Women's College Centex is just a few short days away. Skyd already has a preview up, but I wanted to post a few personal thoughts leading into the weekend.
This tournament is important to me for more reasons than I have the time to write about, but I'll try to summarize briefly here:
1. Competition-- This tournament brings together many of the top teams in North America to compete in the last big pre-Series tournament of the season. It has only developed this way because of the support of many friends, and we are cognizant of the big trip it is for many teams. In 2008, we were very fortunate to get huge buy-in from teams like Wisconsin, Michigan, UBC, Stanford, UCSB, Cal, etc. That parking lot meeting is something that continues to motivate me to this day, even though none of those players are playing in the college division anymore.
2. Community-- While we've striven to build an extremely competitive event, none of the organizers have lost sight of the fact that we want to build community with Centex. The Friday Night Mixer, BBQ, and Dance-Off are all staples of this tournament. We include them because we've seen incredible friendships built out of the interaction that happens at these "extras." It's worth the extra work.
3. Personal History-- I first attended this tournament in 2005 with the Cal women's team. It was a huge catalyst in our season that year, propelling us to a Quarterfinals finish at College Nationals. Melee also choreographed a dance for us that year. I will never forget Cara Crouch pouring Gatorade all over herself (thinking it was water) or the look of shock on the Melee players' parents' faces. Priceless. In 2006, my experience at Centex and the care of a few special Melee alums facilitated my decision to attend Texas for grad school. The snow on the ground when I visited Cornell and Columbia sealed the deal, but Centex has a lot of meaning to me on a personal level.
4. Catalyst-- I see Centex as an opportunity to get a few younger / less developed teams a chance to play with the big dogs. Every year in the fall, I look for a few teams I can help-- teams who are flying under people's radars and who might be struggling financially, but who are on the cusp of greatness. We invite them to Centex, and I make it my undercover mission to help them succeed in whatever way I can. After seeing what a world of difference opportunities have made for Wash U, I've re-committed myself to helping "random" teams. There doesn't have to be a "reason" to help-- if a team is working hard and wants to get to the next level, I want to make a difference for them. Centex is a wonderful catalyst for that.
5. Melee-- This tournament is extra special to me because I work with my old team to run it. This year is perhaps even more special because the lead coordinator was one of my college and club rookies when I captained Melee and Showdown respectively. It makes me proud to see someone I've invested so much into stepping up to take on a huge role that serves a lot of players and teams in the college ultimate community. The Melee girls put an incredible amount of work into this event, and their attention to detail shows. I also appreciate that they're always willing to facilitate my crazy ideas and to try new things. There is a high level of trust in our relationship, something I appreciate immensely.
We have a ton to do on the ground in the next two days, but we're incredibly excited to host so many of you in Austin. Travel safe, and we'll see many of you tomorrow night!