Team USA: Scrimmage Preview

Team USA member Deb Cussen throws a forehand against Canada at Worlds 2005. Photo courtesy of Deb Cussen, shot by Mel Deaver.

Team USA member Deb Cussen throws a forehand against Canada at Worlds 2005. Photo courtesy of Deb Cussen, shot by Mel Deaver.

Every four years athletes of all shapes and sizes congregate for the International Word Gaming Association’s World Games. Among the many competitions that take place at The World Games is an international Ultimate competition. One of the most historically successful teams among the international competition is Team USA. This year’s Team USA is making an effort to raise funds and connect with local Ultimate communities by participating in scrimmages around the nation prior to leaving the States for Kaohsiung, Chinese Taipei from July 7-16.

Team USA member and Atlanta resident Deb Cussen is helping organize a scrimmage for Team USA against club Ultimate players from Atlanta elite-level teams, Chain and Ozone this weekend in Atlanta. Cussen sees a benefit to the scrimmage for both Team USA and the Altanta community.

“Scrimmaging against local players is important and beneficial for several reasons,” Cussen wrote us in an e-mail. ” It gives us the chance to all play together as a full squad, as opposed to split against each other on practice scrimmage teams.  By playing against different people we get a chance to see how the strategies and set plays we’ve been practicing work against new players.  We also get to see new offenses and defenses played against us, which gives us the chance to react to different strategies and will make us a more versatile team.  Providing the Juniors’ clinic, scrimmaging local players, and inviting spectators to come watch also gives us a chance to connect with the local Ultimate communities.”

The Junior clinic that Cussen speaks of is just another way that Team USA is planning on reaching out to local communities and trying to raise funds. However, beyond that, Team USA also enjoys working with the youth of the game. Many of Team USA’s players came from great youth programs and relish the opportunity to provide the kind of education and training that helped them get to where they are in their Ultimate careers.

“The Juniors’ clinic is open to all area high school players.  We will start with a warm up and throwing, give short ‘chalk talks’ with strategic pointers on different subjects, and run corresponding drills.  There will likely be scrimmaging as well, to work on incorporating the skills discussed and focused on during drills.  It is a great learning opportunity for Juniors players, and we have a great time working with the next generation of Ultimate stars.”

That in mind, there is a financial benefit to all of this as well. Team USA works hard to get to the World Games and it is an expensive endeavor. The UPA gives some help but the team ends up footing much of the bill itself. With flights from the US to Chinese Taipei coming in at around $1,500, that’s quite a bill to foot.

“As a team we are receiving a small amount of financial support from the UPA, but a majority of our costs for travel to practices, tournaments, and to the World Games is coming out-of-pocket,” Cussen wrote. “We are fundraising as much as possible to help offset these costs.  Replica merchandise can be purchased at the event, or online through 5 Ultimate at http://fiveultimate.com/.  We will be accepting donations at the clinic and scrimmage, and online donations can also be made through the UPA website at http://www.upa.org/programs/intl/worldgames2009/fundraising.  All donations are tax-deductable.”

Team USA will also be scrimmaging a team of College Alumni All-Stars and spending the weekend of college Nationals practicing for the World Games at the end fo this summer. However, between now and then Cussen believes that these scrimmages in individual cities are a great opportunity for the team to connect with the people it is representing and encourages any interested fans to come out and watch.

“I would encourage anyone in the Atlanta area to come out and cheer at the scrimmage, and for all area juniors to come to the clinic,” Cussen wrote. ” For those not in the local area, come say ‘Hi,’ at College Nationals, Poultry Days, or Potlatch.”

The Juniors clinic begins at 10:00 AM and runs to 12:00 PM. The scrimmage will start shortly afterwards at 12:30 PM. The suggested donation for both events is $10 but any Juniors who attend the clinic are not asked for any further donation. Both events will be taking place at Python Park in Atlanta, GA (1201 Clarendon Ave, Avondale Estates).

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