Friday, March 18, 2016

What Does Centex Mean To You? (Final Post!)

This post is a little awkward for me to share, but I promised people that I wouldn't censor anything. What I think this post really shows is the generations of Melee leadership who love Women's College Centex and who have dedicated insane amounts of time and energy to making this event what it is. We love Melee, but more than that, we love the women's ultimate community. And we love you all for supporting Centex and what it stands for.  

Eight years ago, when that group of college leaders made a decision to demand more for the college women's division, I knew that I wanted to be a part of making those changes a reality. I didn't want our division to be an afterthought; I knew we deserved more than that. I didn't have a plan, nor did I have the skills to actually do anything to make the changes I wanted to see. I was a grad student getting my Master's in Community and Regional Planning with a focus on Affordable Housing, a person with a normal life. I've been an introvert my entire life and my teammates and closest friends will tell you that I dislike interacting with people. Generally not good characteristics for an event organizer to have. I never intended to end up where I am now, but I guess sometimes I accidentally put my whole heart into things. I know many of you are the same way.

While I know that my remaining time as an organizer in the college women's division is limited, my hope is that I have inspired other players to carry on this torch. The women's division deserves the best. Create the opportunities. Support people you believe in. Give money to projects that align with your values. Stand for something and make your teammates do the same. Recognize that you are a part of something bigger. Sometimes sacrificing what is best for yourself, or even what is best for your team, means that the entire division can take a giant step forward.  Work together. I believe in you all because I've seen what is possible with Centex. And I know that this is just the beginning.

Today's post is from a very special Melee alum. She shares another perspective on last year's Mudtex and the crushing feeling that the organizers experienced in the days leading up to the event. She highlights the love that goes into every aspect of planning Centex and the deep investment we feel in this tournament, and in all of you. We look forward to sharing another weekend in Texas with you, and on behalf of Texas Women's Ultimate, I want to thank you for all of your support. See you on the fields.

I honestly have so many things to share about why Centex is so special and what it means for me as a player, organizer, dancer and Austinite. The list could go on and on, but working with Michelle to organize Centex will always be one of favorite memories. Seeing all the moving pieces that go into an event so large and getting to witness how Michelle methodically tackles every single task enthusiastically (most of the time) is incredible. I'm not trying to embarrass Michelle, but Michelle is what makes Centex special for me. Michelle cares so much and does everything she possibly can to better the competition and growth of women's ultimate through Centex. We poured hours and hours into planning and execution for Centex 2015 and to see it all crumble the week before the tournament because of rain really sucked. Canceling was never even an option though. The only option in both our minds was to re-plan and re-execute everything from scatch the week of the tournament. I don't think either of us were more happy than when final rounds ended on Sunday and we headed over to Trudy's.  When you play Saturday games in a drainage ditch with animal carcasses in it 40 minutes away from campus, it definitely isn't a perfect Centex by any means, but teams need Centex and that's why we do it. No matter what. I love Centex and I love Michelle. Thanks for making Centex possible year after year.

Kelly Lavine
College Teams Attended With: University of Texas Mayhem, University of Texas Melee
Years Attended: Player 2012-2015, Organizer 2015

Thursday, March 17, 2016

What Does Centex Mean To You? (Part VII)

Today's post is a bit delayed because apparently, it's possible for everything to fall apart more than once.  :(  Sometimes rain threatens your field site and you find that the backup location you secured previously has undergone unplanned construction and rock dumping sometime in the past two weeks.  Someday I'll write a book...

I'm privileged to share posts from three former Tufts players tonight.  Ewo has been a huge part of Women's College Centex in recent years.  Their epic performance at 2011 only strengthened our commitment to creating opportunities to play up and it helped to propel the team back to the top of the college women's division.  Princess and Juice were the two leaders with a vision and we worked hard to get the team to Centex their senior year.  Qxhna continued this commitment to excellence and has been a huge inspiration to all of us with her project All-Star Ultimate Tour.

