Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bids to Boston Invitational are going fast

Bids to the Boston Invitational are going fast. We are very excited
about the demand for spots and we think it is going to be a very full
and competitive tournament. While the deadline for bids (May 26th) is
a month away, teams cannot wait much longer if they hope to get a
spot. We anticipate that all bids could be allocated by the end of
the week. If you want to participate in one of the premier east coast
tournaments of the summer, you need to get your bid in ASAP.
The website:


Teams list:


Monday, April 23, 2007

Finishing Sectionals/Moving on to Regionals

Our story continues as Sectionals is postponed due to the 5-day Noreaster that we suffered through this week. What was left to play was our game with Northeastern for 2nd place in the section and the recently changed bracket(we got our 6th bid back during the week.....) with BU, MIT, BC, and Brandeis vying for the 6th spot to regionals. According to the SRT, MIT beat BU for 5th and Brandeis beat BC, so BU will play Brandeis for 6th...sometime this week? Good luck to both teams. So we hosted Northeastern on a beautiful day out at the Wellesley Campus. It was good to catch up with Coach Adams and we talked about how wide open the region was (more on this later).

The game started off very close and patterns developed that would continue throughout the game. We received and had some success working down the field. NU was playing a poachy clam that was mildly disconcerting and we ended up turning it in their end zone. They came back and scored to break us for 1-0. We manage to tie it up, but our execution is rough. Lots of drops, errant passes, etc. Maybe this could be as a result of NU's junk D, but I felt at the time that it was more a function of our execution. NU goes up a couple of breaks, and we crawl back to 4-4. We are having some success with our zone and getting some short fields to work with. NU, however, is having a very good day on O. They are effective with their break marks plus dump swing. We seem to be struggling to even take away what we are trying to take away...plus they are taking what we give them as well. We get the turn, but we drop the disc in the end zone. We get the disc again on the line, but we can't convert. NU puts up a couple of big passes and goes coast to coast for the 5-4 lead. Then....the wheels came off the train. Our execution errors give NU extra possessions, and their O just seemed to crank up a notch. They go on a 3-0 run to take half. Second half is more of the same. NU closes the game with an 11-1 run to win 15-5. Ouch. NU played very well and while folks were giving them some crap at Sectionals about playing HAPD(maybe they are just smart), their offense was as good as any I have seen all season. Congratulations to NU for taking 2nd place in the Section. I wish them the best of luck in two weeks. I think NU has to realize that we need to look for positives in the game. Stuff to build on. A chance to reassess our process goals. I feel confident that they won't take it as disrespectful when I say that most of our turns were either execution or unforced errors. I think with a bit more offensive efficiency that the game is a much closer affair.

So moving onto Regionals. Lots of work to do in the next couple of weeks. I guess the thing to talk about is seeding...and this is going to be a bear to seed. Here is just a sampling at some of the "problems":

-Harvard having a "poor" Yale Cup(with 8 players) then beating Northeastern at Sectionals on their way to finishing 4th. Lots of data here to underseed them. With Lucy and Ellen on the field...watch out.
-BU potentially finishing 6TH in the section. There is a first round game I don't want to have.
-Wesleyan losing a bunch of games at Yale Cup, then winning the section.
-The format at Yale Cup basically makes any kind of analysis using final placement useless.
-Dartmouth having a "weak" start of the season.
-Yale having a great Yale Cup then losing two games at Sectionals on their way to a second place finish.
-Williams losing many close games at Yale Cup....wins their Section easily.

So, my attempt at seeding is a based on a ranking of strength, supported, as much as possible, by data. Specifically, head to head and, importantly, record against common opponents. I think the later is one that gets overlooked. There will be little previous years results and little to no final placement at Yale Cup as part of the ranking.

