Thursday, September 15, 2011

Behind the Scenes:: Without Limits Skills Clinics

We've been slacking a bit with posting stories from our partners, but for good reasons. Our last Without Limits tournament of the year, Virginia Fusion, is this weekend, and we just launched registration for our last clinic of the year, the Texas Captaining 101 Clinic. Fusion marks the big 2-5 in tournament running for me, and I'm happy to celebrate this with my teammates and with my friends from around the country. I feel like Beth's story kind of describes what the past six years have been like for me-- a blur of events and a lot of lost sleep, but with some valuable friendships with incredible people I never would have met otherwise.

On Saturday, we will run our largest skills clinic to-date. 50+ coaches are preparing for the afternoon, and several hundred college players are registered. It's going to be fun. And up in New York City, in between trying to open a restaurant, training for her own club season, and food adventuring, Beth is processing registration and making sure we have everything we need going into the weekend. Thanks Beth, for all that you do for Without Limits, and for women's ultimate.

Friends, join us. We promise it's worth it. :)


To be honest, I’ve put off this “assignment” because I fear it’s going to end up as this long-winded stream-of-consciousness piece that makes sense to no one except Michelle and me. : ) Unfortunately, the only way to know if I’m right is to actually write, so I welcome you to
Behind the Scenes: Without Limits Skills Clinics.

My friendship with Michelle and relationship with Without Limits began with its first project, Philly Fusion (see WL’s “About Us”). At that time, Brute Squad (my team at the time) and Showdown were in the initial planning stages for the tournament. Of course, with a project this big, Michelle and Sara needed every one to pitch in. Philly Fusion would host a huge skills clinic, and it was imperative to secure a low-cost or free program to manage registration (For those of you who participated in clinics prior to Philly Fusion, you should know that Michelle and Sara sat at their computers for hours manually closing skills clinic registrations. I’m not kidding.). And, because I thrive on streamlining behind-the-scenes processes and making things look good, I volunteered to take on this component of Philly Fusion. Little did I know that this very small task would lead to more than I could have imagined....

Before I go on, you should know the following: a) Michelle and I have never been teammates; b) we have never lived in the same city; c) we played against each other many times when she was on Showdown and I on Brute Squad; BUT d) we did not meet until the 2010 College Championships when we both ended up on the sideline of the Texas/Harvard women’s consolation game -- Michelle was writing for USA Ultimate and cheering on Melee, and I was participating in the College Alumni All-Star game (Team “The World”), and watching my teammates, Blake and Jess, coach Harvard (For the record, Melee won).

And, a shout-out: Eventbrite has made Without Limits Skills Clinic registration a zillion times easier. Yes, a zillion. The important components are automated, and the only thing I have to do is input the date, time, location, and sessions. And, it’s FREE! It also has a report function that allows me to send each coach a list of his/her attendees prior to the clinic! Thank you, Eventbrite!

Now, back to the story: To keep it (relatively) short, the Philly Fusion tournament and skills clinic was a HUGE success, and I became the Eventbrite Master for all things Without Limits. Michelle and I became friends through our appreciation of this wonderful interface (yes, we’re nerds), and I told her that I would be happy to help with future Without Limits projects. Since then, I’ve helped with skills clinic registrations for Showdown, Houston Antifreeze, Midwest Throwdown, Queen City Tune-Up, Keystone Classic and Virginia Fusion.

When Michelle joined USA Ultimate last December to work with the College Division, they were simultaneously expanding its volunteer coordinator core to include a women’s college director. Until that time, the amazing Jeff Kula, served as the ONLY National College Director (I don’t know how he did it - I’m convinced he has superpowers). Anywho, it was, literally, a few days after Michelle started work in Boulder did her gchat status say, “Anyone interested in serving as NWCD?” A completely harmless status message to all of her gchat friends except me....

You see, I’ve been a volunteer with the UPA and USA Ultimate (USAU) since 2004. I served as the Metro-Boston Women’s College SC from 2004-06, and as the UPA/USA Ultimate Northeast Women’s Club RC since 2006. I initially volunteered out of necessity, and I continue to serve because I enjoy it. It’s my small way of giving back to community that took me in when I joined them 10 years ago (wow, I can’t believe it’s been that long!). Despite the other things going on in my life (work, grad school, and an internship), the thought of returning to serve the College Division and working with Michelle felt right. Ultimately, my experience with Without Limits was the tipping point in my decision to return to the USAU College Division as the National Women’s College Director, and I’m really happy that I did.

The growth of women’s ultimate over the last 10 years is impressive. I’m psyched to help Without Limits because its network of players, coaches, and supporters provides opportunities for college teams that weren’t available when I started playing ultimate. It also empowers and supports women to realize and reach their potential not only in ultimate, but also in life. Relationships created through Without Limits are invaluable, and I believe they are the catalysts for the continued growth of women’s ultimate. It’s not easy, but if everyone gives a little, it will go a long way.