The first of two combines for the Buffalo Hunters, one of the eight teams for the American Ultimate Disc League or AUDL, took place on November 12th, 2011 at the Sahlens Sports Park in Elma, NY. With the goal to gather 25 players for their final roster, the Hunters’ Front Office looked to field the first wave of athletes, hoping to see talent from Toronto, Buffalo, Rochester and the rest of Western New York. The following is my experience at the tryout as a correspondent for Skyd and tryout participant. I’ve also included a video recap below.
With the combine set to start at noon, players were asked to arrive as early as 11 AM, in order to fill out a four page questionnaire, as well as sign multiple media release forms. The sheets, shown below (click to enlarge), were designed to gather standard information about each person (i.e. – Name, Phone Number, Email Address, etc.) and to provide an early glance into their experience as ultimate players.
After handing in the paperwork, every player was provided with a number on a piece of paper, similar to a bib that one would get for a running race. This bib, shown below, had the Hunters logo on the front, along with a small number, which they realized would be too difficult to see during the heat of the combine. Using a sharpie, the number was re-written on the back of the bib for clarity.
One point that I think is necessary to make is that appearances mean a lot, especially to people who love the game. I’ll elaborate later in this article, but the simple fact that there were forms to fill out, media releases to sign, and professional looking (at least on the front side) bibs for each player made me feel that this was legitimate.
Just before the hour, we were invited into the main turf space to prepare for the four hour tryout. As the players performed their own versions of a warm-up, the trainers and coaching staff constructed the various stations for each part of the combine. When everything was set, the athletes were split into two groups, one of which began with the throwing accuracy drills while the other headed over for the physical assessment. For the sake of organization, the layout below is the drill order for the group that I was in:
- 40 Yard Dash
- 3 Attempts
- Vertical Test
- 3 Attempts
- Zig-Zag Run
- 2 Attempts
- Throwing Accuracy – Two Tries (Backhand + Forehand)
- 20 Yards
- 30 Yards
- 40 Yards
- Deep Drill
We compiled the video below, which shows footage from the combine as well as some insight behind the teams choice in the name of “Hunters” (Thanks to Anthony Peacock for shooting the video):
After the tryout concluded, I stuck around to talk to the heads of the organization in order to ask them a few questions. Their names and positions, as well as the video of the interview, is shown below:
Qinones MacFarland – Director of Marketing
Andre Pilette – Head Coach
Lee Semrau – Owner
Kris Smith – Vice President of Operations
Jeff MacBay – Physical Therapist and Trainer
As a final note, I wanted to point out a few more things that I felt made this tryout more professional. First, protein bars and Gatorade were provided throughout the event to make sure that players did not get hungry or dehydrated. Second, having a trainer present was both impressive and relieving. Though this is certainly a necessity for a professional sports team, most players with little experience like myself are not used to the comfort. Last, turf space is not inexpensive by any means. To rent out a field of this size for four hours certainly had to be a costly venture, and with no guarantees for the season, it was definitely a risk. All in all, I give a lot of props to the Buffalo Hunters staff for putting on this event, and while I do have some opinions (which I plan on posting as a separate article soon), I was pleasantly surprised by their execution.
The second Buffalo Hunters combine is taking place this Saturday, December 3rd at the Total Sports Experience in Rochester, NY. Registration starts at 5 PM, with the combine lasting from 6-10 PM.