1)Tufts-only real blemishes are the Yale Cup loss to NU and an Ultimax loss to Williams in March. Beat everyone else and beat NU at Sectionals. Clearly deserves the 1 seed.
2) Northeastern- loss at Sectionals to Harvard, but has a better Record Against Common Opponents(RACO)(4-2) than Dartmouth (2-4), Head to head win over Wesleyan and better RACO (6-4) than Willams (3-6). As Sectional winners, these 3 teams seem to have the only claims on the 2 spot.
3) Dartmouth- head to head wins over Yale,Wellesley, and Williams. Better RACO(4-1) than Wesleyan(3-4).

Now it gets hard. I think the 4 teams vying for the 4-7 slots are: Williams, Wesleyan, Yale, and Wellesley. No one else, based on Sectional results, can really be considered for these slots. Williams, with head to head losses against Yale and Wellesley combined with with a worse RACO (1-4) than Wesleyan plus the fact that Wesleyan must be seeded higher than Yale, is pretty much locked in at 7. So, for the 4-6 slots, I think there is a line of reasoning that goes: Yale has a head to head win over Wellesley, the Wesleyan sectional win is an "upset"...put Wesleyan at 4, Yale at 5, Wellesley at 6. My problems with this analysis are: 1) it doesn't use all the data, 2) it overweights the Yale head to head win, 3) it underweights Yale's two loss sectional performance, and 4) it overseeds Wesleyan from a strength point of view. Looking at RACO as a data point, I think a better gauge of Wesleyan's strength can be obtained. Wesleyan has a worse RACO against Tufts, NU, and Wellesley, but a better RACO against Williams. In other words, I think it is hard to argue that Wesleyan deserves a 4 seed from a point of view of a strength ranking. So that results in:

4) Wellesley
5) Wesleyan
6) Yale
7) Williams
8) Brown- Head to head over Williams was a forfeit. Williams has a better RACO(2-2 vs 1-3). Head to head win over Harvard
9) Harvard
10) Conn College- Quality win over Yale. Better RACO than MIT
11) MIT
12) BU--if they beat Brandies and qualify..if not then Vermont
13) Vermont or Brandeis
14) Bowdoin
15) Middlebury


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

UPA Strategic Planning Blog

I am serving as a moderator for one of the topics on the new UPA Strategic Planning Blog. Lots of interesting topics and potential for discussion. Take a look. Jump right in.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Initial Bids to Boston Invitational Announced

The initial bids to the Boston Invitational have been announced here.

The pool of teams looks to be excellent and we continue to receive
bids from quality teams. Bids will continue to be accepted on a
rolling basis, so check back to see if your bid has been accepted.



Marathon Monday. Rainy, cold, windy. I heard a radio report that this is the worst weather for the event since the early 70's. The marathon has never been canceled. I was joking with my girls that I think this might be a year in which a person from Africa does not win the Marathon. I think it will be a 5'4" 200 pound Scottsman with about 20% body fat wearing hiking boots. He will win in a 4 hour war of attrition muttering "Ay, 'caint tell me this is rain. I'll show you some frigging rrrrain. Come to the Shetlands with me, Laddy....now that is rain".

I find Sectionals stressful. In fact, it is the same kind of stress that used to make me so nervous as a player in Club Regionals. Perhaps one has to lose a few games to go in order to have their mental awareness aggressively push out into the future and concern itself with the cloud of a season ending too short; in the case of my seniors, a college career coming to a close weeks before we had planned. In our little section, there are 6 pretty clear "upper tier" teams battling every year for 5 spots. We had hoped, due a bump from 9 teams over the past few years to 11 this year that we might be able to snag that 6th bid, and, in fact, it looked like we had 6 bids up until roughly Thursday when a UPA HQ miscount was discovered and we found ourselves in the comfy confines of the ubiquitous 5 bids. Just as a side note, said from the perspective of National Mixed Director, I find it frustrating that the number of bids (obviously pending participation) is not listed on the SRT for each Section (along with other details such as the number of fields, etc, etc). I think I am going to make my SC's put this kind of info on the SRT come the fall. With the general exception of Tufts (I think they might have played in the "game to go" in 03...at least that is what I recall Bernie saying to me this past Saturday), the other 5 have gone through years in which they danced with missing the cut. MIT(new to that club this year), BU, Northeastern, Harvard, and Wellesley. Just the latest edition of the Death March in Boston(well...RI this year).

