Philly Fusion was a great tournament for a number of reasons. The tournament was chock full of competition that included both top level Women's club teams and college teams from all along the east coast (and Canada!), with skills clinics and a club team tradeshow to top it off.
A brief prelude: Michelle Ng, of Showdown, and I started our friendship off with a few cross country emails via RSD in 2007. We managed to keep in touch over the next couple of years, and meanwhile she met current Brute (and close friend of mine), Sara Jacobi, and they quickly became friends. I’d like to think that I was partly responsible for the Brute-Showdown relationship and eventual birth of Philly Fusion, but I’d be kidding myself. Through the incredible determination, hard work and vision of both Michelle and Sara, they made a simple idea an amazing reality.
What made the weekend so unique was that it was an all Women's combination club and college tournament. The timing of the tourney was also impeccable. In the midst of the fall club series, Philly Fusion was a chance for us to iron out some wrinkles before regionals while the college teams were just beginning their seasons with their rookies.
This created a great opportunity for new women players to see the sport played at its highest level. I like to think that being able to watch elite Women's Ultimate firsthand not only allows new players to see the level at which women play but can also provide tangible goals to work towards.
The tournament tradeshow took place post-games on Saturday, and the club teams were able to showcase their swag and promote Women's club Ultimate to the college crowd. It ended up attracting a ton of people, and some girls walked away with some pretty sweet gear. Additionally, Brute Squad, Showdown and Phoenix held skills clinics that college players could sign up for prior to the tourney. The clinics covered a wide variety of topics including how to play deep defense, end-zone offense, cutting basics, the fundamentals of throwing, how to huck, how to pull, etc. They were a fantastic way for younger players to get individual attention and learn tips and tricks from some of the best of the best in the game.
Philly Fusion has really set a precedent for future Women's tournaments through USA Ultimate. The entire weekend was well run, the atmosphere was competitive yet welcoming, and best of all everyone was having fun. I’d like to see more all Women's tournaments for both the club and college divisions. I’m hoping that growth in Women's club tournaments will correlate positively with the growth of Women's club teams in the US. I think the reason why the number of club mixed teams far exceeds that of Women's teams is because there are many more opportunities to play mixed Ultimate. If the Ultimate community can support the growth of Women's teams and tournaments, we’ll see the level of competition rise across the board. My hope is that the more club teams available to college women, the more they will want to continue playing Women's Ultimate.
Brute is a strong supporter of the growth of Women's Ultimate, and we are very dedicated to giving back to younger players. About two-thirds of the team currently coaches, or has coached, a high school or college Women's team, and we run clinics around New England during our off season. If more high level women players can give back to young women now, the better our chances are of sustaining Women's Ultimate for years to come.
Many thanks goes out to the members of Brute Squad, Showdown, Phoenix, Blue Route, PADA, and Greg Connelly (on-site TD for the tournament) for helping run the show and providing support. Most importantly, I’d like to sincerely thank Michelle and Sara for being the brains behind this ambitious and brilliant operation and for all of the effort they’ve put into this endeavor. I have no doubt in my mind that your hard work is already paying off.
Christie Kim is the captain of Brute Squad.