It is that time again in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Over 20 youth teams across the south will gear up to start their seasons this weekend. Deep Freeze 2013 will be led by the Chattanooga Flying Disc Club, with Spin Ultimate as the merchandise sponsor.
Camp Jordan Park has seen the youth scene blossom and flourish in the region, with Deep Freeze taking shape back in 2001 up to late May, when the first high school Southerns was held. This year the fields will host a mix of familiar and new schools to the tournament. All teams are looking to get a good test start to their seasons and see where they rank up against some of the best programs in the region.
Over the years, several teams have emerged as perennial Deep Freeze attendants who use this tournament as a warm up for their season. When mentioning youth ultimate in the south it is hard not to say anything about Paideia High School. Coach Michael Baccarini has made this school the most historic and prestigious in the region, but that comes with a price. Last season, as the number one overall seed, Paideia lost their final game of pool play, giving them a more difficult path in the championship bracket. They avenged their single loss and won the tournament but with this region on the rise, any school that is a top seed is in danger and will always get the best out of their opponents. University School of Nashville will be aiming for their first Deep Freeze title since 2007. USN has a core group of returning players from last year’s HS Southerns title winning squad. Jack Spiva, brother of NexGen and Chain Lightning player Nicky Spiva, and Eli Motycka, player on Team USA U19 Worlds past summer, are just a few to mention in the deep roster. Historically, Deep Freeze has always been a home field advantage and a way to get local support out from surrounding programs. Ooltewah and McCallie were known for being big contenders at the Tennessee state tournaments in the mid 2000s. With many players graduating for McCallie and lack of interest for Ooltewah, their programs have never been the same. Ooltewah looks to climb back into the ranks starting this weekend, combining to form a team with CSAS.
The following teams who played at HS Southerns last season will be attending Deep Freeze 2013; Blackman HS, Grady Gauntlet, Independence Flight, Lakeside HS, and Madison Central Slow Bros. With a rather large amount of teams in this early season tournament, there is a good mix of new and returning programs to the youth scene in Chattanooga.
The most storied program from Louisiana, Catholic HS, will look to continue their success this year. “We’re hoping for a solid performance”, coach Michael Aguilar stated, “This is only our second Deep Freeze and we thinking the tournament was run extremely well last year and are looking forward to more of the same.” CHS has not only won multiple Louisiana State Championships, placed 3rd at HS Westerns in 2011, but also has consistently produced next level players. Aquilar added, “The players that CHS produced have done a lot to fuel LSU’s program for the last several generations of college Ultimate.” CHS alumni have been captains and players for many great LSU teams that include receiving a Callahan nominee, All-Section team, U19 Worlds team, and Freshman of the Year award. Aquilar hopes the best for his team and is optimistic, “…we’re very excited about the opportunity to test some of our young players for the first time out of the state.”
One team that looks to come back to the forefront of playing in Chattanooga is Cardinal Gibbons High School from Raleigh, North Carolina. With the program dating back to the late 90s, Cardinal Gibbons has seen so much growth not only inside the program and inside the state of North Carolina but across the region. Director of the Gibbons Ultimate program Mark Tawater shares his thoughts on the rise of the Ultimate: “We are proud to have been part of the seed effort to rekindle and invigorate youth Ultimate in the Triangle (Area of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill).” “I personally served as USA Ultimate’s State Youth Coordinator for North Carolina for two years during my tenure at Gibbons.” Tawater also helped organize high school league which is a forerunner of the Triangle Youth Ultimate League. Tawater stated his team’s thoughts for the weekend: “We are looking forward to coming back to Deep Freeze. Because of logistical and other reasons, we haven’t been there in about five years… We’ve always placed having a good time ahead of competitiveness and I think that is in the true spirit of the game.”
With the score reporter not updated with pools or seeding at the time of writing it is almost impossible to give out my predictions or opinions. After all, I am pretty bad at predicting on how brackets will shape out and guessing who will win, so please feel free to comment on what you think and why. Will Paideia win their third consecutive Deep Freeze or will another school rise up to the occasion? Make sure to check back here on Skyd for the recap article.
Feature photo by Christina Schmidt – UltiPhotos.com