This weekend Spring Ultimax is being hosted by East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. Supposedly these are the same fields that were used for UOA Nationals, and thus will be fun to play on. Due to the small number of teams playing, this will be played in a round robin format. The seeding isn’t out yet, but with the format that won’t matter.
I am in a unique position this weekend, as I will be helping out and Coaching the University at Buffalo Green Eggs and Ham. I played 5 years there, with the most recent being last spring. It’s been a thrill to watch and hear about some of the upcoming younger players, who have been working incredibly hard during these winter months. We are all hoping for nice weather, because the team doesn’t get to practice outdoors till mid-march.
University at Buffalo Green Eggs and Ham
I’m obviously not going to give away any strategy information on this team. I first joined the team in 2005, and we had never made regionals. Finally, in 2007 we broke through, taking the 4th and final bid out of the Upstate NY section. Steve “Feetch” Glauser was the anchor who got us there. Feetch is still playing club open for teams like the Replicants, PonX, in the NYC area. After a lackluster 2008 season, we put together another run in 2009. Alexander “Dasky” Daskaslakis was the 5th year player who helped us get there. Our regional finishes are nothing to speak of, 14th and 16th respectively.
In the recent years, I and 3 other players have started to institute changes that should pay dividends this and coming years for Green Eggs and Ham. Back in the fall of 2008, we returned 8 players. In Fall 2009 we returned closer to 13, then finally 25 in Fall 2010. The A team spends the majority of time conditioning and working out due to not being able to go outside during these winter months. Our team has become much more balanced, rather than putting the pressure on one great player.
I cannot talk from personal experience, but I know that having an established program is much easier to run than establishing said program. Some programs have success year after year, where other schools have a good year or two. Obviously there is no substitute for talent, but the hardest thing to account for is leadership turnover. If any of you have ever watched I Bleed Black or Road to Repeat, you know that leadership is not taken care of by just one person. If you want to bring change to a program, leadership is the most essential element.
Having several respected players share a vision to build a stronger program helps legitimize change. I’ve heard of countless teams where one good player tries to bring about new methods or standards, and often times fails. In this world of club sports, the majority of people have to be on board with the plan. Any time expectations are raised, or commitment levels change, expect some people to resist at first. If the core of your team is for getting better, it’s not likely that you’ll lose many people from the squad. If the one leader is trying to go against the will of the team, expect alienation and difficulty getting people to commit. This is a volunteer sport, there are very little external motivators (like scholarships), that make people want to commit to long practices, 4 days a week of conditioning, and travel to big tournaments. The big motivating factor is camaraderie among teammates. Most people don’t want to abandon the friends they’ve made on the team and will buy into the changes being made.
The unfortunate thing, is that is very hard to control the talent that you receive. However, you can always control whether your overachieve or underachieve. I’ve seen teams go out, win games against good teams, but not be able to reach their potential. If your team doesn’t care about how they prepare, they have no reason to care about the results. If you’ve ever been on a team that has the attitude at the end of the season of “Eh, we did okay”, then I’d have to question whether that team really wanted it in the first place.
We were lucky to make regionals the year prior because Queens-Kingston did not show, leaving us with a 4th bid. In a game that tournament against RPI, we were stomped on by Trudge by a score of 15-3. It was a clear sign that we needed to prepare better for teams like this. We instituted mandatory conditioning for the first time in our history, had unprecedented growth by current players to fill the loss of senior stars like Dasky. The road was going to be harder, but we were prepared. Buffalo faced elimination early on in tournament to none other than RPI. Green Eggs and Ham came out roaring, building an 8-5 lead. I had never had more fun than that game. I’ve tried to erase what would occur from my memory many times over the last year. Buffalo would only scored one more point, losing 13-9.
The loss hurt. Bad. It was a huge disappointment to everyone. I ended my college career with a loss to my biggest rival. It sucked, but there was a clear silver lining. The year prior we never had a shot at beating them. Our improvement was noticeable, and it just meant that we have to continue to work harder. In 2008, we finished 5th in our section after barely conditioning, practicing, or playing in tournaments. When it came down to our elimination game, the team took a straw poll. Turns out, most of the team didn’t care if we made Regionals. I’ll never forget that feeling of apathy. I’ll take the disappointment of falling short of a goal anytime, rather than not give a shit again.
Want to build a program?
- Gather people who have the same goals.
- Figure out what changes need to be made
- Work. Hard.
East Carolina University Irates:
While they run a tight rotation, the Irates have shown that they can beat teams in a one game situation. Joey Cretella is the leader on and off the field, providing smooth back hand hucks to one of the many young athletic cutters. You’ll see them running a vertical stack, utilizing the horizontal space for dump swings. Joey Saba and Chris Motsinger add handler depth and complement Cretella’s play making ability. I think this could be the team to beat at the tournament.
Buffalo was hoping to meet Salisbury again in regionals last year, but that goal didn’t work out for either team. We played twice at UOA 8’s on those snow covered fields, losing 15-13, and winning 13-9. I wonder if their play maker, Josh Jamison, is going to be there. I can’t wait to see what he’s got.
Well coached team that seems to stay in game against tough opponents. Haven’t had a great look at them yet, but I’ll be sure to report on them.
The word from RSD is that these guys are offering 6-packs for any Callahan they see. I’m going to match their offer, and do the same. They also were nice enough to pose in a Usain Bolt fashion for some of my jersey shots, so hopefully this should be a fun game. They played UNC and Clemson in a close game at ACCs, so don’t count them out of any game.
Drexel made Regionals back in 2009 with a solid team. I haven’t heard much noise out of them in a while, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the program has rebounded this year.
The fall results don’t look good, but this team always seems to overachieve. I’ll be able to report more after this tournament.
Prediction: 2 Callahans.