EYUC 2011

August 21st, 2011

Last week I was in Wroclaw Poland for the 2011 European Youth Ultimate (Frisbee) Championships.  No, I wasn’t competing….  I was coaching.  I was working with my friend Dan on the logistics for the trip, and when we realized that there wasn’t anyone to coach the Girls team, we decided to do it together.  Michal joined us two weeks before the trip.  Together we led Israel Junior Women to a fifth place finish out of nine teams.

I’m not really sure how to put the experience into words yet.  I think the most amazing thing for me was how the team came together.  Practicing week after week against the same boys on the same practice field us coaches and the players lost a sense of development.  Once we got to Poland and saw other teams, and started playing things just fell into place.

Players who hadn’t really shown drive or ambition, or at least we hadn’t been able to see it, were pushing themselves.  For most of the team, this was their first real tournament experience.  I said to them afterwords that a lot of them came as girls who played ultimate, but went back home as Ultimate Frisbee Players.  It’s something in their swagger, confidence, and attitude.

When during games we challenged them with new tactics, they responded.  When we pulled a player or two aside to talk about their on-field attitude, they responded.  When we challenged them to step up and give it their all, they responded.

I’ve spent many years working with youth.  In the youth movement context there isn’t a lot of immediate feedback.  Most of what you are educating towards is a moral person, not something you can measure or see right away.  There is some of that in coaching as well, especially since I can’t seem to separate on field lessons from life lessons myself.  But there is also this added aspect of the competition that forces the players to act immediately and under pressure.

We could have scored more points, we could have played more balanced, we could have dominated the weaker teams more and fought harder against the stronger teams.  But I don’t think I could be much prouder of our players than what I am.

I can’t wait to do it again.

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