It’s a busy time for all the teams heading to College Nationals this weekend. As I write this, Ohio State Fever players are occupied with graduating, starting internships, visiting family at home, and moving to new places — all while trying to maintain focus for their fifth Nationals appearance. I am swimming in a sea of planning the few practices we have left, talking scouting reports with anyone and everyone who knows anything about the other 19 teams that will be in Milwaukee, and generally reflecting on where we started with this group back in late August.
There is also planning for the trip to Milwaukee: hotels, itineraries, practice field reservation, end-of-season banquet with team awards, and departure time and rides. And all of that doesn’t even include finances and the paperwork that gets submitted to USA Ultimate. It’s an incredibly busy time of the season, and our captains and officers carry much of that burden. In 2011 and 2012, our players were still in school during nationals (they got to come home to finals). I haven’t asked them directly, but I suspect it’s a little easier now, since Ohio State’s switch from quarters to semesters. “Easier” is all relative. There is a lot that has to happen after Regionals. But I do fully recognize that this is an awesome problem to have.
I have been doing a ton of reflecting. It’s an easy way to procrastinate doing the real work when I’m antsy with anticipation. With my reflection comes a lot of questions: Did we progress through the 2014-2015 campaign properly? Have we experienced enough to be ready to adapt quickly during the tournament? What do we need to focus on with the little time we have left?
I don’t have all of those questions answered yet. I do believe that at this point it’s mostly about playing and executing. And for this Fever team, it’s about continued repetition of the things we do know: habits of mind and muscle memory. Play on the National’s field will happen quickly. Despite the generous round times, games are over before you know it. There won’t be time to waste away three points without recognizing what the opposition is doing with the force. Subbing adjustments have to happen inside of a minute (not my job – thanks Nick!). Strategy goes beyond what is happening on the field. It flows into analyzing game times, teams in the pool, and how they are competing. It’s about focusing on every point because every point counts.
Our team has goals for the tournament — during play and in terms of finish. I love our chances at attaining our tournament goals. The team has worked incredibly hard since August, and individuals have made great strides. When I look at the field, I know we can compete in any game. The uncontrollables and the unknowns lurk, but I know they are there. I look forward to facing the lurkers head-on. I will task the coaching staff with helping to ensure the players focus on the things they can control so they can just play.
As we head closer to the 8:30 AM game on Friday, I’ll admit that I’ve been thinking about the reigning champions. Until the final point is scored on Monday of the tournament, that champion is Ohio State Fever. However, I want to make sure that we are not heading to Milwaukee in the shadow of that championship team. This team is out in front, forging its own path and identity. My pride as their coach is unwavering. That pride is not based on medals; it is based on being a part of their journey. Medals are a bonus achieved by focusing on the journey and not the destination. I’m looking forward to it — it’s going to be a fun ride. #feverlove