18 Jun 2014
Wednesday, June 18, 2014

We Are Pleased to Announce Our 2nd Sponsor – Grundy, Cass & Campbell!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 0 Comment

We are pleased to announce Grundy, Cass & Campbell as another sponsor, in our “Community Involvement” sponsorship level.

Grundy, Cass & Campbell serve clients in the fields of business law, litigation and estates. Their strength is high quality personal service. They are accessible, efficient and plain spoken.

Our success is built upon lasting relationships with our clients and their advisors, based on skill, integrity and discretion.

We are grateful for your financial sponsorship and support on our road to the World Ultimate Club Championships in Lecco, Italy.

More on Grundy, Cass & Campbell:

Grundy, Cass & Campbell have excellent relationships with a number of national law firms, who refer clients to us for our special brand of service or when conflicts arise. We also work closely with a number of leading boutique firms in the fields of tax, intellectual property, employment law and family law. It is a source of great pride to us that other lawyers value our advice and assistance.

29 May 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014

Adversity and the Mental Game

Thursday, May 29, 2014 0 Comment

In 2012 we walked into Victoria’s grand stadium for the CUC finals against Odyssee. Some have said that we weren’t hungry or prepared enough for that game, that we were just happy to be there. That was tough not to resent or be defensive about- we reviewed their plays and had a game plan, we were excited, and we had gold in our eyes.

The truth is, we weren’t prepared. We weren’t ready for their intensity, their pace, their precision, or their effort. And Jeremy Lin, who said “you don’t learn anything from winning”, would almost certainly say that the lessons we learned in that game propelled us in 2013.

As Andy mentioned, it was far from a done deal that we would even proceed in 2013 (in fact quite the opposite), but with a roster complete and a good returning core intact, we hit the season with a renewed sense of fire and more importantly, a clear vision of the minimum level we needed to achieve on the field.

During our rise, we needed to ride the careful line between getting too carried away with our success, or becoming too intimidated by old competitors and ghosts of games past. Our focal word in timeouts and pre-game huddles became RESET (a theme that, coincidentally, seems to have spawned from our previous year’s tagline #movinrightalong). RESET meant: don’t get too high, don’t get too low, embody a level-headed confidence, and go perform. It was a simple word pregnant with the firm reminder to put our faith in the method of our training and commit to the things that had brought us to success. It helped us to put behind a recent misstep or resist becoming clouded with the idea of future glory. With one foot driving down firmly in front of the other, we maintained both our pace and our focus.

Put simply, it was a message about clearing your mind of distracting thoughts, and doing the things that have brought us here. It was as the Zen saying, “Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water.”

In 2014, we will start with two themes to increase the frequency, resilience, and effectiveness of the RESET. In the first, we will explore how to give voice and direction to our own personal reset buttons — instead of a blank slate, we will populate it with clear, defined, personal messages to ourselves to elicit superior performance. In the second, we will add tools and techniques to maintain or re-initiate this mental reset for ourselves and stay in a primed mental state — in the same way that we hit the gym or avoid chocolate-covered sugar bombs in order to keep our bodies performing in peak condition.

Like any skill, these techniques will need challenge in order to grow and mature. And as much as competition can generate adversity, if there is one other thing that CUC 2012 taught us, it is that sometimes the lessons we learn come too late. So just as we push each other to provide physical adversity in practice, we must ensure that we are also ready for mental adversity. And as the season progresses, we as captains need to force the team out of our comfort zone by presenting aytpically challenging situations for our mental focus to fight through and rise above.

These are skills that our WUCC opponents also will only have, at best, one opportunity every four years to develop. It’s the thought of our opponents, driving as hard as they can towards their unknown, that helps drive us more forcefully and passionately towards our own. But like the outcome of a game of ultimate, we can’t just imagine a final score and instantly make it a reality — the best thing we can do is to chop wood, and carry water.


*Many of inspirations & ideas come from or are echoed in two important books I’ve recently read — Phil Jackson’s biographical book “Eleven Rings” on his coaching NBA teams to 11 championships, and Dan Abraham’s “Soccer Tough”, a sports psychologists who contextualizes his theories with personal examples of working with elite soccer players. I highly recommend both.

26 May 2014
Monday, May 26, 2014

UNION 2013-14 Part 1: Challenges

Monday, May 26, 2014 0 Comment

With our first tournament on the horizon, I feel reflective.

In Ultimate we experience challenges and opportunities at every tournament, in every game and during each point.

