia (NJ) and Longmeadow(MA), are well-represented.

I had a break in the evening, so my daughter and I took our rabbit outside so he could stroll out in the quad. One of our campers came over and he mentioned that he had attended college nationals as a spectator. I asked him what he thought, and he said it was a great experience. I asked what he thought about the finals. He said, "I am sure you have read all about it, but I had some thoughts about the men's final". I asked him what he thought. He said, "Florida was 8-10 men deep, while Wisconsin had an army. It seemed to me, though, that Wisconsin lost the game with shallow pulls. Every pull landed about 10 yards shy of the end zone and by the time that Wisconsin got down the field, Florida had gained another 10 yards and had a short field. So, while Wisconsin made a run at the end of the game, because I think Florida was tired, it was too little too late. If Florida had had to work an extra 20-30 yards every time they had received the pull, maybe they wouldn't have won the game."

Insightful stuff from a young man. It brings up a couple of points. First, how important pulls are, and how their importance seems to be a bit overlooked. I think in 04 6TM probably won 4-5 points per game due to Adam Goff's pulls. This was a huge advantage. The second point is different. A lot of the reporting we read in Ultimate is a point by point description of what happened. While we get this in pro sports, we also benefit from the interpretive analysis as offered by the camper in my discussion. While pure description is needed at this stage as our media outlets are limited, it is my hope that interpretive reporting develops as a means of increasing both our quality, but also our cumulative knowledge.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

NUTC-Session A quick summary

So week 1 is winding down to a close. Time flies when you're having fun. We close tomorrow morning with the tournament final followed by awards then it is check out time.

The counselors did a great job this week. There was a substantial increase in the quality of play over the course of the week and it can be attributed to the fine teaching of the counselors. They also consistently demonstrated best practices during drills. One specific example was Micah and Dylan's team. They were running a standard away cut drill and, at the start, the drill was a bit lazy with lots of turnovers. After Micah and Dylan joined, concentration improved and there were fewer throwaways. Across the board, the counselors put their all into coaching and the campers respond.

The kids ate a lot. There was a 100 kid soccer camp here the week before us, and the kitchen folks told us that our camp (61 kids) ate twice as much as they did. The kids took our warnings about dehydration seriously, but the heat did take its toll in another form: chafing. It got to the point where I had to go buy a case of baby powder.

So the staff has tomorrow afternoon and Friday off. We then reconvene on Saturday for Session B, which is similar in size to this week. Session C is looming with 100 campers.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

NUTC: Camper/Counselor Game

We just had the camper/counselor game.

We won 15-4.

It was all about Flash.

As promised, I "came out of retirement" for the Big Game. I sang myself onto the field with the "Chariots of Fire" theme song. Then we put on the NUTC Eye-Black, and it was...........the Dylan Show. He pretty much ruled the air. He threw a no-look-pass behind him for a goal. He took off his NUTC jersey to reveal a basketball jersey while running for a goal.

During half-time, we had the counselor distance contest. Derek won, followed by Dylan...then for third.....Yours Truly with the Power Grip!

Game point featured the couselors playing off-hand catch/off-hand throw. We did have a turn, but with Emily B running the show (she has had to practice her lefty throws as she had shoulder surgery a year ago) we were able to close it out.

The kids stayed to play pick-up as the sun was going down. Good stuff. Hopefully the heat will break tomorrow.


Monday, July 17, 2006

National Ultimate Training Camp-Session A

Session A of the National Ultimate Training Camp began this past Saturday, and the big story is its new home. The Northfield Campus of the Northfield-Mount Hermon School replaced our old home of three years, Hampshire College. While more remote than Hampshire College, the new campus offers excellent facilities, a great staff, and, most importantly, fields that are probably in the top five that I have seen for Ultimate.

We have 61 campers this week, and they hail from most of the NE states plus Colorado,Illinois, California, Georgia, and Washington, etc. The campers are mostly experienced players, and the theme of camp this year is "No Flash". This means focusing on fundamental skills. We have a camper from New Brunswick that paid her own way to NUTC with babysitting money she earned, and then had her parents drive her the 11 hours to camp.

Tiina Booth, our director, has, as usual, picked an outstanding crop of counselors for this week's session:

Dan Parrish-NC.....has been at every NUTC
Derek Gottleib- CO
Dylan Tunnell- GA
Micah Flynn- MA
Josh Mullen- MA
Jody Avirgan- lately of San Fran
Shmi Narayan- MA
Emily Baecher- MA
Lexi Marsh- MA

My role, as Assistant Director, is to basically herd campers and to espouse wisdom to anyone who will listen.

Registration featured the usual, "I forgot sheets", "I forgot my toothbrush", etc, but everyone arrived safe, received cool gear from VC, Breakmark and Discraft, and everyone got to play some pick-up after signing in.

We woke up bright and early at 6:45am this morning, ate breakfast, and made our way to the fields. One of the nice thing about Northfield is that we can walk to the fields and not have to bus it like we did at Hampshire. We started the day by discussing mental toughness as the thought of the day was "focus on the things you can control". This was appropriate as it was VERY hot today (upper 90's, very humid). Our EMT weighed in on the dangers of dehydration and we kept on the campers all day about drinking enough fluids. We worked on fundamentals and scrimmaged until lunch. The same template followed in the afternoon. I am very impressed with the teaching skills of our counselors. After Rec Hour (swimming, etc), it was dinner. The evening activity was team night in which the campers are divided into teams for the remainder of the week. Teams for this week:

Team Jody/Shmi
Team Josh
Team Dylan/Micah
Team Derek/Emily
Team Dan/Lexi

We did various team games before lights out. Tomorrow looks to be another hot day. Temps in the 90's and humid. We will be focusing on the camp philosophy of creating a safe place by working very hard to ensure that everyone is hydrated. Monday is a fun day as this is the first time the teams get to work together, and it will be in this environment that we will continue to drill fundamentals.