Return to Play

Editor/Interviewer: hazard

As we return to play, I wanted to hear a few stories about how some of the athletes in the community have been coping, and also how they've been preparing for the return to sport. This article is intended to highlight four of those stories. However, it is worth emphasising that the advice in this article is not medical in nature, and does not address the increased viral risk we will expose ourselves to by playing sport in large groups. Please be careful out there, and be mindful of the actions you are taking. 

***

Q1. Who are you, what are some cool things you've achieved, and what are your future goals? 
I’m Rhona Gordon, I fell in love with ultimate and all it has to offer at Stirling Uni some years ago now and I’ve been based mostly in Glasgow, playing frisbee there ever since. In terms of teams, I played for and eventually captained Swift, before I joined Glasgow Ultimate Mixed (GUX) for the WUCC 2018 cycle and now I’ve jumped back to the women’s division to play for SCRAM. I love all things defence, I like to pride myself on being a loud positive teammate both on the pitch and on the sideline and I think my chants are great (GUX would possibly not agree).

In terms of future goals I can’t wait to just get back on the field and play elite Women's ultimate. I’m buzzing to have a couple of good seasons with SCRAM and show the rest of the UK (and further afield) what elite women’s ultimate in Scotland has to offer. I also love being a part of the ultimate community in Glasgow; there’s a fair few local events that were planned pre-pandemic that I’m looking forward to getting involved in when the season starts up again. I always have goals around getting women more involved in the sport but I’m still learning about the best ways to do this!

Q2. How have you coped during the downtime from Ultimate, and how have you been preparing to return?
Having no 2020 season totally sucked, I missed out on SCRAM’s first Nationals in 2019 due to falling off a climbing wall so I was super excited to get back on the pitch and was totally gutted when it became apparent that 2020 was going to be a write off. However I felt really lucky to be able to make the most of the free time that would usually be taken up by ultimate. I spent a lot of time outdoors, exploring areas of Glasgow that I wouldn’t have taken the time to notice previously, doing some hiking when restrictions allowed and (like many other frisbee players) started playing disc golf. I suppose I’ve really seen how much of my time is taken up by frisbee and in a way I’ve enjoyed the break, but I can’t wait to get back on the pitch.

It’s been exciting to get back to some training, I’m lucky that Glasgow Ultimate provides resources including an interval plan that I’ve been following, and I’ve just tried to focus on doing a lot of stretching and yoga - doing the best to listen to my body! I’m also still doing physio exercises for a previously broken ankle (see previous incident with a climbing wall), so getting that rehab right is really important to me! Like everyone else I’ve been doing my fair share of home workouts this past year, but they’ve mainly just helped to keep me moving. Now I train in my SCRAM pod on Saturdays and with GUX on Sundays - it’s been exciting to have to plan workouts around training again.

Q3. What lessons have you learned from your preparation? What advice would you give to other people as we start to return to the field?
WARM UP (and cool down). In our pod sessions that have started back up with SCRAM we spend a lot of time warming up at a slow pace. It’s a bit boring but it has been so worth it to know that your body is prepared, and it helps you notice and reflect on any imbalances, or any weaknesses you have to work on. My best advice for returning to play is probably to try to manage your expectations and make the most of the frisbee experiences that you’re able to enjoy. In the last couple of years I’ve seen how things that you’d never anticipate can change your life. So, at the moment I guess I’m learning to take in the joy of returning to train with your teammates again, even if I have to accept that I can’t give them a hug or a high five. It has felt like a bit of an emotional balancing act, but I’m focussing on being grateful for the frisbee we are able to play.

Q4. Anything else?  
The ultimate community (or in particular the Scottish Ultimate community for me) is so supportive and welcoming. While it’s been great to keep in touch with teammates over zoom, I can’t wait for the first opportunity to see everyone at a tournament (party).

Photo shows Rhona pivoting during an Ultimate game at WUCC 2018
Rhona playing for Glasgow Ultimate Mixed at WUCC 2018 (vs Vanguard, Australia)


Q1. Who are you, what are some cool things you've achieved, and what are your future goals? 
I'm Jim Scott, I’ve been playing ultimate since 2004 and have played elite and pro level sports from an early age. 2019 was a competitive frisbee year for me. I played EBUC with GB Mixed Masters and PAUC with GOML (a grandmasters open team). 2020 was supposed to be vengeance year, lined up for another competitive cycle.  

Q2. How have you coped during the downtime from Ultimate, and how have you been preparing to return?
After initially consuming ALL of the Frisbee on the internet and grasping that “normal” was a long way off, I took the opportunity to fill the “Frisbee” hole with other options that had not been taking a priority. I taught my son to surf, learned how to make delicious smoked foods and to identify a variety of trees and mushrooms. Generally, the break set up space for a much needed reset of “muggle” life balance.   

 

My family and I were blessed to spend so much time safely together during the lockdowns, but coping with the lack of team interaction was a challenge. Fortunately, the banter and positivity from my teammates at Reading Ultimate, XST (an offshoot from the mixed masters EBUC 2019 squad) and the Great Grandmasters Beach squad was on point to keep me smiling, looking forward and striving to improve.    

 

Q3. What lessons have you learned from your preparation? What advice would you give to other people as we start to return to the field?

Over the years, I’ve had many instances of stopping competitive sports but have found it leads to greener grass because the extended quite time allows introspection and review that is frequently overlooked while training regularly. In every instance of extended downtime I’ve come back with a new perspective, technique improvement, or training ideas. These have led to better performance. The Covid pause was no different. I used the down time to deeply focus on weak points in my game: Sprint Mechanics and explosive muscle recruitment, Aerobic Capacity and VO2 max, and I retrained my forehand for a flatter smoother release using a homemade training tool (this is not patent pending, hit me up if you want the design…). I look forward to our upcoming pitch time with fresh ideas and “bionic-like” physical performance.    
 
It has been a tough 18 months, and everyone will be coming back from different circumstances. Whether you have been a complete lockdown training beast or grinding out hours on the frontline helping others, when the time comes to return together my wish is that we take care of each other and earnestly listen to our bodies; and also perhaps for that little voice whispering insight that could be offering your next big game change! 

