The Force of the Triangle

Posted: August 11, 2013 09:26 AM

Event Page


A disc soars through the sky on a late Saturday afternoon in Blaine, Minn. The year is 2012, the weather is smoldering, and everything is on the line. Pittsburgh Impulse and Triangle Area Triforce (TYUL) are locked in a double-game-point battle with championship bracket implications. TYUL looked confident – they faced universe point pressure earlier in the day against Minnesota Superior and, despite losing, knew the necessary response to the dire measures. Fate had a different plan.

TYUL suffered a second heartbreaking universe point loss that day, narrowly missing their chance to represent North Carolina on the biggest stage for youth ultimate in the U.S. They solidified their ability to compete in the championship bracket with a blowout Sunday performance, sweeping the ninals. To some players it felt as though, "They were truly in the wrong bracket and should have been competing for a spot in the finals," and that "their Sunday had been wasted almost." TYUL knew they had something to prove; they just had to wait a year to do it.

When a season ends in disappointment, teams often feel a necessity to change. Coaches are dropped, teams bring in players to spark productivity and strategies are analyzed. Teams tend to look outside themselves in attempts to replicate success. The Triangle Area did the opposite: they found courage, wisdom and power – a veritable Triforce of victory – from within. 

Coaches Garrett Dyer and Jon Nethercutt (UNC-Chapel Hill, Ring of Fire) set into motion a team philosophy inspired by focusing on the one controllable variable in any game: themselves. "This year, we didn’t focus on things that had occurred at last year’s tournament," Nethercutt stated, "but instead placed an emphasis on being the best team we could be rather than trying to beat the teams that beat us last year." Their pre-game rituals set that tone immediately. TYUL varies their warm-ups with a few high-intensity drills aimed to imitate the fast-paced feel of the first points of the game as well as flush out any pre-game jitters. I witnessed TYUL prepping layouts in a version of the box drill that encourages overthrows and huge bids. "It helps change the point of focus from the other team and what we need to do to beat them, to focusing on our own team and what we can do successfully," Nethercutt explains. It seems to work. TYUL went 4-0 on day one of competition at YCC 2013, handily beating a tough Chicago team in addition to knocking out last year’s champion and hometown favorite, Minnesota Superior.

In addition to looking within the team to find success, TYUL breeds hometown athletes with a local and active ultimate community in the Triangle Area. Representing Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, TYUL pulls from a competitive high school league as well as an established and growing middle school program. With the proximity of perennial college powerhouse UNC-Chapel Hill and several other historically strong college programs, as well as club teams Ring of Fire and Cash Crop, youth players in the Triangle Area are exposed to a wealth of talented players and ultimate role models. The success of the local system has displayed itself on every level of competition. The U-16 open team found success two years ago with a YCC championship in the first year the division was contested and look poised to make another run at the title in 2013. UNC-Chapel Hill performed well at this year’s College Championships making a quarterfinals appearance before losing to eventual tournament champions, Pittsburgh (sound familiar?). Ring of Fire’s scorching run at 2012 Club Nationals was extinguished by Revolver in the semifinals, but the team looks even better this year with a roster including a large contingent of Chapel Hill players and alumni. 

The feeder system supplies the continued success: seven of the U-16 champions from two years ago are on this year’s U-19 Triforce roster, and six current players are slated to join UNC-Chapel Hill next year. As coach Dyer explains, "The strength of our programs from top to bottom stems from not a one-directional feeder system, but a multidirectional – the middle schools feed into the high schools, and those high schools into local college programs, but players and alumni from those local college programs and high-level club teams feed into the system as well through youth coaching and interaction in league play." If this year’s TYUL team is any indication, North Carolina ultimate will remain exciting for many years to come.

After examining the system that develops players in North Carolina, it’s easy to see the pride on the line with this year’s TYUL team. They are representing a regional area that knows success in all forms, but they know their support system will stay strong regardless of the results. It is not by chance that TYUL chose the Triforce as their emblem. The triangle, after all, is an immensely strong shape. Dyer and Nethercutt believe this team embodies the sturdiness of the triangle, and after watching them dominate their way to the championship bracket, I agree that it’s a solid foundation on which to stand.

Have any questions or comments? We welcome community feedback and discussion made in a respectful manner. Please refrain from profanity or personal attacks, as such public comments negatively reflect on our sport and community.