The Friday Five: College Endings, Club Beginnings, and Reminiscing of Regionals

A reflective and anticipatory Five.

Emory Luna huddles at the 2017 Florida Winter Classic.
Emory Luna huddles at the 2017 Florida Winter Classic. Photo: Billy Dzwonkowski —

This season, we’re trying something a bit different. Every Friday, our team will look at the exciting stories, teams, players, events, quirks, and all the inbetweens, and highlight five that have them hyped for the weekend of ultimate to come. Check out what’s caught our eye and let us know what you’re looking forward to in the comments.

This Week’s Roster

Katie Raynolds, D-I Women’s Editor
Mike Ball, D-III Men’s Editor
Sam Echevarria
, D-III Women’s Editor
Keith Raynor, Senior Editor
Simon Pollock, Managing Editor

The Five

Katie: A Has-Been Recalls Regionals Glory
I’m getting sappier and more wistful with every year post-college, especially since I still witness the pain and glory played out every year when I cover Regionals, whether it’s in the Northwest or the Great Lakes.

I don’t miss college, but no feeling can quite match the build up to one’s senior year college Regionals. You’re training hard with your teammates daily, you’re talking through plays, and you’re plotting against your rival (Michigan). Usually, you’re also living with your teammates. Every moment of the month before Regionals is sheer anticipation.

Ultiworld wasn’t really a “thing” when I was a college senior. Keith was still sometimes blogging from, and coverage was really Charlie and Keith wandering around Nationals trying to get quotes from random teams (sorry for turning you down, Keith – how could I have known what our future would hold?).

All of this is to say that when I was a senior, we didn’t really know how our own Regionals drama fit into the bigger picture. Gungho had yet to travel west of the Central time zone to compete, and all we could focus on was our game, and beating Michigan.

Which we did, 15-12. I wish I remembered anything from that game beyond fleeting snapshots of my cuts or my teammates crying at the end. Friends and fellow alums remember so much more, and someday I’ll make them tell me again so I can steal their memories as my own.

The women I won that game with are still my best friends. Not just because of that game, or because of the Nationals we played afterward, but because of the work we put in together for the months and years before that day. That’s why Sunday of your senior year Regionals is the best day of ultimate in the college season.

Now my job is to cover the goals, the blocks, the game scores, and the bigger stories of college ultimate. But I know that that’s not what the women I’m covering will remember from the weekend. And to you all I say: have fun, play hard, and don’t ever give quotes to Keith.1

Mike: Time For Some Answers

It’s finally Regionals weekend!  While the nature of D-III means that some bids have been decided the last two weekends, over half of the total Nationals bids will awarded this Sunday.

I’ll be scouring Twitter all weekend, looking to see what upsets are happening and who’s taking the bids.  Unlike in years past, there are very few teams who I would consider locks to earn a trip to Rockford.  Air Force and Mary Washington feel like safe bets to take bids, but everything else feels up in the air.

Who will emerge with the other two bids from the South Central?  Will GoP be able to hold off the upstarts from Michigan Tech? Richmond is the favorite for the second bid in the Atlantic Coast, but a field full of capable contenders could pull off the crucial upset at any point to put the defending national champions out of contention.  Who’s going to rise from the always chaotic Metro East?  Will we see a new representative from the Ohio Valley after years of dominance from Franciscan?

So many exciting questions.  I can’t wait to start getting answers.

Sam: When April Snow Showers Bring (Late) Club Tryouts 

With it being almost 10 whole days since our last dumping of snow up here in Madison, WI, I think it’s finally safe to say spring is upon us. More importantly, club tryout season has kicked into gear, with teams finally getting to go out on some grass and chuck some plastic around in the fresh air. For myself, I’ve ended up on the “planning and running tryouts” side of life this year, as a captain for a newly formed women’s team, Lady Forward. Beyond working together to plan out drills, format, and what we’re looking for in our future teammates, the hardest part so far? Just finding dates on which to hold tryouts because there is so. Much. Ultimate. In this town.

To humblebrag just a bit, we had to find dates that navigated around the Madison mixed combine (where six mixed teams will be getting together), Heist tryouts, and some other local events, like a one-day charity tournament (thanks, Dick and Jane). There’s also D-III Nationals at the end of the month (get hyped!) and Mother’s Day in there somewhere, alongside the planning of summer league and the playing of spring league, so to think May will be packed is a bit of an understatement.

