Monday, October 19, 2009

Second Place

Finishing second means you lost your last game.

Catch your Ds.

My university team, the Western Sharks, played at the Canadian University Ultimate Championships this past weekend in Montreal. We suffered our only loss of the season in the finals, and with a final score of 15-11 it wasn't really even close. 

There were obviously some very long faces as we were given our silver medals. The thing about losing the championship game is that you lost. Sounds obvious, but it's true. You win third. You win fifth. Hell, as my club team found out in Boston this year, you win 27th. But you lose second. 

So what are the lessons from the weekend? There are many, but I'll focus on a few:

1. Dominating the field has its downsides.

We never had a close game all season until the semis. That sounds like it would be a good thing, but there are some negative consequences, namely that while it means you are performing, it also means you are not being tested under pressure. There is a much different feel on the O line when you know you have to score. There is also a much different feel on the D line when you know you are running out of time to break. 

2. Tournament Strategy.

This is what leading and coaching is all about. I have heard about NBA coaches who micromanage like all hell and stay up at night thinking about what they could have done differently to put themselves in a position to better control the precious final seconds of a game. This type of reflection (and the "what ifs" that accompany it) always permeate my thoughts after games and tournaments. I think we were more tired than we should have been in the finals. If I could go back and change one thing, it would be to rest our starters far more in the blowouts, ensuring that we had stronger legs in the final. 

3. Canadian University Ultimate.

The calibre of teams out there this past weekend was impressive. I started on the university scene with Tula 4 years ago, and the increase in level of competition is very noticeable. Gone are the days where there are really only 2 or 3 legitimate teams at Nationals. Well done to those who have invested the time and effort to build programs. 

4. Our Competition.

First and foremost, congratulations to the Carleton Ravens; a well deserved title.

I want to thank the UBC boys for making the trip out. Going as far as you did with a true skeleton squad demands a lot of respect. Our semis against you was a very memorable game. Well played. 

I look forward to taking the field with Western next year. Losing makes the off-season less enjoyable, but it also lights the fire. Championship game experience is not something easy to come by. If you aren't able to capitalize in the moment, all you can do is take that experience and use it to make you the best player you can be. Anything less is unacceptable.

Losing hurts. You cannot change the past. The future is all that is left.

those are some of my thoughts.


P.S. - Shout out to my boy Jesse Mighton who played competitive ultimate for the first time and made some huge grabs and Ds at Easterns and Nationals. He also may or may not be the best trash talker in the game today. 

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