As Grinnellians returned for spring classes in January, Ultimate players from all over the Midwest headed to campus for some classes of their own at the first Midwest Captaining 101 Clinic.
The Sticky Tongue Frogs, the Grinnell women’s Ultimate team, worked with the organization Without Limits to offer a two-day clinic where elite-level Ultimate players and coaches taught participants how to develop their teams and programs, as well as how to teach others to play. They focused on best practices for strength and conditioning, recruiting, building a program, and teaching a variety of skills and drills.
With more than 60 participants from schools across the Midwest — including Iowa State, Drake, University of Kansas, University of Nebraska, Drury, and Oberlin — the event was a smashing success. “It was so great to meet other players from other colleges. When you only play them on the Ultimate field, you only see their game, but at the clinic we were all there to learn and grow and make new friends.” said Kelly Helbach ’13.
“Ultimate is a grass-roots sport.” says Hanna Liebl ’10, former captain of the Sticky Tongue Frogs. “As it gets bigger, it manages to keep the quirkiness and sense of community. That makes it unlike any sport I’ve ever played.”
Enhancing the larger Ultimate community is part of the mission of teams all over the United States. “To be a successful team, you have to give back to the Ultimate community.” said Paige Hill ’12, co-organizer and current co-captain of the Sticky Tongue Frogs.
The Charles Benson Bear ’39 Recreation and Athletics Center, completed in 2010, housed the event. “I was thoroughly impressed with the athletic facilities at Grinnell. I planned events for smaller spaces, but even the auxiliary gym was larger than many smaller schools’ practice facilities,” said Robyn Fennig, a coach and top 10 Callahan Award nominee who attends the University of Iowa. “It’s an incredible space.” Bear’s field house boasts a 200-meter six-lane track with room for four tennis courts inside the track, a space big enough for a full-size Ultimate field.
Grinnell team members opened their homes and dorm rooms, providing free housing for most of the participants. “The Grinnell teams were so hospitable.” said Michelle Ng, founder of Without Limits. “We wouldn’t have been able to pull off this clinic without everyone helping out. It’s events like these that show how important a sense of community is to the sport and how important a team like Grinnell’s is to the development of the sport.”
Want to learn more about the clinic? See Captaining 101: Without Limits Invests in Midwest Ultimate Leaders.
By Mona Ghadiri ’11