Sufficient to say, I have some pretty great problems when it comes to ultimate right now–except for getting completely sunburned covering Neuqua Knockout; that’s just me forgetting what it’s like to see and feel the sun outside instead of snow.

Keith: In Search of the Right Closer

Every once and a while, we get to tackle a great story and write something meaningful or exciting. It might be a profile of a player or team or thoughts on an incredible game at Nationals. Whatever it is, oftentimes the hardest part to nail, the part you agonize over, the part you ask for mounds of feedback on and edit over and over… is the ending. How do you put the correct emphasis on the story and give it the last touch that will leave the reader satisfied? How do you close?

Saturday morning will be my last Saturday morning with Emory Luna, the women’s team I’ve coached for the past six years. Thursday night was my final practice; Sunday, I’ll coach my last game.

It’s like being a senior (or fifth year) all over again. I look back at what I’ve done–my failures, my successes, my surprises, my disappointments, and my goals–and I wonder how different this part or that part could have been. There are moments that can inspire both fondness and regret. Memories of advice I’ve offered out of reach when it’s advice I probably should give myself now on how to process and react to the tumult within.

A few tears may be shed, but they are more out of respect for the wonderful people I’ve met and experiences they’ve shared with me than they are out of a sense of loss. A group of young women invited me into their space and their lives and I’m very grateful they were not only willing to share something that valuable with me, but also challenge me and teach me.

And now I can spend a car ride and a restless Friday night in a Tallahassee hotel trying to find the right way to end my most fulfilling work.

Simon: Context Matters And So Does Competing In The Moment
It seems fitting that I wrote one of my early contributions to the Friday Five talking about the BYU men’s team and that today—on the eve of the weekend when nearly all of the remaining teams in the postseason will be eliminated—I’m still thinking about CHI.

There are three bids up for grabs for men’s teams here in the Northwest. BYU earned one of them with their dedicated, disciplined approach to ultimate. Then, as is quickly becoming tradition, they showed up to Big Sky Conferences on Saturday, went 5-0, and quietly went home on Sunday. End of season.

Tomorrow, competition kicks off in Walla Walla, WA. BYU won’t be there to secure a bid to Nationals.

We’ve been having this conversation for a few years now. It’s customary to label one of those three bids as if it belongs to BYU, as if one of the three men’s teams that will represent the Northwest in Milwaukee won’t have really earned it.

This isn’t a zero-sum game.

BYU deserves credit for their high ranking and we should continue to talk about ways for the college division to adapt so CHI can see their season through Nationals. The team that scores the winning goal on Sunday to take the third bid will also deserve credit.

All of the men’s teams competing in this region have put in work this season to be at Regionals. We get nowhere when we diminish their accomplishments. They have slogged through practices in all kinds of weather, traveled all over the country to play, nagged each other to not quit on an early-morning workout, and lifted each other up after double game point losses.

Perhaps it’s true that one of the Northwest teams that goes to Milwaukee might not have been able to beat BYU in a game to go; choosing sides to presume righteousness for one cause over the other and digging in does both teams a disservice. Just the same as teams challenge each other to learn the nuances of ultimate and become better at playing the game, we can also find time to challenge ourselves and our community to imagine divisions where every college team with cones and cleats has a shot at Nationals.

  1. Editor strikethrough! 

  1. Simon Pollock
    Simon Pollock

    Simon Pollock is a former Contributing Editor at Ultiworld. He lives in Seattle and started writing for the site in 2014 while living in Baltimore, MD. Email him: [email protected] or tweet at him: @_simonpollock_ .

  2. Sam Echevarria
    Sam Echevarria

    Sam Echevarria is the Women's D-III College Editor at Ultiworld. She has been playing ultimate since 2010, starting with the Centerville HS Outsiders and later the Claremont Colleges Greenshirts. Currently based in Madison, WI, you can reach her on twitter (@sechevarria27).

  3. Katie Raynolds

    Katie Raynolds took a break from Seattle ultimate to test out the Midwestern scene, but now she's back in the Northwest to investigate this "bubble" she keeps hearing about. She played for Northwestern Gungho, two seasons with Chicago Nemesis, and now plays for Seattle Underground. Katie serves as Ultiworld's Women's D1 College Editor, and is damn proud to cover women's ultimate. You can reach her by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter (@kraynolds90).

  4. Michael Ball
    Michael Ball

    Michael Ball is the Men's D-III College Editor for Ultiworld. You can reach him by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter @mike_ball423

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