2013 World Games National Team Tryouts Begin This Weekend

Posted: March 15, 2013 03:19 PM

The Journey to Cali Starts Now

The first of two tryouts for the United States National Team will take place in San Francisco, Calif., this weekend, March 16-17. The second tryout will be held next weekend, March 23-24, in Washington, DC. The team that is selected will compete at the 2013 World Games in Cali, Colombia this summer from July 25 to August 4.

The spotlight will be on Ultimate, which the Games includes in their Trend Sports category and call Flying Disc, during a three-day tournament scheduled for July 28-30. Five other teams will compete alongside the US: host nation Colombia, Australia, Canada, Great Britain and Japan. The US has competed in all three World Games Flying Disc competitions, winning gold in 2009 and 2005 and silver in 2001, the Games’ inaugural year.

USA Ultimate received over 500 applications and extended tryout invitations to 99 athletes. 78 of them, 38 men and 40 women, will vie for 20 roster spots, from which coaches Alex Ghesquiere and Matty Tsang will pare the team down to the World Games’ requisite 13 (seven men, six women), by May 15.

Ghesquiere has most recently coached San Francisco’s Revolver, a men’s club team, while Tsang is the coach of San Francisco’s Fury, a women’s club team. Revolver won USA Ultimate’s National Championships in 2010 and 2011 along with world titles in 2010 and 2012. Fury is amidst a championship dynasty that includes seven consecutive national titles and world titles in 2008 and 2010. USA Ultimate selected both coaches from a strong pool of applicants.

Former National Team members Bart Watson, Tully Beatty and Dominique Fontenette will help Ghesquiere and Tsang with talent scouting at tryouts; Watson will attend both tryouts while Beatty will only be in DC, and Fontenette will only be in San Francisco. Byron Hicks, USA Ultimate’s Manager of Club Competition and Athlete Programs, is the National Team manager.

This is the second time USA Ultimate has held tryouts for the National Team; the first was for the 2009 World Games. In 2001 and 2005, USA Ultimate’s selection committee used only written applications and letters of recommendation to choose the team.

Tryout Structure

Saturday and Sunday will start with various one-on-one match-up drills. "I’ll be looking at throwers against markers, cutters against defenders, and how people play in open space," said Ghesquiere.

The opening drills will be followed by scrimmages that progress from three-on-three to full seven-on-seven. Watson, who played on the US National Teams in 2005 and 2009, explained that coaches would watch players’ adjustment to the mixed game; of the 78, only three play mixed at the club level. "Are men looking to incorporate women into their flow, or are they just running a two-man offense? Are women underthrowing men and men overthrowing women?"

More important, Watson noted, is that players demonstrate the ability to work through initial rough patches. "Fast learners and those that quickly bend their aim to the benefit of the team are going to be most successful."

Fontenette, a 2001 and 2005 National Team member, said that players accustomed to conducting their team would need to adjust. "I’ll be watching to see who can perform well even when they’re not the one."

Tryouts will not feature combine-style metrics like timed 40-meter dashes or vertical jump measurements. "I’m not a metrics guy," said Ghesquiere. "I’ve run enough tryouts that I don’t believe it; there’s more to Ultimate than who runs a fast 40."

Ghesquiere and Tsang will, however, pay close attention to players’ demonstrated fitness. "A lot can happen in an offseason," he said. "It’s been four months since people have played competitively. It matters to me what people have done during this time. I need people to show up in shape, and that will be part of the evaluation criteria."

Beatty, a 2005 National Team member, advised tryouts to stay away from league play and social tournaments this offseason in favor of more focused training. "Nobody at this tryout is going to lack skills," he said. "What’s going to be noticed is change of direction."

Team Selection

Performance from the tryouts’ two days of play will have the most influence of who makes the team. "We’re not going to run a two-day tryout and not pay attention to everyone there," said Ghesquiere. "People are coming in on the same footing."

