USA Boy's assistant coach speaks

Posted: August 6, 2010 10:31 AM


This August, 44 of the best youth Ultimate players in America will be traveling to Germany to participate in the 2010 World Junior Ultimate Championships. But first, the Open and Girl’s teams will meet at Amherst College next week for a weeklong training camp hosted by USA Ultimate.

Five members of Team USA have agreed to blog about thier experiences for - Bethany Kaylor, Sally LandefeldMaddy RoorbachNick Stuart and Matt Barnes. Follow their progress here as they train, travel and compete throughout the next few weeks.

The fourteenth entry is from Jody Avirgan, assistant coach of the USA Boy's team, as the boy's finish day three.

Jody web

USA Ultimate entered the third day of pool play with the renewed sense of focus that comes with our customary six AM wakeup and delicious German breakfast of bacon, eggs, and vanilla "joghurt". Thirty minutes later the team was experiencing just that during the warm-up run, as the legs were sore and various tweaks began to appear. But a big matchup with reigning European champions Finland loomed, and the captains made it clear in the pre-game huddle that complete focus would be required from the first pull. The goal of the game was to establish strong man-to-man defense, particularly on the Finnish downfield cutters. Finland was the most skilled team we’d faced all tournament, with a number of throwers who could hit tall, fast receivers in stride. During the first half, the US defenders did a good job of stopping the first cut, but several times a cutter would break free after turning their in-cut into a deep look. Once again the US proved that not only was it athletic, but also smart enough (perhaps, well-coached enough?) to adjust to take away the opponents primary focus. The team began to work hard to stop cutters from turning deep by positioning their bodies after the in-cut and funneling the Finns back towards the disc. Amos Adams, Simon Montague and Julian Childs-Walker all had great skying D’s on long Finnish hucks, and Eli, Chris and Josh (aka "the law offices of  Kerns, Kocher & Klane") all had great break-mark throws for scores. In the end, the US boys finished the game on a great fast-break upwind conversion. This felt like the most complete game of the tournament in that the team was able to assert their own strategic goals while reacting to the other team’s very effectively. Final score: 17-9 USA.

After a two-round break, the US warmed back up for a game against an Israeli team making its second appearance ever at the championships. The Israeli team was hard-running and well-structured, much of that a result of the coaching help of Seattle’s Matt Knowles. They ran their offense through one particularly fast player who looked to touch it as much as possible, usually on give-and-go dish passes. The US had to adjust their strategy to account for this quick movement, flattening the marks and throwing our best defenders at their top players. The wind also picked up during the game, and the Israelis threw zone whenever they could. Dylan Freechild and Tim Morrisey anchored the zone handler set, hitting Casey MacPhee and Spencer Diamond along the sidelines for efficient and, frankly, beautiful slicing scoring drives. At half-time, the team was able to relax a bit thanks to a group exercise whose details will only be divulged after the tournament is over (ask one of the players when you see them), and the good vibes combined with confidence and the right kind of focus carried the day. Final score: 17-4 USA. 

While tomorrow is technically the last round of pool-play, in a way it feels like the first post-season day. After a morning match against Japan, we play hosts and also-undefeated Germany. Both teams are guaranteed to advance to the semis on Saturday, but USA wants to get a win the right way to set the tone for the road to gold. Stay tuned…