After nearly missing my flight thanks to a combination of traffic, the Pike's Peak parking lot being full, and an incredibly slow shuttle bus, I hopped on a plane to DFW for Without Limits' first Captaining 101 Clinic. Upon my arrival, Laura Weinman (clinic organizer and Hot Mess captain) picked me up curbside and helped me load my bags of clinic supplies into her car. It was the first time we had ever met in person, and we both laughed about the fact that we had organized a clinic for 40+ players through email and text messages.
The weekend was an incredible experience, and no recap can do it justice. We had players from over half a dozen different schools, including schools all over Texas, as well as a player from Yale and two players from Loyola. To have players flying in for this was both thrilling and terrifying, as we certainly felt the pressure of trying to create an amazing weekend for them. It turns out that one of the girls from Chicago plays on the club team I started four years ago in the Bay Area, so that was a pretty cool reminder of how small and tight-knit the ultimate community is, no matter where we are. We also had two open players in attendance- both of them are trying to help grow women's ultimate at their respective schools. I was very impressed with both young men, and it was a privilege to have them at our clinic.
Laura was the undoubtedly the driving force behind this clinic, but we were also fortunate to have the help and support of a number of other people. Traci Popejoy (UT-Dallas captain) helped us secure fields and assisted Laura with a number of other behind-the-scenes logistics. Local players helped us house many of the out-of-town players, and three players from Showdown, Holly Greunke, Shelby Kuni, and Rachel Massey, served as coaches for the weekend. Showdown also donated a number of jerseys to the clinic, Flashflight donated some discs, and VC Ultimate donated a hat for each participant. Jimmy John's gave us a discount on lunch for Saturday, and we had plenty of Emergen-C to pass out. Our local organizers, sponsors, and coaches made this clinic possible, and helped to create an awesome weekend for our participants.
Holly and Shelby lead the players through an active warmup
A bullet point summary of our weekend:
- Fundamental Skills Stations (Offense and Defense)
-- Broke down essential ultimate skills into their fundamental components
-- Taught leaders how to teach these skills
-- Equipped leaders with new drills to take back to their teams
- Power Stations
-- Fitness- track, agility, and strength with an emphasis on how to do this with younger / smaller team
-- Throwing and catching- drills to improve these two crucial skills
-- Drills and games to improve players' level of comfort with the disc
-- 3 v. 3- how to get everyone involved on the field
- Focused Scrimmaging- how to play with a purpose
- Team Defense Concepts- how to run a variety of zone Ds for maximum effectiveness
- Building A Program
-- Recruiting and retention
-- How to shape a season
-- Practice planning
-- Going from team to program
Afternoon zone D chalk talk
I was floored by the overall ability and athleticism of the group, as well as how engaged players were over the course of the weekend. We did over 12 hours of teaching, and the focus from the group was outstanding. I was amazed, inspired, and humbled by all of the players and coaches this weekend. The South Region has come a long way over the past five years, and I know that with leaders and players like those who attended our clinic this weekend, the best is yet to come.
A few quotes from the evaluations we did at the end of the clinic:
"Thank you so much! Best weekend of ultimate in a long time. I'm super pumped to take this back to my team and help us grow together."
"Thank you guys so much. I can't tell you how much this helps me as a captain. I needed this."
"Sweet clinic! Love it! Do it again!"
"Great job! Loved y'all and think you are doing a great thing for the ultimate community."
"Thank you! I rarely have the opportunity to learn about ultimate from such experienced players and when you have to teach a lot, you sometimes lose focus on your own improvement. This clinic gave me new ideas about how to improve my game, so it was inspiring!!"
And the icing on the cake? All of the profits from this clinic are being donated to Smith College to help bring in guest coaches for their spring tournament, Virginia is for Layouts. Not only did we have a blast in Dallas this weekend, but we raised money to make another incredible weekend of development happen this spring!