I was recruited by Michelle Ng and Without Limits to write about my experiences in my final season of College Ultimate. 2011 has many possibilities...let's see how they pan out. E-mail me (robyn-fennig@uiowa.edu)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Getting Pumped Up: Saucy 2011 Highlights, Reflections

For all of you directed here from the Without Limits Blogroll...sorry I've been dominating that lately. I have to get thoughts out there prior to Regionals. It is what it is: I'm an active blogger. Look forward to some guest posts in the upcoming week or two.

Sedg Dad (Gordon) hard at work.
First and foremost, I wanted to take the time to publically thank Gordon and Chris "Sedg" Sedgwick for everything that they have done for our team this season. They have been wonderful supporters of our team throughout the season. They have been traveling around with us. Chris, a former IHUC stud, and his Dad, Gordon, are kind caring individuals. Our team would be lacking our chemistry without these two valuable components of the whole. Thank god I have Gordon and Chris Sedgwick to help me get through this week. Without them, I'd have to imagine our games from the season all by myself. But, they've been putting together highlight videos of our team from Easterns and Centex. I'm watching film that features both highlights and lowlights from the season. It is making me visualize every piece of the game I want to see happen this weekend. Without further adieu, here is the culmination to this point:
http://www.vimeo.com/22674618

The above link is a highlight video is of Saucy REMIXED at Centex. Catching the highlights, there are so many contributors on the team. So much depth. I can't say enough how excited I am. Gordon's Vimeo Page has links to all of our games from Easterns (parts 1 and 2 are posted, which feature games through semi-finals) and Centex (all games are posted individually). Feel free to check them out! [SIDENOTE: All the Centex vids feature remixes from IHUC's on PharmDJ (Alex V)...you might remember him from the 2010 College Nationals Party.]

My focus for the weekend:
My regional previews and seeding musings have been posted in the appropriate locations. Look for a North Central Women's preview on USAU Site. It's up. Too bad I submitted before the whole bid thing got worked out. Whoops. My bad.

My pump up song setting the tone for my last college ultimate season has been "I Made It (Cash Money Heroes)" by  Kevin Rudolf, Birdman, Jay Sean and Lil Wayne. It's set the tone to the way I approached this season. The past four years of college ultimate have built up to this season, this moment. We control our destiny this weekend, Saucy. I'm thankful.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Robyn's North Central Musings (Revised): Last 4 bids and Seedings Discussion

**NOTE: I have edited this post. Bids to D3 Nationals have been revealed and I have rethought seedings a bit.

Where are these bids going? I mean here's who we've got going where...as of what I know
(Only including teams eligible for regionals for discussion purposes)
D1 North Central Regionals: 12 bids total
D1 West North Central Conference: 5 bids**
1) Iowa State**
2) Iowa**
3) Carleton College**
4) Minnesota**
5) Nebraska**
6) Winona State (DECLINED)
7) Minnesota-Duluth (DECLINED)

D1 Lake Superior Conference: 2 bids allocated**; 1 bid reallocated$$
1) Wisconsin-Eau Claire**
2) Wisconsin**
3) Wisconsin-B$$
4) Wisconsin-Milwaukee (pending acceptance$$)
5) Wisconsin-Stevens Point

D3 North Central Conference
1) Luther**
2) Carleton-B--Accepted bid to D3 Nationals
3) Grinnell--Accepted bid to D3 Nationals
4) St. Olaf--Accepted bid to D3 Nationals
5) Macalester (pending acceptance)
6) Gustavus Adolphus (DECLINED)
7) Drake
8) St. Bens

Question 1: Who gets the next 4 bids?
So last night, Beth Nakamura gave me a lesson in "team wait list." So after the bids go to the original place they are allocated, they must go through a "waitlist" process. The next highest team in the waitlist gets an offer. In our Region it has gone something like this: 1) West North Central (WNC), 2) North Central D3 (NCN-III), 3) Lake Superior (LS) until the bids are all awarded. After the D3 teams accepted bids to D3 nationals, their bids were reallocated as follows:
WNC--Winona State (declined)
NCN-III--Macalester (Pending)
LS--Wisconsin-B (accepted the bid to D1 regionals)
WNC--Minnesota Duluth (declined)
NCN-III - Gustavus Adolphus (declined)
LS - Wisconsin-Milwaukee (pending)
WNC--No teams eligible
NCN-III--Drake
LS--Wisconsin-Stevens Point
There are rumors flying around that the location of the regional tournament (Appleton, WI) seems to have discouraged teams to attend with such short notice? Perhaps. I think it is the low number of players on each of these teams, and missing 2-3 due to work schedules means they may only have 5 players.
Question 2: Seedings?
The top 6 teams have crazy results.