Centex 2011 began my senior college ultimate spring and was a glorious launch to an exciting and challenging season. We were initially seeded 22nd out of 54 teams but surprised everyone by winning games against North Carolina, Carleton College, Washington, and Iowa to finish 3rd. The format of the tournament allowed us to rise out of Div II and face new levels of competition, which began a successful season and triumphant return to the Nationals scene later that year. Games aside, other huge highlights of the weekend were: THE DANCE COMPETITION!!!, playing in an all-women tournament, having Michelle Ng as the TD, escaping cold NE climates & meeting competition from across the country, eating delicious Mexican food, and staying with super welcoming Austin ultimate community members. Centex 2011 will always have a special place in my heart!

Anna "Princess" Chute
Most Recent Team: Wild Card 2012-2014
College Team Attended With: Tufts University Ewo 
Year Attended: Player 2011 


What I loved about centex was that it brought really good competition for women's teams early in the season. Its a long winter in New England, and often or not our first or second serious tournament as the A team was sectionals. Centex not only improved our team through playing together early on against excellent teams from all over the country, but by providing some serious EXCITEMENT/PUMP UP early in the season during indoor practice season. It didn't hurt that the tournament was flawlessly run and put together. Also, trying to come up with a dance for our team was a welcome distraction (even though we definitely should have won) from tedious midterms.

Anna "Juice" Glassman
College Team Attended With: Tufts University Ewo
Year Attended: Player 2011


There's something about arriving at the Centex field site and just seeing a sea of women's ultimate. Field after field after field of powerful and strong female athletes - for as far as the eye can see! I loved attending Centex when I was in college at Tufts University because I felt a part of the women's ultimate community! 

Qxhna Titcomb
Current Team: Seattle Riot
College Team Attended With: Tufts University Ewo
Years Attended: 2012-2013, 2015

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What Does Centex Mean To You? (Part VI)

Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IV, Part V

Most people who attend Women's College Centex have no idea of what happens behind the scenes.  We meticulously plan for six months and try to execute every last detail to run an awesome tournament for our friends.  We order bagels, scrounge for volunteers, borrow / rent / purchase equipment, recruit teams, immerse ourselves in format and seeding discussions, line fields, quadruple check our task list, and then cross our fingers that Mother Nature will cooperate.  Planning Centex is one of the most challenging things I've ever undertaken; part of it is the sheer number of moving pieces, but the more overwhelming part is the number of people I know are relying on us.

No one really takes notice when things run smoothly (and we're thrilled when this happens!), but sometimes, like last year, everything falls apart and you have to re-do six months worth of work in less than a week.  This story is from someone who stepped up in a big way to help us make last year's tournament happen.  From college headache to trusted organizer, Kyra shares what it was like to get thrown into the chaos headfirst.  When we saw the forecast for the week, Kyra offered to come with me to Austin.  We packed my car in North Carolina, drove for two days, and started picking up the pieces...

My first Centex ever was also my first time in Austin. Within the first 5 hours, we managed to get 2 rental cars towed (for $260 total) and pulled over by cops. I still have an outstanding parking ticket from the City of Austin 3 years later. The next day, I forgot my cleats at the fields. I told my teammate about this, and she made me feel guilty and gave me Michelle's number so I could text her about my cleats. I didn't know Michelle at the time, but, as a formerly dumb college player, I thought she had so little responsiblity that she must have randomly found my cleats at the fields in her free time. She responded to my text quickly and was very nice about it (classic) and extremely helpful (classic x2).  Looking back, I know that I am one of the reasons she coined the phrase "college headache."

The most recent time I went to Centex was last year. It will probably be the most memorable tournament I'll ever be part of in my entire life, even though I didn't play in it. I helped Michelle and Melee prepare for the impending mudtex, which included a field site change, several format revamps, a last minute Mass Gathering Permit, a lot of that famous Austin brisket, and a little bit of rain. I thought asking Michelle about my lost cleats 2 years earlier was a bad idea, but I got to see what other nonsense she deals with. Some examples are listed below:

