Thai soccer inspiration for Northwest youth ultimate

This video sponsored by a Thai bank may resonate with youth ultimate players in Seattle and other parts of the (rainy) Northwest.   It features the joys and challenges of starting a new team and places a worthy emphasis on doing your best, trying new strategies, and feeling proud even if you don’t always win or get first place.  It’s got something for coaches and Disc NW staff who sometimes struggle to find a place to play in the soggy, crowded parks of wintertime Seattle. And it shows kids playing hard in some serious rain.

 

Spring/summer 2014 youth ultimate events and camps

Registration has recently opened for some ultimate opportunities — from fun weekends to summer camps.  Here they are in chronological order:

1) Saturday, April 5, 2014, from 9-4 in Issaquah (ages 8-101)
Fly for Life — ultimate fun day to raise awareness about and benefit organ transplant in WA
http://www.issaquah360.com/frisbee-event/

2) Saturday, May 31, 2014, 12-8 p.m.
Spring Jam tournament for elementary school players

3) Saturday, June 7, 2014, 9-12 ($10, on-site registration)
Fryz Elementary/MS clinic
http://fryzultimate.weebly.com/3/post/2014/02/elementarymiddle-school-fryz-clinic.html

The HS Fryz team is hosting a clinic for elementary and middle schoolers.  All of the coaches are on either girls Fryz, ranked first in the nation for HS ultimate, or boys Fryz, also in the top 3 in the nation.

Cost: $10 (all players)
Please be there early
Registration starts at 8:30 a.m.
Location: Magnuson Park (Turf Field #7)
Bring: dark and light jerseys, lunch, and plenty of water.

 

4) UpDawg tournament by UW Element

Up Dawg is a coed youth hat tournament put on by the University of Washington women’s ultimate frisbee team, Element.  Middle school players of all skill and experience levels register as individuals.  Each is placed on a team with other middle schoolers.  Teams are coached by Element players and play 3 or 4 games in the tournament.  At the end of the day, everyone comes together to celebrate spirited play.

Here are the details:

Who can play: middle school players (school year grades 5-8) of all skill and experience levels.
When: June 7, 2014, 1-5 pm; registration form due by May 20, 2014
Where: Magnuson Park
Cost: $40 (sliding scale upon request)

This tournament is a both a fundraiser for UW Element and a chance for their players to share their love of ultimate with our community.

5)  Summer camps
http://www.discnw.org/events/SeattleUltimateCamps/
3 camp sessions available to 8-9 year olds, 10-11 year olds, 12-13 year olds, and high schoolers.
2014 dates:

  • Session 1: Monday June 16- Friday June 20 (Seattle Public School still in session)
  • Session 2: Monday June 23- Friday June 27
  • Session 3: Monday August 18- Friday August 22

The Northwest Challenge as inpiration for youth players

This week/end (March 28-30, Fri-Sun) the best collegiate womens’ teams in the Nation will gather in Washington State for the Northwest Challenge.  Since it’s remarkably hard to figure out what’s going on (between Twitter feeds, Facebook events, and the rarely-updated DiscNW page).   Since it’s so important that parents and coaches know how to use this opportunity to inspire young players, here is a super-simple distillation of your choices…

1) Go to the showcase game in Ballard!

  • Friday night 7:45-9:45pm
  • Loyal Heights Playfield, 2101 NW 77th St (map)
  • UW Element (National champs 2012) vs Oregon Fugue National champs 2013)!
  • Raffle at half-time

2) Go see a game in-person in Seattle or Puyallup

  • Friday 9am-5pm at UW fields across Sand Point Way from U Village (just east of golf range)
  • Sat 8:30am-6pm in Puyallup (map)
  • Sun 8:30-2pm in Puyallup

3) Watch live or later via Ultiworld video streams

4) Read about the tournament

  • 12 teams
  • 6 Northwest teams
  • 6 teams from other regions
  • 6 top-half teams; 6 bottom-half teams; 3 NW teams in each group
  • each team will play 4 teams from their strength group (3 outside) and 3 teams from their region group (and 4 outside)

5) Attend the discussion of college ultimate Sat pm

  • Not sure about location!
  • Consideration of ultimate become an NCAA sport

 

Cheering for elementary ultimate players

A cheer or a chant can get any team psyched up to compete, but at the elementary school level it offers a great (and sometime badly needed!) way to keep players engaged while on the sidelines.   The process of creating a new cheer gets the kids thinking about the other team, as well as themselves.  Doing a constructive, fun cheer can also help teams bond, both within their own members and between rivals.  In any case, it’s important to clarify the difference between a cheer and taunts used to distract someone trying, e.g. when trying to catch the disc.Bryant Blasters cheer

The best explanation for why cheering is part of the culture of ultimate comes from the thesis of Lindsay Pattison, The Dynamics of the Disc, in which she writes:

One of the ways that Ultimate players perform spirit is by recognizing or “acknowledging” their opponents in some fashion. Cheering — changing the lyrics of well-known tunes and serenading your opponents as recognition of an enjoyable on-field experience — fulfills this function. Cheering also helps to diffuse any residual competitive tension since “it‟s hard to stay angry at a team when you are singing them a song.” Tony Leonardo claims that “post-game cheers are sometimes considered an extension of Spirit of the Game.” Montreal players recall that when they first began playing in the mid-1990s cheering was akin to presenting “a gift to the other team,” and it was considered essential: “the game was not done until each team had cheered each other.”

