NexGen Conflict With U23 Worlds Minicamp To Jeopardize Player Participation

NexGen logo.Can you imagine an Under-23 Team USA roster that doesn’t include Dylan Freechild, Jimmy Mickle, and Simon Montague?

The final games of the NexGen tour — a popular series of games between a college All-Star traveling team and elite club teams around the country — are in direct conflict with the beginning of the mandatory training camp that starts this Sunday in Buffalo.

That means that the six players on the NexGen tour that also have spots on the U23 rosters — Freechild, Mickle, Montague, Tim Morrissy, Eli Kerns, and Elliott Erickson — are forced to choose between completing the final two games of the NexGen season and representing their country at U23 Worlds in Toronto. The first four are on the Open roster; Kerns and Erickson are playing Mixed.

Bob Krier, the coach of the U23 Open team, is also the coach of Denver’s Johnny Bravo, Mickle and Morrissy’s club team.

USA Ultimate has been clear since the beginning of the U23 rostering process that the training camp, which runs from Sunday to the following Saturday before the team departs for Toronto, would be required of all athletes.

The November application for the U23 team explained as such, as did the final selection paperwork filed in March.

“The NexGen schedule was announced March 26, three weeks after our team was selected,” said USAU Media Director Andy Lee. “And it had been communicated to the athletes that the week-long mini camp was required.”

Lee said that Minderhout spoke to a U23 coach in January about the camp, and that he was informed that the training camp was required. NexGen will be in Toronto in the following week streaming games from U23 Worlds on the NGN network.

“The tour is ending earlier than it normally would…to allow players to both participate in U23 and the tour and not have to make a choice,” said Minderhout, who did not comment further.

A source familiar with the situation said that there will, in fact, have to be a choice and that Minderhout has asked the players to remain on the tour until its conclusion on Tuesday, July 16th, two days after the start of the training camp.

According to the source, Freechild and Montague are “almost definitely” going to forego their spot on the U23 roster. The other players have yet to make a decision, at least publicly.

“We are awaiting a response from the six players in question as to whether they want to play on the US National team,” said Lee.

The loss would be particularly hard on the Open team, which sits with just 24 players. Freechild, this year’s Callahan winner, and Mickle would be especially difficult losses.

A team source said that the lack of communication between Minderhout and USA Ultimate — a relationship that has already been strained after the announcement of the proposed NexGen league this past winter — has “created a gulf” that is forcing players to choose their loyalties.

Lee told Ultiworld that there will be no exceptions made for a late start at minicamp — players must arrive on Sunday for the start of the training or they will be left off the roster in Toronto.

Players were not available for comment, as all are traveling on the NexGen tour. They play tonight against Madison Club and tomorrow against Minneapolis’ Sub Zero before traveling west to Portland for three games against the Northwest teams.

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