Monday, October 13, 2008

Tula Wins 3rd Canadian University Championship

The University of Toronto, Torontula, Open won a third Canadian University National championship in a row, and the fourth in our history as a team. Some of us have been talking, and there's a feeling that this is the best one yet, and I wasn't even involved. I guess it's that sense satisfaction for building something and seeing it maintain itself at the high standard. Of course, I've only been away for a year, and time will tell with the program. That, and if I get a Professor job in Montreal (McGill) as it's one of my potentials in the Northeast, than Tula better watch out ;)

Pictured Above: Torontula winners out in Alberta.

The thing about programs, wherever and whatever activity they are in, is that they're maintained by the efforts of the members. This is true until the institution obtains a status where it becomes bigger than just a group of people that get together to play, do, and compete.

Let's look at Torontula as a case example and try an evaluate what it needs to become self maintaining. Torontula was established as a team in 1997. In Ultimate terms, that gives it some sort of history. The team has specific traditions (at least the Open team) that are repeated yearly. Some of these are:
  • Didn't get cut party - a celebration of everyone making the club
  • Buddy system - an undeerstanding that at tournaments and parties there is someone you're watching out for
  • Velvet and Velour party - a season ending celebration in unique materialed outfits
These traditions change over the years, but they make the club feel like there's something special about belonging to the team.

Torontula has a logo that hasn't changed significantly over the years. This is a branding element that people see and recognize. Torontula also has championships, which gives people the sense that it's a winning program.

That's many things helping push the team forward, but it's not an institution that is guaranteed to last into the future. There are a number of reasons for this, but for dynasty college sports (football, basketball, etc.) teams are built around pillars, and those pillars again are the people (fans, administration, and coaches). In Torontula's case, people are only in the system for a matter of four years. To make these systems last the first step is getting a long term coach in place, and this costs money to draw and keep these people. Then as the program develops maybe the fans will come (highly unlikely in Canada).

That's the next step that college teams need to take to keep up there systems and get better recognized. These are early days in Ultimate, and there's a small window of opportunity to make your school a giant.

I've thrown my applications out to McGill, University of Michigan, Waterloo, Boston University, and University of Minnesota (and others). Hopefully, one of these schools will hire me (as a professor not as a coach) and I can be one of the people helping a program grasp that window of opportunity. I'm hoping to be in this next wave of building some dynasties.



Jay Schulkin said...

those uniforms are sick

Yaacov said...

You should definitely come to Waterloo!

ryan said...

why is it 'the best win of them all' when it was probably the weakest field the tourney has seen in many years???

Kirker said...

the nature of university ultimate in canada: teams spend 2 years building a strong squad, generally losing in quarters or semis. then (if lucky) the squad makes a break-thru and you win a title or two. then you graduate off the top half of your team and the cycle restarts.

UofT graduated off 10 of its starting players last year, which would be the kiss of death to many teams. just think what your team would look like if you lost 10 of your top players. but, a tonne of last year's B-team guys stepped up to the A-team this year and played great, which made the win extra sweet. more than anything, it was a sign that UofT's developmental system really works. sure, queens and ubc (who both have incredibly strong systems) weren't there to really test things, but it's extra sweet nonetheless.

reentoe said...

What I think is awesome about this win is that the team that brought it home was almost exclusively composed of undergrads. One of Dolanistan's biggest complaints (rightly so) is that Canadian University Ultimate is skewed because the rules allow graduate students to be such a big part of the game, but this was a legitimate undergrad team that took the title. Nice work boys!

Taylor said...

Thanks for the hype Peter. Yes, Ryan, the tournament this year didn't have the perrenial powerhouse teams (Queens and UBC). That's why we have our 3rd consecutive CEUUC win as well. We played some great university level teams and won. And please don't comment on the stength of the CUUC teams if you weren't there. U of A had some very strong players (they did after all breed the likes of Inian) and played an excellent finals.

Who are the 'strong' teams right now? Guelph has a group of young guys who will make some noise next year. McMaster looks like they fared well as CEUUC. Western also has some big additions this year and will do well. I was most impressed with Carleton at CEUUC. Queens? No idea, but I would suggest that they're in a transition period right now. I don't know who they've got, and that in itself is a sign. UBC? Again I don't know much about the roster, but I've heard it's not as star-studded as last year. UBC was at UPA Club Regionals the weekend of CUUC and good for them. Their results tell me they are doing ok, but by no means do they look dominant.

In the end it's up to other Canadian teams to come take the title away from U of T. There's an open invitation to do so.