1. NexGen Starts Up
This year’s NexGen tour starts up, and UC-Davis addition Eli Kerns is already making moves – he landed himself the Patagonia play of the game against Revolver with a layout hand-block. While I haven’t been able to watch the game footage yet, the game recap video (linked above) is a little telling.
In it, Kevin Minderhout talks about how there were a lot of drops throughout the game. For NexGen, that’s almost expected. This was their first game together as a team, and before long they’ll have a groove going and can shake off the drops. But as Minderhout pointed out, it was going both ways. It didn’t stop Revolver from making plays, but there were a few drops from the reigning powerhouse. To me, that suggests that while the team was only recently finalized, the players haven’t gotten much practice time in – what with the MLU still going on, I assume. It all makes me wonder if we’ll see more of a ‘hangover’ than expected on teams with MLU/AUDL roster crossover in the early tournaments this season.
2. More Club Rosters
Two more club rosters were announced in the last few days, the first of which being DC’s Truck Stop. With Philadelphia’s Southpaw no longer in existence, it is of no surprise that we see former captain Trey Katzenbach on the roster, along with two other former Southpaw players. Adding Katzenbach is certainly an improvement to the Truck roster. That said, I’m not sure where this roster falls in terms of ‘where I see them finishing’. Talented? Of course. But compared to many of the other teams, I don’t know if I can see them going deep into nationals.
The other roster is Portland’s Rhino. In the announcement from Friction Gloves, the mention of ‘young athletic core’ sticks out to me. Gone are familiar names, including some of the core that led them to their first appearance at nationals (most glaring is the lack of Wiggins). Aside from that though, you have Freechild, Allison-Hall, Davis, Perston and Janin – the team should still be fine. I’ll place them in the same boat as Truck Stop. I can see them making nationals for sure, but where they’ll finish is up in the air.
3. World Games Team Preparing
Let’s get ready, shall we? In late July, the World Games will be kicking off and Team USA has a pretty good team going in case you didn’t know. Their Twitter account has been sharing some funny videos, the team launched an Indigogo campaign to raise some money (to help offset individual costs of travel, as I understand it), and have even got some foreign ultimate blogs judging the competition (sweet, it’s great how much recognition there is to the USAU series’ and such). There’s also this video from Poultry Days courtesy of UltiWorld where Team USA played a showcase game against Canada. They’ll have another one coming up at the U.S. Open against Colombia. Either way, I’m excited. Between this, U-23’s, NexGen, pro leagues finishing, and club picking up it’s going to be a great summer for ultimate fans.
4. Windmill Windup
I’ve watched the videos, and read the recaps. But I can’t think of words to do it justice, so take a few moments to click over and read through the different parts of Skyd’s Tournament Central in order to get a good look at one of the most interesting tournaments in the world. I’ve joked with friends that we should rent an RV one summer and try to travel to as many ultimate tournaments as possible – NexGen style except without all the talent and Patagonia swag – but going to Windmill would top that instantly.
Instead of going in on the MLU/AUDL again this week, I thought I’d write about some bigger picture sports items. Next week, I’ll most likely get back to talking about the pro-leagues, especially with Muffin’s suspension from the Whitecaps coming down and playoffs fast approaching.
5. Building Peace Through Ultimate
Take a look at this TEDtalk, Haru Ohkawa discussing how he believes ultimate – through its absence of mediators, or officials – can help a country such as the Congo achieve peace. It is very interesting to hear this, and his success, with the on-going debate of referees vs. observers vs. none and the professional leagues going on without a hitch in that aspect of the game.
6. Does Ultimate have its own Kawhi Leonard Conundrum?
Read about the Kawhi Leonard Conundrum on Grantland. Obviously the conditions would change in our sport, but you figure there has to be something along those lines in our sport. What if we simply change the condition around to someone who was once part of one club team, to little success, and would later transfer to another for big time success as a role player (mostly taking out the draft portion of the Grantland piece).
“We’re dealing in hypotheticals here, but in a playoff season when Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Mike Conley, Jimmy Butler, Roy Hibbert, and Klay Thompson have all come away looking like potential stars, it’s fair to wonder whether any of them would have panned out like this if they went to teams where they played 40 minutes a night surrounded by mediocre veterans and overwhelmed, undisciplined rookies.”
Who would fit this bill in our sport? Now taking applications. Post them in the comments, email me (email@example.com) or hit me up on Twitter (Skyd_JLeppert) and we’ll get to the bottom of this, and name our own freak ‘problem’.
7. Common Sense
Lastly, a quick hit on something that doesn’t make any sense. Quebec’s Soccer Federation banned turban-wearing from their soccer games, calling it ‘dangerous’. I would prefer not to get into an argument over the issue, any more than that if it excludes children from learning and playing a game they love (which it most certainly does) then it’s doing something wrong. Here’s hoping mindless rules such as these never infiltrate our game, no matter how much the sport expands. As I wrote last week, if someone is straight or gay, Christian or Jewish, etc, etc… they should be able to play our sport; and any sport for that matter.
Feature photo by Laurent Gauthier