  • Team dropped out because of the rain (so we had to rewrite the format)
  • Team questioned their seeding and tier placement on Saturday morning (despite the 2 weeks of seedings/format feedback prior to Centex)
  • Team requested a first round bye the night before (they were sleepy)
  • Team wanted to know when lights were going to be turned on in the morning (the sun)
  • Teams asking to switch to less muddy fields (hilariously impossible)

I must have proofread and edited the format a half dozen times, which is a pretty difficult undertaking for a 44-team tournament (and not to mention having to deal with score reporter). At one point, I had to put my creativity to use and make a fresh field for the finals that maximized the remaining grass. But there were a lot of good things, too. Every single player was caked head-to-toe in mud and, through it all, still ate BBQ and danced their butts off in the headlights of idling cars among the cheers of their opponents on Saturday night. Even though it was wild while it happened and sometimes seemed like a crazy dream, I'm glad I was there.

For those of you lucky enough to play at Centex this weekend, take it all in. And don't forget to thank your Organizer aka that lady with all the free stuff aka Michelle Ng for all the work she's putting in to making your Centex a magical, fun, and once in a lifetime experience.

Kyra Catabay
Current Team: North Carolina Phoenix
College Team Attended With: University of Florida FUEL
Years Attended: Player 2013-2014, Organizer 2015

What Does Centex Mean To You? (Part V)

Part IPart IIPart III, Part IV

Today, I'm privileged to share stories from two of my dear friends from college ultimate.  I was privileged to watch Maddy lead UCLA to the finals of College Nationals in the team's third year of existence and to see her win the Callahan Award a year later.  Since that time, Maddy has been a trusted friend and one of the first people I have gone to with any ultimate or leadership related question.  She now coaches the first team I ever played for!  Surge was one of my first supporters and collaborators in bringing about the changes we wanted to see in the college women's division.  When I had the crazy idea of creating Midwest Throwdown 14 hours away from where I lived, I called Surge.  She put Flywheel's support on the line and has supported many of my projects since.  Both Maddy and Surge will represent our country on the Women's National Team this year.  They are amazing players, but more importantly, amazing people.

The best part about Centex was that we'd always get to see teams we had only read about and then get to make friends with them on 6th street Saturday night. The worst part about Centex was getting stuck driving endless loops on those damn frontage roads of Austin.

To be honest, I was so pleasantly surprised when the B team made the decision to attend Centex this year. This shows the growth of the Cal women's ultimate program and our captains' dedication to making sure every woman that wants to play gets an opportunity to do so. In fact, we have more women headed to Centex than we had at any LOCAL tournament last season! Plus, it's an incredibly rare opportunity for both halves of the Cal women's program to travel and compete at the same tournament and get a chance to cheer for and support each other. Let's just hope for no snake mud this year, eh?

Anna "Maddog" Nazarov

Current Team: San Francisco Fury Captain, UC Berkeley Tarts Coach, WUGC Women's Team
College Team Attended With: UCLA
Years Attended: Player 2006-2007


I have both played and coached at Centex. As a player, I remember the epic travel complications that the Michigan winters dealt us, but loving the opportunity to escape for a weekend of heat, friends, frisbee, and fun. Tournaments like this were often the only opportunities we got to play west coast teams, so it was hugely exciting for us to be there. In fact, competing against my now good friend and Riot teammate Alyssa Weatherford at Centex is the earliest memory that she and I have of each other!

Last year, Michelle allowed the HS girls club team that I was coaching to attend the tournament, and it was the highlight of our season by far. There's just nothing like getting to travel together and compete against great competition. The time we got to spend together and the challenges they faced at the tournament helped them to grow not just as players but as teammates and people. We are so grateful to Michelle for going out of her way to include us.

Sarah "Surge" Griffith
Current Team: Seattle Riot, WUGC Women's Team
Teams Attended With: University of Michigan Flywheel, Seattle Fryz
Years Attended: Player 2006-2008, Coach 2015

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

What Does Centex Mean To You? (Part IV)

Part I, Part II, Part III

Tonight's post is from a West Coast player I met while helping to organize Pres Day a handful of years ago and whom I have had the privilege of watching grow as a player over the years.  Everyone knows Chip; she's a connector and someone who helped build Centex just by being a part of the tournament.  I'm happy to have her share some Centex memories from over the years.

