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What’s Next?

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Anatoly Vasilyev
The Road Ahead

So, our athletes have been trickling back from overseas. The world championships are behind us, and TC-WUGC is done for another four years. I won’t go into detail about the tournament, since we kept pretty detailed logs here throughout the event. It passed over us like a wave, and now it feels like I’m standing in that stunningly calm, crackling surf in its wake, blinking against the sun. All that urgency and violence — the climax of the semi-final against the USA. Now it’s over, sans denouement: there are no team practices, hardly any e-mails . . . and yet I’m dimly aware that in this eerie calm there is another wave on the horizon. It is hard to accept that this is just the midpoint of our season.

Here is our August line-up:
Jul.31 – Chasing Sarasota (Vancouver, BC)
Aug.11-12 – Emerald City Classic (Seattle, WA)
Aug.16-19 – Canadian Ultimate Championships (Victoria, BC)
Aug.23 – NexGen Ultimate Tour (North Vancouver, BC)

Informal practices resume on July 26. Formal practices resume on July 31. Then we’re back into the fray. There is a lot of work to be done.

Andy Collins in the huddle

For starters, we need to rebuild a team, of course. Since the end of June, we have wholly neglected the club we call Furious George. Team Canada was a highly role-based entity. From the outset, our leadership organized a shopping list of the tools we expected to need*, and we classified players according to those characteristics. We took players who could be asked to throw the switch between playing for two points and ten points. We slotted them into their roles and we accustomed each component of the machine to working within the overall structure. And now, on relatively short notice, we need quite a few players to wipe the protocol clean and retool themselves for different roles. We must re-integrate the players we could not bring to Japan; we must re-constitute an O-line, we still need to polish up the frenetic Sturm und Drang our D-line typically passes off as an offensive structure. Lines may need to reshuffle. Continuation cutters need to be initiators again. The ones who were catching the blades may need to become the ones throwing the blades, and so on. It needs to be smooth and second-nature again. And it needs to come together soon, since the Northwest is still a hard-fought race for bids, and the only way for us to earn those bids this year is through performing at tournaments like ECC and Labor Day.

But of course, whilst balancing this urgent, backs-to-the-wall timeline that now seems so habitual for us, we also need to contrive to avoid utter burnout. If you’re going to mount a ten-month-long competitive season, ignore burnout at your own peril: it’s the silent killer. Over half our roster desperately needs some time to walk away from ultimate; to use muscles not dedicated to cutting or lunging out for yet another forehand. For the time being, the players are under instructions to carry out whatever individual pursuits they need to peak yet again this year. Master a new throw; hit a new weightlifting score; go for a run; watch video. I, for one, am coaching the other Vancouver teams this week — there is something about instruction that forces one to distill and rethink your own habits and techniques.

So for now, we’re in the calm before the storm.  Doesn’t that just make your skin tingle?  See you soon.  This will be fun.

Nick Menzies vs Team USA

 *Aside — The system we followed, while documented and known to all of us, was a mystery to most outsiders.  Friends frequently inquired whether one player or another could have or should have made the team, or whether a certain roster choice was better over another. And I usually pointed out in reply, “Oh, he’s an excellent player, but we’ve filled our quota for that role. How many of him do we really need on one team?” I relish the moment when you witness the light bulb of mutual understanding spark in someone’s eyes.

Alex Davis

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