When I came on board with the men’s team at George Washington University last March, we got to work picking low-hanging fruit by cleaning up sloppy dump cuts on offense and punishing them on defense, learning how footwork translated to tighter man defense, and pushing the g#@$!*&n stack down the field as the disc advanced. At Conferences, the work showed when the team, who was 0-4 in its recent universe point chances, won six games by scores that included 11-10, 13-12, and 13-11.
But there’s another bridge to cross, and there will be another one after that and another after that. Like every other college team out there, we want our better throws, cleaner cuts, and tighter defense to propel us to a new level—to put us in a new water cooler conversation [a literal one!; question on behalf of job-searching college seniors: do any offices actually have water coolers?], to give us confidence with more match ups, and get us more than a few wins at Conferences.
I’ve been reporting on College Easterns and Fall Easterns for years, but this is my first time making the trip as a coach.
When I look at the teams at Fall Easterns, I see a lot of the standard steps in the college development process. Going backward from the top, there are Nationals regulars in North Carolina and hosts North Carolina-Wilmington; Clemson and South Carolina are Regionals regulars that want to make playing on Sunday a yearly event; Appalachian State, who had not made Regionals in years, is looking to establish last year’s unexpected run to Sunday as the norm; Delaware is a former heavyweight that wants to build back; and my team, George Washington, has only two players who have won a game at Regionals. There’s even Wilmington-B, a late fill-in for North Carolina State, representing individual players who fell in love with the game before they’re quite ready to contribute.
Point is, you’ve gotta crawl before you can walk, and everyone is chasing that next step. Everyone in the field is from the Atlantic Coast– the only 2013 Regionals Sunday teams not at Fall Easterns are Virginia Tech, James Madison, and Virginia—and it’s either everyone’s first tournament as an A team or close to it, so the weekend will be a great opportunity to gauge standing.
I asked each of the Fall Easterns teams what their goals are for the tournament. Here’s what they had to say:
UNC: “Three-peat as Champions. We have been working three times per week and in the weight room twice a week as a team for months now. We have won two tournaments (Bank Run, Wolfpack Invitational) as split squads (9 to 12 guys per team). This will be our first tourney as one team, with all of our club guys back.”
UNC-W: “Every player selected for the Seamen this year, we chose because we believe they can and will have an impact this year. Fall Easterns provides us with an opportunity to get our younger players in games and test them situationally. We plan to have an open rotation to maximize our ability to evaluate player roles and find the best fit for everyone.”
Delaware: “Our goal is to get our rookies high-level experience as well as to place in the top five. We have seen many of these teams before and know that we can compete with them.”
Appalachian State: “Win. We want to make noise now and show everyone we aren’t a pushover. We want to challenge for top in the region this year. Our goal throughout the fall season has been to win on Sundays, specifically the last game of the day. Even though this tournament is not bracket play, we still believe we have the talent to win us games all tournament.”
Clemson: “Our goal at Fall Easterns is to see noticeable improvement in our team chemistry and to see our rookies grow into their roles on the team. We want to break seed and finish in the top half of the final rankings.”
South Carolina: “Our goal at Fall Easterns is to come to a tournament and perform very well against a field full of talent and regional competition. This is a great opportunity to see who we will be battling against for a trip to Nationals and will offer our team a chance to set the bar high and make ourselves known as a formidable force in the region.
George Washington: I want to see situational awareness grow and for some recent dump positioning practice to take hold on the field.
Wilmington-B: “The goals for the B team are for each individual player to get better at individual skills, watch some of the better teams and learn from them, and to capitalize on the other teams mistakes. The tournament is made up of all fairly strong A-teams, so putting up any points at all is an accomplishment.”
It’s Wilmington. Expect rain, wind, and a solid tournament. I’ll see you at Cookout.
Feature photo by Alex Fraser