My freshman year, I played on the B team and didn't go to Centex, but I had heard how much fun Centex was from my teammates on the A-team. We even ended up watching the entire Centex Dance-Off on YouTube, and that was how I first learned about Backpack Girl. I was convinced that if I ever went to Centex, it would become a highlight tournament in my college ultimate career.

2011 came around and there I was, sitting in the back of an airplane with all my teammates, singing "I Believe I Can Fly" as the plane left the tarmac. We just finished finals week, it was the start of spring breeaaak, and we were flying to Austin for the last tournament of the regular season - to say we were excited is an understatement.

One of the best things about Centex is that it's more than just a tournament. Yes, it's competitive and yes, for many teams it's the last tournament to accrue bids for your region. But Centex embodies more than that. After a grueling Saturday of games, where your physical endurance and mental toughness is sure to be tested, everyone grabs Texas BBQ before settling down to watch (or participate in) the Centex Dance-Off. You play against teams from states you've never been to, whose playing styles and strategies are vastly different from yours. You get to spend spring break bonding with your teammates and going to Steak N Shake. And after games on Sunday, you convince all your tournament friends (ultimate players you're friends with because you see each other at tournaments) to go to 6th Street.

There's so many memories I can share from Centex, including the time Iowa brought out fire batons, still the most impressive thing I've seen at Centex. And, full disclosure, there's also memories I can share when your team doesn't go to Centex. Like that one time you go to NW Challenge for "weather purposes" instead, and then you end up playing in rainy and windy conditions, below 40 degrees, and some of your teammates didn't think to bring a rain jacket. The true story of a Southern Californian. Too soon? Needless to say, I love Centex.

Michelle Chip Chang
College Team Attended With: UC San Diego Psychos
Years Attended: Player 2011-2013

Kansas Betty and Backpack Girl at the 2010 Dance-Off

What Does Centex Mean To You? (Part III)

If you need to catch up on this series of posts, you can do so here and here.  This next post is from a current college player who will be making her 4th trip to Women's College Centex this weekend.  I am fortunate to have gotten to know Kristin on a personal level over the past few years, having hosted Florida State at many of my tournaments and running a leadership clinic in Tally a while back.  Kristin has been a loyal and fierce advocate of Women's College Centex and Without Limits, and I'm proud to have her as my friend.

My favorite memory is definitely winning the whole tournament last year. It's really neat because I truly believe this tournament is the reason we have been able to become the program we are today. I remember first attending Centex my sophomore year - in 2013 - and watching the tier 1 teams, thinking "Wow, those teams are really good. Maybe one day we can be at that level." Little did I know that after facing such great competition over the course of the next 2 seasons, not only would we compete at that level, but do it in such a way that we could win a tournament as prestigious as Centex.

This will be my 4th time attending Centex as a player and I honestly wish I could play at this tournament for years to come. It's always been my favorite. FSU has certainly grown as a team and a program from the opportunities presented through the tiered structure of Centex. Plus, every year it's a great way for us to hang out with new and familiar faces in the women's ultimate community while watching some bad ass women do some pretty great dancing. Austin isn't an awful backdrop to have either. I'm really looking forward to the competition we'll be facing. We're in a much different position entering this weekend than we were just a year ago, but I think that makes it much more exciting! I know we're in a great position to have a strong showing and possibly play in a crossover game to jump to tier 1.

It also shouldn't go without mentioning that Michelle Ng and the Texas ladies do a phenomenal job with this tournament every year. We always know that, no matter what, we're going to a top-quality tournament. And while no one can control the weather, the Centex planning team is going to make it the best weekend possible (I may be a little biased about the "best weekend" part because we won Mudtex).

Kristin Lloyd
Current Team: Florida State University Seminole Ladies Captain
College Team Attended With: Florida State University Seminole Ladies
Years Attended: Player 2013-2015

What Does Centex Mean To You? (Part II)

Read the introduction to this series of posts here! This afternoon, we hear from two more leaders in the women's ultimate community. For me personally, seeing these women go from being players at Centex to coaching at the tournament and leading their respective club teams is a huge honor. I'm also lucky enough to have been able to call one of them my teammate.