Q4 - Anything else? 

Hugs and antics on a sunny day soon. 

 

JS #66 

Photo shows Jim with his son IsaacPhoto shows Jim's training aid, a hoop inside an upside-down L-shaped frame
 Jim (left, lower) with son Isaac (left, upper). Photo Credit: Tracy Hannigan
Jim's homemade training aid (right). Photo Credit: Jim Scott



Q1. Who are you, what are some cool things you've achieved, and what are your future goals? 
Hi, I'm Connor! I'm a current Clapham squad member and multiple time European champion with Clapham and Great Britain.

Q2.
 How have you coped during the downtime from Ultimate, and how have you been preparing to return?
My down time from Ultimate has pretty much been entirely replaced with Disc Golf. It's been fun to learn a new disc sport and still be able to get outside and compete. Preparing for return has been mostly getting back out running. Disc Golf has kept the shoulders and arms ready to return but the hamstrings needed some reminding.

Q3. What lessons have you learned from your preparation? What advice would you give to other people as we start to return to the field?
My advice would be to put a specific plan in place so you can gradually increase the workload. Don't go too hard too quickly and make sure the approach is measurable based on target time/distance of your run.

Overall advice: don't be too hard on yourself. Most of us have never gone this long without any form of Ultimate. It's going to take some time to get back to where we were.

Photo shows Connor looking at a Disc Golf basket
Connor McHale on the disc golf course
Photo Credit: Charlie Mead 



Q1. Who are you, what are some cool things you've achieved, and what are your future goals? 
I'm Rachel Naden and I’ve been playing ultimate now for 10 years, although maybe I can get away with saying 9 if you discount this year. I’m an environmental advisor who fell in love with the sport from the moment I started my degree.

I’m really proud that I’ve been able to represent GB twice in 2019, Reading Mixed and Bristol Women at WUCC and have had the opportunity to travel across the world exploring new places and meeting new people. I’m co-president of Leeds Ultimate, it’s great to be able to provide an opportunity for the local frisbee community to play and develop.

If frisbee could only be played on one surface it should be the beach. Sand, sea, ultimate what’s not to love? Plus, it’s such a good way to introduce or raise awareness of the sport. There have been several times at beach tournaments where young girls have been watching games. I’ve had an opportunity to chat and throw with them on the sideline and to show them how strong and powerful women are, it’s something I wish I’d had at a younger age. So rather long winded but one of my main goals is to play more beach, hopefully Boracay at some point. I also want to trial for a GB squad for the World Beach Ultimate Championships. World Games is on the horizon, so I guess I can put that out there as a goal? 

Q2. How have you coped during the downtime from Ultimate, and how have you been preparing to return?
This might come as a surprise but Covid was the break that I needed but never would have taken from Ultimate. It has been a great opportunity for me to progress my career, take up cycling, relax, see more friends (even in the pandemic?) and prioritise what I want to focus on post-pandemic.

I’m really fortunate that my personal trainer (@transferabletraining) has been there for all his athletic clients throughout the pandemic, especially with lockdown 3.0, as he’s been training us 1 on 1 outside the gym in whatever the weather can throw at us. His main focus is to prepare us for the movements we make on the pitch so sprinting, acceleration, jumping and change of direction. I’m aiming to throw 2/3 times a week and hit easy wins like sleep, water and eating enough food.

Q3. What lessons have you learned from your preparation? What advice would you give to other people as we start to return to the field?
Go throw (but make in purposeful)! Despite being fundamental to the game, it’s one area that I’ve probably neglected. For me, I think I struggle to motivate myself because progress is harder to measure unlike how much you can squat, or your 5km time. However, these things will only take you so far – there’s a reason why Usain Bolt never got that contract with Manchester United he didn’t have the in-game skill/ game awareness.

Your throwing practice should not be perfect because there’s always an element you can improve on. Don’t apologise for throwing it into the ground etc. as long as you’re assessing why that might be and what you can do to adjust it. You’ve got to fail to succeed.

Make the reality of throwing 2/3 times a week as easy as possible. With the clocks changing it’s becoming lighter in the evening. Find a friend who wants to do the same, schedule it in as a priority where possible and think about the areas you want to focus on - don’t just throw the disc back and forth. 

Finally, take it easy and reset your expectations! We’ve all had a year without a summer of tournaments and weekly trainings. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be at the same level of fitness before lockdown and that’s ok because it will come back. Listen to your body, don’t play on if you’ve tweaked something and go easy on yourself. Better to be sensible now rather than putting yourself out of action for another season.

Q4. Anything else? 
Nothing else from me, just that I’m super excited for Ultimate to return and I can’t wait to see what UKU have planned for the season.

Photo shows Rachel holding a disc
Rachel getting in some throwing practice
Photo Credit: Rachel Naden

Better Understanding: Diversity in Ultimate

Editor/Contributor: Tatenda
Interviewer: Hazard

So, this may be a little cheeky, but the Better Understanding series on this blog has been one of the series that we are most passionate about. The aim of "Better Understanding" is to talk about the subjects less talked about in day-to-day Ultimate: motherhood, fatherhood, chronic fatigue, and IBS have been the topics covered so far.

With that in mind, a recent conversation between Hazard and Tatenda inspired by Color of Ultimate definitely fits in this category, so we're sharing it here with the Better Understanding tag to help it build into the larger discussion. However, the piece was hosted on Tatenda's channel and so we'll just include the link here, in order to encourage you to go check it out. Please give it a listen, and use it to inspire further conversations where you can!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8s6t7komPE8

Also, check out the original Color of Ultimate documentary that inspired our discussion though this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQcC3Cau2-c




UMWON isn't happening so we had a chat instead

Chair/Editor: Hazard
Conributors: Miyen (UCL), Clackers (Lancaster), Hately (Liverpool)

Since UMWON was cancelled, we got a few of the writers together to chat about a few topics. We ended up covering the following, questions will be in bold to make them easier to find. Let us know your thoughts too!

