Thursday, February 23, 2012

12 Things I Learned from TDing Presidents Day 2012

Congradulations to Dartmouth Pain Train, you guys are an awesome team and it was a pleasure to watch you win the tournament
Here are some lessons I learned from TDing this year.
1. Nothing Between the Fields. 
           Some of the teams though this was weird given that there was more room between fields than most tournaments; I had to tell a couple people twice. But overall, the fields looked great, and much more importantly, everyone was safer and no one layed out into a cooler or chair. The walk to behind the endzones really isn’t that far for players that need something from their bag.

2. Whistle Instead of Air Horn
         Instead of spending another 35$ on two air horns that are annoying to carry around and end up running out while blowing the softcap of the quarters, I used my soccer referee whistle. 1 long blow to start a round, 2 for soft, 3 for hard. I showed the captains on Saturday morning and there were no misunderstanding the entire weekend. Make sure to get a loud, shrill whistle – look for the Fox 40 brand. The biggest plus? It tied nicely to my shorts (yes shorts, this was San Diego after all) so that I could announce cap from anywhere at the field site without running back to tourney central to get the horn.

3. The More You Pay for Backup Fields, the Better the Weather Will Be.
       Oh man were the backup fields we secured expensive, and oh man, the weather was perfect. Oh well, better safe than sorry.

4. Long Rounds, Time In Between Rounds
         Longer rounds with more time before softcap, and more time before hard cap meant that teams could actually finish their games and have time before the next one to relax a little and refocus. With a 20 team format, many teams had 8 full games to 15 for the weekend but the quality of play was still very high, even in the consolation brackets.

5. Print the Bracket; Give It to the Winning Team.
         I had the score reporter page made into a pdf, added the USAU, Sky’d, and Breakmark logos and printed it on a large poster paper and then fixed this on a piece of cardboard. More than anything else, teams want this at tourney central. This can seem slightly expensive, but well worth it in terms of improving organization (over single sheets of the schedule that we also had for all the captains and coaches)

 6. Athletic Trainers Make the Tournament.
      UC San Diego is blessed with outstanding Athletic Training staff and provides excellent care for visiting teams. More any anything else, getting quality care form ATs is what people appreciate the most from a well-run tournament. Payment to ATs should be of highest priority when budgeting for a tournament.

7. Lou Burruss is Yoda
        It’s not an act; he really does speak in that probably-being-metaphorical-but-you-can't-be-sure kind of way all the time. No offense to him; wish half as profound as him I do. 

8. Rookies Need to Steal Metal Knives From the Dining Hall (Be Explicit with the Details)          All the tourney food responsibilities were delegated to a sophomore who did a decent job getting all the food to the right spots at the right times, but one of the most critical things for food is to have metal knives from the dining halls. They are much better than plastic and they can just be returned (albeit covered in peanut butter, cream cheese, and grass) after the tourney. This thing is, I didn’t tell this sophomore to tell the rookies this specific thing, and the lack of metal knives at tourney central ended up being the thing most often complained about by teams on Saturday. Don’t expect your helpers to remember the same little thing you remember being important last year. Make it explicit. In the same way, saying “if you can come help set fields on Friday afternoon” is not the same as “You 8 rookies are going to be here at 2 to help me set the fields." Make it explicit, make it specific. 

 9.  Line the Fields WITH the Girls
      The guys and the girls used 1 field site each on Saturday and the switched on Sunday, we lined all the Saturday fields for the men’s games, they did the other field. What we go were fuller fields on Saturday and smaller fields on Sunday. (Girl sized paces just aren’t the same as guys). I ended up resetting and respraypainting all the fields 20min before the prequarter on Sunday morning with 1 helper. What should have happened is we all should have gotten together, lined one field site and then the other.  A little interteam bonding and consistent field placement for only a little more organization.

10.  What Sky’d is Doing is Really Cool, Help Them Out.
      I loved Bryan Jones’ and Maya Ziv’s reporting on the tournament and am happy to see all the things Sky’d is doing to increase coverage of college tournaments. I introduced Bryan in the captain’s meeting and everywhere we went while together. Parents, athletic trainers, random students walking by, university sports directors – everyone was really impressed that there is serious reporting of our sport going on. If you want to gain more respect for Ultimate, showing them the work of the reporters at Sky’d will impress a lot of people.

11.  You Need to Fight to Raise Attendance at the Observer Clinic
       I am proud to say there was an observer clinic at Presidents Day. I am ashamed to say that the attendance of the clinic was low. I tried decently hard to advertise at all the pickup games in San Diego and a little bit online, but from what I’ve found, getting people to sign up can be like pulling teeth (you have to drug the person first.) It’s pretty frustrating that most of the people who publicly criticize the Observer system because of the quality of observers in general are the quickest to decline the invitation to become one. If we want LOTS OF GOOD observers, first we need LOTS of observers.

12.   Teams Still Don’t Know the Rules to Their Extreme Detriment.
      DGP. Team A’s huck goes too far. Team B runs the disc up to the goal line but instead of throwing the wide open huck, the thrower waits for Team A’s player to get up to the line and check the disc in. B WANTED to throw the huck, was visibly frustrated that A was taking so long to check it in and then forced the huck anyway 3 seconds too late. Turnover. Team A works the disc back up for the win. How is it 2012 and players on top tier teams don’t know they only have to ground tap the disc when walking it to the line? Seriously!!! How can you put so much time and so much effort into practice and so much of your student loan money into flights to tournaments and still not have studied the rules that obviously effect whether you win or lose?

13. Under Promise and Over Deliver
                            In everything (See post title) you do, this is the way to happy customers.

14.   I Miss College Ultimate.

    The joy of being mobbed by your teammates and O-chem lab partners after winning. The agony of knowing you didn’t come down with your dorm roommate’s huck and will make it up to him every day by practicing harder for 3 weeks before the next tournament. Pretending to study during the bye. Sleeping on the Tournament Director’s living room floor. (Always happy to house you, Burning Skirts).  Piling 8 sweaty players, covered in grass stains and ice bags, into the van as the sun lowers over the fields for a 7 hour drive home. That 7 hour drive feels like a long time to go over every mistake you made – an eternity if you had your team’s last turnover of the weekend.  But know this, College Ultimate is a gift and even if you are blessed with 5 years of it, it goes by in a heartbeat. Cherish it, earn it. It is one of those rare things in life that you get more out of it than you put in and I have yet to find someone who has reached a point where that stopped being true. When you are done, you are done, so make the most of it.