Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Women's College Centex:: Ultimate Mecca

I have organized a couple dozen tournaments over the years, and people frequently ask me which one is my favorite. Each tournament has been memorable in some way (for better or for worse), and nearly every tournament has resulted in the opportunity to form new friendships with amazing people. For me, the relationship-building is the most rewarding part about running tournaments. Some of my dearest friends are people I have run tournaments with or met at the tournaments I've run.

My favorite tournament as an organizer is undoubtedly Women’s College Centex. I first attended the tournament in 2005 as a player, and have attended each year since. In 2008, my last year playing college, I took on a small organizing role as one of the captains of Texas. In late 2008, Melee decided to begin running the tournament without the help of an outside organization. The foundation for the success of a Melee-run Women’s College Centex was formed at this meeting the year before.

We expanded the tournament from 20 teams to 32 teams in 2009, striking a careful balance between choosing the top teams from the year before, up-and-coming teams, and teams from our Region. Everyone realized that all three components were vital to the success of the tournament, as well as integral to our commitment to building ultimate in the South. The tournament grew to 52 teams split into four divisions this past year.

I believe the following things have contributed to the success of Centex:
1. Commitment | The Texas women are committed to building this tournament. It is more than a fundraising opportunity to them; it is their chance to build something incredible and to give back to the college women’s ultimate community. Rachel "Creepy" Hokanson and Suede Kam are the two Texas players who have made Centex into what it is today.
2. Local ultimate community | Each year, there are a core of Austinites who do tons of behind-the-scenes work to make the tournament a success. Tina has been the single most important person in ensuring the success of Centex, J helps us get travel deals, Punk organizes an observer crew, TUFF helps with weekend-of labor. The list could go on and on.
3. Friends | Every year, interest in the tournament exceeds capacity. This is only possible because our friends bring their teams to our tournament. We are also fortunate to have friends serve as “scouts” for us; we are able to get the best up-and-coming teams to come based on the leads we get from these people.

What sets Centex apart?
1. Competition | At Centex this year, we had 19/20 teams from 2010 Nationals and 18/20 teams from 2011 Nationals. This level of competition is umatched by any other tournament.
2. Community | You simply cannot rival or replicate the Centex Dance-off. It is both ridiculous and amazing, and teams love it. Pair that with some good Texas BBQ and you have teams staying at the fields Saturday night until the lights get turned off on us. Check out this footage from 2010, courtesy of Penn State Isis.
3. Big picture thinking | Every year, the organizers look for ways to improve the tournament and make it even better. In 2010, it was the addition of a Division III and a Women’s Leadership Forum. In 2011, it was the addition of B-Team Division and a Guest Coaching Program. The Texas girls set the bar high with their vision for the future of our sport.

If you haven’t been to Centex, I highly recommend putting it on your team’s radar. Many people have told me that Centex changed their team’s perspective on ultimate, and every year, new friendships are formed both on and off the field. Without Limits' role for 2012 is yet-to-be-determined, but if you are interested in attending, email us at contactus (at) withoutlimitsultimate dot com and we’ll pass your email along to the Texas leadership.

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