First, I must say that Sam TH and Katie did a great job running the event. They were organized, communicative, and were clear about dealing with a Sunday of cold rain and sleet. About as good as one could hope for from a SC.

I must say that I received some flak this weekend about my "Death of Huck and Play D" comments two weeks ago. I think folks are not reading my insightful comments with enough care as I CLEARLY gave myself a huge out: "Unless the conditions merit such an approach". In my book, with a lot at stake, the conditions on both days, most of time, were troubling enough (Sat: Windy, Sun: Rainy) that a prudent person might at least give HAPD, at the minimum, brief consideration. In all our games, except for Tufts, I felt we did a good job of taking high percentage long looks and minimizing giving the other teams short, easy goals. I do think that in the Tufts game that we were too quick to pull the trigger when going upwind. By the end of the game, we did have some moments of finding our offense...I just wish that I had pushed my girls to try to establish it earlier. While Tufts might carry itself with the refined air of a vintage wine that looks down upon the working class malt of HAPD, they had, for the most part, just as much trouble scoring as we did on Sat. So, to overhear the Tufts players disrespecting our team by chiding our lack of offensive abilities certainly did not sit well with me or my players. I do think it is the responsibility of the top dog to not flaunt...well, in this case it would be the desire to be a fine wine.

It was great to see some new teams and faces this year. The section welcomed the addition of Bently College (I believe the name is Wubus.....I spent some time trying to figure that out and I didn't feel like bothering their coach with my inane banter). Always great to see a new program getting going. Just a few years ago, BC was in this position, and they have made great strides with Rosie Ano coaching them. They have an effective 4-person cup, and are developing confidence in their ability to throw and catch. My understanding is that they were up on BU in the 5th place bracket before BU got it together and won the game. Great stuff from a new program. Also, Brandeis is an improving team. Well, any team would benefit from Dory Ziperstein (and Peri Kurshan as a coach). I had a chance to catch up with her on Sat and she seems to be very much enjoying working toward building a team. I understand. It was only a few years ago that I was in that position.

Then there is Tufts-B and my own Wellesley-B team. It was just a year ago that I wrote that I wish I had a B-team like Tufts. Well, we do. It has been very hard for me to give enough time to both teams. Work is busy...blah blah blah. Excuses. Luckily, Nell Weiner (a captain from last year) descended upon us and has been taking the lead with the B-team. Really couldn't be better as Nell is the same calm and positive presence that she was for the past 4 years. Not that things are totally Hallmark Card material. My girls are frustrated some of the time. They work very hard to improve upon their fundamentals. They have some veteran leadership (Liz K, Pam, Tori...who might have broken her ankle on Sat). However, they are process oriented, so my hope is that the foundation is laid for these girls to have a great 4 years as a Whiptail. The B-team drove down today, in the pouring rain, to play one elimination game with Brandeis. That is a dedicated bunch.

My A-team girls had a good go of it on Saturday. Our first game was against...Wellesley-B. Lovely. I wrote Sam TH and proposed that we have the game be our Friday scrimmage and that we could just show up for the second round. He didn't go for that for some reason. Damn UPA folks are such sticklers. I spent a little time during our first round checking out MIT vs BC. BC, as I mentioned above, has improved. We went into our second round against them determined not to overlook them, and we had some work to do on our zone. Surprisingly, it seemed like BC really struggled against our zone. We were able to get a lot of short goals and secure a much easier victory than I anticipated. Next round was against MIT. Big game. A win maintains us with our 2 seed in the pool and gives us a good shot at Tufts. We have some success with our zone and are able to go up a couple when a very strong player, Erika(?), for them lays out for an errant throw and breaks her hand. This is a big loss for them. After that, they seemed a bit deflated. We found our offense (Angie, who was not feeling well, played a few points and was great with her break mark throws) and had success with our zone. As I have said before, Nancy and Nurit are great coaches. The team is strong fundamentally and they play good defense. MIT would go on to lose its first round on Sunday to Harvard and will play BU in the game to go at a later date as the last round of the tournament was postponed. Lest a coach become a bit cocky with their success, let's remind ourselves that MIT is just 4 years from the best run a NE team has had in College Women's Ultimate. They will be back...and it might be in just a few weeks.

