Photo by Daniel Thai – Ultiphotos.com
The USAU 2016 Youth Club Championships took place in Blaine, Minnesota this year with no shortage of MLU player, coach, and staff participation.
Swing Vote, Washington, D.C.’s premier youth club, took home their second straight mixed championship after defeating San Francisco’s Happy Cow on universe point, 13-12.
Washington D.C. Current rookies Joe Freund and Jake Radack helped lead Swing Vote back to the finals for the second consecutive year. Playing against Happy Cow this year was a great experience for Freund, who had developed some great playing relationships with the players from San Francisco.
“It was so amazing,” the 19-year old cutter said. “Colby [Chuck], as well as Jeremy Dolezal-Ng, and I have grown so close in the past few years due to past tournaments and WJUC (World Junior Ultimate Championships). They’re great guys both on and off the field, and their level of skill is off the charts. It makes playing them in competitive games incredibly fun and something I will remember for a while.”
Chuck, who just finished his rookie MLU season with the San Francisco Dogfish, echoed Freund’s sentiments after playing WJUC with Freund and Duncan Fitzgerald, and playing in Chicago Invite with combined rosters as “Swing Cow.”
“Going up against Joe and D.C. Swing Vote in the finals for the second year in a row was the game I was hoping for all tournament,” said Chuck.
In the girls’ division, Seattle Nimbus of DiscNW won their record 12th consecutive YCC Championship, defeating Belle (Cincinnati) in the final.
DiscNW was founded by Seattle Rainmakers General Manager Rusty Brown, who also coaches the DiscNW teams. Rainmakers veteran and former coach Steve Gussin is also among the coaches for DiscNW teams.
Nimbus took an early 5-2 lead and went on to win 13-9 over Belle, asserting their dominance in youth ultimate for another year in a row.
On the boys’ side of the championships, Triforce (Boston) met DEVYL (N.J.) in the championships.
“YCCs is my favorite tournament of the year,” said Nuñez. “The YCC staff runs everything very well. The competition is great and the kids are always battling to be one of the top teams in the nation. This year we went into the tournament ranked 10th and ended the tournament taking 2nd losing only twice to the first place team Triangle. Which is the second best placement DEVYL has every done (we won the whole thing in 2010). What I loved most about this team this year is that every game we played everyone. It didn’t matter if it was a pool play game or the finals, we wanted to win with our depth.”
Nuñez, along with Brown, is a pillar in youth ultimate in the community and has been with DEVYL since 2007, producing many high level club and pro players. Youth ultimate has a huge place in his heart.
“Youth Ultimate is the most important area of Ultimate in my opinion,” he said. “It’s where a kid first grasps the game. He or she learns how to play, have a great time, and learn the culture of the sport. Every time I coach a new player, I gain another member of my ultimate family and that is something hard to get at the other levels.”