As I look back on 2013, I see a season of challenges.

Yes, our 33-2, golden Canadian Ultimate Championship season, the most important in Toronto Mixed touring in almost a decade, was actually a series of challenges.

Coming off a silver medal winning 2012 season in Victoria, the team was in flux during the winter of 2013 – the retirement of a captain; many of the men looking at Masters; 2 amazing new babies taking up precious time; 2 expectant mothers; a mid-season wedding…

Motivation was wavering.  After years of middling success, Union had finally consolidated talent and produced the best 2 year (5th in 2011, 2nd in 2012) run from Toronto in years.  Had the energy of consolidating, recruiting, developing and losing talent, finally taken its toll?  Was Union 2012, Toronto Mixed’s success, also its final act?

The truth is, we were that close to being a Masters team.

Challenge – Expectations:

For an aging core, if we were going to commit to 2013, we had to be better than 2012, win gold and qualify for WUCC 2014.  With that, we set the course for Vancouver 2013 #movinrightalong

With Odyssey returning and new elite teams likely to emerge in a worlds qualifying year, these were lofty expectations.

Challenge – The Roster:

We lost 10 players from our 2012 roster, including 3 starting O-liners and 1 captain.  That’s huge.

So we did what we always do, we met for brunch, grabbed a napkin and wrote some names down… the probables, the possibles, the hope-to-gets, the doubtfuls, the rooks, the newbs…921425_10151415919697199_2056825493_o

In the end, we added a Kiwi, a Swede, Pam and Peyton, 2 monkeys, 3 players with hour and a half commutes, Chandler, a ladder freak, PPK, the Predator, a kid who had never toured and “yellow visor guy”.  Cutting to the chase, we added a former GOAT player, a current RUSH player, 7 players with Worlds experiences, a lefty and what turned out to be our 2013 male and female MVPS – that’s a lot of weapons!

We got a little lucky, but the fact was: winning hardware put us on the map – we had 180 players show up for tryouts!  That’s unbelievable.

Challenge – ICONS:

We were stoked about this team – its depth and its potential – but 2 things made us nervous: schedules and chemistry.  Most of our players had to miss 1 or 2 tournaments.  In the past we would have preferred player commitment, but this year we leaned more towards skill and letting the vibe at the core of Union galvanize the team’s chemistry.

But, adding 12 new players is never simple, teams need to gel, to be organic, to not be manufactured.  Moments on the road, in hotel rooms, at practice and on the field are what build team character – the ingredient you need to overcome challenges as a team.

In 2012, we came 1st at Motown Throwdown.  In 2013, we came 5th.  We shit the bed.  Most of our opponents likely smirked when they found out we were Canadian gold medal contenders.

Motown was once again the turning point of the season but for two very different reasons than in 2012:

  1. Losing is a good thing; and,
  2. ICONS*

Challenge – The Comforts of Winning:

Although our commitment was disparate, the team improved because of it.  Our U23 player grew exponentially, our U23 coaches learned new strategies, depth players got more PT and whoever missed time made up for it by working their asses off.

Wins at the Toronto Ultimate FestivalPhilly Bell Crack and the Ontario Ultimate Championships proved that we were good.  But were we good enough to win Natties?2013 Philly Bell Crack

For me, our biggest on-field challenge was the quarter-final game against CLX at Poultry Days.  We were ahead all game.  We lost.  We were too content with losing – “they won WUCC 2010” we said, “we still played them hard”.  My fear with these games, is that the team character remains content with being close – “we can compete”.  My intrigue with these games, is that the team becomes more motivated – “close isn’t good enough, how do we win next time”.  But with Motown satisfying our off-feld needs, we had no other tournaments to test our on-field needs before Nationals…

Challenge – Nationals:

With all due respect to the other teams, we were hedging our bets against 3 other teams – Odyssee was coming off a tremendous win at the USAU US Open and were the defending CUC champs.  TFP were perennial contenders, the reigning Mixed World Champions and a complete X-Factor – never knowing what talent they’d recruit.  Stache was a who’s-who of Furious and Traffic alumni with Ultimate resumes that any player would be jealous of.

Thursday’s pool play went as scripted, all 4 of the top teams, ran the table (3-0) and held seed.

Our toughest game was against Skysharks, the team we beat in the 2012 semis in front of a boasterous home town crowd.  They were strengthened in 2013 by former Furious George stand-out John Norris, who anchored their O-line with an array of salty throws.  Much to his chagrin, “Yellow Visor Guy”, aka Stats Dolan, aka Pat Dolan, shut him down with a tremendous game on D.