Our final game on Sat was against Tufts. The are a very good team. Caroline Chow is clearly one of the best throwers in the Region. They are deep, play good defense, have a patient offense, and they crushed us a Yale Cup. My girls, however, really wanted to come after them. There were many incentives at play: qualifying for Regionals with the win, getting a later start on Sunday, plus there was, I guess, a large party to attend on campus that night. I don't even really want to know about those kind of things. I felt this was an opportunity to work on our mental toughness as we could play with the awareness of what was at stake without the tightness of be concerned about what was at stake. Good training for Regionals. The game was not pretty, really. There were several very long points in which Tufts would turn it against our zone and we would sort of stand around...and, with no cuts, we would just throw back into Tuft's end zone...repeat ad nauseum. In general, Tufts really challenged our zone with good popping and handling. We were able to force a lot of turns and get some risky throws out of them, but I think if you give a team 40 looks at your zone...they better break it. 65 minutes later it is 5-5, capped game to 7 (in our pool of 6, games were to 11). We pull to Tufts and get a nice turn in the open lane, but can't convert. Tufts scores upwind to take the lead 6-5. We receive but turn and then start trading with Tufts. About half way through the point, Sam TH says to me that we forgot the half. I thought to myself, "The Half...what is he talking about". Oh yeah, it is a game to 11, remember. I guess We (meaning Tufts and Wellesley) forgot about the half and just "played through" without mirroring, or more importantly, us PULLING to Tufts. Obviously, we had just gained an unfair and significant advantage. Well, Tufts scores to make it 7-5 and the game is over, clearly. There isn't even a discussion. Looking back, though, I wonder what would have happened if we had been able to punch it in and tie up the game? My opinion is that the "course of action" should be consistent. In other words, we are either "playing through" OR we are replaying the point. It is inconsistent to have the possible outcomes be ONLY: a) Tufts scores and wins or b) Wellesley scores and we replay the point. So we were able to avoid a potential nasty problem. Luckily. Tufts went on to beat Northeastern on Sunday to win the section. Congrats to them...they are clearly the top of the class.

Our loss to Tufts and the three way tie in pool A meant that we played BU on Sunday morning. Loser of that game drops into the 5th place bracket. In the pouring rain. And sleet. My girls showed up on time and in good shape. I think most of them didn't even go to the big party. BU is clearly amped up and gunning for us. I warn my girls about hypothermia and that they need to self-monitor. We go down 0-2 as we can't throw in the rain and BU is playing good defense. Kathy Dobson has done great work there. BU is athletic, has confidence in its O, and they play good defense. We manage to score and have a chance to put pressure on their offense. We play zone and they really give us all we can handle. We are able to get some short goals, but we have very little offense as open side cuts to the forehand side are heavily fronted and several long forehands literally slip out of our hands. We struggle to 6-6...capped game to 8. We take half after we tweak our zone a bit and get a short goal. We pull to them to start the next point and are lucky to get an early turn which we punch in to secure the win and a bid to regionals. My girls ran into their cars to keep from getting too cold. BU is a very good team. I see that they are playing MIT in the "game to go"(postponed). Boy, both those teams really would be quality additions at that event.

Our final game was against Harvard. Jeff Listfield said to my captains that he was going to open up his rotation to get PT for his newer players and prevent injuries for his starters. We walked the disc up through their zone to take the first point, so we never saw zone again. Harvard is a much stronger team now that Ellen has returned. She killed us with her forehand. Basically, they scored most of the time that Ellen and Lucy were on the field, and we broke them when they weren't. I thought we played well, though, and earned a 13-7 win. After shaking hands, everyone ran into their cars and headed home. Sam TH made the right decision to postpone the final two games(MIT v BU, Wellesley v NU) to a later date.

