Monday, February 26, 2007

2007 UPA Series Guidelines: Important Changes

Every year, your UPA Competition Committee convenes in January on the
weekend of the UPA Board Meeting. This committee consists of Will
Deaver(UPA Champ Series Director), Matthew Bourland(Champ Series
Manage), and the five National Directors- DeAnna Ball(Women's), Adam Goff(Open), Jeff Kula (College), Dave Raflo(Masters), and Yours Truly(Mixed).

One of our primary goals every year is to review and update the Series
. The Series Guidelines is an important document that
all players should be familiar with as it defines the Administrative
and Competition Rules for the upcoming UPA Fall Series. Most
questions (from seeding to wildcards to contact information to bids to
Regionals) about the way the UPA Championship Series works can be
answered by reading this document.

This post will quickly discuss two changes for 2007:

1) Uniform requirements now include numbers on shorts. Not much to say here. Pretty straight forward.
The Competition Committee has been steadily tightening up the Uniform
Requirements for the last 4-5 years. The addition of numbers on
shorts will lead to more cohesive and professional uniforms.

2) One deadline for roster submission. This is a pretty big change,
but one, again, that the Competition has been moving toward over the
last several years.

In previous years, there have been two deadlines: A) an "early"
deadline, and B) a "late" deadline. There were additional rules with
these deadlines: on-line registration only, a "valid" roster contains
a minimum of (7) players, teams could only add (2) players to their
rosters after the "early" deadline, and team that add more than (2)
players after the "early" deadline had to pay a $50 late fee.

For 07, you can basically throw away the above paragraph. Teams that
wish to compete in the 2007 UPA Club Championships will need to submit
their roster via the on-line rostering system by one Team Registration
. This deadline is two weeks before the first Sectional
weekend(2 weeks before Regionals for Masters). A valid roster must
have a minimum of (7) players(a minimum of 3 of each gender for Mixed)
at the time of the Registration Deadline. Teams can add up to 7
players between the Registration Deadline and the Tues before their
Sectional Tournament(Roster Deadline)
. Teams that submit a valid roster by the
Registration Deadline will count toward their section's bids to
regionals as well as Nationals size and growth wildcards.

Just to reiterate the key points:

1) Team must turn in a valid roster (a minimum of seven players) by
the Team Registration Deadline.
2) Teams can add up to seven players to their roster after the Team
Registration Deadline. The seven adds must be complete by the Roster Deadline (Tues
before their Sectional).

The Series Guidelines were published Friday, Feb 16. I think it behooves all players to check them out.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Ulitmate Season...rant.....comments

I will be traveling with my family next week, so I will not be posting. Expect some info about UPA Series stuff come March 1.

Also, Mark M's rules blog has moved and become the UPA Rules Blog. I highly suggest that folks check it out. Reading the 11th is required for my Wellesley girls. We did a lot of work last week on ground checking the disc while putting a live disc into play.

Onto the topic of the week:

There was a call by Neva on RSD that results need to be posted on the SRT in order for ranking systems to work. Hear..hear! We seem to treat our tournaments as if they are in a vacuum. That they don't intersect with the concerns of others. That the data produced couldn't be of use somewhere down the line. While there seems to be a collective sense that a formal Ultimate season would be positive and exciting for the sport, we seem content in passively bleating about what we would like to happen and determined to resist the most primitive baby steps that could start us in this direction.

In my more extreme moments, I just find the fact that two of the lead posts on RSD this morning are players pleading for the most basic information about President's Day and Mardi Gras galling. This type of lack of information plus the derth of info from College Vegas is, to me, unacceptable. If we view things from this context, even asking why Ultimate is a not a big time sport is a joke.

If we want to take advantage of the small opportunities that are available to us in kick starting the development of a season for Ultimate, we need to be much more clear about what we expect from our tournaments as players, spectators, coordinators, and remote viewers. The concern of this post is not "which tournaments should be considered the "regular season" as that, in my opinion, puts the cart before the horse. Our "regular season"(events prior to the UPA Series) now is a mish-mash of "fun" tournaments, "serious" tournaments, lack of data, rumor on RSD, lack of communication, little documentation, and no standards in terms of formatting or accountability. The result is a "product" that has, in general, no continuity, few stories that draw us in, and little reliable data. Despite our best efforts to handicap ourselves, great rivalries and stories do manage to crawl out of the muck and, like some oasis in the desert, provide compelling drama and excitement.

Here is a summary of some things I would love to see.

