View From The Sideline: Reflections From Elite College Coaches

We talked to eight of the longest tenured coaches in the college division about what they've learned over time.

Deanna Ball of Ohio State and Jason Adams of Northeastern are two of the longest serving coaches in the college division. Photo: Jolie J Lang —

Ultimate is just getting to the point where most competitive teams have coaches and coaching is seen as something more than just an alternative retirement to playing in the Masters division. Most competitive squads expect and succeed because they have someone dedicated to individual player development and team strategy.

Aside from the cliches about giving back to the community, what is it about coaching that entices people all over the country to give up their weekends to travel around and watch a group of kids chase plastic for hours on end? It takes a lot of commitment to coach a group of 18-20 somethings through a 10-month season, yet there is a group of dedicated coaches who have been working at the elite level for a decade or more. What valuable lessons could we learn from their collective wisdom, gleaned over years of experience?

We asked some of these coaches to think both about their overall experience coaching for so long, and for some thoughts about this specific college season. Here’s what we learned.

The Lineup

All photos courtesy of

Big Picture

Q: Why are you still coaching? What continues to make it worth your time and energy year after year?

Valdivia: “Above all, my love of working together as a team to accomplish something greater than the self is the reason why I continue to come back and coach. Now in my tenth year coaching the Hodags and over 15 years of coaching, the relationships I have with some of the players I’ve worked with are among the most rewarding and strong that I have in my life.”

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  1. Alex Rubin
    Alex Rubin

    Alex Rubin started writing for Ultiworld in 2018. He is a graduate of Northwestern University where he played for four years. After a stint in Los Angeles coaching high school and college teams, they moved to Chicago to experience real seasons and eat deep dish pizza. You can reach Alex through e-mail ([email protected]) or Twitter (@arubes14).

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