QCTU Qualifier got off to a bit of a rough start with a downpour causing a delayed start Saturday morning. Luckily, the games were being played on the turf fields on campus and Saturday games were all played, with everything going to seed. The showcase game that night pitted the host team UNC-Chapel Hill Pleiades against the elite women’s club team Phoenix. TD Lindsay Lang reported, “It was great to see tournament participants and local middle and high school players alike on the sidelines of the game. Pleiades and Phoenix played point for point for the first few points of the game before Phoenix pulled away, much to the discontent of the crowd.” The showcase game was an awesome opportunity for young players to see Ultimate played at a high level so they have something to strive for.
The skills clinics saw approximately 100 participants brave the chilly weather to learn from North Carolina’s Ultimate superstars. Stations covered a variety of specific skills: getting open, breaking the mark, jumping for a disc, handling, team defense, communication on defense, distance throwing, using your body on defense, dump cuts and throws, and laying out. Besides the incredible turnout, enthusiasm was evident on both sides of the clinic, from coaches and players alike. Coaches had clearly spent time and effort planning their stations, and the kids all came eager to learn. Lang said, “The highlight of my Saturday was probably watching two shy elementary school girls learning how to get open and how to break the mark. Parents were out in full force too. It’s wonderful that these clinics are as much about teaching and learning as they are about community and outreach.”
UNC-Chapel Hill coach and Phoenix captain, Lindsey Hack, has been an immensely positive force in the Chapel Hill Ultimate community and is responsible for much of the sentiment expressed by Lang. Approximately 10 of the players she coaches coach high school or middle school teams and 70% of the players she captains either coach or help organize women’s Ultimate for all ages. Chapel Hill recently started a U-20 girls’ league, and the growth is spreading. Hack said, “It is the community effort all year round that is going to appropriately accomplish the outreach we desire. I believe these clinics hook more prolific individuals in our community to outreach and development as it is a very rewarding experience. Therefore, although these clinics appear for the attendees, it really is a way of getting more accomplished players hooked into giving back.” I couldn’t agree more.
The last games of pool play were played out Sunday morning, followed by bracket play. After the play-in games, top-seeded James Madison matched up against Duke in the semis while William & Mary played the 2010 D-III College Championship Runner-Up, Swarthmore. The underdogs, Duke and Swarthmore, pulled out the Ws in two very tightly contested games to move on to a fun, face-paced finals. In the final game, Swarthmore went up 7-3. Duke then had an 8-0 run to go up 11-7. Swarthmore then went on a 3-0 run to bring it within one, 11-10. Duke ended up winning 13-11, but both teams were happy to qualify for next weekend’s QCTU.
This tournament gave developing programs an extra chance to get out and play, and to apply what they have been working on in practice in a fun but competitive environment. The extra bonus of it being a qualifier put an edge on getting to the championship game, but the event also provided an opportunity for teams who would otherwise have been passed over for Queen City Tune-Up to play a full tournament at the beginning of the spring season.
The tournament also featured a USA Ultimate Observer Training Clinic led by Troy Revell. The clinic was comprised of approximately 50% women, including players from UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Wilmington, and NC State. Clinic participant and UNC-Chapel Hill coach Heather Ann Brauer said, ” It was awesome to see so many college women getting certified as observers… What was particularly awesome about observing games at QCQ was for some of the teams/players it was one of their first experiences with observers. As I moved up and down the field during the game I could hear players discussing having observers and seemingly pretty excited about the opportunity. From a personal perspective, it was an awesome clinic and I really enjoyed getting to see some newer college women’s teams play from the best seat in the house!”
Thanks to all of our volunteers, especially Natalie Halstead (UCSD) and Lindsay Lang (UNC-Chapel Hill), for an awesome weekend of Ultimate. Stay tuned for a preview of QCTU, as well as coverage from the event this weekend.