1. Best Uni Game you played this year
2. Thoughts on BUCS league
3. Thoughts on moving UXON to June
4. Best Club in your region
5. Ways to deal with Covid-19 as a team.



Sports Field Stock Illustrations – 16,363 Sports Field Stock ...

Hazard

Hello everyone! Welcome to a chat between some of our uni writers of the 2019/20 season. This is going to be a friendly chat that will delve in and out of a few topics. For now though, why don't you introduce yourselves?

Clackers
I'm Clackers, I play(ed) for Lancaster but am currently clubless. I generally write for the North but have dabbled elsewhere, especially this year - if you see a bedraggled IKEA shark at a tournament then I'm around somewhere

Miyen
Hello, I’m Miyen! I play(ed) at UCL and have just started a season with Deep Space. I generally write for the East & London region, but also wrote an all-region preview for UWIN last February. I usually focus on the women’s side of things, but can probably get opinionated about any division. :))

Hately
Hi I'm Hately, still playing for Liverpool (and will be for the next few years). I'm currently still trying to make a successful prediction about uni ultimate.


Miyen
@Hately, UCL did appreciate your effort last November though

Hazard
And for those that don't know me, I'm Harry (aka Hazard). Pretty much finished for Oxford Uni, and currently signed on a tournament-by-tournament contract to Oxford Ultimate, although I've previously played for lots of other teams. I've been a secondary editor this season due to time constraints, but previously was responsible for whichever uni take you loved/hated the most.

Hazard
Alright, let's start with a bit of a fun one. What's your favourite uni game you've played this year?

Clackers
I honestly don't really remember any indoor season game in enough detail to have it as a favourite, so it might have to be our BUCS league match against Sheffield Hallam - we were roughly 3-1 down and managed to turn it around to roughly 9-3 up.

Hazard
For me, my favourite game has to come from Division 2 UXIN, as the tournament was full of them. I think, within that tournament, I'd say our quarter final against Hertfordshire. It was a nailbiting game the entire way, with both teams playing high intensity mixed and the lead very much up in the air. Plus, I do enjoy marking people like Ernie Simmons.

As an aside while people type, my favourite point was against Edinburgh at the same tournament. They had an amazing pull which took us right to the back corner. They charged down, thinking they'd pinned us, but we'd already agreed our first play was Phili Kent going long. We had a one pass score straight to the endzone, and it was so successful that it ended up being our first offensive play in every subsequent game.

Miyen
As a captain, I always enjoy UCL’s LUSL (London University Sports League) matches, particularly the ones against LSE. For those that aren’t familiar with LUSL, it’s a mixed Wednesday league that runs around London and sees a lot of smaller uni teams that haven’t been able to field a BUCS team, particularly on their women’s side. UCL usually sends our beginners and developmental players to play these matches, and it’s been really fulfilling watching everyone grow and improve as players!

My favourite match that I’ve played is probably our BUCS Fixture match against Imperial. Despite being rivals, we have a lot of friends there, and it’s always insanely spirited. That game was extremely windy and rainy and went to Universe Point, but despite being soaked, they made it a very positive and fun experience!


Hately
No particular favourite game for me this season. But my highlight was our men’s performance at the Youtdoors tournament. Our first real tournament (in decent conditions) with a squad of 8 of which 4 were beginners. Finished 2nd but was blown away with the performances from everyone on the squad #prouddad

HazardHow did we all find the BUCS league this year? I'm particularly interested in Women's BUCS as a new format, but I'm also just curious overall.

Hately
For those readers who don't know, women's BUCS league followed the ECV or "elective central venue" format, so the teams agree to play multiple games against different opposition at one venue (for example ourselves and Lancaster played one of our ECV's at Keele). The main benefits behind it are that it allows for a greater number of players to attend (e.g. experienced players) which otherwise may not be able to make most Wednesday fixtures when the bus leaves at 9:00am. It also shows newer players the standard format for our summer tournaments.

Miyen
Ah, the BUCS league. Lots of mixed feelings there, and the fact that we didn’t have a nationals made it very difficult to see how it all turned out.

From the captain’s perspective, I personally found the Women's BUCS league very difficult administratively. BUCS kept changing our dates for some reason, despite UKU’s publicized dates, making it really difficult to figure out who would be available. It was also rather disorganized on the venue side, figuring out who was hosting, because we ended up having really tiny pitches at Hertfordshire with a cable running 7 ft in the air through the middle of the pitch and botching a lot of our throws. There was also a lot of confusion as to how many teams per region would qualify, leading me to basically tell my team, “we must win everything or else”. High-pressure environment there, oops.

I guess the few positive points are that we were able to spread our 4 matches over 2 days (which didn’t actually work for UCL, but did for other teams), and that we had Sunday’s off in months that were very frisbee-filled with club trials and indoor tournaments. But that was also a bit of a setback - a lot of our women did have to miss a club trial or a friendly tournament that they had wanted to play due to these Saturday fixtures.

Overall, my take is to go back to UWOR. Having a full tournament weekend is both easier to commit to, and (seems) more logistically convenient.

It was also disappointing that the second set of BUCS fixtures took place during COWIN! Given that captains are always trying to encourage players to join club, it sucked having to tell players to choose their uni team over the club

Clackers
Our BUCS league (Northern 2A) also made the unfortunate decision to use the same format as the Women's BUCS league, and it was fraught with complications - although not as many as the Northern Women's League - as club Vice Captain I was involved in our women's team as well so privy to how much of a cluster it was. 
There was one positive for having an ECV format, and that was more players were available for the games, which was good. However...

Men first:
A large problem with weekend fixtures is that they need weekends to play them in. Term 1 only has 1 or 2 available weekends to play fixtures, and for the Men's league it rained, so the Term 1 weekend was called off. At 8pm on the Friday night before it was to happen, after our AU had closed, and therefore unable to cancel our 6am transport.

