Colorado Springs, Colo. (April 21, 2017) – Photo shoots, self-portraits, interviews, autographs. It may not sound like your typical ultimate weekend, and to be fair, it wasn’t. But along with all those things, there was also a lot of ultimate.
Twenty of the best players in the world were in Colorado Springs last weekend – the first practice for the 2017 U.S. World Games team.
The weekend started with stations devoted to fundraising, medical information and assessments, photos, social media, and on-camera interviews. Be prepared to get to know your World Games team a lot better in the coming weeks and months.
The morning’s stations, which were, of course, supplemented by time for games and snacks, were followed by a four-hour practice – the first time these players have played together as a team. Many of them have played together before in small subsets, but it was a first for the full 20, and the conditions didn’t make it any easier on them.
The athletic fields at the Air Force Academy where practice was held sit a little more than 7,200 feet above sea level, a far cry from the near-sea-level altitudes most of the players are accustomed to. Also, “springtime” and “wind” are pretty synonymous in Colorado. As a result, it took everyone some time to adjust their throws, and the offense didn’t initially look as smooth as everyone would have liked. Nevertheless, the effort was high, and the players were focused, knowing their time together in the lead up to the World Games is limited.
Sunday’s practice started with a renewed commitment to improving as a team and working on adjusting to the mixed style of play.
Assistant Coach Matty Tsang acknowledged the work ahead in the team’s huddle on Sunday morning: “We’re not going to throw together great players and be a great team. There are no shortcuts to becoming a great team.”
With that in mind, the team forged ahead into practice number two – coming together as a team while pushing each other to work harder. Great catches from Claire Desmond, the two-way battle between Dylan Freechild and Chris Kocher, huge defensive bids from Georgia Bosscher, the now almost standard impressive handler movement from Anna Nazarov and Grant Lindsley. All that and much more was on display throughout the weekend, despite the tough conditions and lack of team familiarity.
Really it just means that no matter what, this team is going to be great to watch over the next few months.
Next up for these athletes and their coaches is a trip to Colombia for TEP over the last weekend in April. It will be their first chance to compete against someone other than themselves, and their expectations are high. Stay tuned.