|Saucy Nancy 2011: North Central Region Champ|
Juliana: Coming from a small DIII school in the Northwest (Whitman College), I had never had a coach or won a tournament. Although I had played 5 years of ultimate, I knew that the kind of coaching I could get at Maryland would be more personal and more intensive than I would get elsewhere. At the club level there is far less instruction, while teammates, captains and coaches just expect you to know how to play good ultimate. The level of feedback from a college coach is one of the major benefits of continuing to play in grad school.
|JMo in action at College Nationals in '10|
The Age Gap
Juliana: I began playing ultimate at towards the end of my sophomore year of college, but due to study abroad and injuries, didn’t play in the college series until my senior year. After working for a couple of years, I came to the University of Maryland for grad school with two years of eligibility left. The women’s team, Helpful Corn, had made it to nationals and then lost in the game to go to nationals the two years before I came to the school. Needless to say, I was excited.
This year on Helpful Corn we had no seniors and one other grad student. As the oldest person on a team with an average age of 20, I brought experience to the team. I knew how to teach newer players about throwing, defensive positioning, zone strategy, etc. I did my best to set an example at practice by playing hard and maintaining focus. There were also times when I disagreed with the way drills were explained or the way our strategy was playing out. But that feedback was best given outside of practice so that our captains were still the clear leaders of the team. As a grad student you can help teach new players, you can give feedback without it seeming too critical: your teammates will listen to you. However, because I wasn't a captain, I had to strike a balance between active leadership and supporting leadership.
|Me at Regionals 2011|
Juliana: One of the most important things to pay attention to as a new grad student is the match between your goals and those of the team. Both Robyn and I lucked out our first years in grad school by playing on teams with the goal of going to nationals. I wanted to push myself to play harder than I had before (even at the club level). Thankfully Helpful Corn wanted that too. This was a pretty major time commitment on top of my graduate studies, so if you are not prepared to put in the time, it could be a disservice to the team.
However, some grad students will find themselves on a team with less ambitious goals. While this may be a disappointment, it is possible that with your help, the team can improve to the point where the team resets its goals. In order to get to this point though, a new grad student needs to be committed to being a part of the team (win or lose), and not just coming to practice or tournaments when you need a good workout. Earlier this spring, after Helpful Corn lost 5 players from our A-team and we finished 19th of 20 at Queen City Tune-Up, I wondered if this season would be worth the time commitment. I couldn't leave the team though - I had made a commitment. In the end our squad of 12 players developed amazing chemistry and took 5th place at Regionals.
Robyn: Grad school is much more time intensive than undergrad ever was for me. In my first semester, I ended up only going to two of the team’s four tournaments. It killed me. I purposefully took a light course load during the spring (luckily all the classes I need and am most interested in taking coincided with this), anticipating taking more next year when I am out of eligibility. The more you invest in your team, the more connected you feel. The easier it becomes to take time out of your schedule to make plans with your teammates, to help them improve. It’s a great feeling, greater than I get from reading my assignments…I’ll be honest.
I came to Iowa without really taking into consideration ultimate. Which is silly, I guess. I mean I knew they had a women’s team. Everyone seemed super nice and excited to play with me in Spring 2010. Saucy had a strong regional performance in Spring 2010, finishing one spot behind my team at the time, SOL. I was super excited when I found out that the girls had been drilling in the summer…playing Mixed club…and really eager to learn. The expectations were that we were going to be a good team with making nationals as a goal.
Robyn: I like to think that I played a role in helping to build SOL. I was there when we barely had enough to do a drill at practice, and saw it through until I graduated when we had 25 people on the team. It was nuts. SOL played an integral role in my falling in love with the sport. They’ll always hold a special place. I have always been told that my grad school team will never be the same…from numerous friends from around the country.
I beg to differ. Saucy, has been a much different experience. I have fallen in love with this team from the first day they invited me to drill with them at the end summer 2010 when I moved to Iowa City. KP, Dre, and Timko did an amazing job making me feel like part of the team from day one. They provided so much support while I was recovering from knee surgery. I’ve spent so much time lifting, doing pool workouts, throwing, practicing…it’s nuts. I’ve fallen in love with every single girl on this team. In preparation for nationals, I'm learning all about the team history. Saucy's last national's appearance was in 2005. I'm friends with some Saucy alum and they are really helping me to connect between Saucy alums and current players.
|Maryland Helpful Corn 2011|