Friday’s cross-over games would present our first challenge of the tournament – Odyssey in the last game of the day.  After 2012’s loss, this was the game we had in our cross-hairs.

The game was abuzz – end of day, showcase game, beautiful day, beer garden, lots of spectators and the rematch from the 2012 finals.  There was quiet anticipation amongst the players – this game wouldn’t kill our golden chances but it was a statement game – to prove to ourselves that we had the talent and to prove to them that they should be worried.

Our team showed up to play, our O clicked and our D smothered their stars.  The game had an emotional tension to it, the balance shifted enough in our favour to be confident but could teeter back at any moment.  After a tight start, we pulled away for a convincing 15-9 win.  From the first point on, when we stormed the field, we fired on all cylinders.  Odyssey seemed caught off guard.  We may have won the game but there was no way that Odyssey would let that happen again.

In our  Quarter Final against Bunny Thugs, from Saskatchewan, we played methodically and efficiently, allowing us to use our team depth to take the win.

Every tournament has one.  A Cinderella team.  CUC 2013’s Cinderella team was Gecko.  A known quantity in the Canadian Mixed scene but one that hadn’t toured in 4 years.  This young, skilled team from Quebec, made noise on Day 2 by upsetting Stache and turning the schedule on its head.  We met them in the Semis.  On a very hot day, we took it 13-7.  Gecko went on to earn the 4th worlds bid.

We had beat Odyssey, our O and D were firing, we punched our ticket to Italy… it was time for the finals.  In front of the home town crowd, we had something to prove – to win gold.  With Stache having some of the most highly decorated players in Canadian Ultimate history, we knew we had to control our fate.

After a very subdued start with each team holding serve, Stache had the first turnover, we converted and slowly built a lead.  WIth some big plays and tight defense, the game was hard fought but we managed to win convincingly 15-9.  Gold was ours!

Union cuc2013_mixed

Courtesy of UltiPhotos

Throughout the season, our captains emphasized the importance of mentally resetting in the face of adversity, during every challenge.  Whenever we let doubt creep into our minds, kick it in the ass and get back to business.  As individuals and as a team, we managed to do it for every game and every point at Nationals.

Despite our challenges: rebuilding a team, letting chemistry evolve and meeting high expectations, we rose above and conquered them all.  We earned gold, earned a worlds bid and guaranteed that we’d be back for another year.

In 2014, there will certainly be challenges, but I foresee a season of opportunities…

– Union

For a full list of CUC 2013 results: http://wp.canadianultimate.com/cuc2013/schedules-results/mixed/

*The idyllic white trash dance club, with two just-drunk-enough-locals that took exception to a group of 25 beautiful Ultimate players… We twerked like champs, stole their lobster, showed spirit in the light of thuggery and flat out won the party.


11 Apr 2014
Friday, April 11, 2014

We Are Pleased to Announce Our First Sponsor – SCS Consulting Group Ltd.!

Friday, April 11, 2014 0 Comment

We are pleased to announce SCS Consulting Group Ltd. as our first sponsor, in our “Community Involvement” sponsorship level.

SCS Consulting Group Ltd.
SCS Consulting Group provides the land development industry and municipalities with expert municipal engineering services.  They also employ our newest team member – Cam Dunning.

We are grateful for your financial sponsorship and support on our road to the World Ultimate Club Championships in Lecco, Italy.

More on SCS Consulting Group:

SCS Consulting Group has earned a reputation for excellence, offering specialized technical expertise and design solutions that are both practical and innovative. We have experience in the main areas of the land development engineering business including preliminary engineering services during the acquisition and planning process, water resources, detailed design, and contract administration.

04 Feb 2014
Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Greatest Sports Pool on Earth

Tuesday, February 4, 2014 0 Comment

Union has helped run the wildly successful Discraft TUC Parity League (TPL)…

Welcome to another season of the greatest Ultimate pool that doesn’t exist!  For those of you new to TPL or the Pool, this is your chance to play the odds and prove you know what’s what in the world of stats.

To kick off the season, we have a season-long draft. Pick your team, and the team with the highest salary at the end of the season wins!

You can play for fun or for money, as usual. Teams must be picked by Wednesday, February 5th, 9pm (start of week 2 games). Follow the link to play TPL Pool – Beat the GMs Edition!

Yours in Parity…