Iowa
*must be below Iowa State, but ahead of Carleton
-1-0 vs. UWEC
-3-1 vs. Iowa State (has to be seeded behind ISU from Conference results)
-2-0 vs. Wisconsin
-2-0 vs. Carleton (has to be seeded ahead of Carleton)

Iowa State
*must be ahead of Iowa and Carleton
-1-3 vs. Iowa (seeded ahead of Iowa)
-0-1 vs. Wisconsin

Wisconsin-Eau Claire
*must be ahead of Wisconsin
-0-1 vs. Iowa
-1-0 vs. Wisco

Carleton
*must be below Iowa State and Iowa
-0-2 vs. Iowa
-1-0 vs. Wisconsin

Wisconsin
*must be behind Eau Claire
-0-2 vs. Iowa
-0-1 vs. Eau Claire
-1-0 vs. Iowa State
-0-1 vs. Carleton

Minnesota
*must be behind Iowa State, Iowa, Carleton
-1-1 vs. Carleton
-0-1 vs. Iowa State
My thoughts:
1) Iowa Stateàwin in the Western North Central; beats Iowa, who otherwise would be 1 seed; loss to Wisconsin is in March irrelevant based on stronger results as of late
2) Iowaàloses to Iowa State in finals, but strong results vs. everyone else in top 5; head to head win over Eau Claire; wins over Eau Claire against common opponents all season
3) Carletonàloses to Iowa in 2nd place game (has to be behind Iowa); strong results all season long against tough teams throughout the country
4) Wisconsin-Eau Claireàhas no wins over the top 3; perform below top 3 in common opponent games
5) Wisconsinàloss to Eau Claire at Conferences; strong performance in regular season
6) Minnesotaà Beat Carleton at Conferences in pool play, but lost in bracket play; head to head win vs. Luther at Midwest Throwdown
7) Lutheràhead to head loss vs. Minnesota;  
8) Nebraskaàhas no head to head against the others below them, but they finished in the top 5 in the toughest conference in the Region
9) Wisconsin-Bàhas to be behind Wisconsin, but ahead of Milwaukee
10) Wisconsin-MilwaukeeàHas to be behind Wisco-B based on Conference loss; if they accept the bid
11) Macalester, if they accept the bid
12) Drake or Stevens Point, depending on who accepts bid

This is crazy. I've edited this post 4 times already!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happiness in the game.

Jojo, Liza, and Bekah, mid hug celebration. Loving life
In all the post season battles, sometimes the mental ones are the most challenging and taxing on the individual. It can be understandable for a player to forget the most important reason to play the game; however, it is even more important to take time to remember. We play this game because it makes us happy. We play this game because it is fun.

When the fun is gone, we are left with very little meaning. Love the people you play with. Love the sport you play with them. Love the feeling of a flick huck coming off of a strike cut to a wide open teammate. Love the feeling of that layout D, moments before you get it. Love the fact that you just dedicated your life fully to a team for the past year or x number of years, and it's finally working: it's finally falling into place.

Now's where you make the hard work and dedication all pay off. All that means nothing if you don't love what you do.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mikey Lun: Undeniably the COTY in the Women's North Central. 2011.

http://boards.usaultimate.org/showthread.php?655-COTY-Nominations-North-Central-Women-s

If this resonates with you in any way, shape or form, please go and reply to my thread on the USAU discussion board. I can't think of a more deserving coach in the entire country.




Mikey Lun. The man. The legend. My coach.

I want to take the opportunity to nominate my coach for the 2011-2012 college season for COTY: The University of Iowa’s Mikey Lun.

Mikey is a standout player in his own right. He has played in national championships, world championships, and all sorts of tournaments and excelling at the sport. But this is not what necessarily makes a great coach. Mikey is able to take his experiences, his perspectives, his passion, and apply them to THIS team, pushing us to improve every single day.

In summer 2010, Mikey and I discussed the prospects of him coming to coach for Saucy. At that point, I had yet to actually play on the team. I only remember what I knew about Saucy from playing them a few times during the 2010 College Series. Saucy was a young team with a tremendous amount of raw talent. Players like Megan Greenwood had done fantastic things for the team and for the program, but they needed someone who could harvest the budding energy and focus it into a successful system. The result? A team that no longer competes for 4th place in the Central Region. A National Contender. Saucy Nancy 2011.

In 2010, Saucy had an inexperienced roster. Only graduating three players, they lost their fiery leader. A new start was in the horizon. I remember moving to Iowa City, meeting my teammates, and doing some pre-season drilling. I knew the talent was there. Our team lacked experience and knowledge. Two things that someone like Mikey could bring to the team.

