Juniors set to prepare for World Junior Ultimate Championships

Posted: July 7, 2010 04:24 PM


This August, 44 of the United States’ best youth players will be traveling to Heilbronn Germany, to represent the United States in the World Junior Ultimate Championships. But before they take that long plane ride, the two teams must learn to work together at a weeklong training camp at Amherst College the last week in July.
With these five days of training, the 23 boys and 21 girls will live, learn and play together so that they will be a well-oiled machine by August 3, the start of the World Junior Ultimate Championships.
“Right now, we are a group of good ultimate players. Separated by age, school and previous teams, we are little more than a bunch of names on a piece of paper,” Matt Barnes, a member of the USA Junior Worlds Open team said. 
“These people have never met before, and we have to form a team that is ready for international competition,” Meredith Tosta, USA Ultimate Director of Coach and Youth Development said. “The camp will build community with players from across the country, and they will learn to play together.”
 “At training camp we have to build a team in a limited amount of time,” Jody Avirgan, assistant coach for the Junior Worlds Open team said. “Moreover, we have to find roles for players who are all accustomed to being the top guy on their home squad.
The camp is set to start July 26, as the players arrive at Amherst College. Starting the next day, the athletes will go through the motions of learning each other’s names and skill levels as well as learning to work together. “Play, lunch, and play some more,” Tosta joked while talking about the schedule of the athletes.
“My main goal is for our team to learn how to work with each other on and off the field,” Sally Landefeld, one of the athletes on the Junior Women’s team said. “For me, this means getting to know everyone and finding my niche as a cutter and defender amongst the other girls.”
For the Junior Open team, Avirgan says the team will “do some basic strategy implementation,” during the day. But to him, “the far bigger challenge is the mental side: can we build a team that will have each other’s backs when the going gets tough?”
Chemistry building is one of the most important parts of the training camp. Returning member, Julian Childs-Walker explains, “we need to get comfortable with each other, both on and off the field, and we need to make a point of creating this chemistry.”
To help build that chemistry, as well as a community atmosphere, the athletes will participate in some social activities during the night. At this time, the events are not set and will depend greatly on what Amherst College has available. The one evening event that is scheduled is Thursday night. The two teams will participate in a showcase event against local teams in a lighted arena.
The team will be leaving the States on Friday after a short morning practice. The World Junior Ultimate Championships, hosted by the World Flying Disc Federation, is being held in Heilbronn, Germany this year. The opening games for both teams start on Tuesday August 3.
The Junior Open team is returning after winning gold the last two championships, but the competition is tight with a field of 17 other national teams. This year’s group is very talented, according to Avirgan, but how far the team will go, “depends entirely on desire and how mentally strong the team is.”
“The most important thing for Team USA’s success in my mind is to not focus at all on the past,” Nicholas Stuart, #15 on the Open team said. “We need to start from day one, square one.”
This year’s Junior Women’s team is heading back to international play after a bronze medal in 2008 in Vancouver.  
How do you think the U.S. National Teams will do at the World Junior Ultimate Championships? What countries do you think will present the biggest challenge to the U.S.? Discuss this article in the USA Ultimate Message Board.