Catchup: Europe’s Best Youth Program

by | June 11, 2013, 10:30am 0

Catchup Ultimate rolls deep. The club from Graz, Austria-based turns 25 this year, and on top of its Windmill representatives Catchup (Open) and Eyecatchers (Women’s), it boasts a second Open team (called Senf, which means “mustard”), a mixed team, and a Masters’s team. And a whole, whole lot of juniors.

Catchup Open @ Hamburg Rumble 2013 - Photo by Christoph Schitter

Both Catchup and Eyecatchers’ rosters are comprised of more than half juniors, and the club also has multiple Juniors-only squads: Catchup Juniors for the oldest among them, along with Undiscovered, Unentdeckt, and Non Detectado, Senor for newer players. Catchup’s program is impressive for having existed for 25 years, but even more noteworthy is the groundwork that has been laid for an even brighter future.

“We have been investing quite a remarkable amount of time in this in the last years, but it’s paying off,” says Catchup Open captain Valentin Vogl.

Indeed it has. Catchup Juniors won Austrian Junior Nationals in 2010, came in second in 2011, and reclaimed the title in 2012. Catchup’s youth mixed team made the top bracket at Austrian Nationals, eliminating Upsadaisy, Europe’s top mixed team, in the process. The program’s youngsters also won Paganello’s Juniors Division in 2012, have captured multiple Vienna Winter League and Adventure Cup titles. Catchup also hosts its own juniors tournament, The Lil’ Caterpillar Always Hucks, which is named for a popular children’s book.

Lil Caterpillar Always Huck 2012 - Photo by Flo Weber

“Our youth teams really surprise us again and again,” says Vogl, who aside from captaining the Open team is the Catchup youth coach, the Austrian U-23 girls coach, and was Catchup’s first ever junior player. “You have to take back a step or two with your team and include younger players or you won’t be around for long anymore. You have to accept that including players with low experience will make you weaker. But if you give your team time to grow, you will be back in two or three years with a even stronger squad.”

A number of Catchup’s top players serve as coaches for the program’s youth teams, and the club takes care to include anyone who wants to play. Practices for beginners are hosted in Graz’s easily accessed city center and are free of charge, and it is not uncommon for ages to range from nine to 18 without issue.

Catchup also has a number of teachers who promote ultimate in physical education classes, and while schools and universities do not have their own teams, they serve as breeding grounds for youth exposure. “There is one school wherealmost half of the kids go,” says Vogl. “They play ultimate very often in their sports lessons and it counts toward your school certificate.”

Catchup’s youth come from various sports backgrounds, the most popular being basketball and soccer. But Vogl notes that first-time athletes find unique advantages in ultimate. “Some of our great junior players, in particular the best throwers, did not enter ultimate as athletes, so they had to focus on learning the proper technique in throwing, as well as getting open and playing defense against the athletic kids. After some time they started to work out harder, and when they were in shape, they had the proper technique and physical abilities, which was an advantage for them.”

Catchup Juniors in the Park- Photo by Flo Weber

If you see Catchup at Windmill, be sure to soak up any tips you can about how to develop youth ultimate in your area. You might also score a beer or two if you congratulate them for one of their recent awards:

Christoph “Chaplin” Schitter, a Catchup Juniors Coach, was awarded “Best Junior Trainer of the Year” in in Styria (for all sports).

  • The U17 Austrian Girls National team won the European Championship and the SOTG prize. Only three of the girls were not from Graz.
  • “Styrian Sports Honour Badge “in bronze and Best Coaches of the Year in Styria (of all sports).

Thanks to Stefan Dragaschnig for the feature photo. 

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