Story on team in Walt Whitman Black and White

posted Nov 4, 2015, 7:07 PM by Barney Krucoff   [ updated Nov 4, 2015, 7:23 PM ]

Thanks to Reporter Michael Gorman for covering our team. I'm not actually a Pyle dad (Go NB!), but otherwise good stuff. Here is the full text of my interview with Michael. 

What type of successes has the team had this season and last season?
The big success is that Whitman and Johnson have gotten together and gone from no team to a sustainable team. Last season our captain, Joel Maiman, had a simple goal, “show up,” meaning with enough kids not to forfeit any games. We achieved that less than lofty goal, and even ended up winning a JV tournament at the end of the spring 2015 season. This season my goal was also participation oriented. Get enough kids to practice so that we can have full 7 vs 7 scrimmages. We’ve achieved that goal as well.      

Looking to the future the goals get more ambitious. The BCC club (none of the clubs, including ours, are officially associated with their schools--they're just named after the schools that the team members attend) are the State of Maryland high school champs.  My long term goal is one day, Poets and Pitchers is so good that schools like BCC complain that “Whitman and Johnson together isn’t fair -- they need to break up.” We still have a long way to go before that happens.

What is it like coaching high schoolers that are competing against adults?
There is no dedicated high school league in the fall so we entered the team in an adult league organized by the Washington Area Frisbee Club (WAFC). Blair is also in the league. The athletic part of the game is essentially the same whether playing adults or other high schoolers; the differences are more about sportsmanship and how the rules are applied. Ultimate, at this level, is a self-officiated game. Only players on the field can call fouls, and the opposing players can “accept” or “contest” those calls. The system of enforcing the rules and resolving disputes is known as “The Spirit of the Game.” Self-officiating puts a lot of responsibility on young players. Typically high schoolers don’t make calls--they lack confidence that they know the rules well enough, and they don’t want to call attention to themselves. When playing adults, high schoolers are even more reticent to make calls. All their lives they have been taught to be deferential to adults. Adult players are relatively litigious. Playing with adults, not only gets us a game every week, it turns out to be a great way for young players to learn and apply “The Spirit of the Game.”        

What would you want to improve about the team?
Recruiting more girls is the number one improvement we can make. I have both a son and a daughter on the team – both enjoy the game. The best Ultimate teams are either all male or all female, but those teams have to travel to find competition. The local leagues are coed. Typically leagues require that at least two of the seven players on the field be female. One of the adult teams we played this season complained that we didn’t have enough women on the field. We only had two girls that day, and one of them needed a rest. We pulled one of the inexperienced freshman boys and put in one of the team moms. Just so happens she is an experienced player who played on national class teams when she was younger. We won easily. Our adult opponents asked to play against a woman and they got what they asked for, but our real goal is to be feared for our girls, not their moms!          
How do you see this club changing or evolving as the years go on?
The team is growing, and playing time for boys is tight. Another problem is the skill and athleticism varies significantly among the players. For the spring 2016 season, we’re hoping to grow and divide the squad into an A and a B team. This will be good for all the players. The less experienced kids will get to handle and play more, and the more experienced kids will also get to play more and at a higher level.