From the first practice with Mikey as our coach he began to lay out the vision that had been communicated to him with a core leader meeting in August. He didn’t dictate the direction. He listened to what Saucy wanted, and did whatever he could to implement that dream. Mikey is a quiet, reserved guy. But his style and demeanor demands respect, without being overly demanding of his players. He takes the philosophy of always being a student of the game, improving your knowledge. He practices this daily. He’s constantly researching how to give our team a competitive edge, whether it’s teaching a new lift in our lifting program, spending time watching Ultivillage film. He’s thirsty for success; a trait he passes onto his players without necessarily saying so.

I’ve had numerous coaches in other sports for many years. I’ve played college, club, high school, AAU, select, etc. in all three sports I grew up playing, but never had a coach invest himself into his team. He has put more innovation, sparking passion into his players. He has taught me so much about how to find my role on the team, and transition to Saucy. He’s the person you can call up and ask to throw, and he’ll drop what he’s doing to drill with you for an hour before or after practice. He’s the person sending out individualized workouts to his players, and constantly coming up with drills to instill a love for the fundamentals.

Watch our team play. This newfound passion for the game and for each other is a direct result of his impact on us. He’s on the sidelines cheering, smiling, and sharing our frustrations. He’s proud of us, he pushes us, and loves us. Mikey believes in me when my back is against the wall. He motivates me to do one more set when I think I’m spent and can’t give any more. Mikey Lun embodies this award in every way.

-Robyn Fennig

University of Iowa Saucy Nancy #44

Weaknesses.

I've been doing lots and lots of thinking about weaknesses...and what I can do to minimize them. I mean, any time you let your opponent catch you dwelling on a play, or making mistakes...they take advantage of it. I mean, that's what I try to do, and feel a good, smart opponent will do the same if given the opportunity.

Here's two thoughts.

1) Hanging your head.
After a work out last week, I watched a certain college open team that my boyfriend happens to play on practicing. I sat and stretched my ridic sore legs and watched them scrimmage. It irked me to no end to watch the D line hang their heads after the O line made some plays and scored. I mean, yeah, the lack of execution happens. Sometimes your opponent outplays you. Sometimes you're the one who makes the mistakes. Sometimes you don't get to touch the disc to make an impact. It doesn't matter what your reason for doing it, the minute you hang your head and slowly walk back to the line, is the minute you outwardly admit defeat to your opponent. Don't give your opponent that. I don't care if at the end of practice they are your teammate or not, or if it's the championship game of nationals. You jog back to the line, head held high, put your foot on the line, and raise your hand in the air for the pull like it didn't affect you. It doesn't mean you don't think about the execution or correcting your mistake. By hanging your head, you mentally take yourself out of the next point before it begins...don't cede victory before given the opportunity to win.
*See Zip's Tips, April 29, 2002

I make it a personal point to try to jog back to the line after being scored on. It gives me time to think, size up the competition on the line across from me, and analyze the situation. While your team is celebrating, I'm spending my time pin pointing your weaknesses and creating good match ups. Why not? I get my 90 seconds to think, process, and move on between points...I may as well make the most of it. You're celebrating, pumping up your teammates. I'm strategizing and trying to pump up mine. Those longer reflections I need to take, typically occur between games or at half. I took the Iowa State loss from conference pretty rough. I had a long car ride to think. I had a whole night to think. I mean, I lost some sleep over it. But come Monday, it's a new day. I'm throwing, running, and pushing myself to make sure I'm ready to go come Regionals (in two weeks). It's my goal to throw more than my opponent every day and work harder than my opponent. I can't change what happens in the past, but I can control my future. I won't spend it hanging my head.

2) Working back from an injury.
Alyx throwing her signature flick, spring 2010.
I have seen one of the co-captains of Saucy make her debut again. Alyx Averkamp is now known as "boot-free girl." She did just updated the interwebs with her status of what it felt like to sit on the sidelines since winter break and her tragic leg-break. I'm a little sad she beat me to the punch. My mini Boston vacation to the American Planning Association national conference forced me to fall behind in blog reading. I have been lucky enough to never sit on the sidelines during the season. My knee surgery could not have come at a more opportune time, if there is ever one for knee surgery. I've watched her work slowly at first, then quickly, to getting back on the field...never losing her leadership presence on our team. I honestly think that she has gained a lot of perspective from the sidelines and watching our team develop. She took the field again for the first time since fall this weekend in the Western North Central with great decisions and great executions. Not saying she didn't do this in the fall, but I can tell that she's used the past few months to her advantage. I have spent a lot of time thinking about her this season and sending her good vibes/thoughts. I looked forward to having her back.

Here's the Robyn-approved update on Alyx. She's back. And she's looking in fine form. Don't her post in the Saucy blog fool you into thinking she's not. I won't lie, I'm impressed with those flick breaks.