The earliness of that transport led to another problem, and that was the constant breaking of BUCS regulations - it states that no weekend game should start before 10am, however games were constantly scheduled for 9am. For the rearranged Term 1 tournament, in Term 2, there were no organisers, and the BUCS 9am scheduling was before the host's sports centre was open on weekends, so all the timings were delayed anyway. For being a weekend tournament, there was obviously no one at AUs to contact for advice. Similarly for the Term 2 tournament, weather forced us to play on different surface pitches at very late notice, and these pitches were not available for the timings in the BUCS Schedule. However the weekend could not have been cancelled, because then there would not have been any spare weekends to have fixtures on in the month (even with no virus).

Miyen
@Clackers - I did follow what was happening with the Northern Women. I was extremely baffled by that split between the “top and bottom half” of the league, before the second half of fixtures, given that teams had not all played each other. Did fixtures end up getting rescheduled after all of those named storms?

Clackers

Now Women:

There was very little communication on dates for the Term 1 weekend, and although on the day it was well organised, it ended up being on a different day to what was originally theorised, leading to a team to pull out. Alongside some more disregard for BUCS regulations about conduct regarding rearranged games.

And then the League split. This came out of nowhere, and affected the two leagues which only had 1 division. For some reason, BUCS closed all league games before the 2nd weekend was due to happen. I imagine this was because the 2nd weekend became impossible to play in having to find a venue and timetable for 8 teams in 1 location. Which maybe should have been a consideration before the scheduling had begun... So all teams were mightily confused about what was happening, and initially our women's team was placed in the higher bracket, but then moved into the lower bracket as the league table shifted around. Which is a consequence of unilateral entering of scores into BUCS - you could just play around with results how you wished.

For the lower bracket final, there ended up no weekend able to host the 4 teams - not that there was any need, because the top 4 qualified for div 1, and the bottom 4 qualified for div 2 - this also meant that it became impossible for teams to change their qualification status.

We had to forfeit all our lower bracket games - although we had to forfeit against a team that already forfeited, so no idea how that worked


Hately
@Clackers, if the ECV format was perhaps better organised and had greater communication from AUs and BUCS, would you prefer that format for Men’s BUCS compared to the Wednesday format? Assuming both weekends take place after Xmas.

Clackers
@Hately - Considering we had three storms in three consecutive weekends, having weekend fixtures is not a good idea imo and I'd prefer Wednesday fixtures again, purely for the flexibility and for the communication aspects (we have AUs available to us if things go wrong)

Hately
Obviously there are issues with the Weekend format, just as there are issues with the Wednesday fixtures. It's just seeing which is overall a better route to go down.

Clackers
ECV is also feasibly impossible for league sizes greater than six (like many of the lower leagues) because of how long games are, regulations on game start, and when sunset is

Hately
Yeah definitely. I think they'd have to be limited to six teams maximum per event, and three games each

Hazard
Following on from this discussion on leagues, I'm curious as to if anyone has any thoughts about the UKU Mixed Club League.

Miyen
I actually just joined the club scene this year, moving out from U20s and Canadian Juniors in previous seasons. So I can’t really speak about what it used to be. I think Deep Space has an interesting approach to the Ranking Events, calling it the “pre season” and then using the time between MRE3 and Regionals as the “season” and attending other international tournaments. I think Herd takes a slightly different approach because they do send players to WOREs or their players go play for open/women’s teams, whereas DS generally asks players to commit to the team for the full season, over open/women’s teams.

Hazard
I've made my feelings on BUCS league fairly well known, but I will say that leagues in general I'm not a fan of, as they promote the worst aspects of tournaments for me (increased travel) and decrease the best aspects (community, as no one talks after games and just heads straight home). I feel the same aspect would hold in a mixed club league, and also makes it harder to build teams in those areas without a current strong team, as people will probably try to play locally.

Hazard
Here's a topic I definitely would have raised in an earlier point if we had chats this year: What do we think of the decision to move UXON from Easter-ish time to June?

Clackers
Moving UXON to June was a great idea for practical purposes, although on a personal note it had usually been good practice before our varsity match

Hately
I can understand why they would want to move it, as it would open up another "free" weekend in the uni calendar during term time. But i think if it was earlier we'd possibly see greater availability from players, and therefore more universities entering. Perhaps this wouldn't affect who would finish in the medal spots, but would help increase participation from Unis with newer programmes.

Hazard
June 13-14 is actually still in the middle of some exams for us. Even though March/April was out of term time, it was likely still better overall - Oxford basically goes awol for final term trainings. I would be interested to see if international students would have been affected more by this date as well.

Hately
A lot of our international players had already told us (Liverpool) that they would have already gone home by this date. So we had decided not to enter this year.

Miyen
UCL was pretty disappointed by this decision, but we understood that it would be feasible for other teams.

For us, there were a lot of inflexible obstacles:

- All final exams for undergraduate degrees of all years take place in May and June. If the tournament took place in June, players most likely would not be attending trainings in the months leading up to UXON, especially since UMWON would’ve taken place 2 months earlier in April.

- UCL has quite a lot of international students and players who often leave the UK for the summer holidays immediately after they finish exams. Since the significant majority of students are finished with their exams by May 25, it was highly likely that our team simply would not have enough players to enter a tournament in June, and certainly would not be competing with our strongest possible team if we did attend.

- Finally, the month of June is often filled with club ultimate commitments. Even if these events don’t clash, It was likely that our students would be limited on their financial & time budgets for ultimate, and might’ve then chosen to prioritise spending on the club ultimate than university ultimate.

Given that UCL won UXON last year, arguably the medal spots would have been affected. But obviously maybe not.

Hazard
As a related point, would everyone have handed over committees/captainships by June? We usually have final term as a changeover term for new captains to find their feet, whereas having UXON there would be something we'd have to adapt around.

Miyen
We normally select our new captains before UMWON, but the actual handover only takes place over the summer. We’ve been lucky to have club players fill in captain roles, so the overlap/handover period has been less important

Clackers
We changed our club constitution to not officially hand over captaining tournaments until after UXON, but trainings would have been run by the new captains after our Varsity in May

Hazard
Let's pivot slightly now to more of a retrospective view. Across the divisions, who would you say has the best overall uni club in your region this year? (I can't seem to get into BUCS play without a login and at this point I'm too lazy to try, so my analysis will just be indoors and therefore South-East).