Centex 2011 was one of the first times our team recognized the importance of the greater ultimate community.  We had a great run through the Sunday bracket and a few teams who were watching finals were actually rooting for us, something we had never experienced before.  The community the tournament builds through the social on Friday, the dance-off and Saturday night BBQ are unmatched in the college division.  It's a great celebration of women's ultimate, I'm excited to return again this weekend as a coach and watch the next generation battle on the field and create lasting relationships off.  

Claire Chastain
Current Team: Colorado Molly Brown Captain, University of Colorado Kali Coach, WUGC Women’s Team
College Teams Attended With: University of North Carolina-Wilmington Seaweed; University of Colorado Kali
Years Attended: Player 2011, 2013; Coach 2015


Ah, Centex. Torchy's Tacos and BBQ. So much BBQ.

As a player, Centex had always been the tournament I most looked forward to. We always saw a chunk of good teams at Queen City or Midwest Throwdown, but Centex hosted all of them. They told me Centex was pre-Nationals - any of the teams here, you could expect to be at Nationals. I can't really remember the individual games; according to the archives, some games we crushed, some games we got crushed. I can remember, though, that Centex always offered an amazing opportunity to play the best of the best from all over the country.

As a coach, I'm just back for the food.

Carol Li
Current Team: Chicago Nemesis Captain, Northwestern University Gungho Coach
College Teams Attended With: Northwestern University Gungho
Years Attended: Player 2010-2013; Coach 2015

Monday, March 14, 2016

What Does Centex Mean To You? (Part I)

It's Centex week and we are incredibly excited to host all of you in Austin this weekend! Women's College Centex has been a cornerstone of the college season for the past decade, and it has been such a privilege to be a part of this tournament as a player and organizer for the past 12 years. In 2008, a group of 30 captains and leaders of the best college women's teams in the country met in the parking lot of the IM Fields in Austin to talk about the future of college women's ultimate.  Our commitment to building Centex was a small but visible result of that meeting; the values and goals discussed there became the driving force behind the creation of Without Limits.

This week, as we look forward to one of the most exciting, competitive, and community-driven events of the college women's season, some of our friends will be sharing their stories from Centex over the years.  These friends are only some of the many, many people who have made Women's College Centex into such a special event.  Enjoy the upcoming posts, and we look forward to seeing many of you in Austin!

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Sol delivers one of the most impressive dance-off performances in Centex history

When we received our first invitation to Centex 2009, I thought it would be a hard sell to the team - we had never traveled that far for a weekend only tournament, our teammates ranged in commitment level, and we weren't really a nationally renowned program. We brought the idea to practice, and people excitedly expressed interest.

Flash-forward to 2010, we won our Tier 2 pool, won our crossover game against UCLA, and then went on to win the danceoff. SOL 2010 goes down as the winningest team at Centex in one day ever, I think?

Without Centex, our team would have never really believed we belonged with the elite teams. We closed the gap points at a time to qualify for Nationals. Although we never did qualify, making Nationals was a very challenging, but not unrealistic goal because we got the opportunity to play and compete with teams like Oregon, UC-Santa Barbara, and Colorado. Practicing tirelessly for the Danceoff was fun, and probably the most challenging thing I have ever attempted. To be able to watch that video and see that I can do amazing things like that gives me confidence to go out there and try anything.

Centex is an event that brings so many different teams together to celebrate women's ultimate and all that it can be. I love this tournament.

Robyn Wiseman
Current Team: Madison Heist Captain, University of Wisconsin Bella Donna Coach, WUGC Mixed Team
College Teams Attended With: University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Sol, University of Iowa Saucy Nancy, University of Wisconsin Bella Donna
Years Attended: Player 2009-2011; Coach 2014-2015

Sol performs at the Dance-Off!

Sol players bask in the sun. Sometimes the weather is nice at Without Limits events!

Sol team picture after winning the Dance-Off in 2010