Weather plays a factor in any outdoor sport. However, in terms of Ultimate frisbee, the stakes are upped a little bit more than in other field sports. Without the following and respect that soccer, football or even lacrosse have, Ultimate tournaments are bumped at even the first sign of damage to fields. Field owners and managers have no other choice, as they have to keep their fields in shape for the more popular, thereby more lucrative sports.
This preseason in college Ultimate has been rife with rain and snow causing tournament cancellations. From Trouble in Vegas to the Hellfish Bonanza, no region of the country has been spared Mother Nature’s wrath this season. While we all know that some teams function without practicing outside (no really, we know, we get it, you don’t get to go outside), there are some teams that this is a brand new experience to. One of those teams is reigning AC Regional Champion, Virginia Night Train.
Night Train was a competitor in every tournament that it took part in last season. This season has been a different story. In the wake of a cancelled ACC Championships, heading into this weekend’s Tally Classic in Tallahassee, FL, UVA has only three competitive games under its belt. All three of them are losses at TiV before the tournament was called off. Needless to say, the team is getting a little stir crazy.
“The spring has been different this year mostly because of the weather and the fact that it has prevented us from playing outside for a month,” UVA co-captain senior Matt King wrote to us in an e-mail. “It’s forced the team to be more flexible and creative from practicing on basketball courts instead of grass/turf. It’s kind of been disappointing to an extent but I our team at this point is chomping at the bit to get out and play some real ultimate.”
Even Wisconsin will tell you that its difficult to teach flow on basketball courts and during track workouts. For that reason King certainly has some worries about the fact that his team hasn’t been allowed on university fields since late January.
“At this point in the season I think we may be slightly handicapped,” King wrote. “Usually by March we have played in at least 2 tournaments whereas this season we’ve only played 3 games.”
There are certainly teams that have the capability to expose that handicap at UVA’s upcoming tournament. King hopes that the work that his team has been putting in elsewhere will make up for whatever they lack in actual playing time together.
“We’ve been focusing a lot on strength and conditioning,” King wrote. “I expect us to be in contention to win the $1000 this weekend. I also expect us to be able to shake off any rust that may have accumulated over the past month.”
While UVA certainly has talent and general experience on its side. The team also has experience specific to the Tally Classic that will lend a helping hand in a successful weekend. The Tally Classic has long since been a tournament that uses experimental rules and observer roles and Night Train is no stranger to those. King is looking forward to the new aspects of the games for more than one reason.
“We’ve played under experimental rules a few times now, doing so this fall in the 8s and last season with ACCs so we’re ready and comfortable with them,” King wrote. “Hopefully since this tournament will be fully observed it will be able to keep us more focused on playing and clicking on all cylinders again.”
It’s been a long, boring spring for Virginia and the warm weather of Tallahassee is calling loudly.
“Just the other day one of the guys on the team sent out the weather for Tallahassee for this weekend and needless to say everyone is really excited to play not only outside, but play when when its in the 60s,” King wrote. “Not sure if we’re antsy but definitely excited to make the long trek to play some new and familiar foes on some of the best fields with some of the best weather we’ve had in a really long time.”
Call it ansty, call it excited, call it whatever you want. Night Train has been waiting to get outside longer than most teams that are traveling to FSU’s home tournament and there’s little doubt in our mind that you’ll be able to see it come the first pull of the weekend.
There are plenty more Tally Classic previews to come as team interviews continue to roll in. On top of that we will outline for you everything that’s going to be going on this weekend as the tournament is set up and being executed a little bit differently than your average tournament.