Miyen
UCL for East and London. I know I have a biased viewpoint, but I do think it’s objectively true!

Hazard
I think I have to go with Surrey for the South East, because three third place finishes (and top south east team in the eastern women's indoor regionals) is very impressive. I’d place Sussex as next best with two regional victories in men's/mixed, but a slightly lower finish in women's takes away the top spot. I know Sussex won Div 1 Men and did a bit better at UXIN. Surrey women did do well at UWIN though, and did get to three Div 1 nationals overall. Different weightings would have given Sussex the top spot - but as they already have trophies I don't feel bad giving Surrey the win here.

I'd say the team that impressed me most is Chichester though. They made Div 1 in mixed/women's, and Div 2 in men's. They had a power year a couple years ago in women, and it looks as though they've been building back up, and I want to recognise them for that.


Posted during the chat by hazard.
As I said when I posted - I do think I give UKUltimemes enough credit for what they do.


Miyen
I back your opinion on Surrey. Their indoor women's team was looking quite strong this year - I was already impressed by their semifinal win against Imperial for EUWIR, but they took a respectable top 8 finish at UWIN and genuinely showed a lot of improvement between Regionals and Nats.

Hazard
I also want to shout out Oxford Brookes women's team - this was basically a last hurrah for them, and they qualified for Div 1 despite not really being close in any other division. Did fairly well at nationals too (13th/20).

Miyen
Since it looks like Scotland's unrepresented by our group, I'll try to take a crack at them.

Overall, I'd probably put my vote towards Strathclyde (3rd at UXIN and UMIN, 12th at UWIN, and top of Women's BUCS league). For Scottish women though, I definitely need to shout out St Andrew's, who ended up sending THREE teams to UWIN, with their first team getting 6th, which was the best that Scotland did at UWIN this year. StA's took 3rd at Women's BUCS league - I wish I knew more about what happened there because it seems like they have a lot of depth.

Hately
I'd say that Liverpool John Moores are worth a mention. They only entered two divisions (Mens indoor and Mixed indoor) but qualified for Div 1 in both, and placed well in the final standings.

Hazard
John Moores also had the highest placed northern nationals team at one of those. Despite Newcastle's dominant women's performance, I'd have to say Durham might be my overall northern pick looking across all results. 2nd at mens, 9ths at women's and 13th at mixed (all div 1 nationals) is nothing to sniff at.

Ed's note: Sorry if we didn't get to your region - we'd been chatting for a while at this point. Please volunteer to be writers next year to help us cover you!

Hazard
I feel we've been avoiding it this chat, but I'd like to ask directly how you and your team have dealt with the current Covid-19 situation? This is a tough time for all of us, and sharing tips and advice with each other is something that can help us all.

If anyone wants to see a bunch of frisbee players discuss the situation pre-lockdown (as well as outline exactly why throwing with non-housemates is so bad, and even public throwing with housemates isn't great), the link is here.

Miyen
Most of our players have scurried back to our humbale abodes (including some in Hawaii, Singapore, Malaysia and Canada), so the biggest concern for us when organising Zoom meetings has been figuring out the sweet spot when we're all awake across the different time zones.

I think what's keeping morale high has been the different challenges going on Instagram. We're currently competing against LSE and Kings to get to 10K squat jumps, our AU has been handing out Handstand challenges to different sports clubs, and we recently created an "ultimate bingo" to fill out. Our team's fitness groups have also been good motivation boosts!

Hazard
I'm hosting an online social tonight (I've found https://jitsi.org/ the best video call so far - free, no login, no time limit, fine for all non-safari browsers). Games with MS paint are a lot of fun, as is jackbox and online catan. There's a good list of free online games here

We've definitely been getting some good fitness tips from our sports fed too - although the local club has been doing fitness calls biweekly at a time I can't do, that I think a fair few uni players are getting involved in.

Our captains were good about emailing out to people once we found things out though. Hoping for a few more socials after this one.

Clackers
Our club had a fitness fb group, and we've co-opted it so that every player is giving lockdown updates as motivation for everyone else - we're doing online socials, and also have a club discord now It's sad that most people left on uncertain terms, and might not see each other again in person (especially for me because I'm finalish year). Some people have been keeping fit and challenging each other

Hazard
Let's close there! Wash your hands everyone, and check in with your teammates. See you on the field some point soon.

Division 2 University Women’s Indoor Nationals 2019-20 Preview

Editor: Nic
Writer: Maya
Christmas is long gone and the exam period is finally over, which can only mean one thing - the biggest event of the university indoor season is upon us, University Women’s Indoor Nationals. This year’s women’s competitions are being held at Ravenscraig’s indoor 3G pitches, a far cry from last year’s location in Nottingham, and it’s almost time to boot up. 
Following its debut last year, this is the second University Women’s Indoor Nationals Division 2 competition ever. Division 2 rewards teams who just miss the Division 1 mark the opportunity to be ranked nationally, and to show the continued growth of women’s ultimate in the UK. This year, we will witness impressively accomplished second teams, and even one third team at Nationals, who have managed to force other university first teams out the way on their journey to the tournament. 
Being only in the second year of competition makes predictions slightly tougher to make. Nonetheless, here are some thoughts:


North

Let’s begin with arguably the toughest region on the map, the North. This region now boasts ten spots at Nationals following its’ teams’ brilliant performances at Nationals last year. Four of the top eight Division 1 finishers were Northern teams whilst Durham and Sheffield snatched third and fifth in the second Division competition. The wealth of talent in the region means teams like Sheffield, who just missed out on Division 1 this year are not necessarily shy of the skill needed to compete at Division 1 level. For roughly this reason, my bets are hedged on Sheffield making the Division 2 final. They’re agile, are willing to play both a long and short game and never rely on key players for points. They’ll also be gaining Becca Mighell, an all-round player who was injured at the time of Regionals. If she’s back on form, it will be tough for competitors to challenge Sheffield.

