With Open Regionals come and gone, for many the University Ultimate season is coming to a close. As much as this should be treated with an appropriate level of mourning, especially by those of us in our final years, we should also celebrate the arrival of the club season.
Open & Womens Tour 2014
Open & Womens Tour stretches across 3 weekends over the Summer (31 May-01 June, 21-22 June, 12-13th July) and three venues (St Albans, Nottingham and Cardiff). In Open Tour, every team gets placed into a division based on ability.
A Tour is for the elite UK Club teams and travelling international club teams. Last year the top 3 teams in A Tour were Clapham Ultimate, Chevron Action Flash and East Midlands Open. It also plays host to many national teams looking for experience before major tournaments. In previous years this has included GB Open, Sweden Open, Germany Open and GB Under 23s. A Tour play there games at the same venue as B and C Tour so there’s always the opportunity to watch the best players in the country.
B Tour is for strong community clubs and development teams. Local teams competing in B Tour include Birmingham Ultimate and East Midlands Open 2. Between Tour 1 and 2, 2 and 3 promotion and relegation is possible between B and C Tour and in the past two years our own tour team Sharkbear! have come very close to creeping into the bottom of B Tour.
C Tour is for everyone else who wants to play Ultimate. This is likely where Sharkbear! will start the tour season owing to our lack of experience and developmental approach. Games in C Tour are of a good standard and are always well spirited and friendly.
I don’t know why we change our name just to play tour and then have to buy some new kit to boot. Regardless Sharkbear! is a team made up of everyone and anyone at the University who wants to play Tour. The focus is very relaxed, focusing on enjoying ourselves and improving as players rather than looking at results. Many other Universities don’t have their own tour teams meaning their beginners don’t have the opportunity to gain experience and improve (over three weekends the potential to improve is really really large).
The great thing about Sharkbear! is it gives those of us without club teams tournaments to build towards. Trainings in term 3 will have a loose focus on preparing the squads for each event. I cannot underestimate the progression players can enjoy simply by attending trainings, continuing to throw and doing fitness during term 3. Trainings, throwing and fitness will continue throughout the term, even at the peak of exams and you may find Ultimate provides a refreshing break from revision. May I recommend preparing for each Tour with the same drive and determination that we saw in the lead up to Regionals this year. Unless we enter two teams you will not have a team to make, but you can strive to earn a handler role or the opportunity to mark the oppositions best player.
Duffa Hat and Sheffield Hat- You enter hat tournaments individually and then get assigned into a team at semi-random (all teams should have a balance of experience and ability). These tournaments are amazing. Really relaxed party atmosphere, the chance to play non-Bears Ultimate and assume different roles (I handled at Duffa 2012, helped cure my fear of catching discs outside the endzone enormously). Normally everyone camps next to the pitches. These tournaments are especially fun when a large group of you go, creating a cirlce for the Saturday night and setting up some grudge matches for the Sunday finals (grrrrh still haven’t gotten over losing to Dan Davies’ team in our semi). I cannot advocate these tournaments enough.
Club Outdoor Regionals- This is the qualifying tournament for Nationals so expect some top teams such as EMO to attend. The chance at days Ultimate against opponents of various abilities is really great. Last year we thought we had a very very slight chance of making Nationals, went ahead in every single game and lost every single game. Also everyone got injured. Then it started hammering with rain. So since we cleared all the bad luck out of the way last year nothing can go wrong.
Rawhyde Revolver & British ThumberTime- Paired together because they’re similar tournaments held usually held on the same weekend. We’ll enter as Sharkbear! Again you camp near the pitches, each year there’s a party on the Saturday night (of debateable quality). These tournaments are normally placed in September so you might be a little rusty and they’re a great chance to get back into it before Burla.
So that’s all the frisbee ahead. Sign up to as much as you can, you won’t regret it.