Photo by Kevin Leclaire — UltiPhotos.com
The DC Current have completed the first round of outdoor, full-field tryouts.
After two weeks of indoor, small field, 5AM tryouts at the Soccerdome in Jessup, Maryland, the DC Current moved to Arlington Virginia’s Washington-Lee High School to let the 39 invited players test out the MLU-size field.
After an extended warm-up designed to combat the cold of early February in Northern Virginia, including some of head coach Keven Moldenhauer’s favorite drills, the group was reminded of the basic differences between MLU play and USAU play (stall count, movement when a call is made, different types of travels, etc.) and then split into two teams to scrimmage and get familiar with the space.
While this early portion of the afternoon tryout was taking place, the groups were selected to perform one of the MLU combine tests: Cut Time. This consists of a 5 yard sprint followed by a 30 yard sprint in the opposite direction. Each tryout was given two chances,while being monitored for foot faults and timed by MLU and DC Current staff. Times ranged from the 4.84 turned in by the undisputed DC Current Cut Time champion, Daniel Kantor, followed closely by Tom Doi at 4.85 and Jeff Wodatch at 4.90, to a night high of 5.50, hit by a few different tryouts.
As the players were solicited for comments on the size of the field, there was a lot of talk on just how far away you could be from the disc and still be in play. Coach Will Smolinski said, “It feels like I’m watching two separate games at once,” just as one receiver, about 50 yards away from a trapped thrower, attempted to figure out how to reinsert himself into the play.
Head Coach Moldenhauer emphasized experimentation on the field by running smaller O vs. D drills on the full field and reminding the players what the staff is evaluating them on. The players responded in kind by testing out the limits of their throws. More often than the defense seemed to expect, 80+ yard throws were being ripped to full-speed deep cuts. In the midst of this, it dawned on everyone that MLU is going to be a wide open game.
The players in town from North Carolina’s club scene were a welcome addition to the tryouts as they brought a slightly different sense of how to attack the drills and scrimmages. The Carolina contingent vied with a handful of local DC area talent for the titles of longest throw/pull. As the games continued, the battles of speed on the field seemed to be the most consistent trait. This team will be three things: Fast, Fast and Fast.
With tryouts coming from a diverse array of club teams (Medicine Men, Heva Havas, Termite’s Entourage, Ghosts, Swell, Ambiguously Grey, Death by Jubilee, Truck Stop, Ring of Fire) as well as college teams (George Mason, Salisbury, George Washington and more), the required skill, level of competition, and athleticism is immediately raised.
There is change afoot in Ultimate. This field is a new canvas on which to paint the game. These players are testing the new limits. The coaches are hard at work refining strategies as the preseason enters the next phase:
We talkin’ ’bout practice.