Leeds 2 could also cause a storm. They are the only second team who qualified for Nationals in the region. Speaking to Emily Potter (GB U24, Spice Ultimate), who has been coaching the team whilst playing for Leeds 1, I gained insight into the second team’s success. She explained, they gained a wealth of women last year and have picked up some remarkable freshers. Whilst they are a team of largely intermediates, and employ a simple offensive strategy, they don’t crack under pressure, which is where other teams can falter, making poor decisions and turning over. The mastering of these basic skills enabled them to beat several first teams at Regionals. They will also have a couple of stronger players who couldn’t make Regionals, so keep an eye out for Leeds. 


West

Cardiff is the West’s highest seeded team. They lost out to Birmingham 11-6 in their game to go which could indicate they are not quite at medalling level. At Regionals they seemed to rely on a couple of key players whose flow Birmingham managed to stifle. Having said this, Cardiff are a quick team and if they cherish the disc on offence, utilise all their players and maintain a strong mental game, they’ll likely still finish relatively high in the table, meddling amongst the top contenders.

It seems Warwick could surpass their seeding. They finished an impressive fifth at Mixed Nationals in December, above Loughborough, St Andrews and Newcastle whose women are particularly impressive. They can’t have achieved this result without tough women so it will be intriguing see if they surprise other teams after having had the opportunity to gel some more.


East

The Eastern region have the most spots available for Division 1 yet can only gift three teams with Division 2 spots. Those that secured these places were St Mary’s, LSE and Brighton. This is Brighton and St Mary’s first opportunity to show their power at Division 2 Nationals so it’s an exciting year for both teams who’ve shown improvement since last season. LSE competed in Division 2 last year and finished ninth. Thus, it seems these teams are unlikely to cause great waves at Nationals especially as most regions will have have their fifth and sixth regional finishers competing for the top spots at Division 2 Nationals, whereas the East’s seventh, eighth and ninth finishers are competing for the same medals. For this reason, it seems these teams may struggle against other region’s higher finishers.


Scotland

Lastly, we must consider the effect the Scottish powerhouses will have on the tables. This year Nationals will be on their turf, so they have the slight advantage of more sleep and a shorter journey. This year St Andrews have unbelievably managed to qualify three teams for Nationals! Whilst Scottish teams do have greater student retention due to players predominantly having four-year courses, this is still an impressive achievement so congratulations to them. We’ll be seeing their second and third teams play in Division 2. St Andrew’s second team managed to finish eighth in this division last year. However, bar Warwick and Sheffield, the other teams above them made Division 1 or didn’t make Nationals at all this year so they could potentially achieve fifth or sixth place this year if they play well. Edinburgh just missed out on Division 1 in a tough game to go against Dundee, so will have been happy to take the wildcard spot (although they were our favourites to win Division 2).


St. Andrew' will have a lot of players representing at Nationals this weekend
Photo Credit: University of St. Andrews Ultimate Club Facebook



Top 8 predictions
1. Sheffield
2. Cardiff
3. Plymouth
4. Manchester
5. Warwick
6. St. Andrews 2
7. Leeds 2
8. St. Mary's

Wherever teams finish, the level of competitive Ultimate in Division 2 is promising for the future landscape of women’s ultimate. Good luck to all the teams heading to Ravenscraig. Run hard and fast…you’ll need the stamina for the upcoming outdoor season. 

What you missed at UMIR 2019...

Editor: Nic


Another cold November morning, another Indoor Regionals. Men’s Regionals passed through the seven regions and although not everything was a surprise, there were some impressive performances from underrated teams. These gave the universities some of the best results they have ever seen in recent years. Special mentions to: Salford, Leicester, Loughborough 2, Oxford Brookes, Imperial. We had writers cover some of the highlights from the tournaments, so read on...

Full Results
Spirit



Photo: University of Exeter


Scotland - That Scottish dominance!
Writer: Ed Graham


​1. Strathclyde 1
​2. Edinburgh 1
​3. Glasgow 1
​4. Heriot-Watt 1

​5. St Andrews 1
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
​6. Strathclyde 2
​7. Dundee 1
​8. Aberdeen 1
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Another indoor tournament for the Scottish universities to battle it out took place in the form of Men’s Indoor Regionals (otherwise known as Scottish Nationals). With five Division 1 Nationals’ spots and a further three to Division 2, there was plenty to battle for and it wasn’t just the first teams that saw success.

Strathclyde continued their winning streak from mixed indoors by polishing off their pool in their usual fashion. Edinburgh and Glasgow also topped their pools going undefeated, but it was Dundee who took the top spot in Pool D over the higher seeded St Andrews. Strathclyde 2 drew with St Andrews, showing that the strength doesn’t just lie in their first team, which is slightly scary when you think about it.

The power pools saw Strathclyde 2nd’s pushing the first teams once again, taking Aberdeen and Glasgow to the brink in close defeats, but they lost to their superiors proving that there ‘second teams’ are not to be underrated. St Andrews found better form, topping their power pool and keeping them in contention for one of the Division 1 spots, with Glasgow 2nd’s coming in a close second. Edinburgh were also victorious in their power pool, winning it comfortably. The second teams were coming out in force, with Edinburgh 2nd’s winning their power pool over Stirling 1st’s.

Into bracket play and a St Andrews versus St Andrews saw the first team appropriately beating the second team by a large (but expected) margin, this put the first team through to a semi-final against and leaving the second team fighting for ninth place. St Andrews 1 faced Strathclyde 1st’s, in a respectable match finishing 9-7 in favour of… (you guessed it) Strathclyde. The Strathclyde boys went on to beat Heriot-Watt in the semi-final and entered the final against a feisty Edinburgh, who had convincingly beaten Glasgow to get there. The final was set and it was a close one, with Strathclyde taking it 8-7 but both teams had secured their Division 1 spots before then.. Glasgow and Heriot-Watt also had a close game that finished with Glasgow winning 8-7, sending both to Division 1. St Andrews found themselves in the game-to-go against Strathclyde 2nd’s. A monumental effort by the Strathclyde lads to get this far, however it was only to be Division 2 Nationals this time following another close game that ended 7-6. Aberdeen and Edinburgh 2nd’s battled it out to join Dundee and the others at Division 2 Nationals. Running with the theme of close games-to-go, it finished up 8-7 to Aberdeen, an unfortunate loss but huge achievement for another second team aiming for Nationals.



