Thursday, July 7, 2011

Keystone Classic: A Parent's Perspective

Keystone Classic has been all about our friends coming through for us. In 2010, Carly Maconaghy and Melissa May saved the tournament from the brink of disaster before they had even met Michelle in person, and this year, Katie Erikson joined our team, helping us pull the tournament off in spite of some difficulties with the weather. In many ways, running a highly competitive tournament in the Northeast has been one of the more challenging things that we've done. It's a part of the country that we've never played in so our contacts are limited, the weather is terrible, and it's just plain hard to organize a tournament from thousands of miles away. We might also have really bad luck. Carly, Melissa, and Katie have been rockstar allies for us, and we hope that Keystone Classic continues to grow as a valuable playing and development opportunity for that part of the country. We're grateful for these ladies, as well as for friends on teams like Pittsburgh, Ottawa, Northeastern, and Cornell who have faithfully supported this tournament.

In this post, Corey Ayala-Fagundez shares her experiences as a parent and fan at Keystone Classic this past season. She has two daughters who play for Rutgers University Nightshade and Columbia High School Sparkle Motion, and is a huge advocate for both youth ultimate and women's ultimate. A huge thank you to Corey for sharing about how Without Limits has positively impacted her daughters' teams, as well as for being a champion of our work. As our sport and our organization continue to grow, we hope that the people we hold near and dear to our hearts, especially our family and friends, stay central to all of the work we do.


As I sit enjoying the easy relaxed months of summer, thoughts of the coming school year are starting to surface for me. When the school year starts, my mind goes directly to Ultimate Frisbee! I am a very active parent for Sparkle Motion, a high school level girls Ultimate team from Maplewood, New Jersey and have been so for five years now. I support the team fully and will volunteer in any capacity in order to try and pave the way for our girls so that they can concentrate on planning for tournaments and the game itself. I've named myself the chaperone, the driver, the sideliner, the fundraiser, the Gatorader, the first aider, the lugger and one of their biggest advocates! I have had the pleasure of traveling with our girls to many tournaments on the East Coast, Buffalo, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, Atlanta, Vermont and Ohio. These tournaments are necessary in order for the girls to stay competitive. One tournament however sticks out in my mind... Keystone Classic which was organized by Without Limits. The girls played many other very talented high school teams and had the opportunity watch very elite college women's teams . Watching these teams play gave them the incentive and drive to continue in the sport that they had come to love, they knew that they wanted to be like these women who played amazingly.

On the first day, during some down time, Sparkle Motion was fortunate enough to be led by Michelle Ng in a Skills Clinic to help them improve their game strategy and learn new drills. In addition to the Skills Clinic, all of the participating high school girls teams were paired with a college team for the weekend in a program called Sister Teams. This was a very special program since it gave the high school girls the opportunity to hang out with, ask questions of, and get on a personal level with older players who wanted to promote college Ultimate and be sure that the girls had a great experience. Sparkle Motion was paired up with Ottawa Lady Gee-Gees! Those ladies took the time to root on our girls during one of Sparkle Motion's games, and our girls did the same for the Gee-Gees during our bye. Near the end of the day, both teams got together for a game of Ninja, some chit-chat and a photo op. The Lady Gee-Gees also brought along some Lady Gee-Gees gear, team jerseys and t-shirts, for girls they felt did a great job playing while they were watching earlier on! Sparkle could have talked and played for hours but Lady Gee-Gees needed to go after a while because they had made the finals and were the eventual first place winners much to our team's delight! It was a wonderful experience for all, and everyone agreed it was great that Without Limits decided to include high school teams in the tournament.

I cannot say enough about the experience and would encourage as many college tournament organizers to include a high school division if it is possible and for the high school teams to respond and attend. The experience is priceless for the girls. In addition we got to know more about Without Limits and rely on them for guidance and information in regard to other college tournaments coming up that they may be interested in participating in if given the opportunity. ;)

The blogs are informative and it has enabled me to learn more about other teams and programs that are inevitably in my future and the future of my two daughters. One is a rising sophmore and plays at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey for the ladies' team Nightshade, and the other is a rising sophmore at Columbia High School and plays for the girls' team Sparkle Motion. My advice to other teams and parents of those players would be to go out of your way to find or try to promote programs such as Keystone Classic because the experience for the high school player is priceless. Thank you to Without Limits for having the foresight to expose the younger girls to a whole new world of Ultimate by integrating them into college level tournaments.

Corey Ayala-Fagundez
Team parent for
CHS Spark-Mo-G-Frizz
Columbia High School Sparkle Motion Girls Ultimate Frisbee
Maplewood,New Jersey

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