2011 YCC Preview

Posted: August 11, 2011 02:56 PM
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The seventh installment of the Youth Club Championships graces the National Sports Center fields in Blaine, Minnesota again this coming weekend. This year’s tournament boasts a sizeable number of teams, with eleven Open, seven Girls, and eight Mixed teams squaring off for their respective titles. The teams competing are, for the most part, familiar programs in the history of YCC. In addition, YCC 2011 is excited to host eight teams in the inaugural Under 16 Open division. The future of the sport has rarely looked brighter, with so many kids having the opportunity to compete at the middle school level. With such a fully set table, let’s take a look at the divisions one by one. 


Girls Division

This year’s Girls division is, once again, a referendum on whether anyone can dethrone the Seattle juggernaut. Over the six previous years of the Youth Club Championship, every single Girls title has headed west in the hands of a DiscNW team. This year, in addition to their top-seeded U-19 squad, DiscNW has brought their U-16 girls as well, giving the youngsters a taste of club competition as they come in seeded seventh. And really, that may be the root of DiscNW’s dominance. Boasting the longest tenured middle school league in the country, the Seattle area can continually stock their DiscNW teams with experienced, competition-ready players. That level of experience makes the DiscNW U-19 team the prohibitive favorite to make it seven in a row.

The home team, Minnesota, comes in as the second seed, hoping that another year of experience might let them build on a respectable showing in last year’s final. Another perennial squad, Cincinnati, comes in at the third seed, and they also look to build on their 2010 performance. Denver returns to the fold after last year’s hiatus; the first round match-up with Cincinnati looks to show us what the mid-table bar will be set at this season. Massachusetts BUDA also returns to the Girls division this year, and it remains to be seen how the northeast powers-that-be distributed the talent among the three teams they have put together. Rounding out the division, Pittsburgh's PHUL looks to improve its fortunes in this year’s tourney.

Mixed Division

The Mixed division seems like it could again be up in the air this season. After only having four teams in 2009, 2010’s tournament saw that number double, as this year’s overall top seed Bay Area Ultimate (CA) made their debut as champs. Whether they can repeat is an open question, with DiscNW, Madison (WI), and Triangle Area (NC) filling out their pool. TYUL seems in particular to have reshuffled their player deck, fielding U-16 and Mixed teams after going with a Girls/Open look last season. It remains to be seen if that change concentrates their talent more efficiently.

BUDA comes into the weekend as a two-time runner-up in Mixed, and they no doubt hope to take that next step this year. To get there, they will have to overcome Chicago, Boise Area (ID), and Minnesota. Boise in particular might be a team to watch, as their Open team made a strong debut last year. Minnesota will be interesting as well, coming in with a low seed after following up their 2009 championship with a lackluster campaign in 2010.

Open Division (U-19)

U-19 Open looks to be a stacked division in 2011. With only Boise and TYUL missing from last season’s field, it will be intriguing to see how teams have changed and developed. Last year’s champs, DeVYL (NJ/PA) showed a relentless streak that made it hard for any opponent to get momentum against them. This season, they will have to overcome longtime YCC contenders Minnesota and Denver, as well as new teams from Chicago and the Bay Area. Without a single obvious pushover in the pool, DeVYL will definitely have earned it if they remain on top after Saturday.

DiscNW heads up the second pool, and they are likely as reloaded and ready as ever. The boys from Seattle will have to get past many familiar sides, as BUDA, PHUL and Cincinnati all line up for their shot at the powerhouse, while Nebraska hopes to build on last year’s debut, and Denver B rounds out the pool. With so many teams redistributing players into different divisions, the seeding may end up looking fairly speculative after Saturday. On the other hand, perhaps everyone loaded up their U-19 side and headed to the showdown. Either way, U-19 Open promises to be a wide-open display of athleticism all weekend.

Open Division (U-16)

The debut of the U-16 division seems likely to be the most unpredictable division, however. Other than DiscNW, with their long-standing middle school league, few of these teams are likely to have much in the way of competitive experience. Certainly, each side will offer players with experience on varsity sides, and some of the teams will have had a tournament or two under their belt, but this will be the first look at how many of these kids perform under fire. They are unlikely to disappoint. DeVYL will no doubt be ready; their excellent coaching staff certainly seemed able to get their team focused and fired up last year. PHUL, Cincinnati, and Minnesota are all offshoots of long-time programs, with many schools to pick talent from. TYUL might also play over its seed, as the Triangle Area program consolidates its talent. Chicago and the Bay Area finish out the division, and they too could surprise, as both areas have long had strong Ultimate communities. While U-16 will have its share of learning experiences as the weekend progresses, the entire Ultimate family should be keeping an eye out as we see some of the stars of the day after tomorrow.

That wraps up our look at the field for YCC 2011. Keep an eye on USA Ultimate’s YCC web page for all the action this weekend.


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