Monday, August 1, 2011

Revisiting Roundup

I have been friends with Anna "Maddog" Nazarov for half a dozen years now. I was terrified of her for a good year after we met, and it wasn't until the end of our college playing days that I really had the chance to get to know her. While I am still unsure as to whether she has ties to the Russian mafia, I am positive that she is one of the kindest and most genuine people I know. In 2010, I had the privilege of working with her to organize the Roundup Division at Midwest Throwdown. The Roundup Division was our attempt to bring some resources to developing teams in the South and Midwest. We flew coaches from around North America to St. Louis to guest coach and mentor teams for the weekend, and to lead skills clinics for a few hundred players. All of this was done in conjunction with a regular college tournament. In this post, Maddy recaps her experience running the Roundup Division. We'll be looking to replicate the Roundup opportunity at Virginia is for Layouts in the spring. So if you are a club player interested in coaching, or a college team interested in submitting a bid, check out all of the information on our website at


The idea for the Roundup Division sprang up from a seemingly mindless gchat conversation where Michelle and I were lamenting our inability to fit coaching into our work schedules. Because Michelle has the uncanny ability to take on more than any reasonable human being can handle, I took charge of organizing the Roundup part of Midwest Throwdown that year. First step: recruit coaches. My feeler email to the potential coaches took the form of a long-winded ramble about the idea and the vision. I made it clear that since it was only July (the tournament was in March the following spring) we weren’t sure what sort of funding mechanism we’d have in place (if any) so it would probably be a volunteer endeavor and that I wasn’t looking for a commitment just yet. I don’t think either Michelle or I were expecting the positive response we received right away. We completely underestimated how much people care!

Within 24 hours we got two commitments. Within 48 hours we had another one. Over the next few weeks we finalized the six remaining, absolutely incredible club players who rounded out our coaching corps and made the weekend such a huge success. Here are some excerpts from the enthusiastic responses we got way back in July:

“Heya Anna. So is it going to be warm and sunny there :) ? Sign me up.”

“I’m in. Absolutely!”

“What an amazing opportunity. I would love to! … That sounds incredible – what an honor that you would think of me. … Thanks for making my day.”

“Holy cow, I am totally honored to be included among such a group of studs. This is an incredible idea and I think it would be really fun.”

“Thanks for the invite. This sounds like a really interesting and exciting development for women’s ultimate.”

“Checked it out, dates look clear, I’m stoked to be involved!”

“By March my schedule will be back to normal so count me in!!!!”

“I think this is an amazing idea. I'm all about empowering players and teams. If you need help, let me know. I think this could be a model to use consistently to promote women's teams, even club teams. Teams/players need to be taught good leaderships skills as well as skills, drills and strategy. I'm all about it.”

The lesson learned there was that all across the country (and Canada! Hi, Canada.) there are women at the highest level of club ultimate who care about developing teams having opportunities to play and learn. A little bit of caring goes a long a way. Each email response we got had an average of five exclamation points. Cara was so into it she emailed us from wherever in the world she was traveling after winning her gold with Team USA to tell us she was in. Those few we asked who had scheduling conflicts were clearly bummed they couldn’t participate. Every single person expressed some sort of gratitude that we had thought of them. And that was just the first iteration of Roundup. With this much enthusiasm, the possibilities and ideas are truly endless.

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