So, it was a successful weekend for us. Min came up to me and said "I was a bit worried after Yale Cup. I thought that was as good as we were going to be". There is always work to do, but we are certainly building in a positive and organized way.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

UPA SRT Formats: Soft Time Cap/End of Round, etc

A common question I get from players when they are looking at UPA Sectional and Regional formats on the SRT is, "Why is there a 30 minute break between rounds?" An example of what I am talking about is Pool A above.

Start of Round-9AM(So far so good)
Start of next round-11AM(Got that)
So.."what is that 10:30AM time?" is the question I receive. Just to back up for a moment, the old nomenclature for rounds is reflected in Pool B. Here is the way it went:

Start of Round- 9AM
End of round-10:45AM
15 minute break between rounds
Soft Time Cap-15 minutes before the end of the round
Start of the next round-11AM

This is overly complicated and, when one looks closely, one realizes that the "end of the round" serves no real purpose. The round does not actually end at that time (unless there is a hard cap at the end of the round).

The language on this was changed about a year ago, I believe. The Championship Committee discussed that a reasonable amount of time between the SOFT TIME CAP and the start of the next round was 30 minutes. This 30 minute break was edited into every one of the official UPA formats on the SRT. It is a much more clear and concise way of describing things:

Pool A(the same schedule as Pool B above)
Start of Round:9AM
Soft Time Cap:10:30AM
Start of Next Round: 11AM

Just as additional examples, I have included pools C and D as examples of different times between the start of the round and the soft time cap.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Yale Cup/Program Building/Death of Huck and Play D

I was only able to attend Yale Cup on Sat this year as my daughter turned 10 on Sunday. She was bit sad about leaving "single digits" and for my wife and me, it was a serious "Where have the year's gone?" moment. Perhaps it was better to be absent on Sunday. My girls did not play their best Ultimate on Sat, except for the point in which I had to go to the bathroom and they promptly discovered their offense and broke Dartmouth upwind. One of my girls said "We played a lot better at Southerns". I thought, hmmm, what has changed? With the win over BU on Sunday morning, maybe I should just gracefully exit stage left......

Despite a format that, in the words of Adam Tarr, results in "meaningless" relative final placement, there was a lot of good Ultimate down in New Haven. My prediction: the loss of an opportunity this weekend to establish strong data for determining relative inter and intra sectional strength will reek havoc in terms of seeding regionals.

...but enough whining, what about the Ultimate?

I might humbly offer that Sangwha(coach of Tufts) and I are somewhat "seasoned" at this point. We currently have the longest tenure of NE Women's coaches, and it is quite clear that College women's Ultimate has improved dramatically in the last 5 years. When I started, many teams played "Huck and Play D" as a concession to basically not having the ability to execute an offense. Now, the spring in NE is time is which even a seasoned club vet might take a moment to think, while facing driving wind, snow and rain, "should I throw this 10 yard pass? No, I think we will go for field position". So, while there were times in which HAPD "made sense", there were also times in which teams, in the most salivating of calm conditions, would offer no pretense of an offense. Literally, just pick up the disc and throw it as far as possible to no one. I think one of the biggest changes is that this is pretty much non-existent anymore (unless the conditions "warrant" such an approach). This is not to say that teams do not like the away game. It is just that now the long looks are becoming higher percentage. In addition, most teams attempt to break the mark and have enough facility to execute some form of offense. In addition, as recently as last year, it seemed that only the top 2-3 teams of a region (Tufts, Dartmouth) could quickly and effectively analyze and utilize "take what you are given" as well as take advantage of mental errors (especially D mental errors). Many turns in the past were "unearned". Execution errors on the part of the other team. Maybe the talent was deeper this year at Yale Cup, but most teams were much more effective than in the past in exploiting mental errors. That bodes well for College Women's Ultimate as there is more parity (at least in our region) and the standard of quality is increasing (for example, defense has to really earn their keep).