She goes on to explain how cheering can sometimes go awry:

“Slagging‟ refers to a particular type of cheer designed to tease, make fun of, or disparage the other team. Players describe it as “good-natured ribbing.” True slag artists, however, following the credo of “the cruder, the better,” often crossed over the line of good taste. Montreal players recall “g[etting] off on writing the filthiest cheers.” Some of “those cheers were nasty! And there was a real competition to see who could be the most crude.” But, in a friendly environment such as the municipal league, where “everybody knew everybody else, … slagging your friends was fun.” Even at tournaments, where opponents may not know each other as well, slag cheers have been used as expressions of friendship or as acknowledgment for a particularly enjoyable game.

It’s unfortunate that most of the spirited cheers created and used by collegiate and adult club teams are totally inappropriate for younger players.  A rare exception at the collegiate level from the town of Walla Walla in Eastern Washington (where many onions are grown) was recounted as…

Neither wind nor snow, however, could drown out the traditional Whittie [Whitman] cheer of “Slice ‘em, dice ‘em, sauté, fry!”

Maybe it will be best for the sport if youth ultimate players and coaches nurture a culture of constructive, wholesome cheering, so that — in the long run — some of the crude, lascivious, druglorifying  cheers belted out by raucous adult players are diluted and down-played.   To that end, here are a few cheers created and used by Seattle elementary school teams.  Some are used randomly, some to rev up the team when pulling, and others are delivered with spirit at the end of the game when both teams meet in the middle of the field.

Whittier WUF Gang came up with this call and response after hearing a high school team at Spring Reign doing it as a riff on Muhammad Ali’s “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”   Coach Kevin Bolduan was impressed with the energy it brought to the game and also saw an opportunity to help his players remember to “pancake” the disc when catching throws between waist- and eye-level:

Bench: Pancakes, Waffles!

On-field: French Toast, WUF Gang!

Our team of mostly 5th graders sought to emulate this cheer and came up with something very organic (viva Seattle):

Bench: Asparagus, asparagus, cauliflower!

On-field: Yum, yum!  Broccoli!

Tomaytoes, potaytoes; Tomahtoes, potahtoes.

… (it’s still evolving.)

The WUF gang also did a great cheer for us at the end of our “sudden victory” game, led by one or two kids (a coveted role they tend to argue over):

Leaders: What are the [Blasters] ?
Rest of team: DYNAMITE!
(Repeat 3x)
Everyone:  “tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, BOOM!”
Everyone falls back and down in unison.

I’ll keep adding them as I learn and hear them this season.  If you have some favorites, please add them in the comments!

In the interim, it’s interesting to think about how young players could bring back the cheer.  For as Lindsay points out (pp. 98-103), cheering traditions are in decline among both the increasingly-competitive and the less-indoctrinated groups of players —

There are a couple of explanations for the decline of the cheer. It is a common belief among players that cheering first fell out of fashion at the competitive level. As SOTG came to be associated more squarely with the appropriate way to comport oneself on the field, off-field and post-game expressions of spirit eventually became superfluous.  In the mid-nineties “teams like Boston and New York, these elite teams in the States,” who, while maintaining an interest in sportsmanship and fair play, “had no interest in „let‟s do a song after the game‟ kind of spirit.”

….

But acknowledging one another has not disappeared; it has morphed into other – some may argue, more appropriate — practices.

Acknowledging one another can be done with a quick game (such as a rock/paper/scissors race), bestowing of prizes, sharing of food, or a brief „hip-hip- hooray.‟ In many international tournaments the „spirit circle‟ where teams come together and discuss the game post facto takes the place of cheering. While not as elaborate or creative, these practices replace the cheer as means of diffusing tension, fostering camaraderie, and expressing sportsmanship.

However, while admitting that it could seem silly or even lame, not to mention that to do it well is time-consuming and difficult, most people, even the most vehement cheer-haters, have fond memories about a particularly spectacular cheer, gifted cheer- writer, or slag artist. “Certain people,” claims Rose, “are so incredibly creative and talented and you could witness that when people were doing cheers.” Some players lament the loss of the cheer and have expressed the wish to see that particular aspect of the game revived.

This spring, I’ll be listening for a cheer in the “major league” games… but I’m guessing such spirited banter will have to originate from the (youngest?) fans.

 

 

Taking the sting out of the score

As the time cap approached on our game last weekend with Salmon Bay 4/5, Coach TQs assistant/co-coach suggested we play a final point and then a “fun” or “spirit” point.  I asked what he meant and he explained that his (high- middle- school?) teams had often end their play together, not by walking off the field as gleeful winners and glum losers, but by ending the game and then playing a final point in some silly way.

He suggested we try having everyone play at once, either as the two teams, or mixed up in whatever way the players thought would be fun.  The kids gravitated quickly to their teammates still standing near the end zones, so about 14 Blasters pulled to a swarm (20?) of Salmon Bay players.  It was hilarious watching such an incredible number of players zooming around the field.  And it took a while to score with so many folks going up for a disc or being in the right place to bat down a pass.

Here are some other fun points to play after the score is settled:

Dinosaur Point

Members of both teams must play the entire point with both arms fully extended (Pterodactyl team) or with both elbows fixed to the body (T-Rex team).  Or everyone on the field can be the same kind of dinosaur, or whichever kind they want!

Layout point

The next point can only be scored by a diving catch.

Crabby point

For the next point everyone has to crab walk.  (Move around belly up with hands and feet on the ground.  Catch and throw with one hand while the other stays on the ground!)

Kneedy point

The next point is played with everyone on their knees.

Roll with it point

The next point is played with everyone rolling around on the ground.  You can sit up to throw or catch the disc.

You?!?

Do you have a favorite “fun point” you’d like to share?  Name and describe it in the comments!

Final variations that can lighten the mood:

  • have coaches play, too!
  • invite parents to play a point!
  • mix up the members of each team on to different sides for a spirit point