USA Ultimate training camp

Jojo Emerson
March 17, 2012
Filed under Opinion, Sports, Top Stories

Every two years, USA Ultimate hosts two sets of weekend-long tryouts, one on the west coast and one in the east, for youth ultimate players 19 and under who are interested in playing for the USA national ultimate frisbee team.  These tryouts bring out the best young players in the country for a weekend of hard drilling and grueling competition.  Though it sounds intense, the weekends tend to breed camaraderie among players who would normally be rivals, and these connections span through seasons to come.

I personally attended the east coast training camp two weekends ago (March 3/4) in Atlanta, Georgia.  Because of torrential downpours and tornadoes on Friday night, the women’s tryouts were pushed back to 3-10pm on Saturday. With seven hours of fitness, drilling, and scrimmaging each day, I can attest to the physical strain all us players experienced those two days. And though we were tired after two days of 7 hours of playing, the girls persevered to show the coaches we could tough it out. Coaches explained on the final day that, though we may be tired, we should remember that the international championship tournament is 6 days long and much more competitive.
Intimidating to say the least, the coaching staff did a great job of making it an enjoyable experience as well as providing us with great feedback on our playing.  USA Ultimate released an article (hyperlink: http://www.usaultimate.org/news/2012-usa-ultimate-wjuc-tryouts/) explaining that the camps were to be run like the first practice of a united team, where each player would get individualized attention while still getting evaluated.  I think those who ran the program did a great job of balancing the two aspects of the camp; I knew I was being scrutinized at every turn, but was happy that the coaches still gave us constructive criticism.

Powerhouse teams such as Amherst Regional High School in Massachusetts and Paideia High School in Atlanta were well represented in the east, a figure that any informed high school player could have predicted.  For me, putting names to the faces of girls I’ve played and admired was a fantastic experience. Getting to relay memories from past games was interesting, if a little strange. I got to speak with Paideia players about when, last spring, the YHB girls upset Paideia for our first ever win against them, and got a whole new perspective on the game.
Day one consisted of fitness testing, drilling, and scrimmaging.  Just when we all thought the day to be over, the coaches surprised us with a “timed mile” at the end of the day. Though it was only 3/4th of a mile, the exercise pushed many of us to the brink of our physical capacity. Day two was tougher because there were constant gale-force winds sweeping the fields, making it hard for good throws to go off.  After a few hours of drilling, coaches focused on certain groups during scrimmaging in order to differentiate who they needed to observe closer.
Coaches began the weekend by saying they were looking for strong sideline involvement and extremely positive attitudes from all the players.  Though it could’ve seemed ingenuine at first, as we were all competing against each other, this request ultimately turned the group into an inclusive and positive body. Players went out of their way to learn others’ names and cheer them on through the tougher portions of the day, which made the camp a hundred times more enjoyable.  I felt supported by these girl whom I had only known for a few hours, which was a new – and great – experience for me. I felt I wanted other girls to succeed as much as I wanted to push myself to do well.
The pacific coast will be having tryouts in two weeks, and the team rosters will be released two weeks after that camp is held.

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