For tournaments that want to be part of the Ultimate season:

1) The results and final standings should be clearly posted on the SRT within a day of the completion of the tournament.
2) The seedings and format should be locked down and published on the SRT by the Tues before the tournament.
3) Tournaments should have a bid/registration system with clear deadlines and defined policies toward teams dropping out. These policies should encourage teams to feel that they are making a serious commitment to attend when they submit their registration fee.
4) The format should be close to the standards defined by the UPA Formats Manual. If we are going to use the results of tournaments for such things as seeding, then the results need to be determined fairly. The format shouldn't change during the weekend.
5) Seeding should be done, as best as possible, in an order of relative strength. Pools shouldn't be built based upon "playing new teams", for example.
6) Teams need to understand that results will be used as data. No complaining after the fact that "we were at half strength"...or hungover...or whatever.
7) Results, if at all possible, should be updated on the SRT during the tournament.
8) The TD should be prepared with a variety of formats (very easy to do on the SRT) in the event that teams drop. The TD should publish the intended format ASAP, but also indicate that the format is not confirmed if they have teams that might drop. In this case, the TD should pro-actively communicate, on the SRT, how teams might be affected if the format were to change.

For tournaments that are not concerned with being part of the Ultimate season:

Ignore the above. Run whatever BS format you want...oops, I meant BCS format. Just keep it off the SRT. Leave your teams in the dark about seeding and the format. Or better yet...just make it up as you go along and seed things to favor your own team. We need to remember that teams are just there for the party.

Then we can let the market decide. Teams that want to be treated respectfully at an event with a modicum of "professional" standards will know where to go. They will know that their results will be derived fairly and that they will become part of a story larger than themselves...the Ultimate season. Perhaps we might even to get to the point where basic communication is an expected part of what teams are paying for.

This will also hold tournament TD's accountable to certain standards as well, and, possibly, mitigate the possibility of TD's influencing such things as Sectional and Regional seeding by creating seedings and formats at their own tournaments that are unfair and biased.

There will be many factors that will come together one day to give us an Ultimate season. Luckily, we have some things we can influence and control today that can start us in that direction. This post does not claim to offer an opinion or an outline of what an Ultimate season would look like. I just think there are some small things we can do today to raise the bar a bit higher.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Start of the Season

I find the start of the spring season to be an exciting time. The Whiptails started up again this past Tuesday, and spring practices always begin with a higher sense of purpose. If we have done our jobs, the focused work on fundamentals from the fall has laid a proper foundation for the spring's focus on refinement and a shift toward placing players in the best position to be successful.

There is a major difference to the start of this season, though, and that is the imminent split of our squad into two teams. This is the only the second time Wellesley will have fielded two squads for the spring season (the other being my first year of coaching, the spring of 2003). We have been blessed with a dedicated group of 33-37 players all year, so this is an obviously an necessary and obvious move, but still difficult nonetheless. Our culture is not one of split squads. It is one where we all work together as a unit. This has caused some consternation on the teams, but I think my captains, Emily and Langdon, have handled the situation expertly. They seem very sensitive and have done a good job balancing the desires of our players as individuals with the demands of the "good of the team".

Our practices from this last week were done with the full thirty five of us all together. After active warm-ups (no more static stretching!!...Bryan Doo got his message through), we split in half. Half of us do track workouts and the other half works on skills in the basketball gym. This seems to be a good way to both manage our numbers and achieve our goal of working on conditioning during the winter.

The team really...really wants learn, and my girls are impossibly polite. I can go on about how something we are doing as a team is "unacceptable", then go over and talk to someone individually and the response is almost always "Thank You". One of my Senior players has made some kind of personal leap and is approaching things by checking off and making very calm decisions with the disc. I have been vocal about how this is very positive and she came up and thanked me on Thursday. While I am pretty sure I am not a hard-ass, I sometimes wonder if I am complementary enough.

We actually get a lot done in our small basketball court, and we have defined things enough such that I can say "Dump Swing" or "Never Ending Game" and we can pretty much jump right into it.

As I mentioned last fall, I am very lucky to have Pete Zuraw(a Wellesley employee) helping me out at most practices. Like many things these days, it seems that if I open things up to additional input that our natural strengths come out. Pete, for example, is tremendously patient and skilled at taking players and working with them on improving their throwing. Not only does this very clearly expand our one-on-one time, but it allows Pete and me to focus on what we are good at. I think the four of us (me, Emily, Langdon, and Pete) have a natural division of labor that is comfortable. For instance, Emily and Langdon have been working the team out on the track this year. In the past, I have had to push the team and actually run the track sessions. Not that I mind doing the track work (Emily threatens the team that I will come down and run the sessions if they don't work hard enough), I just think we benefit overall from me having the time to work on team disc concepts.

We will be defining our Process and Outcome Goals in the next few practices. That should enhance our focus and what we are trying to do at practice.