By: Sandy Hartwiger
Beach goers at Galveston’s East Beach were treated to a special surprise this past weekend: three generations of world-class ultimate players all in one location. The men’s, men’s masters and men’s grand masters 2017 USA Ultimate Beach National Teams held a joint training camp on the Gulf Coast to prepare for the World Championships of Beach Ultimate (WCBU) set to take place in Royan, France this June.
The idea was the brainchild of the grand masters team leadership. In 2015, prior to WCBU in Dubai, U.A.E., Sean McCall, who was then captaining the men’s masters team, hosted a training camp for his squad in preparation for their Worlds run. This time, he wanted to include other divisions as a way to provide increased competition and cultivate intergenerational connections amongst the U.S. National Team age divisions. McCall found that the captains from the men’s and men’s masters teams shared those sentiments.
Saturday morning saw the teams split into their respective groups and work on building chemistry and developing strategy. A mid-morning thunderstorm shortened the early session but provided the teams an opportunity to interact under the pavilion. Fortunately for the men’s and men’s masters teams, the grand masters group came prepared with plenty of lunch fixings for everyone.
As teams made it back out for the Saturday afternoon session, they continued to drill and scrimmage with a noticeable increase in intensity. The excitement of the morning had given way to focus and execution. It was also great to see that as teams took breaks, they cheered on their fellow national team members on the neighboring fields.
Saturday capped off with a mixer for all the teams. It was an opportunity to catch up with old friends, chat with former rivals and make new friends. Non-ultimate onlookers might have gazed upon this group and thought it was just another beach party, but for the ultimate community, it was an amazing site with elite players from the 1990s to today swapping stories of ultimate glory.
If Saturday was for developing strategy, Sunday was for implementing it. The teams scrimmaged each other twice, allowing for opportunities to make adjustments and tinker with lineups. All of the teams demonstrated during the scrimmages that they are deep into the development process for WCBU. One of the best parts of the weekend was hearing the support and cheers for big plays, regardless of the team making them. Each game ended with a spirit circle with players sharing where they were from and for which teams they played or play.
With beach tournaments on the east and west coasts growing in number, Galveston was a perfect spot in the middle for the training camp. The wide beaches and good local organization ensured that things ran without a hitch. Undoubtedly, the weekend helped each squad improve, but equally important were the bonds created across the divisions.
There is no doubt that these teams will be cheering each other on in Royan.