The North - Merseyside rise up!
Writer: Ed Graham

1. Durham 1
2. Liverpool John Moores 1
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
3. Liverpool 1
4. Manchester 1
5. Newcastle 1
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
6. Northumbria 1
7. Lancaster 1
8. Salford 1


Following University Mixed Indoor Regionals, it was clear there was hot competition in the North’s ultimate scene and the Men’s division was further proof to this. Twitter beefs and Instagram memes aside, the players descended onto the wooden sprung floor of Northumbria Sport Central to decide who would take the five spots to Nationals, with only two of these being to Division 1.

The pool games were business as usual for the top 4 seeded teams. Durham, Liverpool, LJMU and Newcastle topping each, all undefeated. There were some closer second team games however, with Newcastle 2nd’s topping Northumbria 2nd’s for the first of several derbies’ to occur between the locals. The mighty Newcastle 3rd’s were scoring some outrageous points but victories were hard to come by. Into the power pools we go.

Durham were on top form, toppling LJMU and Manchester to cement them as the team to beat for the weekend. The discovery of Spirit of the Game seems to have boosted Liverpool’s performance from UXIR, as they took Newcastle, who were obviously still in the marveling in their universe possession win over Northumbria. Salford seemed to be having a tough time with several losses but pulled a strong performance out to take Northumbria 1st’s to 9-9, being the best finish Salford has had (8th) and it was well deserved.

Time for bracket play. Manchester 1 had a strong start, beating Lancaster 2nd’s convincingly and then, putting on the best performance they could to beat Newcastle 1st’s in the quarter-final (4v5). Manchester’s luck soon came crashing down when they fell to a Durham team 8-4 who seemed to just be on cruise control. The scouse derby came after an easy run for both teams. A close match saw Liverpool take it 12-11 sending them to face Durham in the game for top spot. It was not as close as Liverpool would have liked it to be however, with Durham capping them 15-4. Will Collier really does love university ultimate, will he ever leave? LJMU having beaten Manchester 1, lined up for the second scouse derby of the weekend, this was for the final spot to Division 1. A close game saw the boys in the tank tops (LJMU) win with the 12-11 score line, knocking Liverpool down to Division 2 for the second time this year. In the other game-to-go, the local derby wasn’t as close, Newcastle taking it 9-3 but credit to the Northumbria lads for a great fight! If only Scotland weren’t so greedy with the nationals spots.

Dream Team:
Will Collier (Durham), Alex Hately (Liverpool), Tom Jackson (LJMU), Ben Oliver (LJMU), Andrew Baker (Manchester)


Yorks & East Midlands - Can Loughborough be stopped?
Writer: Matt Rowlinson

1. Loughborough 1
2. Sheffield 1
3. Leicester 1
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
4. Nottingham 1
5. Loughborough 2
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
6. Huddersfield 1
7. Nottingham Trent 1
8. Leeds 1


Despite a very close loss between York 1 and Loughborough 1 in pool play on Saturday, Loughborough did not let it affect the rest of their games. After strong performances against Leeds and Leicester, Loughborough proved they were in a league of their own and could very well be in contention for the final at Nationals. They played hard and got the results needed to face Sheffield (regional winners 2018) in the final, and they took the top spot convincingly! Sheffield were unbeaten (by a long margin) for the whole weekend, this included a nail biting 9-8 semi-final against Nottingham 1st’s. They remain a force to be reckoned with at Division 1 Nationals, and maybe they may break the top 8 this year?


Nottingham were unable to carry their success at Mixed Regionals to the men’s category, and missed out on Division 1 after going down to the wire against Sheffield for a spot in the final. Nottingham were unable to bounce back against Leicester in the game-to-go (to Division 1) and have to settle in the top spot at Division 2, again. You never know, they may win their third consecutive Division 2 National title. Leicester have shown massive improvement compared to previous years and absolutely smashed expectations to take the final Division 1 spot this year, deservingly. They had to face formidable Loughborough teams to earn their spot, and they did not disappoint. It is a wonderful thing to see them challenging the top spots again. 


Nottingham Trent didn’t seem to have the capacity to carry their successes from last year and unfortunately, lost out on a place at Nationals, finishing seventh. Trent lost their derby game against Nottingham 6-3 and weren’t able to come out on top against Huddersfield, finishing 6-5 in Huddersfield’s favour, and securing Trent’s ineligibility for Nationals. Leeds didn’t have the finesse to close out the semi-final game with Loughborough 2 (finishing 7-6), which meant they were faced with playing a seeding game against Nottingham Trent to finish bottom of the top 8. Both Loughborough 2 and Huddersfield were deserving of the final spot at Nationals however, the depth of players Loughborough University blatantly has meant it just wasn’t meant to be for Huddersfield. Huddersfield lost out on a spot at Nationals, finishing sixth in the region. 


Loughborough may have had a significant loss due to graduations, yet it’s evident that they need not worry. An impressive level of ultimate from Loughborough, yet again and I’m sure they’ll be looking to continue this all the way to Nationals.


West and Wales - Birmingham’s reign...
Writer: Matt Rowlinson

1. Birmingham 1
2. Warwick 1
3. Swansea 1
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
4. Bangor 1
5. Cardiff 1
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
6. Warwick 2
7. Aberystwyth 1
8. Keele 1


Birmingham 1 retain their regional title, by winning every game of the weekend for the second year running. Birmingham can go to Nationals feeling confident about improving their fourth place finish last year. An impressive Warwick team excelled in their pool, and dominated their quarter and semi-finals. Their closest game was the final which finished 7-5 to Birmingham, but they are a huge contender for the top 8 and possibly higher at Nationals. 

