2012 WJUC Team USA Diaries, Aaron Honn 8/7/2012

Posted: August 8, 2012 09:29 AM
2012WJUC Diaries AH
Aaron Honn, Team USA U-20 Open

Tuesday August 7, 2012
2100 Hours

On behalf of the entire U.S. National team, greetings! We welcome you to your exclusive inside coverage of the goings on here at training camp, which will continue throughout the entire tournament experience. I write from the campus of The Winchendon School, a small private boarding school in the small town of Winchendon, Massachusetts. If you haven’t heard of it we don’t blame you, neither had we. The school has so far proven to be a wonderful host and we’re very grateful to them.


It has been two and a half days, more or less, that we’ve been together now and while spirits are high, legs are sore. We straggled in late Sunday afternoon, many of us shuttled from Logan International Airport in Boston by our tireless team manager Baker Pratt who put in quite a few miles. Upon arrival we settled into dorm rooms and began the substantial ordeal of learning names and getting to know each other, with much of our initial bonding coming while watching the Olympics. At ten o’clock those of us that were here turned lights out and drifted off to sleep to the sounds of a wicked thunderstorm, awaiting the arrival of a late crew who made it in around midnight via "BakerBus". 

The cafeteria Monday morning was full of new faces and more names to learn, but with the sun out and fresh legs beneath us, the excitement and energy were palpable. At 8:30 each team warmed up and started their respective practice amidst much cheering and adrenaline and some of the understandable awkwardness that comes with a new team. It didn’t take long for the boys’ team to rid ourselves of that however, and with it quickly went any nerves. Because of a late flight in from Seattle we played the first practice minus four of our guys, who didn’t arrive until after lunch. 

From the get-go two things were very apparent: first, this team is full of exceptional talent, athleticism and understanding of the game, with outstanding potential for success. Secondly, it was clear that we have not played together before. Incredible plays were interspersed with miscues and turnovers that a team more than 15 hours old would have been able to avoid. As the coaches have stressed repeatedly since that first practice however, while mistakes will inevitably be made we want to make them aggressively, going full speed, and we did a very good job of that. 

We wrapped up the morning with morale high, having gotten the most difficult work out of the way and with full knowledge that we would only be getting better. With that, we ate a well-earned lunch and spent the early afternoon swimming and playing improvised disc-golf on campus. We were also joined by our remaining four teammates which boosted spirits heading into the afternoon practice. 

At 3:30 we laced cleats up, had a good warm up and got back to work, reviewing strategic concepts from the morning session and building on those. With that we added increasingly cohesive team chemistry which led to a much more polished scrimmage to end the afternoon. As the practice went on and the temperature rose so did our intensity and we ran hard, grinding out long points laden with huge plays on both offense and defense. 

After dinner and showers we had our first team meeting, reviewing team rules and guidelines and playing a "speed dating" mixer game to get to know each other better. Once again at 10 o’clock lights went out and we were ready for sleep, it was a long first day full of energy. 

Today we settled into the rhythm of the week. Breakfast in the cafeteria at 7, cleats on and throwing at 8:30, lunch at noon, downtime until 2, afternoon practice from 2:30 to 5:30 followed by dinner, ice baths, meeting and bed. Again, it was a fantastic day. During our morning practice, after a good long warm up, we got to work. Our offensive flow looked substantially better than it did 24 hours previously and we began to tweak things and find our individual roles to make the team the best it can be. And as the ultimate got better and we learned to play with each other the intensity rose to another level, with the defense pushing the offense to be uncomfortable and to perform under pressure. 

We paused physically for lunch at noon but mentally we stayed dialed in and focused and when we stepped onto the field for our afternoon practice we were ready to roll. By this point everyone’s legs are tired, in the afternoon heat everyone is feeling exhausted, but to the credit of everyone on the team those barriers did not deter us from getting better. As our assistant coach Chase is fond of reminding us, each moment we spend together this week is precious; we can’t afford to waste any time. The afternoon practice was our best yet, we reached a new level of intensity as well as a higher level of play, adding end zone sets and focusing on our marks. Using our voices to manufacture energy despite our fatigue is critical and helped to make the practice stellar. When we finally retired to the dining hall for dinner it was with a satisfaction of knowing that we’re making the most of those precious moments. 

When we stand in a huddle it is surreal and awesome to take in the level of talent, of both coaches and players, surrounding us. And furthermore, it has been fun to discover that in addition to being nasty ballers, we’re a team full of really great guys. Attitudes are positive and as we’ve built chemistry it is not forced it comes easily because our love for each other is not manufactured it’s genuine, and will only grow deeper in the coming days and weeks. With that, I’ll conclude this journal entry as it’s nearly time for bed. Tomorrow we’ll continue to build upon a foundation of, as our head coach Ben puts it, relentless positivity and hard work-the two staples of this team. That is what we’re all about, and we hope that in doing those things we will successfully represent the world of American Ultimate. We so appreciate the support of our peers and cannot wait to play against other teams next week in Ireland. 

Until then,

Aaron Honn


For more information on these teams, visit USA Ultimate's 2012 WJUC page.  The list of diary entries is available at the bottom of the page.