So, Yale Cup is an opportunity to check in on what needs work. I was not particularly concerned with results as much as keeping focus on working on our goals and trying to play good Ultimate. Saturday was a "rough" day for us, but (again, think parity) to go into the tournament with the mindset that games against teams like Williams and Yale(who made finals) can be checked off as wins (we didn't have that mindset) would be naive. Yale is a very athletic team. Always has been. The addition of Liz Middleton from Dartmouth has given them a strong and much needed handler presence. Williams is a tall team with some very talented throwers. They gave us all we could handle and we were lucky to escape with a 1-point win. Even Harvard, who we beat handily in a scrimmage several weeks ago, took half against Cornell...with 8 players(1 of which had never played with the team). The field is deep if a quality team like Harvard goes 0-4 on Sat. Then there is Dartmouth. Folks had pretty much written them off with the loss of Schmi, Rory, Liz, etc. We beat them 13-1 down in South Carolina a few weeks ago. I think everyone pretty much gave them up for dead and they came in seeded..what?..15th this weekend. Well, folks....they're back. They are fun, talented, and are doing pretty well considering the losses from last year. Tufts seems to be the class of the region, the loss today to NU in qtrs notwithstanding, as Sangwha is doing a great job there. I watched some of the Brown-MIT game. Brown, no surprise, looked quite good as they continue to re-build. They are still quite young, very athletic, and have solid fundamentals...which you would expect from a team coached by Mo and Mike K. I do think that Mike should wear his Tandem pink more often, though. It kind of breaks things up in a nice way. I think MIT had a similar Sat to what we had. Nancy and Nurit were working hard over there. They are great coaches. With all of our teams, it is easy to coach and work when we are flush with talent and experience. The real work comes when the bottom falls, players graduate, and a new foundation needs to be laid. The coaches that stick through those times are really grinding it out. I have great respect for how the coaches of Brown, MIT, Dartmouth, etc, return year after year, through the good and the bad. Our sport will benefit from their investment.

So, Sectionals will be very tough. Looking at the results, things were pretty shaken up by the Yale Cup Brackets. In terms of the seeding, I think the seeding matrix on the SRT pretty much gets this one right:

1) NU-win vs Tufts
2) Tufts-win vs Wellesley
3) Wellesley-win vs BU
4) BU
5) MIT-win vs Harvard
6) Harvard

I don't know enough about the rest of the teams except for Wellesley-B, of course, who should be seeded lower than Tufts-B due to head to head results.


Friday, April 06, 2007

Crap Formats #3

The latest addition to "creative" ways to deal with 15 teams.....


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Rumors are true.......

So, the buzz flying around Boston this week was a reported merge between DOG and Metal. It is true. A note was sent to the Boston Ultimate community confirming that a new team is being formed, and it generally outlined the process by which the team will be formed (open tryouts/pickup) as well as some of the goals of the team ("play championship Ultimate"). No real surprises there. I probably overstated the case a few posts ago that many of these changes might be spurred by the fact that it is a WUC year. While I don't think it is a total coincidence that the old DOG guys picked this year to get the band back together for Masters(see Jim'sblog), I'm sure that WUC's is just one small part of the picture in terms of decisions like the DOG-Metal merger. So, what does this mean for Boston Ultimate? Probably good things. The Metal-Dog divide seemed to me to go deeper than the Dog-Blackjack/Boss Hogg/Snapple, etc dichotomy. Metal took pride in clearly defining their aesthetic with a different set of criteria than Dog. Add in the UMASS vs Brown dynamic plus the establishment vs anti-establishment nuances and the result was two different cultures....a house divided.