After having both taken heavy defeats in the semi-finals, Bangor and Swansea were eager to bounce back and claim the last available Division 1 spot. Having only lost one game at the hands of the Warwick, Bangor went into the next game against Swansea with the ambition to win the welsh bragging rights. The rivalry goes without saying and the game was guaranteed to be a close one, but it was Swansea who had the edge and stole the final Division 1 spot with a 9-6 win. Leaving Bangor with a Division 2 place, to be joined by either Cardiff or Warwick 2. Cardiff, trying to improve on their game-to-go loss from last year proved that hard work and determination really does pay off, securing their place at Nationals with a 7-4 win. 

This years qualifying teams have consistently proved they are the real contenders from this region and it will be interesting to see if the likes of Keele (who only missed out on the game-to-go by 1 point), Aberyswyth and Worcester can break this trend in the near future.  


East & London - Rise of Imperial.
Writer: Clackers

1. University College London (UCL)
2. Imperial
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
3. Hertfordshire
4. Kings College London (KCL)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
5. Cambridge
6. Imperial 2
7. University of East Anglia (UEA)
8. St Mary’s


My first insight into University Ultimate was during 2013-4, at a time when my alma mater, Cambridge, dominated in the Men’s competitions, both regionally and nationally. How times have sadly changed. The London powerhouses of UCL or Imperial regularly rule the roost here now, and this year is no exception. On the back of their Mixed Regionals success, UCL pip Imperial to the post in a nail-biting final game. However Imperial did not let this close defeat get into their heads, and secured the second Division 1 spot from Hertfordshire, a team they found themselves in the same pool with to start the weekend. Another credit to Imperial is sending four teams to Regionals, a rare feat indeed, with their second team achieving a very impressive 6th place.

Hertfordshire continued with their regular qualification to Nationals, on their home turf, taking the first Division 2 spot. And to add to this accomplishment, they were the all-important winners of spirit! Hertfordshire’s compatriots in Division 2 are a surprising KCL, who managed to up-heave London School of Economics in the group stages and see off Cambridge in the game-to-go to Division 2. KCL’s took the scenic route through the brackets, with a very low scoring 4-3 victory over Imperial 2.

UCL are going to perform strongly in Nationals, it’s hard to see them finishing outside of the top 8. But predicting Nationals results on 3G pitches from a hardcourt Regionals is risky; Imperial could have every opportunity to prove themselves the best in the region come February. For the Division 2 qualifiers the same is true, however Hertfordshire should have what it takes to finish well.



South East - The Mohawks take first!
Writer: Clackers

1. Sussex
2. Surrey
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
3. Oxford
4. Chichester
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
5. Reading
6. Oxford Brookes
7. Sussex 2
8. Surrey 2


Sussex hold onto their Regionals title for another year, in a very dominating fashion, conceding only twenty points over the entire weekend! And it is fitting that their opponents in their closest game were Surrey, the other qualifying team to Division 1. They didn’t have a second opportunity to face each other after the power pool, perhaps there could have been a different champion. Surrey were able to qualify to Division 1 via an incredibly tight final game-to-go against Oxford. Oxford came out on top in their semi-final clash, also by only one point, but the old adage that close results never go the same way twice came to pass. Alongside their qualification into Division 2, Oxford well-deservedly won spirit.

Chichester had a more eventful tournament than most. A tricky pool to start in, and losing out on countback, placed them in the bottom 8 at the start of Sunday. Having to face Sussex in the quarter final placed Chichester on the long road back up to Nationals contention, including a semi-final clash against Sussex 2, whom they drew with on Saturday. They were able to pip Reading to the post in the game-to-go to Division 2, which as a Reading alumnus hurts a bit.

Spirit in the region does tend to raise some eyebrows, with suspiciously high results in a few games. The region reports far higher maximum scores than the other regions, but also some lower minimum scores.

I imagine Sussex to go far at Nationals, in the top 8 at least, and Surrey shouldn’t be too far off their tails either. It will depend if the Southerners can cope in the harsh realities that Scotland can bring.


The South West - Exeter are HUGE at the moment.
Writer: Nate Sanders

Bath 1 Exeter 1 University of the West of England (UWE) 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Bristol 1 Exeter 2 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Southampton 1 Plymouth Bristol 3 Despite Sweetnam’s concussion from Saturday nights antics, Bath have a flawless run through University Men's Indoors Regionals for the second year on the bounce. They’re showing everyone that they’re better than you even with a hangover.
It was a extremely comfortable weekend for Exeter with big wins across the board only coming unstuck in the final against Bath 1. Some missed connections on their endzone options allowed bath to pull away and leave Exeter wondering if it really was the girls who carried them through that Mixed Regionals win.
This is their second consecutive year UWE qualified for Division 1 for them. Saturday saw them take a loss to Skunks 1 and throw them into a quarter-final against Bristol. UWE take a big win into the semi finals which saw them leading Exeter to start but they couldn’t hold onto it and have to fight for their spot at Division 1 Nationals. An outstanding performance from long standing UWE rock, Peter Rawlinson, sees them take the game away from their Devon based counterparts.
Bristol 1 had a rocky start to the weekend with some big comebacks to take clutch wins against some second teams. One thing they can’t do is beat those boys over at UWE. Two losses to their kryptonite sees them miss out on Division 1 and have to make the long trip to Scotland for Division 2.
Exeter 2 performed incredibly well at Mixed Indoor Regionals and have done one better down in Plymouth. They do a number on a well drilled Southampton side to take the last spot at Nationals, qualifying for Division 2. Two teams at nationals for the first time since 2013 for Exeter.
Southampton 1 suffered a tremendous fall from grace, with nothing but wins on a flawless Saturday to come out top of the group. Sunday finds that Bath are too much for the Skunks to handle, and this is the start of the end for Southampton. Subsequent losses to Bristol and Exeter 2. (that’s right Exeter 2) mean Southampton lose out on qualifying for nationals to a second team two years in a row.


There were some big matches, and incredible wins! Plenty of time to train and prepare for Nationals in February, and it would be safe to say that although Strathclyde won the Scottish region yet again, there could be some strong competition for the winning trophy. Watch this space!

Return to Play

Editor/Interviewer: hazard As we return to play, I wanted to hear a few stories about how some of the athletes in the community have been co...