Chesapeake Invite: the Back-story
Posted: August 30, 2012 11:45 AM
With Chesapeake Invite 2012 behind us, bid allocation for this year’s Club Championships can be considered just a bit less muddled. But how did Chesapeake become one of the de facto elite tournaments of the club season?
The first instance of Chesapeake Open/Invite occurred in 2005. It was the first joint venture between the Washington Area Frisbee Club and the Central Maryland Ultimate Association. Those who were there in the beginning were Dave Branick, Barry Lloyd (CMUA President), Kim Kreitner (Mid Atlantic Women’s Regional Coordinator), Eric Prange (Mid Atlantic Open Regional Coordinator), and Tim Herbert (WAFC President). Of those titans of the industry, Branick, Lloyd, and Kreitner are still heavily involved in putting on the tournament. They have since been joined by Rob Luhrs, Stephanie Blanks, and Maureen Hsia.
One of the most important names involved with the foundation of Chesapeake is probably recognizable to many of you. Back in 2004, Danny Clark of Ironside (though at the time he was a force with Pike) suggested that the Ultimate community near Poolesville (his hometown) look at polo fields nearby for a club tournament. After local leaders visited with the field owners a few times, an agreement was in place to rent out the fields and the organizers started looking for teams.
This is where Danny Clark came in again. Some of you may remember that he put on a big show at Club Nationals that year and became well known on the club circuit. Thus, he was a huge factor in attracting some elite teams to Chesapeake. And so it was that on August 27, 2005 DoG, Chain Lightning, Machine, GOAT, Pike, Ring of Fire, Truck Stop, PoNY, and a bevy of other elite teams laced up their cleats to compete in the first ever Chesapeake Open. Ring of Fire came away victorious in the Elite Division that year and since then they have attended every subsequent Chesapeake ever held. In fact, Chain Lightning, GOAT, and Truck Stop have also been mainstays these past seven years.
While many of you are aware of the high quality of club teams that attend each year, you may be surprised to know that teams have flown from as far away as Columbia (Mamoots in 2012) and England (Clapham in 2007). As far as what keeps teams flocking to Chesapeake, co-founder Dave Branick said, "I'd say the two things that keep the top teams coming back year after year is the chance to play good competition close to the series and the fact that we pride ourselves in providing a well-run event."
Over the years, Chesapeake has grown in size from accepting 20 open division teams in 2005, 2006, and 2007 to 26 in 2008 to 32 in 2009 to 36 in 2010 to 40 in 2011 (though it was rained out last year). While Chesapeake has always been divided into an Elite tier and an Open tier, 2012 marked a change in formats, with a qualifying event called Chesapeake Open held August 4-5 with the winner gaining a bid to Chesapeake Invite August 25-26. In all, there were 75 teams at the Chesapeake Open and Invite between the Open, Mixed, and Women's divisions.
"The big reason we switched formats this year was that Chesapeake had grown pretty steadily and become unmanageable with such a small core of volunteers," according to Mr. Branick. "Running and staffing 3 separate field sites really spread us thin and made it harder for us to provide the quality event that we're known for. We had sacrificed competitiveness for inclusiveness and spreading it out over two weekends eased some of that burden."
It is unknown what type of format Chesapeake will take next year, though Mr. Branick said it would likely have a good bit to do with the changes USA Ultimate makes to the club series in 2013 and beyond.
This year saw a very strong Ironside squad go virtually unchallenged and defeat GOAT in the finals of Chesapeake Invite. Since 2005, only once has the winner of Chesapeake gone on to win the Club Championship, that being Chain Lightning in 2009. In 2010, Ironside won Chesapeake and was the runner-up to Revolver in Sarasota. Time will tell if Ironside can continue their impressive 2012 campaign with a first place finish at Club Championships October 25-28.
Many thanks to co-founder Dave Branick of Death By Jubilee who was able to give me some of the backstory to one of the most competitive tournaments of the year.