East Midlands Open (EMO) Invitation for the 14/15 Season

The following is a joint article compiled by Andrew Hillman, Kris Kerswell and Robbie Tink, all members of the East Midlands Open 2014 squad. The article is aimed at (male) experienced members however I would expect beginners can also gain a lot of information on the wider ultimate community  and I would encourage them to read on.

The Annual General Meeting for EMO took place on Saturday afternoon. On the back on the clubs most successful season ever (15th in the World, 9th in Europe, 3rd in the UK) for the 1st team, discussions were focused on club development and acquiring new members.

Unlike London Fire, Clapham and Chevron Action Flash, EMO is a true development team. Most of its members join the club in their 2nd year at uni, play 2nd team for 1 or 2 years and then join the 1st team. EMO has a high turnover of players with many leaving after graduating from University. What I’m trying to point is that the EMO development cycle relies on players like you and the club really does sweat over whether you will turn up to their trials or not.

With that in mind, initial discussions have taken place to introduce weekend skills sessions before the seasons trials. The intention is that these will allow players to focus on learning and improving, rather than having to worry about displaying ability. It is also hoped that they will be less intimidating for less experienced players and convince more of them to attend.

Discussions have also taken place to increase the club squad size with the intention of taking on more inexperienced players to develop throughout the season.

Should I attend the skills sessions?

Regardless of your experience, ability and even your interest in EMO, this should be a no brainer. EMO don’t just look for good players, they actively cultivate them. The coaches come from experience of high quality ultimate and theircoaching insight will be very valuable. Furthermore, you can find out what the sessions are like, what the standard is and whether you would like to keep training with EMO.

Should I trial with EMO?

That depends on  a few things.

  • Do you want to become a good Ultimate player?

If you are reading this I would expect your answer to be yes. Training most weeks with a top club team alongside Warwick training will make a monumental impact on your development. EMO offers elite competition every session, teaches new (and often highly contrasting) philosophies and ideas. If you choose to only train with Bears, you will stagnate to some degree. Certainly you will improve – proper training should always lead to improvement – but not as much as if you challenge yourself against lots of unknown players and new perspectives on the sport.

Trainings offered me a new insight to certain areas of Ultimate which I’d never considered too deeply before. Playing at club level is different from Uni as you will have a different role to step into. It gives you the chance to really work on a specific area (offence/defence, handler/cutter) while still working on other attributes.

Most importantly, training with EMO means preparing for and competing throughout the club season. This should be a huge priority for you, in previous years Warwick players have played two or even three seasons with Sharkbear! instead of joining a proper club team, but that trend needs to stop now. Sharkbear!  is not a normal club team. It’s purpose has always been (and should continue to be) to allow beginners to play Tour in their first year of playing, not for a bunch of experienced players to dominate the play and chump on C-Tour. Playing for Sharkbear! at Tour will not help you as much the second time, trust me.

This season all three of us have played in some incredible games for EMO. Ultimately we play the game because we enjoy it and I absolutely guarantee you that the higher you get, the more exhilarating and enjoyable every goal, every good bit of defence, every completed pass and every victory gets (defeats probably feel a little worse, but not to the same extent).

EMO versus Chevron Action Flash at UKU Tour 2 in Nottingham

EMO versus Chevron Action Flash at UKU Tour 2 in Nottingham

  • Do you want Bears to be a competitive university club in 2015 and/or 2016?

Again I assume this is a yes if you are even slightly invested in the club. All good university teams encourage players to play for club teams because the benefits those players bring back to their universities are massive, in terms of improved skills, tactical awareness, new ideas etc. Bears are not an exception to this and I can guarantee that teams you will come up against at Regionals and Nationals will be doing it and it will give them an edge if you guys don’t do it too. Club experience has been crucial to the success of Bears (and other great university teams) in the past.

This year we had a very talented squad for Nationals but a lack of elite club experience (four days A-Tour experience!). Personally I think this was our biggest weakness, we didn’t have the experience of executing under pressure, the most important variable of Ultimate. I’ve heard a lot of hype about the potential of our 2016 open squad and while it will likely be a very talented one, it currently has zero days A-Tour experience. If you want a realistic chance of winning Nationals in two years time, the 2015 club season will have to play a big part.

  • Did you enjoy the skills sessions?

Simple question really but there is one little point worth making. The first few sessions with a new club are unlikely to be amazing fun. You won’t know too many people, you might be a little nervous. The important thing is to consider whether the actual practising and playing of Ultimate is enjoyable, everything else will come with time.

After our opening game against Buzz Bullets (Japan) at the World Championships.

After our opening game against Buzz Bullets (Japan) at the World Championships.

I (Andy) will be training with EMO again this year and I would like to see you there, not only because it is nice to train with friends, but because I’m convinced it will make you a better player and I’m convinced that when you reach the elite level and you play those nail-biting games that you’ve prepared so hard for, that you will not regret it.

EMO are likely to release details of their skills sessions within the next week or so. Any questions feel free to comment below or message us privately.


 If you won’t listen to us perhaps you will listen to these legends and official East Midlands Open ambassadors.

“In the end we only regret the decisions we didn’t take.” – Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, Dear John, The Best Of Me)

“What good would wings be if you couldn’t feel the wind on your face?” – Nicholas Cage (City of Angels)

Andrew Hillman

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