Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Women's Ultimate in Ottawa- What's Next?


2004 was an interesting year for women's ultimate in Ottawa. Following a 2003 nationals finals collapse that cost the city a berth at Worlds, there was great tension in the female ranks. Many felt a stable secondary team was needed to assist perennial national championship contender Stella. Others felt that politics and old guard were preventing younger/unknown players from developing and surpassing current starters.

What ended up happening was interesting. A second team did emerge that season, but was run independently by Jaime Boss, Sweet Marie Celine St-Jacques, and Justine Price. Maeve, as the team was called, was full of young exciting talent that proved they were ready to compete nationally at finals. The squad finished 4th at the 2004 nationals, and many thought they would soon surpass Stella in future seasons (Stella finished 3rd at that nationals).

That did not happen. Stella managed to emerge with the talent Maeve developed, and Maeve folded. It was replaced by a team named Scarlett, which was a direct B team to Stella. Many players who couldn't make the move to Stella bolted for Ottawa's coed team, and Scarlett greatly suffered. It was really a lose lose, as the females that went to coed also lost because.. it was Ottawa coed.

So, Stella had great seasons in 2005 and 2006, winning a national title and a silver medal in respective nationals. In 2007, top players from Ottawa joined forces with top Toronto players to try and win the 2008 worlds berth. The Stella brand was "retired" for the season (which has been criticized), and Scarlett was pretty much left to their own vices again. Many solid females were lost to coed again, but Scarlett had a great season lead by the leadership of Ottawa 'legends' Deb Murphy and Justine Price.

After a dominating 2007 season by the Capitals, the team failed once again in the national finals, unexpectedly losing to Vancouver's Traffic.

It's 2008, and it looks like Stella and Scarlett will be sisters again. In order to find out how the family is doing, I set up an interview with Stella captain Danielle Fortin. I wonder if lessons have been learned in the past five seasons, and what will/should be done in the next three years to bring a worlds women's berth to Ottawa.

Capitals at Flowerbowl 2007
Photo Source: Ultypics and Alex Benedict


Hodge said...

"It was really a lose lose, as the females that went to coed also lost because.. it was Ottawa coed."

Did you really just state this? How was it lose-lose when two of the girls that decided to play on the Co-ed team that year made Stella and the Capitals the following year?

Sport Management Steven said...

I did say it. I expected your response. :)

Good people aside, the coed side of Ottawa ultimate has been underachieving for years.

It's the very reason good people like you are playing mens and women's respectively.

sharpie said...

Hodge could never play womens... His shoulders give him away.

GavinatorX said...

The fact that coed Ultimate in Ottawa has been underachieving for years (your words) doesn't make it not a good place to develop talent.

If a player doesn't make A in Open or Womens, the coed program may be the best place for that particular player to develop to become a player who will later develop into a top Open or Womens player.

Development/Feeder teams shouldn't have their success based on win/loss or standing results, but more on the number of players that have 'graduated' to the team that that is supposed to be feeding. To judge them otherwise undermines the purpose of that team.

My concern for womens Ultimate in Ottawa is the same as always: how much will Stella's claim to interact with Scarlett pan out, and who will be running Scralett, will Deb and or Justine be back?

Sport Management Steven said...

Any program that depends on ultimate $luts, that is, the fine ladies and gentlemen who bounce from division to division for personal gain are limited as to their team development and ultimately, team success.

There is nothing wrong with coed or Ottawa coed as an entity. However, there were levels of disappointment and problems in the years I discussed.

GavinatorX said...

That may be true, but the same arguments could be used for mens and womens. In mens the topish players bounce between playing Phoenix, Goat and occassionally masters.

The womens side has been more stable of late, but the merger last year basically turned the number 2 and number 3 team nationally into the number 2 team. I hope that down the road the benefits of the merger are recognized through increase in knowledge and experience in both cities, as mentioned in the interview. This of course, remains to be seen.

I still think in the context of development, which was the intended slight in your post, you were off base.

I like your openess and candor when you write. I just like it to be right. This blog (and a lot of your ideas) are some of the best analysis or foresight I have ever seen discussed (or have the privledge to discuss) about the sport. The occasional burn for entertainment value sort of takes away from it. On that note kick sharpie off the site, has he ever posted anything of value? :)

Sport Management Steven said...


Welcome to my site! Don't be so shy.

-My comment about Ottawa coed was secluded to a particular year, a particular team, and a particular measurement. I expanded on it when questioned. It didn't speak to the division as a whole or every person in the coed program.

-One of the biggest problems in ultimate is the struggle/resentment between divisions. Is it strife built out of scarce resources? Is it insecurity on both ends? Sadly, this is common in amateur sport, where sports justify their existence and value by ripping another point.

-I think open has really started to move away from players who waffle between teams and divisions. It's too destructive to team development, and these players often won't be able to commit to the training and grind needed to truly compete at the top level.

-In reading your responses, the first thing that comes to mind is how many other conversations are effecting your perception of my "take", and I also wonder exactly how you see the coed division- Is it a unique alternative division or is it merely a feeder system? That's probably a more productive discussion.

-I'll do my best to eliminate pot shots to specific divisions, and you do your best to understand my good intentions.

GavinatorX said...

I'm not quite sure what you are saying is true, if it was to a particular team and year, then how does it come out as "the coed side of Ottawa ultimate has been underachieving for years"... but enough of that argument. I'm not bitter, I just want the record set straight.

In the context of your article, which was the women's top team, I think that coed A is a feeder to that team, as the women's top team wants to recruit the best possible players to the team, but I think you could qualify varsity soccer as a feeder to the women's top team using that argument, but it wouldn't properly apply to either varsity soccer or coed A.

I'm not sure there is a resentment between divisions. I may be wrong of course. I've always been fully supportive (including positive critical) of the mens and womens programs.

I do understand the struggle between the top teams for resources, and this has always been a problem. Coed usually only flourishes at the expence of mens and womens teams. Both Winnipeg and Montreal have had the top coed teams for years (until TFP) showed up. The reason that Mtl and Winnipeg were so strong was that they didn't have particularly strong women's teams.

I think I respect and understand your good intentions, that is why I wasn't too thrilled about that shot at coed. Your writing/thinking is at a level way above most people's when it comes to Ultimate, so I hold you to a higher standard, that is all.

GavinatorX said...

Actually, I agree that coed has been underacheiving for years, I shouldn't harp on that point. The point I had issue with was that players were 'lost' by going there, implying that they weren't developing.