College STAR Program:: Week 1 Recap

Posted: September 21, 2011 06:33 PM

This past weekend, we kicked off our College STAR Program. Four pilot events were held across the country at Capital Open Club Sectionals, NorCal Women’s Club Sectionals, West Plains Women’s Club Sectionals, and East Coast Open, Women’s, and Mixed Club Sectionals.

Capital Open Club Sectionals
Despite rain and cold weather, Truck Stop led a clinic for a small group of players on Saturday afternoon. Organizer Jonathan Neeley and teammates Andrew Berry, John Agan, and Erik Salmi worked with newer players on spacing the field and setting up cuts, as well downfield defense. They were able to provide the players with individualized feedback.

The more experienced players attended a session led by Sean McComb and Brent Bellinger, two Pitt alumni who led the team from a mid-tier team at Sectionals to an appearance at the College Championships. The session included a seminar-type discussion addressing the needs and issues facing many mid-tier college teams, and participants also had the opportunity to discuss issues specific to their teams and region.

NorCal Women’s Club Sectionals
Over 40 women attended the Bay Area clinic, coming from as far away as Reno. Many of the participants were first year players, and the organizers arranged to give away free apparel courtesy of Five Ultimate and Breakmark, and also provided a free post-clinic dinner courtesy of Ruggie’s Restaurant. Organizer Manisha Daryani stated, "I think I can speak on behalf of all the teams that we're all happy to have participated and look forward to similar opportunities in the future." 

Co-organizer Lily Lin chimed in,

It was amazing. It was a great way to give personal attention that rookies may not get from their programs. I think it was amazing that there were rookies from Reno coming to the clinic. My favorite part was that people from different colleges get to meet each other because it's a great way to network and expand their college bubble.

Kristine Morales of Cal Poly SLO Motion, a participant in the clinic, expressed her sentiments about the clinic saying,

I signed up for the clinic with the intent to learn how to teach ultimate to our own incoming rookies (Cal Poly SLO Motion). The general breakdown of techniques and points to keep in mind were great… All the small things - throwing for placement rather than for curve, checking grip strength, a progression of movements for laying out, and for learning how to sky better - made a big impression on us. Knowing those details would've made it easier for us when we were learning the game. My only complaint is that I didn't get to go to all of the stations.

West Plains Women’s Club Sectionals
The West Plains clinic was also a success, with players from RevoLOUtion leading a clinic for college women’s players in the Midwest. Organizer Lindsey Gapstur taught a clinic on throwing and breaking the mark and she summed up her experiences,

Being able to share our knowledge of the game with players of all levels was both fun and inspiring. It was awesome to see the interest and drive to improve in so many different players. One of the coolest parts was seeing players incorporate the skills they learned into game and warm ups the following day.

RevoLOUtion captain Melissa Gibbs, who also coaches the Wash U women’s team said, "It makes me feel like there will be girls out there that I gave the same passion for training knowledge and that they, in turn, may get out there and learn more about making themselves a better player in their sport."

It was a common theme across all of the clinics that organizers wanted to inspire the next generation of players to develop a love for the game, as well as equip these players with the tools necessary to take their game to the next level.

East Coast Open, Women’s, and Mixed Club Sectionals
Chain Lightning and Ozone offered a bevy of opportunities to the college players in their section. On Saturday afternoon, there was a College Showcase Game, where representatives from the various college teams had the opportunity to be coached by Ozone players Lauren Childs and Allison Snow, and Chain Lightning players Michael Arenson and Nicky Spiva.

Sunday morning, Chain players led four different skills stations. Organizer Ben Spears described the clinic saying,

Kiran Thomas and Nicky Spiva led a cutting drill focused on sharp changes of direction and reading defenders to get open. Jolian Dahl described and modeled how to play smart and physical downfield defense. Michael Spear and Andrew Hollingworth coached young players on throwing and pivoting to break the mark. Michael Arenson taught several skills to improve handler defense. In all, more than 50 players from four college teams took advantage of the opportunity to learn these elite ultimate techniques. According to the participating college programs, the clinic seemed to paid off immediately.

Kennesaw State coach Samantha Stovall, commented "We had a lot of [our] rookies benefit greatly from the clinic and it was evident in our games on Sunday." Spears added, "As these teams take back the drills learned and relationships built during Sectionals and the STAR program, we hope that the ultimate community locally - and beyond - continues to expand and improve."

In tandem with Chain’s clinic, Ozone ran a clinic for approximately 35 women from Georgia State, Georgia Tech, Emory, and Middle Tennessee State. Organizer Kirsten Shell and Lauren Childs, Meredith Leahy, Allison Snow, Katherine Wooten, Elisabeth Duffy, and Maggie Jackson taught throwing basics and effective marking, incorporating these skills into several drills and a short scrimmage. Later in the clinic, the focus was on defense, including downfield dictation and boxing out deep throws. Shell said, "For a majority of the women at the clinic, this was their very first sectionals, and as a team, Ozone wanted to make sure they came out with a positive experience."

Looking Forward
This weekend, Showdown and Doublewide will be hosting a clinic at Texas Open, Women’s, and Mixed Club Sectionals, and Molly Brown will be hosting a clinic at Rocky Mountain Women’s Club Sectionals. Close to 60 college players have already registered for the Rocky Mountain clinic, and both clinics will feature a wide variety of skills stations led by the best players in the Texas and Colorado. Doublewide captain Jeff Loskorn detailed his team’s enthusiasm, saying,

Providing college players with leadership from an elite club team standpoint benefits both established college programs as well as developing ones. The STAR clinic is very important to Doublewide because it not only is a chance to give back to a great frisbee community, it helps college teams elevate their game to the next level.

Pictures from the College STAR Program clinics can be found in this gallery.