2008 World Ultimate and Guts Championships Junior's Team - Daily Log - August 2nd

Posted: August 2, 2008 10:49 AM

After three grueling days of training camp, the 44 US Junior National team players finally earned a morning to sleep in. The border crossing into Canada was successful and without incident the evening before, gorged ourselves on the treat of Vancouver – all you can eat sushi – and settled into the Shuswap dorms on the UBC Campus. Saturday morning would both build anticipation and mark the end of training camp. Now it’s time to focus and get down to business.

Eight players, five boys and three girls, are returning from the 2006 squads that won the gold in Boston, but none had experienced an opening ceremony quite like this one. After a hot breakfast in the cafeteria, and learning a new game from the Colombian teams while waiting in line for player check in, we spent the morning seeking out a supermarket to get lunch food and snacks for the week. The players were all in good spirits, even after a misunderstanding sent them on a walking tour of campus that ended in returning to the vans to drive to yet another store. Having rushed back and thrown groceries aside, the players dressed in their new Five Ultimate gear and hustled over to the staging area outside Thunderbird Stadium to meet the four other US Ultimate teams. The Junior women and women immediately hit it off with introductions, while the Junior open and open teams grabbed discs to throw around. There was plenty of time to relax as the countries were ushered into the stadium in alphabetical order while an announcer poked fun with the introductions.

When the US entered the stadium almost all of the other countries had already proceeded and been seated in what were now packed stands. Only Venezuela and host nation Canada followed the US Guts and Ultimate players to their seats. The players from all six teams were mixed together and Team USA became just that, a single unit excited and ready to represent their country.

Following the ceremony was an exhibition game between the Canadian and Great Britain mixed teams. Full of big plays, and in front of a packed stadium, the game was quite entertaining. Rivaling the game itself, were the rowdy vocals of the Venezuelan teams, who managed to convince spectator after spectator to join the dancing in the stands. The atmosphere was jovial and players of all ages were watching and enjoying the warm temperatures and beautiful setting.

Realizing that Saturday afternoon was quickly rolling by, head coaches Eileen Murray and Berend Van Heuvelen took the players off for some individual team time to refocus before Sunday morning. A little chalk talk and some much needed jogging and stretching later, and the teams were off to a low key dinner before one last pre-tournament team meeting.

The tournament will start bright and early for the Junior girls, who open against Great Britain at 8:30am. The Junior boys’ then follow suit against Great Britain at 10:30am. After a round off, the girls will play again at 12:30pm, this time against Colombia.

They’ve had just four days to meet, get to know one another and gel as a team. There is ample time over the course of the week to continue improving, and the feel from the two teams is overwhelmingly an eagerness to take on this challenge.