At first, there was a lot of talk about how to develop events in the region like Midwest Throwdown and Women's College Centex into more competitive events. Most of the talk was about the elite teams and how we needed to work together to get on a more level playing field with the West Coast teams. At some point, the conversation shifted and one of the Grinnell girls talked a bit about her team's perspective. It was eye-opening to listen to her talk about the need for us to invest in teams like hers, how they wanted to learn from us, and how they didn't have club players or many resources to help them. She said that when she wished playing elite teams was more of a learning experience and that it would be cool if we would give them tips on how to improve. I remember being half-incredulous and asking, "So you wouldn't be insulted by that?!" And her response was, "How else are we going to learn?" I left that meeting challenged and humbled, realizing that it wasn't enough to create a few well-run events. There are countless teams on the fringe of those events, who want to improve, but who have relatively few resources to do so... that's how the first Roundup Division was born.
1.5 years after that ice cream shop meeting, Grinnell made Quarterfinals at D-III Nationals, which is quite an accomplishment. Their hard work and determination to build a program have brought them a long way. They have created opportunities, and have done a phenomenal job of turning those opportunities into success.
Largely thanks to the efforts of Grinnell captain, Paige Hill, I am sitting on a couch in Iowa, getting ready to run a Captaining Clinic for 64 college captains and team leaders in the Midwest this weekend. This spring, Grinnell will also be participating in Roundup Division v. 2.0, this time in Virginia. This time, we'll be more than tripling the number of teams and guest coaches-- it's overwhelming to plan and fundraise for, but if even a small number of teams get something out of it, it'll be well worth it.