When you come back from an injury, you don't dare let your opponent see what leg you're favoring or that your wrist still hurts. You ice after the game, you do your physical therapy, complain to your friends and teammates....but it's all business during game/tourney time. Watch her. You won't see her miss a beat.

Enough thoughts for now. I have an event to plan.
Robyn

Recapping The Weekend From Hell

After an extremely stressful weekend, I have some insight to what those folks at USAU deal with. Quite honestly, I can’t imagine the stresses I had multiplied by like 40 conferences. Serving as a coordinator for the West Plains Open D1, West Plains Open D3, West Plains Open Developmental, Western North Central D1 Womens, and Lake Superior D1 Womens conferences (count it, that's 5 tourneys)….it was nuts. Weather in the Midwest is fairly unpredictable at this time of year. This weekend’s challenge was being able to keep a level head so I could execute on the field, meanwhile running a million other details. I mean, I had a guy yelling at me about his field location while I was about to pull the disc in our finals game vs. Iowa State. I didn’t need that. Thankfully, Mikey was there to talk him down.

Personally, I got a lot of negative feedback prior to the weekend about choosing Northern Iowa as my location for the West Plains and Western North Central tourneys. Personally, all those doubts were erased once everyone realized we were the only conferences playing on Saturday in our region. Noah Kramer (Site director) was amazing, and adapted to whatever we needed. UNI's staff was second to none, and even offered their indoor football dome to make the tourney happen. We didn't need it and got to play outside, despite the morning snow storm. We miraculously fit in 4 rounds between 1 and 7 pm with no problems other than 25-30 mph winds (with 40+ mph gusts throughout the afternoon). But seeing the sun as it was setting at 7:30 was great. I took a great amount of enjoyment calling Michelle at USAU, and telling her good news.

Reformatting the women’s LS was ridic. Some may say a nightmare to do from another state and dictate the changes to all 7 teams who were in their hotels in Appleton, WI. I’m happy it all worked out…somehow.

Recap of the weekend…well, my memory is significantly worse than it has ever been when it comes to recalling a tourney. We played amazing on Saturday, like those 30 mph winds weren’t there. My main memory of Sat. was of Hannah Rohret was hucking upwind Outside-In forehands like it was her job vs. UNI. It was ridic.

On Sunday, we have no excuses. We could not catch a disc in finals. We could barely throw. There wasn’t even a lot of wind. It’s good to know that fundamentals are important. Iowa State played a great game and capitalized on our mistakes. We were able to bounce back on Sunday in the backdoor game vs. Carleton. We had some fun and got back to the basics. Pulled out a W.

Main stories of the weekend:
-ISU proved they were a team for everyone to take seriously. Not saying we didn't take them seriously. I'm saying all the haters outside of our region. Our region clearly deserves AT LEAST 3 bids.
-Winona State. Holy cow. Played the whole weekend with SIX (yes, 6) players. They put up some impressive scores, and pulled out some wins.
-Nebraska makes their series debut. Emily Langland anchors this team with some athleticism and great throws from a new team. Laying the foundation of a future powerhouse.
-Women’s teams are more thankful for when you bend over backwards for them.

Looking forward to life as I knew it prior to going to Boston. I also look forward to sleep....lots of it.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Post Season: Week 1, Fundamentals

Today officially begins the post season. I'm giddy with excitement. Our region (unofficially) has THREE bids. First time since 2009. Hopefully I won't have to play in a backdoor game again (my current personal record is 0-4...but I'm 2-0 in regional championship games).

So Week 1 of my post-season brings my focus to fundamentals.

Me and Justine at Easterns. Playing catch like it's our job.
Saucy is working on efficiency and fundamentals. Some of the things that killed us at Centex were easy things like completing catches and throws. Simple fundamentals. At practice last week Mikey had us do a drill that took us almost 1 hour to complete. Athleticism and smarts about the game won't get you anywhere if you can't complete a basic uncontested throw to a wide open receiver 10 yards away.

Brodie Smith might be one of the best things for teaching skills right now. I kid you not, the guy is making real quality vids, breaking down throwing fundamentals. Check 'em out if you haven't yet. Whether you love him or hate him, you can't argue with the guy: he is the single most dominant person to have ever graced the college ultimate field. His stat line from finals is better than the stats of most teams in a championship game. If you're looking to improve your throws in crunch time, I urge you to go back to the basics and learn from the best our sport has to offer.
Bro Tips #1: Backhand Basics
Bro Tips #2: Forehand

I'm a real proponent these days of getting at least 100 touches on the disc every day. Totally do-able in less than 15 mins. (Wrote about that in Feb, CLICK HERE)

Peace.