Beatty cited 2009 team member Cate Foster as evidence that everyone has a shot: relatively unknown before tryouts, Foster caught then-coach Greg Connelly’s eye by arriving as the fastest woman in the field.

It is, of course, both impossible and impractical to ignore player history and reputations. "That’s part of the data set that we’re working with," says Watson. "It can also act as a tie-breaker. If we’re comparing two players, and one has gotten it done year after year at Nationals, you go with that reputation."

The threshold for just how much a player’s name could cushion them against uncharacteristic slip-ups is naturally relative to what that player has accomplished; among those most likely to make the team are Beau Kittredge, George Stubbs and Alex Snyder.

"If George or Beau had a bad tryout," Ghesquiere said, "clearly something would be wrong aside from Ultimate; otherwise they wouldn’t have the reputation they do. We’d need to find out what that was."

Watson also pointed out that those seen as the strongest players coming into tryouts are an important reference point because they act as anchors for other tryouts to play around.

Ghesquiere spoke to his ties to Revolver and Tsang’s to Fury. "There’s no question that my experience [with players] will play a role. But whatever bias I have because I like them and know their game very well is made up for by the fact that I also know their flaws very well. If anything, I might have a reverse bias because with someone new, I might not see what they struggle with."

Ghesquiere expects to announce the team’s roster late in the week of March 25 or early in the week of April 1, depending on how much time he, Tsang and the tryout committee have to discuss players in person after the second tryout.

Team Make-Up

That the National Team is mixed makes for interesting strategic possibilities. The mixed game provides field space that allows teams to take advantage of individual match-ups which, given the depth of the tryout pool, should benefit the US.

The 2009 team typically looked to see if they had a clear advantage against an opponent’s men or women and then exploit it.  "We structured our offense around putting women in space where other teams didn’t," said Watson.

Prolific female throwers are among the US’s particularly advantageous assets. Deb Cussen and Cara Crouch’s throwing strength allowed 2009’s dominant male cutters to also push downfield, a nightmare for teams with less athletic defenders.


The cost of playing for the US National Team is significant. This year’s team will have five practice weekends before leaving for Cali, and although travel to the various locations will be offset by USA Ultimate, some expenses will still need to be paid out-of-pocket. While some national governing bodies have endowments that cover national team expenses, USA Ultimate does not have the same resources available. There is a $150 tryout fee, and Julia Echteroff Lee, USA Ultimate’s Director of Finance and Development, is spearheading fundraising efforts for the team.


  • Boston’s Greg Connelly coached the National Team in 2009. Ted Munter, also from Boston, coached the team in 2005.
  • The United States’ overall record at the World Games is 16-3: the 2001 team lost to Canada in both pool play and the final, and the 2009 team lost to Japan in pool play.
  • Participants in the 2009 World Games were host nation Chinese Taipei, Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Japan and the US. Participants in the 2005 Games were host nation Germany, Australia, Canada, Finland, Japan and the US. 2001 participants were host nation Japan, Canada, Finland, Germany, Sweden and the US.
  • The 2001 World Games allowed only six players on the field, but in 2005, they switched to Ultimate’s standard seven-on-seven format.
  • This year’s team is tentatively scheduled to hold its first practice in Boston the weekend of May 11. If the date holds, the team will play a showcase scrimmage against a group of top local players.
  • The following players declined their invitation to tryouts for health or personal reasons: Liz Duffy (Seattle), Shannon O’Malley (Seattle), Nate Castine (Washington, DC), Danny Karlinsky (Seattle), Grant Lindsley (Minneapolis), Josh Markette (Boston), Jack McShane (Boulder), Jimmy Mickle (Boulder), Mark Poole (Atlanta), Matt Rehder (Seattle), Kevin Richardson (Austin), Brodie Smith (Austin), Seth Wiggins (Portland), and Jerrod Wolfe (Austin). Applicants Teddy Browar-Jarus (Boston) and Tom Doi (Washington, DC) were late additions to tryouts.


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