The letter indicates that Ted Munter, Greg Connelly, Josh McCarthy, Jeff Graham, and Forch will be at the helm for this new venture. Clearly, that is a potent brain trust and, from my outside perspective, indicates that Dog has been coveting JG for some time. It makes sense that with Jim and Al stepping down from the longest tenure with a single team that DOG is put to bed and that Twisted Puppy arises from the ashes. I think it was pretty clear that a new guard was taken the reigns of the DOG offense last year, but, at times during Nats, the O looked shaky and the D will have to find ways to cope with the obvious challenges that lurk on the horizon. It is clealy overly simplistic to view Metal as "raw, athletic, frenetic" and Dog as "cool and disciplined". That is pretty much just a convenient way for us spectators to try to set up a story. The good part is that both sides are ripe for the taking. Ted was in attendence for much of UCPC and I know he was quite taken with what Goldberg had to say. Perhaps this team will display the athleticism, discipline, and mental toughness to play "championship Ultimate". I hope so and I think this is a good time to recharge. I can't wait to see the results.


Monday, April 02, 2007

The fun vs competitive continuum

Many teams seem to struggle with the notion that things can EITHER be competitive (hard core, intense, etc) OR fun(spirited, etc). Probably most high level teams (and, maybe, "casual" or "pick-up teams) have got this sorted out, but for many others, the perceived relationship between fun vs competitive is important, and confusing, in terms of goals, expectations, friendships, and even whether one wants to participate. Is there an actual mutually exclusive relationship between fun and competitive? Where does this notion come from? Do other sports have this "problem"? Does this issue occur only in certain parts of our sport (ie, is it age-based, division-based, etc)? This post will humbly offer my take on how to frame this apparent decision.

I had an interesting look at this at my B-team's tournament that they hosted this past weekend. I had to show up late due to family obligations, and when I arrived, I found out that my gals had been beaten 13-0, and 13-0 in the first two games. When I talked with the team, they were a bit down, but pumped to improve and get over the hump. Now, there are many reasons for being on the Whips B-team. Some folks are new to the game. Others are too busy for A-team commitment. Still others want to be on a less competitive team. Now, from a simple view of the fun-competitive continuum, one could say that the A-team is on the competitive side and the B-team is on the fun side. However, as I said....this is the simple view. So, if the B-team is the "fun" team, why were they down after the first two big losses? Isn't the point to have fun, enjoy the experience of the team and enjoy the opportunity to play this sport in the nice sun of the early spring? Well, yes and no.

I am going to argue that there is no need for a team to decide between fun and competitive. I think that goals determine and dictate the process by which a foundation is created for teams to have a season that is BOTH fun and competitive. It is naive to think that if a team is not playing well, or not up to its potential, that it will be a "fun" experience. In fact, I think that if a team does not set good goals for itself that there is the potential that it is doing so as an "out". As in, "oh, that loss didn't matter...we were just trying to have fun". Lack of definition might salve the wounds of underachievement, but it won't make it more fun. The problem with a team that is not having fun (regardless of its competitive level) comes from a misalignment between the players and the team goals.

So, a team should have, in my opinion, a goal or two that are "stretch" goals. Goals that push a team's potential. The process goals that are derived to achieve these stretch (and other) outcome goals will lay out a series of tasks that need to be completed. Each player on the team should sign off on the goals as a "contract". In other words, it is an agreement to do what is necessary to achieve the team goals. My opinion is that this will smooth over any misalignment in expectations. So, a team more interested in "fun" might set goals for itself that are relatively easy to achieve and are less about pushing their potential.

Now, I heard someone say once that "if I rank all my games in terms of fun, all the games I've won rank higher than the games I have lost". I think my girls have discovered that it is fun to win games, and that enjoying the experience of the team's success is usually a bi product of playing good Ultimate(as defined by the team goals). We still discuss the fun vs competitive continuum, but I have noticed that the tenor of the conversation has changed as we have become better at goal-setting. We are less polarized. Less convinced that success comes at the expense of fun. More convinced that fun comes with playing good Ultimate, welcoming challenges, and pushing to maximize the potential of the team and the individual.